Investment in strengthening education is having a positive impact on academic success

2016 Annual Report, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam published

07/10/2017 | 8:40 AM

Investment in strengthening education and improving the academic success of students is having a discernible effect at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Satisfaction rates for education at the university rose again last year. Satisfaction among Bachelor’s students (8.23) and Master’s students (7.9) was higher than in previous years. In the field of research, too, a number of major successes have been achieved. In financial terms too, the situation at VU Amsterdam has improved: the planned loss with which the university closed the 2015 financial year was transformed into a positive result of €4.4 million last year. This was revealed in the 2016 annual report published by the university.

In recent years, VU Amsterdam has made strenuous efforts to strengthen the education it provides and to improve academic success among its students. The university has appointed tutors and mentors to make the supervision it provides for students more personal. It has also introduced a form of teaching that activates student learning, to encourage students to work independently and quickly. Another success factor has been its master classes for secondary school students at the VU Amsterdam Pre-University College, which enable prospective students to make better-informed decisions when choosing a course of study. Partly as a result of these investments, the percentage of students who achieve a Bachelor’s degree within four years increased from 54 percent in 2008 to 76 percent in 2016.

Vice-chair Marjolein Jansen points out that “We can be proud of the result we achieved in 2016. Last year, we took advantage of an opportunity to release an extra €3 million – in addition to the funds already allocated – to make further improvements to the quality of education and research. We believe that our long-term budget has struck the right balance between financial health and the quality of education and research.”

Successful researchers
In 2016, seventeen researchers from VU Amsterdam received an Innovational Research Incentive from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) (ten Veni grants, four Vidi grants and three Vici grants) and four VU Amsterdam researchers were awarded grants from the European Research Council (three Starting Grants and one Advanced Grant). In 2016, two VU professors were awarded an Investment Grant NWO Large – a programme that focuses on innovative scientific equipment. Finally, three VU Amsterdam academics received an award for a major interdisciplinary research project on the primary responsibilities of the university in the field of knowledge acquisition and education. The three-year project involves a total amount of €1.75 million.

Positive financial result
After several years of planned losses, VU Amsterdam will finish with a positive result of €4.4 million in 2016. This is better than the budgeted result of €2 million. The normalized result is €3.4 million. The normalized result is the best guide to the long-term financial picture at the university.

You can read the Public Report 2016 here.