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Amsterdam University College

Amsterdam University College
Motto Excellence and diversity in a global city
Established 2008
Type Public, Liberal arts college
Dean Prof. Dr. Marijk van der Wende
Academic staff ~ 150
Admin. staff ~ 15
Students ~ 700
Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Affiliations VU University & University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam University College (AUC) is a public liberal arts college in the Netherlands with an enrolment of about 750 students from more than 60 countries.[1] All teaching is in English.[2]

The college was founded in 2009 as a joint initiative of the VU University Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam with a particular focus on the natural sciences. Although AUC has its own campus, students can also use facilities of both parent universities. The college is part of a recent wave of university colleges in the Netherlands which have introduced liberal arts education to the country.[3]

AUC offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in the social sciences and humanities and a Bachelor of Science degree in science, which are pursued by about 50%, 15%, and 33% of the student body, respectively.[1] The curriculum is strongly interdisciplinary; within each field, students have to pursue at least two disciplines. AUC further emphasizes its 'academic core', which makes up a large part of the curriculum.[4]


  • History 1
  • Academics 2
    • Reputation 2.1
    • Academic programme 2.2
      • Study Abroad 2.2.1
    • Admissions 2.3
  • Tuition and Scholarships 3
    • Scholarship Fund 3.1
  • Accreditation 4
  • Campus and Location 5
    • Academic Building 5.1
    • Student Residences 5.2
    • Science Park 5.3
  • Student Life 6
    • Student Body 6.1
    • Clubs and Organisations 6.2
    • Student Politics 6.3
  • Alumni 7
    • Notable Alumni 7.1
  • Sources 8
  • External links 9


The foundation of AUC goes back to an initiative of the two large universities in Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), as well as the municipality. It is part of an initiative to make Amsterdam a hub for research and development in the natural sciences.

AUC was officially founded in 2008, and took up operation with its founding class in 2009. The first dean of the college is Prof. Dr. Marijk van der Wende, Professor of Higher Education at the VU. The first class of graduates received their diplomas in 2012.



In the 2013 Nationale Studentenenquête (NSE), AUC scored an average of 3.84 out of 5 points. While this made AUC one of the best bachelor programs at the University of Amsterdam, this meant the second-lowest rank among university colleges.[5]

Students at Amsterdam University College receive a joint degree from the University of Amsterdam and the VU University, both of which consistently rank among the best universities in the Netherlands. The University of Amsterdam regularly places among the best 100 universities in the world (2013 QS World University Rankings: 58).[6]

Academic programme

AUC offers a three-year honours degree in three very broad majors in science, social sciences, and humanities. During the academic year 2013/14, students could choose between approximately 200 courses across eight fields in the sciences, nine in the social sciences, seven in the humanities, as well as the academic core.[7] As part of AUC's interdisciplinary orientation, students have to pursue 'tracks' in at least two fields within their major. Interdisciplinarity is also emphasized by AUC's themes, which link fields across majors.[7]

The college emphasizes a strong academic core, which includes academic writing and basic calculus or statistics, but also more unusual courses such as logic or 'identity and diversity', which are compulsory for students of all majors. Furthermore, students are required to take two to three language courses; in 2013/14, the languages offered were Arabic, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish.

AUC has branded itself as a 'science college', and places particular emphasis on the natural sciences. In 2013/14, courses were offered in eight 'tracks': information sciences, mathematics, physics, earth and environmental sciences, chemistry, biology, biomedical sciences, and health. Although during the first years less than 35% of students were majoring in the sciences, this number is expected to rise to 50% in the future.[1]

While teachers for many core and introductory courses are employed by AUC directly, the college draws on its parent institutions for most of its lecturers.

Graduates receive a joint degree from VU University and University of Amsterdam; a Bachelor of Arts in the social sciences or humanities or a Bachelor of Science in science. Students graduation with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher receive an honours degree. Cum laude degrees are awarded for graduation with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and summa cum laude degrees for a 3.9 or higher.

