Prof. dr. Bert van der Zwaan

Prof. dr. Bert van der Zwaan

UBD central

“The changes within the university have never been as rapid as in the past 25 years. I also think that in 2040, we'll find a university that is very different from the one we know today.”

Research focus: the future of the university, Biogeology

Bert van der Zwaan (1952) is an Emeritus Professor of Biogeology and was Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University from 2011 to 2018. Early in his career, he already stressed the importance of international cooperation in the field of education and research. His managerial vision in both areas is characterised by an interdisciplinary and future-oriented approach. Throughout his career, Bert van der Zwaan has worked closely with educational institutions, governments and companies in the Netherlands and abroad for this purpose.

Higher Education in 2040

In 2015, Bert van der Zwaan wrote the book Higher Education in 2040. A global approach, based on conversations with colleagues on three different continents. In the book, he concludes that the future of the university is not self-evident and needs to be reconsidered. The publication received favourable reviews from both within and outside the academic world.

Support for education

During and also after his time as Rector Magnificus, Bert van der Zwaan set up various initiatives to strengthen the ties of the university with other forms of education. A regional example of this is 'Meet the professor' for primary and secondary education. He also set up the Right to Learn Fund together with Dr Wilma Wessels on his retirement. The fund offers pupils and students in disadvantaged positions opportunities to get the most out of their talents.

He is currently, among other activities, chairman of the Dutch National Research Agenda and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Nuffic. In the latter position, he combines his administrative experience with support for education and a clear vision on internationalisation.

Areas of expertise:

  • Biogeology
  • Future of the University
  • Making education more accessible
  • Internationalisation in education
  • University leadership

Photographer profile picture: Jorrit 't Hoen