Utrecht University (Universiteit Utrecht in Dutch) is a university in Utrecht, Netherlands. It is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands and one of the largest in Europe. It is rated as the best university of the Netherlands, 11th best university in Europe, and 50th best in the world in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Established March 26, 1636, it had an enrollment of 29,082 students in 2008, and employed 8,614 faculty and staff, 570 of which are full professors. In 2004, 358 Ph.D. degrees were awarded and 7,010 scientific articles were published. The 2008 budget of the university was €715 million.
The university's motto is "Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos," which means "Sun of Justice, shine upon us." This motto was gleaned from a literal Latin bible translation of Malachi 4:2. Utrecht University is led by the University Board, consisting of Yvonne van Rooy (President), prof.dr. Hans Stoof (Rector Magnificus) and Hans Amman.
Utrecht University was founded on March 26, 1636. The inaugural speech was held by influential professor of theology Gisbertus Voetius. Bernardus Schotanus, professor of law and mathemetics, was the university's first rector magnificus. Initially, a few dozen students attended classes at the university. Seven professors worked at the four faculties: the philosophical, that offered all students a propaedeutic education, and the three higher faculties: the theological and medical faculties and the faculty of law.
Utrecht University flourished in the seventeenth century, despite of the competition with the older universities of Leiden (1575), Franeker (1585) and Groningen (1614) and the schools of Harderwijk (1599, university since 1648) and Amsterdam (1632). Leiden in particular was a strong competitor. Therefore, further investments were necessary. A hortus botanicus was built on the stronghold of Sonnenborgh and three years later the Smeetoren received a astronomical observatory.
The university attracted many students from abroad, especially Germany, England and Scotland. They witnessed the intellectual and theological battle the proponents of the new philosophy (René Descartes lived for a few years in Utrecht) fought with the proponents of the strictly reformed theologian Voetius.
The French occupants of the Netherlands in 1806 degraded Utrecht University to 'école secondaire' (high school), but after the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1813, Utrecht University regained its original rights. Leiden, Groningen and Utrecht were the three State Universities ('hoge scholen') of the new state. Leiden received the title of 'eerste hoge school' (First University). Utrecht had a prominent role in the flourishing of Dutch science. Around 1850 the so called 'Utrechtian School' of science was formed with Pieter Harting, Gerardus J. Mulder, Christophorus H. D. Buys Ballot and Franciscus C. Donders being the leading scientists. They introduced the educational laboratory as a practition place for their students.
University is represented in the 'Stichting Academisch Erfgoed', a foundation with the goal of preserving university collections.
The university consists of seven faculties:
There are three interfaculty units:
If the old city of Utrecht offers both medieval and contemporary surroundings, the reputation of the university is a growing factor in the decision of its students to enrol. Indeed, prospective students take more into account the academic excellence of the teaching as the highest Research standards. In 2009, 92% of surveyed students said that "Utrecht University has an excellent reputation" against 72% only in 2007. The collaboration between students and academic staff, the excellence in Research and the curriculum play a strong role in the decision to apply for 48% of prospective students against 7% in 2007. Compared to previous surveys, the reputation is of growing importance for the choice of the study programme regarding the attractiveness of the city.
In September 2007, Utrecht University already proposed:
In this regard, Utrecht proposes the widest range of English-taught programmes in the Netherlands. Finally, Utrecht reinforces each year its international status. This year, the university welcomes 1900 international students from 125 different countries (6.5% of the total student population).
On the 2010 Academic Ranking of World Universities list, the University of Utrecht was ranked 50th in the world and the highest in the Netherlands. It was amongst the top 50 universities for six consecutive years starting from 2003.
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On the 2009 THE–QS World University Rankings, the University of Utrecht was amongst the top 150 universities for the sixth consecutive year, and amongst the top 100 universities for the fourth consecutive year.
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