29 October 2018

"We have gained a lot from the diversity on campus"

On 13 October 2018, University College Utrecht welcomed 50 alumni who graduated in 2003, 2008 and 2013, back on campus for a Homecoming. A special day full of shared memories and catching up with former classmates.

After last year’s primer, this was our second homecoming. It showed clearly that University College Utrecht is a place where students feel they belong, even years later. They form a close community, as they study and live on campus. Also, their contact with tutors and lecturers is intensive; all students have a personal tutor who guides them through their study.

“A good contact with our alumni is vital to University College Utrecht,” says alumni officer Judith Hoogmoed. “They are our true ambassadors, nationally and internationally.”

Life on campus

Over the years, the once pioneering University College Utrecht has gained a more and more international profile. Whereas it started in 1998 with 90 mainly Dutch students, presently about half of the current 750 students come from abroad, some even from as far as India or China. The homely community atmosphere that soon became an important characteristic of the first university college in the Netherlands, however, is still the same. Contacts are close, staff and students know each other by name, and both academic and social life on campus are vibrant.

“I made good friends who I still keep in touch with today,” says Mascha Alexandrova, who graduated ten years ago. “I definitely enjoyed my interdisciplinary education at University College Utrecht, with psychology, anthropology, writing and literature courses. University College is a place which encourages open-mindedness and flexibility, both in your study and the way you approach your life on campus and the world beyond as a young university student.”

“For me it was the social aspect that made University College Utrecht so distinctive,” recalls Jelle van Dijk. “It was so special to have your friends living within a couple of minutes’ walk from your room. I fondly remember open mic nights as well: It was great fun to get up on stage and perform, or see your friends perform.”

Back on campus: meeting old classmates during the Homecoming

International orientation

Both Jelle, who is from the class of 2013, and Mascha have found their own international path: Jelle did his Masters in London, whereas Mascha works as a communications advisor at the Utrecht-based international civil society organisation Solidaridad.

“I think that many alumni gain a lot from the international orientation of University College. The students find themselves among many diverse cultures here. That experience is a big plus in our work and later life,” says Mascha. “Originally, I applied to study at University College because the curriculum spoke to me. It offered so many interesting courses in various disciplines.”

From student to lecturer

Never mind the socialising memories, Jelle’s present link to his previous alma mater is academic. As PhD researcher in Cognitive Neuroscience, he has been teaching at University College for three years already. “The first time it was weird to be at the other end of the classroom and it definitely took me some time to switch from the student role to a lecturer role on campus,” he says. “From the second time onward, it felt more natural. The students have not really changed since I attended University College. They just have become younger each year - or maybe that's me getting older.”