The Strategic Plan

You have before you the Strategic Plan of Utrecht University. This document sets out the areas we will focus on in coming years in order to carry out our mission and work as effectively as possible toward a better world. We can do this only by combining our strengths, both internally and externally. And by demonstrating not only ambition, expertise and decisive action but an open attitude as well. We want to share our knowledge and collaborate with others to promote the scientific process and resolve the challenges facing society, today and in the future.

This plan was drafted during the period in which the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. In March 2020, we were forced to transition suddenly from discussing matters in working groups and at 24-hour conferences to exchanging ideas online. The manner in which we have done so together clearly demonstrates the resilience of our organisation. We, the deans and the Executive Board, are touched by the incredible commitment shown by our lecturers, researchers, colleagues from the support services and students.

The manner in which we have done so together clearly demonstrates the resilience of our organisation.

The COVID-19 pandemic quickly confirmed that our mission and vision are rock solid. It is precisely by cooperating in the areas of education and research across the borders of disciplines and countries that we can contribute to an adequate global response to issues such as COVID-19 and work towards the necessary long-term societal reset – rather than a mere resumption. Contributing to sustainability challenges is a top priority on our long-term agenda. To that end, this plan builds on the path we had already chosen in recent years. There is every reason – and need – to pursue continuity.

With regard to how we put our mission into practice, we must of course make continuous adjustments in response to the changing circumstances – and that includes COVID-19. Adjustments have been explored and elaborated with a large number of students, colleagues, alumni and external partners. With their help, we have created a strong focus while, at the same time, occasionally turning our sights to a more distant horizon than that of the next four years.

Contributing to sustainability challenges is a top priority on our long-term agenda.

The recurring theme in the Strategic Plan is our full commitment to openness: an openness found in the very DNA of our institution. Through Open Science, we are bringing this openness to maximum fruition. In other words, science that is practised based on a comprehensive vision regarding the relationship with society and with the developments taking place around us. This vision must permeate every aspect of our education. It should also determine how we conduct our research and how we handle the results.

Through Open Science, we are bringing this openness to maximum fruition.

‘Openness’ is similarly a keyword in terms of our efforts to enhance the diversity of people of perspectives in our community and the manner in which we want to collaborate, communicate and transform our academic culture. We choose to focus on teamwork in which each individual can contribute and flourish in their own way. 

In the following chapters, we will share our analysis of who we are and the challenges we perceive around us. Next, we will set out our strategy for the coming years in five guiding principle. These five pillars will be translated into specific objectives for the organisation, for our teaching and for our research. And finally, this document contains the plans for each faculty, in which they elaborate an individual course of action and how they intend to implement the strategy within their own faculties.

We look forward to maintaining our open dialogue.

We intend to realise these ambitions and will provide annual reports on our progress. For now, we wish to sincerely thank everyone who assisted in the realisation of this plan for their tireless efforts. We look forward to maintaining our open dialogue. Let us continue to share our knowledge! 

Deans and Executive Board

Note to reader

In this Strategic Plan, we use the term ‘multidisciplinary’. Multidisciplinarity is the basis from which we realise various forms of cooperation, both between employees working in different disciplines and between the University and society. These connections may also be interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary in nature.