An open and resilient academic community

It seems so natural for Utrecht University to be a close-knit academic community in which people are involved with one another and where space exists for sharing knowledge and open debate. Yet it does not happen by itself: it requires attention and effort from all of us, each and every day. We want the community to remain this way and will therefore, in the coming period, invest in an environment in which everyone feels welcome and that they are a part of the community.


Academic community for everyone

Our organisation values the contributions of all students, employees and alumni, regardless of their position, gender, ethnicity, culture, deployability or any other aspect of their personal background. Making the most of diverse qualities calls for active policy, inclusive leadership and a socially safe environment. Within the organisation, we will continue to pay extra attention to the public values of equality, diversity, inclusion, openness, accessibility and mutual respect.

Making the most of diverse qualities calls for active policy, inclusive leadership and a socially safe environment.

The results in education, research, operational management and social impact are achieved through teamwork, in which all the talents and qualities of every employee are valued. Through recognition and appreciation, we can embed respect and trust more deeply in our organisation. It impacts the way we communicate and interact with one another and with the outside world. International students and employees should feel at home and feel welcome at our University, while alumni should be a permanent part of our community.

To effectively support the formation of the university community, we will continue to invest in a warm connection, a stimulating working environment and a lively and accessible campus. A more hybrid form of working will take shape, both at home and in the university buildings. This will also require experimentation with new methods of working and cooperation.

Lines of action

  • We will explicitly strengthen the connecting and collaborating functions in our buildings and experiment with working methods. We have learned from our COVID-19 experiences: when elaborating the accommodation assignment, we will invest in a good balance between physical presence and online working and studying.
  • We will strengthen our diversity policy by establishing the ‘Equality, Diversity & Inclusion’ (EDI) steering group and appointing a Diversity Dean. We will continue to express our vision on this theme through actions including the promotion of integration in training programmes, inclusive curricula and the improvement of recruitment and selection, as well as the accessibility of our buildings.
  • We will work to promote extensive involvement of our community in decision-making and toward the further democratisation of that decision-making.
  • In early 2022, a new University-wide framework for the ‘Recognition and Appreciation’ of all employees will be introduced. We will reduce the individual workload on employees using teamwork, create a calmer environment in teams and encourage complementarity. By 2025, it will be a matter of course for employees to choose a variety of career paths and specialise in different areas: education, research, impact and/or leadership.
  • We will improve our activities with regard to the guidance and practical support of international students and employees; this will naturally include a warm welcome for all. And we will promote multilingual meetings by means of lingua receptiva.
  • Utrecht University will provide high-quality and comprehensive support to students, staff, alumni and external parties. Cooperation between academic and non-academic staff, between the various support departments and between University and faculty services will be a natural part of these efforts.

Leadership, attention to well-being and space for development

Utrecht University strives to maintain a culture of openness and cooperation, a culture in which establishing connections both internally and externally is the most natural thing in the world and in which employees practise integral collaboration that transcends disciplines and/or departments. Leadership at all levels is the only way to make this culture possible. Such leadership must be open to new ideas. It must be leadership that focuses on trust, bottom-up cooperation and acting in the best interest of the entire University. To that end, leadership development is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation.

As an employer, we want to take good care of our people and invest in the well-being of all our students and employees.

Utrecht University employees are open to feedback and change and wish to continue to develop throughout life. Managers provide employees with latitude for development and encourage efforts in that area. The University encourages all staff members to acquire personal leadership competences within their respective roles and to learn from each other at work. Leadership plays a role in all kinds of issues, whether major or minor, from the way we communicate with each other at the University to constructively flagging issues that can be improved and being mindful of others.

As an employer, we want to take good care of our people and invest in the well-being of all our students and employees. We understand that combating workload is a complex undertaking. Everyone need not do the same, nor do so equally intensively. When new initiatives arise, we will carefully assess the added value and decide whether this will replace existing work or if we can postpone certain other matters.

Lines of action

  • With regard to leadership development, the focus for the coming period will be on agreeing realistic working methods, on establishing clear team goals, on promoting student and employee well-being and on guaranteeing social safety. When selecting managers and promoting employees to management positions, we will pay additional attention to competences in the leadership profile and to the core values of the University.
  • We will increase the diversity in development pathways for employees and encourage continuous development, sustainable employability and mobility. We will strengthen the range of development opportunities available to all our employees, aimed at aspects including intercultural and leadership competences, cooperating effectively and giving and receiving feedback.
  • We will enhance the autonomy and ownership of employees and ensure the preconditions needed to achieve a proper work-life balance. We will sharpen our focus, in part by explicitly identifying what we will no longer be doing.

Sustainable development within the University

In an explicit effort to help create a better world and a sustainable society and to contribute specifically to the SDGs, we want to connect knowledge on sustainability (gained through education and research) to our operational management. At the same time, we will make use of our own operations and buildings and grounds by providing an environment for academic research. During the previous period, we took the first steps toward ensuring the SDGs are recognisably reflected in our educational curriculum, and we are now continuing those efforts, basing our thinking more strongly on global development issues.

We will continue to build on existing strategies and ongoing initiatives and wish, as a university, to make a real difference in coming years in connection with the theme of sustainability. Through our operational management, we are able to contribute to over half of the SDGs, from the ‘Climate Action’ theme to the ‘Gender Equality’ theme. In keeping with the SDGS, we are working to achieve climate-neutral, zero-waste operations by 2030 and to increase the local biodiversity.

Utrecht University uses the SDGs as an instrument to help identify challenges and potential solutions. This figure indicates which of the SDGs take priority in our operational management.

Lines of action

  • We will tangibly embed the Sustainable Development Goals in our teaching.
  • Our strategic research themes focus on the transition to a sustainable society and do so in interaction with civil society actors.
  • In our buildings and on our grounds, we will create sustainability-related testing grounds in which we will bring together teaching, research and operational management. We will maximise our social impact by utilising renewable energy, thereby reducing our energy consumption and working toward a zero-waste university.
  • We will create employment opportunities for individuals with obstacles to job-market participation, be socially responsible in our purchasing practices and invest in capacity building and collaboration with partners in lower-income countries.
  • With regard to education, we will emphatically pursue partnerships in the region in order to promote access to equal opportunities.
  • In connection with the Sustainability programme, we are developing a strategy aimed at increasing biodiversity and further reducing CO2 emissions. We are using our monitor to track the results and are comparing these to the key performance indicators.

Operational management that is open to change and innovation

Utrecht University wishes to strengthen and accelerate innovative power and the capacity for change. During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen and experienced that it is possible to implement many changes and innovations within a short span of time. Everyone saw the urgency and felt the necessity. We want to cherish this agility and potential for change. Groups with a diverse composition will assemble quickly, conduct effective consultation and deliver high-quality results. We plan to address complex issues in more integral fashion, working from different disciplines and units.

Digitisation offers many opportunities to innovate and improve services. Together with automation, it offers possibilities to improve, streamline, standardise and accelerate administrative processes in the areas of education, Human Resources and finance. This will entail significant IT investments.

Lines of action

  • We will draft a domain plan for each support domain which will inform the development of quality, professionalism and working methods within that domain. Where this support is concerned, we will take integrality between the services into account at all times.
  • We will be launching a programme aimed at efficient and future-proof business administration for the education, human resources, finance and facilities domains.

The faculties on the theme Community

What is the vision of the different faculties on creating a close-knit university community? Choose one of the faculties to go directly to their visions.

Strategic Plan 2025