University of Groningen (UG)
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)
Latin: Academia Groningana
MottoVerbum Domini Lucerna Pedibus Nostris (Latin)
Motto in English
The word of the Lord is a light for our feet
TypePublic research university
Established1614; 410 years ago (1614)
PresidentJouke de Vries[1]
RectorJacquelien Scherpen[2]
Academic staff
3,600 employees (in 2020)[3]
Administrative staff
6,250 employees (27 May 2021)[3]
Students34,000 (in 2020)[3]
4,350 (in 2020)[3]
53°13′9″N 6°33′46″E / 53.21917°N 6.56278°E / 53.21917; 6.56278
UG Red, Black & White[4]
AffiliationsCoimbra Group
Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities

The University of Groningen (abbreviated as UG;[5] Dutch: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, abbreviated as RUG) is a public research university of more than 30,000 students in the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. Founded in 1614, the university is the second oldest in the country (after Leiden) and one of the most traditional and prestigious universities in the Netherlands.

The University of Groningen has eleven faculties, nine graduate schools, 27 research centres and institutes, and more than 175-degree programmes. The university's alumni and faculty include Johann Bernoulli, Aletta Jacobs, four Nobel Prize winners, nine Spinoza Prize winners, one Stevin Prize winner, various members of the Dutch royal family, several politicians, the first president of the European Central Bank, and a secretary general of NATO.[6][7][8]


Ubbo Emmius was the first rector magnificus of the University of Groningen

The institution was founded as a college in 1614 in an initiative taken by the Regional Assembly of the city of Groningen and the Ommelanden, or surrounding region. There were four faculties – Theology, Law, Medicine, and Philosophy.[9][10][11]

The coat of arms of the university was confirmed by The Estates of the City and County of Groningen in 1615. It consists of the provincial arms, charged with an open book inscribed with the abbreviated words VER/BVM/DNI LV/CER/NA, short for Verbum Domini Lucerna Pedibus Nostris. The shield is surmounted by a golden crown of five leaves and four pearls.

In the first 75 years of its existence about 100 students enrolled every year.[citation needed] Almost half of the students and lecturers came from outside the Netherlands – the first rector magnificus, Ubbo Emmius, came from East Frisia in modern-day Germany, for instance – but at the same time there was already a close relationship between the university and the city and the surrounding region.[citation needed]

The development of the university came to a standstill at the end of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century because of theological differences of opinion, a difficult relationship with the Regional Assembly and political problems that included the siege of the city by Bommen Berend in 1672.[citation needed] On average two to three hundred students were registered with the university at any one time during this period.

The 19th-century main building in 1858
The 20th-century main building in 2009

During the French occupation between 1775 and 1814 the University of Groningen was administered by the Imperial University of Paris. Unlike Leiden University, it was not shut down and the institute was renamed Imperial University of Groningen (Keizerlijke Universiteit Groningen). During this time period, it remained the only open university in the Kingdom of Holland.[12] In 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, at the same time as Leiden and Utrecht, the university gained recognition as a national college of higher education, but this was followed by discussions about closure. The situation improved when a new main university building, the Academiegebouw, was constructed in 1850, a building that was largely financed by the people of Groningen. A fire completely destroyed the building in 1906.

In the meantime, the Higher Education Act of 1876 had radically improved the position of the university, which was renamed the "Rijksuniversiteit Groningen" (RUG). Teaching took place in Dutch and Latin and the university was given a research as well as an educational duty.

The University of Groningen developed during the first decades of the twentieth century. The number of faculties and courses grew steadily while the number of students grew rapidly. When the university celebrated its first 300 years in 1914 there were 611 registered students; this had grown to 1,000 by 1924. After a drop back during the Depression, and in particular during the Second World War, the number of students grew rapidly from 1945 to reach 20,000 in 1994. In recent times there are about 32,700 students registered at the University of Groningen with the number of foreign students again growing steadily, and following the tradition set by the first Rector Magnificus, the number of German students and researchers has grown strongly in recent years.