Study Abroad

Around a third of all students spend a semester abroad during their studies at AUC.[1] The college has a number of partners on its own, but students can also apply to the exchange partners of UvA and VU on all continents. AUC students generally fare well in university-wide applications, and popular destinations include the University of Toronto and McGill University in Canada, Boston College in the USA, the National University of Singapore, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the University of Melbourne in Australia. In return, AUC receives a somewhat smaller number of exchange students from its own and university-wide partners.[1]


In 2010, AUC admitted 200 of about 900 applicants for its class of 2013. The average grade of admitted students in the Dutch system was 7.6, the highest of all Dutch university colleges that publish such information. About 15% of students obtained an International Baccalaureate, with an average GPA of 5.4. Enrollment is projected to gradually increase to 900 students, and in 2012, AUC for the first time admitted 300 students for the class of 2015.[8]

Unusually for a European public university, AUC's application procedure includes an individual essay, motivation letter, and interview. In a country where access to most courses of study is unrestricted, this gives the college unusual freedoms to select its students. AUC in particular takes into account international experience.[9]

Tuition and Scholarships

As of the academic year of 2012/13, the tuition fee amounts to 3,901 Euro for Dutch and EU/EEA students and 11,491 Euro for all other international students.[10]

The law "ruim baan voor talent",[11] passed in 2011, allows some public universities to ask higher tuition fees from their students. For programs that offer services beyond regular standards, universities are allowed to charge more than the regular tuition fees (1771 Euro in 2012/13).[12] AUC has been awarded the "Distinctive feature of small-scale and intensive education" by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Council (NVAO) required under the law.[10]

Scholarship Fund

About 15% of students are supported by the AUC scholarship fund.[13] The fund awards full scholarships of 5,000 Euro for Dutch/EU/EEA and 15,000 Euro for international students, as well as partial scholarships up to half the amount.[14] In addition, the Diversity Award Programme of the AUC scholarship fund provides scholarships specifically for Dutch minority students, with the aim to increase the diversity of the student body.[15][16]

The AUC Scholarship Fund is supported by VU, UvA, and the Amsterdam University College Student Association; as well as a range of corporate sponsors. The latter include Rabobank, Royal Dutch Shell, Schiphol Group, Akzo Nobel, KLM, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.[14]


The AUC programme is a fully accredited joint bachelor programme of the VU University Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The Dutch government allocates responsibility for accreditation to the NVAO (the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders). The AUC programme was accredited by the NVAO on 2 September 2008. Upon successful completion of the programme students receive a joint Bachelor honours degree from the VU University Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the title Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc).

AUC has been awarded the "Distinctive feature of small-scale and intensive education" by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Council (NVAO), which is required from Dutch institutes of higher education for raising tuition fees beyond the national standard.[10]

Campus and Location

The AUC building at Amsterdam Science Park

AUC is a residential college with a campus in the Science Park Amsterdam. It is located in the borough of Amsterdam-Oost, in what was formerly the borough of Watergraafsmeer. The campus houses an academic building, completed in 2012, and student residences managed by the student housing cooperation DUWO.

Academic Building

AUC has a main academic building in the Science Park, where most classes are taught. In line with AUC's promise of small classes, the building does not have an auditorium; larger events take place in its common room area. Lecture rooms and study areas are spread over four levels, and teacher's rooms are notably located in areas accessible to students.[17]

The AUC academic building, opened in 2012, was designed by Mecanoo architects. Its exterior appearance is dominated by a façade of rust-coloured steel plates. The interior design received praise in the media for its "open character".[17] The building won the 2013 Amsterdam Architecture Prize, for "the simplicity of its shape [and] its surprising interior. A variety of different types of space with a range of educational functions meet, connect and merge under one substantial roof, which is spectacular and yet unobtrusive."[18]

The architecture of the academic building emphasises environmental sustainability. The roof is planted with grass, increasing isolation and acting as a water storeroom. In combination with a geothermal heat pump, this serves to minimise energy loss and consumption.[17]

Before moving to its current location, for the first three years of its existence AUC had a temporary academic building in the Plantage quarter, associated with the Roeterseiland location of the University of Amsterdam and opposite of the city's zoo, Artis.

Student Residences

Students are required to maintain residence on campus for the whole duration of their studies. The student dorms are located on the Science Park campus in close proximity to AUC's academic building. The dorm buildings are administered by Dutch student housing specialist DUWO.

Science Park

The Science Park Amsterdam was initiated in 1996 as the location for a cluster of university buildings, research institutes and businesses.[17] Next to AUC, the area also houses the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Sciences and several research institutes for physics, computer science, and mathematics. With two colocations of the Amsterdam Internet Exchange at the institutes SARA and NIKHEF, the Science Park Amsterdam is one of the major Internet hubs in Europe.

The Amsterdam Science Park railway station connects the area to Amsterdam Central Station and Schiphol Airport in one direction and Almere in the other. A bus line connects the Science Park to Muiderpoort and Amstel railway stations.

Student Life

As a small residential college, AUC has a close-knit student community. Parts of campus life are organised by student committees, although many activities take place in an informal framework. In particular Dutch students of AUC also participate in student organisations off campus, including fraternities at the University of Amsterdam and the traditional student rowing clubs, Nereus and Skøll.

