Location WSAN 2014

courtege in Utrecht city centre

Utrecht University

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University has evolved into a modern and leading institution with a growing international reputation. The Shanghai Ranking ranks the university in the Netherlands on 1, on a 13th place in Europe and worldwide on a shared 52nd place. Inspiration, ambition, independence and commitment are the core values that define both the conduct and attitude of the students and employees of Utrecht University.

Broad degree offerings

Utrecht University offers 50 Bachelor’s and 169 Master’s degree programmes, many of them English-taught. The University is home to 29.755 students and 6.500 staff. Each year, more than 2000 students and researchers from abroad come to Utrecht for a short or longer time.

Multi-faceted and innovative research

Utrecht University conducts fundamental and applied research in a wide array of disciplines. Its wide-ranging research activity provides an inspiring basis for multidisciplinary research inside and outside the University. The University works collaboratively with the business sector to undertake societally relevant and innovative research.

University Hall

University Hall

The WSAN 2014 is held at the Academiegebouw, or ‘University Hall’, in the central Dom Square. This building is used for academic ceremonies such as graduations and has a rich history.The oldest part of the University Hall, called the Treaty of Utrecht Hall or Auditorium, was completed in 1462. It was here that the Treaty of Utrecht was signed in 1579, an event that is generally viewed as marking the origin of the Dutch nation. The statue of Jan van Nassau, standing in front of the University Hall, serves as a reminder of this important occasion.


When Utrecht University was founded in 1636 it was given the Auditorium by the city. The University chose ‘Sol Iustitiae Illustra Nos’ (May the Sun of Righteousness Enlighten Us) as its motto and a sun (Sol) as its symbol. The University motto can be observed on the solar globe in Dom Square and in one of the sculptured reliefs on the University Hall’s facade.

In 1886, the University celebrated its 250th anniversary. On this occasion, the citizenry and the provincial authorities of Utrecht decided to present the University with its own University Hall. The new building would meet the increasing demand for space in which to deliver lectures and hold academic ceremonies.

The University Hall subsequently became the subject of some controversy: some thought it should be built in the Neo-Renaissance style, others that it should reflect the Dom Cathedral’s existing Gothic style. A compromise was reached. This took the form of choosing the Neo-Renaissance style while siting the building a little farther from the Dom Cathedral than was originally planned. The rather odd kink in the facade of the University Hall is a clear reminder of this compromise.

In 2002, Utrecht University decided to renovate the University Hall and restore its original glory. Nowadays the building is used for academic ceremonies.