Diversity

Society and with it our university community has a wide variety of gender, sexual orientation, nationalities, cultures, ways of thinking and religions. We train and educate our students to deal with these differences. So that they, as professionals, are able to view matters from a broader perspective, and as future leaders can make the difference in society. We strive for 'inclusive excellence' through four pillars, whereby students, teachers, lecturers and employees within VU use mutual differences to stimulate more creativity and talent development

In the spring of 2019 students of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam filled out the '[email protected]' survey. Based on their participation in the survey we have published the [email protected] report.

In the [email protected] report we have compared various groups of students. The choice for particular groups of students was based on similarities or differences which were visible in the data between these groups of students. This means that when discussing the various topics in the report, we highlight various groups of students.

For example, when discussing the overarching topic of belonging we show that students experience similar levels of belonging at VU Amsterdam, regardless of migration background or religious affiliation. Yet, we also show that international students as a group form an exception: they feel less belonging at VU Amsterdam. Ten percent states that they never or almost never feel that they belong at VU Amsterdam, and 37 percent states that they sometimes feel that they do not belong at VU Amsterdam. In comparison, for students without a migration background this is 4% and 17% respectively. International students often experience social exclusion by domestic students, and language plays an important role in understanding this exclusion.

We again highlight international students, as well as students with a migration background, when discussing the theme of discrimination and social exclusion. But here we also zoom in on students with an Islamic religious affiliation and on students who identify as LGBTQ+.

The focus lies with so-called “first generation” students, who do not have parents who went through higher education, when we discuss the theme study progress. Here we show that first generation students without a migration background do not score differently on belonging, or on study progress when compared to students who do have one or both parents with a higher education diploma.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers a learning and working environment that stimulates and encourages creativity and talent development through mutual differences. Our students come into contact with different diversity aspects and receive training in intercultural competences. We achieve this by, among other things, training and coaching teachers  in providing diversity-sensitive education.


Quote Feroz English  


Projects within this pillar 

  • Intercultural Competences
    With this tool students can measure how diversity-sensitive they are themselves. In collaboration with the Aurora Network, we are currently working on an English version of the questionnaire.
    Contact: Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee

  • Bonding & Bridging: Diversity in Study and Student-associations 
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a large number of study and student associations; from the religious Islamic Student Association (ISA) to the future economists of the association AUREUS. Diversity sometimes needs a push; Because different study and student associations work together actively, students build on their cultural skills and broaden their network. An example of this connection is the student association DOCS, which is dedicated to diversity, openness, culture and students.
    Contact: Wim Haan

  • Collaboration with the Amsterdam Nieuw-West District
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Nieuw-West District have in common that they both have a wide variety of cultures. In 2017 they signed a covenant to cooperate intensively. For example, a VU study room has been opened in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. Because of this, students function as role models, contribute to citizen participation and support refugees and status holders in the corresponding  neighborhood. This collaboration is part of Community Service Learning.
    Contact: Wim Haan 

We supervise students in three study phases, focusing on the intake, study time and preparation for the labor market; Good preparation is half the job.
For a VWO student, the transition from high school to a university can be huge. Especially for 'first generation' students, whose parents have not studied, we try to reduce the step from high school to VU. During their studies we motivate our students to get the best out of their study time. In addition, we prepare our students for the labor market. After all,  good education is not a guarantee for a good job.

Quote 5VWO English  

Projects within this pillar

  • Be Prepared
    Be Prepared is a three-day empowerment program for 5-VWO students, especially for those who are the first to study in their family. We help these students think about their own strengths and weaknesses, about the choices they can make and on how to reflect on their own behavior. It is also about learning to deal with the expectations of others without losing the connection with their own environment.
    Contact: Loes Mulders

  • Better Prepared
    Better Prepared is a three-day empowerment program. Following the Be Prepared program, students are introduced to the academic world during the VU introduction days. This program starts in August 2018.
    Contact: Wim Haan

  • Student Exchange to the University of California, Los Angeles
    Talented first-generation students can apply for this every year. They follow a mix of academic programs at the University of California in the United States for six weeks. Students address issues such as inequality, community activism, citizen responsibility and political involvement during an intensive academic boot camp in Los Angeles. Reversed, there are American students at VU. Travel wisely!
    Contact: Wim Haan

  • Meet your Mentor
    Do you want to find a suitable job faster with insights from a mentor who knows what your non-western background is worth? Or do you want to start an orientation on the labor market and do you want to focus more on your future? Meet Your Mentor supports talented students with a non-Western background in the transition to the labor market. The platform offers you an enthusiastic mentor, with whom you discuss the challenges you face and with which you discover and strengthen your power as a future young professional. The program has already started, do you want to participate in the next program? Sign up here.
    The outcome of the project can be different for everyone, because everyone has their own learning objectives. What we aim for is that after the process:
    • Are more confident about your position on the labor market;
    • Have determined more focus and direction for your future;
    • Better able to profile yourself optimally and stay true to yourself.
    Contact: Meltem Halaceli

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is working on an 'inclusive organization' with a personnel policy in which diversity plays a central role at all levels of the organization. For example, we offer space and attention to minority groups, cultural minorities and international staff; different role models on the work floor provide a diverse and inspiring working  environment.