In March 2015, the RUG signed an agreement with the China Agricultural University to establish a campus in the Chinese city of Yantai. This would have made the RUG the first Dutch university to open a campus in China.[13] The plan was heavily criticised, mainly due to worries about the restriction of academic freedom caused by censorship in China.[14] In January 2018, the plans were cancelled by the Executive Board of the UG, based on the "insufficient support for the project".[15]

Facts and figures

Students numbers

Key facts and figures about the University of Groningen are:[3]

The university operates under the BSA system, under which a first year undergraduate (bachelor) student must achieve a certain number of ECTS in order to progress to the second year. This varies from 30 ECTS to 45 ECTS among various degrees.[17]

RUG has its own newspaper: the Universiteitskrant [nl].[18]

The university's Center for Information Technology (CIT) houses an IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer and data center of Target used by the LOFAR project as well as a Virtual Reality and 3D-visualisation center.[19]

Rankings and reputation

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[20]66 (2022)
CWUR World[21]106 (2023)
CWTS World[22]112 (2023)
QS World[23]139 (2024)
THE World[24]75 (2023)
USNWR Global[25]88 (2022-23)


Administration Building, Oude Boteringestraat 44

The RUG has 6,250 employees.[38]

The university library was renovated between 2013 and 2017.[39] The RUG has a branch in Leeuwarden.[40] Plans to establish a "branch campus" in China's Yantai were called off in January 2018, and the University Museum is now in the process of being established.[41]

The University of Groningen is represented in the Academic Heritage Foundation, a foundation that aims to preserve university collections and cultural treasures.[42]


Academy Building of the University of Groningen in 2019
Duisenberg building (Faculty of Economics and Business)
Harmonie building of the Faculty of Arts and Law
Faculty of Medical Sciences
Linnaeusborg (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
Bernoulliborg (Faculty of Science and Engineering)
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Smitsborg (Donald Smits Centre of Information Technology, CIT)
Kapteynborg (Astronomy)
KVI-CART Research institute

The University of Groningen is organized in eleven faculties that offer programmes and courses in the fields of humanities, social sciences, law, economics and business, spatial sciences, life sciences, and natural sciences and technology. Each faculty (cf., College in the USA or School in Europe) is a formal grouping of academic degree programmes, schools and institutes, discipline areas, research centres, and/or any combination of these drawn together for educational purposes. Each faculty offers bachelor's, master's, PhD, and exchange programmes, while some also offer short certificate courses.

Since 2014, the RUG also has a partly independent liberal arts college, University College Groningen (UCG).[43][44]

National Cooperation

International Cooperation

The University of Groningen engages in many types of international cooperation throughout both teaching and research. The main networks and partners[45] of the university are:


The various faculties are housed around the city. Most of the faculties- including the faculties of Law, Arts and Philosophy are located in and around the city center. The university's original building, which acts as the main administrative building, lies exactly in the center of the city at the Broerstraat. The faculty of medical sciences is located close by at the University Medical Center Groningen(UMCG). The Faculties of Economics and Business, Spatial Sciences, and Science and Engineering are housed in the northern outskirts of the city, at the Zernike Campus, named after Nobel Prize winner Frits Zernike. The Zernike campus is also shared by the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the other big university in the city, making the total number of students studying there around 40,000.[49]

The university has libraries in three locations: the main one at the city center, one in the Duisenberg building in Zernike Campus, and one in the faculty of medicine, that includes a vast array of books and online material for students. The library at the city center also has a Starbucks on its premises. The university has also recently opened another campus in Leeuwarden, Friesland, referred to as "Campus Fryslân", that offers multiple disciplines in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.[50]

Student life

The city of Groningen is known as the student city of the Netherlands; around one-third of the city's residents are students at either The University of Groningen or at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. The university, through ACLO,[51] offers a wide range of sporting activities, and courses. Almost each sport has its own association, and offers the use of its facilities at discount rates for students.[52]

The university also has multiple student societies that organize social events for its members, as well as student and study associations, that are mostly concerned with specific faculties and courses.

