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Diversity

The VU strives for 'inclusive excellence' through four pillars, whereby students, teachers, lecturers, and employees within VU use mutual differences to stimulate more creativity and talent development.

Society and with it our university community has a wide variety of gender, sexual orientation, nationalities, cultures, ways of thinking and religions. In addition, a lot of attention is paid to employees and students with disabilities. 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.

Diversity at VU Amsterdam

  • News and events

    Diversity Office organizes Courageous Conversations
    Courageous Conversations are about uncomfortable questions with sometimes abrasive answers.

    Together with you, we want to build a community in which everyone can feel involved. We want to bring the conversation on institutionalised racism more out into the open. And in doing so, our students and staff strengthen their multi-coloured identities with pride to give shape VU Amsterdam. With the Courageous Conversations we want to facilitate change-makers, by bringing them into contact in an open conversation with what is really going on on campus, and with the people who are needed to make changes happen. Anyone can be a changemaker.

    Each conversation is open to a maximum of 50 people from the VU Amsterdam community, and we use Zoom breakout rooms to discuss topics more in-depth and personally. The topics for these Courageous Conversations are partly determined by you. If there's a topic you’d like to discuss, you can: the subject isn't fixed for every conversation. In this way we make room to discuss current events as well as giving space to sentiments that live within our community. You can email your input for Courageous Conversations to divers@vu.nl.

    Each Courageous Conversation takes place at a different time, sometimes in Dutch and sometimes in English. Find all upcoming editions here.

    Amsterdam Agreement higher education
    21 September, the Executive Board of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and five Amsterdam based higher educational institutions, have signed an agreement in favour of diverse, inclusive and societally engaged higher education. The institutions are collectively committing to ensure an inclusive and just society, in which there is no room for racism or discrimination.  With the ‘Amsterdam Agreement higher education’ they express their dedication to setting concrete and measurable goals. These goals emphasize the opposing of inequality of opportunity, pursuing better representation, accessibility, involvement in the city, shared knowledge production and a safe learning and working environment for everyone. It is the first time that Amsterdam based universities, arts schools and universities of applied sciences are uniting in this way. Read the agreement here (in Dutch).

    Anti-Racism Statement VU Amsterdam
    Read here the statement that VU Amsterdam has issued in response to #BlackLivesMatter protests in 2020

  • Diversity and Corona

    The Diversity Office of VU Amsterdam has made an analysis of the potential consequences of the Corona measures for education and students. Within VU, the student participation council has already pointed out the risk that the Corona Crisis will lead to increasing inequality between the various student groups. Among other things, Science Guide (4 May) pays attention to the memorandum [in Dutch] that is widely distributed within and outside VU Amsterdam.

  • Survey: Belonging@VU

    In the spring of 2019 students of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam filled out the 'Belonging@VU' survey. Based on their participation in the survey we have published the Belonging@VU report.

    Researched topics
    In the Belonging@VU 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.

  • Strategy plan Diversity Office 2021-2024

    Read about our plans for the upcoming years (2021-2024) here.

  • Diversity in education

    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.

    Feroz Amirkhan, student Economics and Business administration
    "Diversity policy is important because it contributes to a sense of inclusiveness, evokes understanding for the perspectives of others and creates awareness about how enriching a diverse study and research environment is."

    Projects within this pillar 

    • Mixed Classroom Educational Model
      Varying perspectives, experiences, communication styles and learning styles are a rich resource. To strengthen the learning of all students, at VU, we implement teaching according to the VU Mixed Classroom Educational model. This educational approach capitalizes on differences. Aim is not to reach compromise between different perspectives, but the usage of the differences and possible tension between perspectives to stimulate critical thinking, develop analytical skills, and generate creative solutions. For more information about the three-phase model, strategies, learning goals and practical teaching activities see the Mixed Classroom website.
      Contact: Siema Ramdas & Marieke Slootman
    • 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
  • In, through and outflow of students

    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.

    Student 5 VWO:
    "Because of Be Prepared I started to think more about who I am and what I want. I has changed my life."

    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
  • Inclusive learning and working environment

    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.

    Jaap Winter - Former Chairman of the Executive Board:
    "Diversity is an enrichment for our university community. But society also needs the diverse talent that we educate here. Abraham Kuyper already said it years before his founding of the VU: Uniformity is the curse of modern life."

    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: women@vu.nl
    • Diversity Policy Toolkit
      The Diversity Office designed a toolkit that might help VU faculties taking into account different aspects of diversity and inclusion within their organization. The Diversity Policy Toolkit can be found here.
    • 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
  • Expertise development

    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 CrulHalleh Ghorashi en Petra Verdonk.

    Halleh Ghorashi - Professor of diversity and integration at the VU:
    "Diversity is accompanied by tensions that make it possible to question daily routines. When people from different backgrounds take on these challenges and rise above themselves, this leads to innovation and connection; to creating a community that is more than the sum of its parts. Universities have a crucial task in researching and facilitating this process."

    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
  • Projects

    Do you want to know more about one of our projects? Please contact the relevant person, or send an e-mail to divers@vu.nl.

    • Diversity in Education
    • Intercultural Competences
    • Bonding and Bridging
    • Be Prepared
    • Better Prepared
    • Exchange UCLA
    • Meet your Mentor
    • Collaboration Amsterdam-West
    • More Color at the Top
    • Diversity-Scan
    • The Future is Diversity
    • Research Exchange
    • Aurora Network
  • Networks

    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: pride@vu.nl

    VU Pride is the LGTBQ network within VU Amsterdam for everyone who wants to contribute to a study and work environment in which everyone's orientation and gender are accepted. Keep an eye on our page for more information.

    Do you have ideas, suggestions or questions? Fun! Mail us at pride@vu.nl!
    Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

    Would you like to help organize events or think about LGBTQ issues at the university? Even better! Sign up quickly.

    Wo/men Netwerk@VU 
    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: women@vu.nl

    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: contactvufamily@gmail.com. Follow VU Family on Facebook or Instagram.

  • Collaborative partners

    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.