Mission, core values and ambitions

Freedom in responsibility

Academic research and education at VU is characterized by a high level of ambition, and encourages free and open communications and ideas. VU stands for universal university values such as academic freedom and independence, which is reflected in our name (‘VU’ is the Dutch abbreviation for ‘free university’): free from the church, state and any commercial interest.

The basic philosophy of VU is expressed in three core values, which serve as a guide to the work and actions of employees and students. These values are inextricably linked to how VU defines outstanding research and teaching.

The VU core values are:

  • responsible 
  • open 
  • personally engaged

Core values in detail

ResponsibleOpenPersonally engaged
Committed and responsive to people and societyTo diversity in disciplines, nationalities, world views and social convictionsFocus on the human dimension; an academic community in which every member counts
Responsibility is reflected in the choice of subjects that are taught and researched and which are relevant to major social themes, both in and outside the Amsterdam area. In education that shapes students and motivates them to be mindful of each other and of society. And which encourages students to take a stand and trains them to be open to other people and other ideas.VU is an inspiring meeting place in which people are engaged in linking disciplines, cultures, religions, social opinions and social issues on the basis of mutual respect. Confronting differences leads to fresh insights and innovations, to greater focus and clarity, to academic excellence.Every member of the university community is unique and is able to develop their full potential at the university. This adds respect to mutual relationships, but also makes them morally appealing and engaging.

Ambitions of VU Amsterdam

VU Amsterdam is a remarkable university with Christian roots, one which is involved with people and society. It is an open and internationally oriented academic community. It is a university that seeks renewal and which succeeds in making good use of the strength of the variety of academic disciplines, nationalities, ideologies and social convictions that exist in its environment.

Through its research, VU seeks to make an important contribution to solving major social problems. Just as important is our task to train young people into critical academics who, motivated by their social involvement, will be able to occupy leading positions in the international and intercultural society of the future. This is why VU places a strong emphasis on the academic formation of students, with a focus on the core values of VU. Education and research are directly linked. VU educates students in the research fields in which its strengths lie, and for which there is a significant demand for well educated professionals.

VU will be characterized in 2025:

  • as a major research university that conducts internationally outstanding research in a number of fields.
    This ambition will be translated by the presence of the university in the global top 75 according to the Leiden Ranking (Light Green List), which measures the performance and achievements of the top 250 of the world’s most prolific universities in terms of publications (its position in 2010 is 85);
  • by a nationally and internationally competitive range of renowned research Master’s and academic Master’s.
    The target groups for the Master’s are Bachelor’s students at VU, at other universities in and outside the Netherlands, and students with a Bachelor’s degree of higher professional education who are eligible for Master’s programmes.
    Half of the intake of the research Master’s and 25 per cent of those entering the English-language Master’s programmes come from abroad (in 2010, the figures were 22 and six per cent respectively). At least twenty per cent of the total Master’s intake at VU come from other universities in the Netherlands (nine per cent in 2010);
  • as an academic educational institution for Amsterdam and the surrounding area.
    VU provides high-quality and well organized teaching to help VWO (pre-university) pupils in the Bachelor’s phase become critical and socially involved academics. The university is one of the top three in the Netherlands when it comes to assessments made by students (in 2010, VU was ranked fourteenth according to the National Student Survey). Achieving these ambitions will lead to a position between 100 and 150 on the Shanghai Ranking and Times Higher Education Ranking.

International ambitions: collaborating with emerging economies
International collaboration is a precondition for realizing ambitions in education and research. In addition to its existing collaborative agreements, VU is also establishing partnerships with universities in countries with emerging economies, such as China, India and Brazil. These countries are expected to be a dominant political, economic and scientific presence in the world by 2025.

Regional ambition: collaboration with the city of Amsterdam
The presence of two large universities, two university hospitals and various other knowledge centres in a city of major international standing will be exploited to the best possible effect by 2025. By pooling resources in various educational and research fields with the University of Amsterdam (UvA), they can progress to a leading international partner in a number of academic disciplines. By working together on the basis of their own robust profiles, VU and UvA can strengthen each other in terms of their academic results, their attractiveness to talented individuals from in and outside the Netherlands and as partners to businesses and non-profit organizations. By 2025, VU and the UvA will have organized all their Master’s programmes in joint Graduate Schools, in which cursory education for PhDs will also be given.


Nederlands: missie, kernwaarden en ambities