Quote Jaap Winter English  

Projects within this pillar

  • WO&MEN Network
    The wo/men network @ VU aims to improve the position of women in the workplace, as long as it is still unequal to that of men. Promoting diversity, equal opportunities and tackling gender-specific stereotypes and roles within the organization is important when it comes to the quality of our employees: men and women. The network therefore refers to quality: allowing the best people to excel in their working environment - without letting them be limited by gender bias or discrimination. Especially for VU women, they organize network-meetings and further development and mentoring-programs. Of course it is important for every VU employee to feel involved and included. Because of this thinking along and participating in this network is enthusiastically encouraged at VU, naturally for both women and men.
    Contact: [email protected]

  • More color at the top
    Together with a number of large employers, VU is working hard for more color in the top of Dutch organizations. Through this four-year program, we are increasing the inflow of bicultural talent into the top layer of business and government.
    Contact: Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee

Together with our scientists, we examine various aspects of diversity and the effects of our diversity policy. We evaluate diversity, with our experts in the field of diversity, such as Maurice Crul, Halleh Ghorashi and Petra Verdonk.

Quote Halleh English  

Projects within this pillar

  • The Taskforce ‘The Future is Diversity’
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam work together within the research project The Taskforce. Together we identified which obstacles bicultural students encounter and how we can increase the study success of these students. Read more about the action points in the report: TaskForce The Future is Diversity
    Contact: Maurice Crul

  • Research Exchange
    The partnership between VU, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of the Free State (UFS) conducts research on diversity and organizes an annual research seminar. In February 2018 VU organized this meeting under the name 'Diversity in an Era or Polarization'. For an impression of this, see our blog.
    Contact: Wim Haan

  • Aurora
    Nine European Universities together form the Aurora network. Aurora aims for a diverse and inclusive university community. Research into diversity is one of the focal points in this collaboration.
    Contact: Neira Becar
VU_Pride
VU Pride
VU Pride is the LGBT network for VU students and employees that provides empowerment by sharing visibility, knowledge, experiences, networking, advice and a listening ear.
Contact: Karin West [email protected]
Women
Wo/men [email protected]
The wo / men network @ VU aims to improve the position of women in the workplace, as long as it is still unequal to that of men. Promoting diversity, equal opportunities and tackling gender-specific stereotypes and roles within the organization is important when it comes to the quality of our employees: men and women. The network therefore refers to quality: allowing the best people to excel in their working environment - without letting them be limited by gender bias or discrimination. Especially for VU women, they organize network-meetings and further development and mentoring-programs. Of course it is important for every VU employee to feel involved and included. Because of this thinking along and participating in this network is enthusiastically encouraged at VU, naturally for both women and men.
Contact: [email protected]
 VUfamily
VU Family 
VU Family aims to serve as a community for students from different backgrounds. In an informal setting, students with comparative interests will get to know each other and form a ''family’’ group that they can fall back on during their entire time at VU. The cohesion of the VU Families is stimulated by various activities that strengthen the sense of belonging of our students on campus and stimulate personal growth through academic workshops, lectures on topics of social justice issues and giving-back activities. VU Family is one of the granted students-4-students projects by the Ministry of Education in the Netherlands. Contact: [email protected]. Follow VU Family on Facebook or Instagram.

Diversity is cooperation. With other universities and secondary schools to municipalities and businesses; On both a national and international scale, Diversity VU works together with various partners, including:

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
“Build Equity for all”, is the motto of UCLA when it comes to diversity. UCLA is known for its close connections with community and society. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam therefore works closely with UCLA in the field of research and exchanges.

ECHO
We work together with Echo, a center of expertise in the field of diversity in (higher) education and the labor market. Among other things, the 'Meet Your Mentor' project is one of the fruits of our collaboration.

Pre University College
For the Be Prepared program, we work closely together with Pre University College (PUC), a partnership between 23 secondary schools from the Amsterdam region and VU.

Amsterdam Nieuw-West District
The Nieuw-West district is a preferred partner of VU. Nieuw-West lays the connections and thus offers students the opportunity to focus primarily on activities for residents in the neighborhood in the areas of poverty alleviation, sport and health, integration of refugees / status holders in the neighborhood and all other social and social issues that play in the district. This project is part of Community Service Learning.