History of the UvA

Roots in the Golden Age

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) has its roots in the seventeenth century. In 1632, during the Dutch Golden Age, the Athenaeum Illustre was founded in Amsterdam to train students in Trade and Philosophy.

UvA building the Agnietenkapel

Because the Athenaeum Illustre was not yet a proper university, classes were usually taught in professors’ homes. Until the nineteenth century, the Athenaeum remained a small institution with no more than 250 students and eight teachers. This changed in 1877, when the Athenaeum Illustre became the University of Amsterdam and was permitted to confer academic degrees.

From the two subjects offered by the Athenaeum Illustre, the UvA has expanded into a comprehensive university with seven major faculties, namely: Economics and Business, Dentistry, Humanities, Law, Medical Sciences, Science, and the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Collectively these faculties conduct research and education in over sixty disciplines. The University's strong historical bond with the city has remained throughout these changes.

Tradition and modernity

The University is housed in both old and modern buildings, most of which are located in the historic city centre. The combination of beautiful historical buildings and state-of-the-art facilities is what makes the UvA so unique.

Amsterdam, Leidseplein, Theatre

Research: a critical perspective

The intellectual atmosphere at the UvA is critical and socially engaged. The University’s scholarly research has an excellent national and international reputation. Research at the UvA is frequently interdisciplinary, and staff and students are encouraged to push the traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Room to develop

With nearly 30,000 students and 5,000 staff, the UvA is one of the four ‘classical’ comprehensive universities in the Netherlands. This means that it offers a wide range of programmes. ‘Classical’ also means that education is seen as valuable in and of itself, and is not just guided by the whims of the labour market.

Above all, the UvA seeks to provide a place for the development of talent, where students and researchers alike are brought into contact with diverging and sometimes conflicting points of view. In short, the University is a place where students learn to think in an original and independent way.

Published by  University of Amsterdam

19 April 2016