Student Body

AUC annually admits 300 students, most of whom join for the fall semester; though spring admission is possible.[8] At the beginning of the year of 2013/14, enrollment was at about 750 students.

About 40% of student at Amsterdam University College come from abroad, roughly as many as come from the Netherlands (minority and foreign-educated Dutch students excluded). International students hail from more than 60 countries, though most are citizens of the European Union. In addition, in 2012/13, 12% of AUC students had a Dutch minority background. AUC has stated its aim to raise the minority population to 20% by means of scholarships and increased outreach to high schools.[19]

Clubs and Organisations

Student activities at AUC are organised under the umbrella of the Amsterdam University College Student Association (AUCSA). The Student Association derives its budget from an annual membership fee collected via tuition payments. Funds are used to support independently run student committees.

In 2013-14, there were 22 recognised student committees.[20] These included groups dedicated to Model United Nations (AIMUN), sports (AISA), arts, sustainability (ASUSA), debating, gardening, volunteerism (Hands On), music (MAPS), yoga and mediation, performing arts (On Stage), cinema (Screen), and parties and events (Solace); as well as the publications Scriptus and InPrint, and the yearbook.

Student Politics

Until the academic year 2012/13, students were represented by the elected five-member Student Council responsible for administrative matters, as well as three non-elected student members (alongside three faculty members) on the Board of Studies, with an advisory function on academic matters. As of 2012/13, Student Council and Board of Studies have undergone an experimental merger, forming a College Council with five representatives of student body and faculty each.[21] A further student representative on the Board of AUC fulfills a non-voting supervisory function.


Many alumni of Amsterdam University College go on to pursue graduate studies both in the Netherlands and abroad. Alumni of Amsterdam University College's first graduating class in 2012 have gone on to pursue postgraduate studies at universities including the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics, University College London, King's College London, the University of Edinburgh, Columbia University, Beijing University, Uppsala University, and TU Delft;[22] while others have remained associated with the parent institutions University of Amsterdam and VU Amsterdam. Alumni of the class of 2013 are now attending, next to the international universities named above, the Sciences Po Paris, HEC Paris, University of Cambridge, University of Geneva, University of Freiburg, and University of Lund.[1]

Based on their studies at Amsterdam University College, alumni have won scholarships including from the UK Research Councils, the VSB Fonds,[23] and the Amsterdam Merit Scholarship.

Alumni are organised in the AUC Alumni Association.[24]

Notable Alumni


  1. ^ a b c d e f Amsterdam University College. (2013). Quality Report 2012-2013.
  2. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2013). AUC Informational Sheet 2013-2015. Retrieved January 13, 2013 from
  3. ^ Redden, E. (2013). Liberal Arts Go Dutch. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from
  4. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2012). Academic Core. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from
  5. ^ Nationale Studentenenquête. (2013). Liberal Arts and Sciences (joint degree), Universiteit van Amsterdam. Studiekeuze123. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from
  6. ^ University of Amsterdam. Topuniversities. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Amsterdam University College. (2013). Your major. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from
  8. ^ a b Amsterdam University College. (2012). AUC Welcomes Class of 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  9. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2013). AUC's admission requirements. Retrieved January 13, 2014 from
  10. ^ a b c Amsterdam University College. (2012). Fees and costs. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  11. ^ Eerste Kamer der Staten-Generaal. (2011). Ruim baan voor talent. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  12. ^ Agterberg, R. (2012). Hoger collegegeld University College. DUB. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  13. ^ van der Wende, M. (2012). Welcome to Amsterdam University College!. Amsterdam University College. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  14. ^ a b Amsterdam University College. (2012). AUC Scholarship Fund. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  15. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2013). ASF-DAP Awards. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  16. ^ Meer diversiteit met de DAP awards van AUC. (2013). Qompas Magazine. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  17. ^ a b c d de Reuver, P. (2012). Stadsgezichten: Amsterdam University College. Het Parool. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  18. ^ ARCAM. (2013). Amsterdam University College Winnaar Gouden A.A.P. 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  19. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2013). AUC to extend scholarships in 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  20. ^ AUCSA. (2012). Committees. MyAUC. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  21. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2013). Student Council. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  22. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2012). First Amsterdam University College Graduation Ceremony. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  23. ^ Amsterdam University College. (2013). AUC students receive VU grant. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  24. ^ AUC Alumni Association
  25. ^ Huntington, P. (2013, August 18). Nimue Smit for Jigsaw Australia Spring/Summer 2013/2014. Frockwriter. Retrieved October 7, 2013.

External links

  • Amsterdam University College
  • VU University Amsterdam
  • University of Amsterdam
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