The use of bicycles as the means for transport is particularly prevalent for locals and students alike, and has integrated, labelled bike paths from the city center to Zernike. The city is popularly referred to as "The World Cycling City" because of this.[53]

Student housing

The University of Groningen does not have student accommodation. It does, however, offer students with accommodation via SSH Student Housing, which operates student houses in various locations in Groningen, and various other cities within the Netherlands.[54] A significant number of students live in private accommodations within the city, however, a recent addition to the housing options for students is The Student Hotel as well. In an effort to combat the annual housing shortage, the city of Groningen has incentivized the construction of short-term accommodation such as The Village which is made of shipping containers for international students.[55] The Dutch government has strict laws for private accommodations for both tenants (students) and the landlords, so that fair rent prices, and renting conditions can be maintained.[56]

In 2018, the university received national attention due to the housing crisis in the city of Groningen. Due to the fact that most incoming students at the university are primarily from other parts of the country, or the world, there has been a lack of housing options for students.[57] Especially in the fall semester of 2021 the housing crisis hit its peak with hundreds of students reportedly not having any accommodation and resorting to emergency shelters. [58] The housing shorting evoked a protest in the city centre which culminated in the Academy building being temporarily occupied by students to put pressure on the city to extend emergency housing. [59]


In 2019, 708 PhD students were admitted to a PhD programme (compared to 816 in 2018). Around 50% of the admitted PhD students came from abroad. In 2019, a total of 546 PhDs took place, 22 of them cum laude. The national share was thus around 11%.[60]

Research schools, centres and institutes

Humanities and Social Sciences


Economics & Business

Life Sciences

Science and Engineering[68]

Graduate schools

The University of Groningen's Graduate Schools are organized somewhat different from its international counterparts.[69] The main difference is that the Graduate Schools do not contain all Master's programmes; Graduate Schools manage and facilitate the two-year Master's programmes: top master's degree programmes and Research master's degree programmes.

Notable alumni

Notable alumni of the University of Groningen include:[70]

Heads of Government

Business leaders

Economists and researchers



Notable researchers

See also


  1. ^ "[1]" (Press release University of Groningen)
  2. ^ "[2]" (Press release University of Groningen)
  3. ^ a b c d e "Key figures". 14 July 2004. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  4. ^ "Principal colour". University of Groningen. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  5. '^ "Rug wordt 'joedzjie". Universiteitskrant. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Prominent Professors | History | University Museum | Public outreach | Society/Business | University of Groningen". Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  7. ^ "Awards and medals | Facts and figures | Our position | About us | University of Groningen". 13 June 2006. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Spinoza Prize winners 1996-2020 | NWO Spinoza Prize | Top researchers | Leading research | Research | University of Groningen". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Groningen, University of". 22 March 2011.
  10. ^ "University of Groningen: Facts & Figures".
  11. ^ "Article in U.S. News & World Report; accessed on 11 July 2017".
  12. ^ De Keizerlijke Universiteit | Rug 400
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  14. ^ "De China-plannen van Rijksuniversiteit Groningen". NOS. 31 August 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Rijksuniversiteit Groningen blaast plan Chinees filiaal af". NOS. 29 January 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  16. ^ Research Master's and Top (Master's) programmes - website University of Groningen
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  40. ^ Rijksuniversiteit Groningen/Campus Fryslân
  41. ^ "University of Groningen cancels plan for Chinese branch",, 29 januari 2018, access-date=12 December 2021
  42. ^ The University of Groningen is a member of the Academic Heritage Foundation
  43. ^ "Op University College geen zesjesstudenten". De Volkskrant. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  44. ^ "BA/BSc Liberal Arts & Sciences". 5 October 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
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  46. ^ "Enlight website".
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  78. ^ Klaas Knot wordt nieuwe president van DNB
  79. ^ (PDF) Changes in publication culture and the Stapel fraud case | ruud abma -
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Further reading

Media related to Rijksuniversiteit Groningen at Wikimedia Commons