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Looking for a small university with great facilities, and the chance to design your own study pathway? University College Utrecht could be for you!
University College Utrecht at a glance:
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Liberal arts and sciences. BA or BSc Students compose their own multi-disciplinary curriculum combining different disciplines from humanities, science and/or social science.
Students who want to feel like part of a supportive, close-knit community.
Students who are determined to study only one subject.
Drs Kim Zwitserloot, Director of International Recruitment and Economics lecturer at University College Utrecht, explains what it’s like to be a student at the university.
What is University College Utrecht (UCU)?
UCU is one of the honours colleges of Utrecht University, similar in setup to the different colleges you might find at Oxford or Cambridge in the UK.
All students here study Liberal Arts and Sciences, which means they study multiple subjects at once. They compose their own curriculum, giving a deeper, broader understanding of the world.
Students at UCU also all live on the same campus, giving a community feel. About half of the students at UCU are international, representing 70 different countries. However, both in lectures and socially, English is the dominant language here.
Why apply to UCU?
The ideal student at UCU is, above all, curious - both academically and socially. Living and studying here gives a great opportunity to meet fellow students from all around the world, whilst studying a mixed programme of subjects too. So your curiosity will be nurtured!
If you're coming from abroad, the transition is relatively easy. There will be lots of students in the same position as you, and even if you don’t speak Dutch, there’s no need to worry - everyone from the bus driver to the shopkeeper speaks English.
Who isn’t the right fit for UCU?
In order to feel at home here, you need to be open to studying a wide range of subjects. If you’re too focused on one subject, you might find studying here quite frustrating. And remember, there are only 750 students here, so for better or worse, you’ll be recognised pretty much wherever you go.
Any application tips?
The application for UCU is quite similar to those for the liberal arts colleges of the USA. So, you’ll need to write a statement of academic motivation, explaining why you want to study your chosen subjects and what kind of learner you are.
You’ll also need to include information on extracurricular activities you’ve enjoyed. This can include organised activities or those run by your school, but should also mention other things you like to do outside of school - and what motivates you.
We’ll need a reference letter, with at least one reference from one of your teachers, and your most recent grade transcript.
Based on this, you may be invited to interview online, and then you will find out whether you have a place!
What’s the location like?
UCU is based in the city of Utrecht, which is the fourth biggest city in The Netherlands. That said, it has only 380,000 inhabitants, so it has all the facilities you’ll need, but on a relatively small scale.
The campus is based in a residential area at the edge of the city. It’s ten minutes from a forest, and ten minutes from the city centre - and here, that means ten minutes by bicycle!
A quarter of the population here are students, so there’s great night life, live music and festivals, restaurants and bars, as well as lots of literary events; Utrecht is a UNESCO city of literature.
For those who want to explore further, the city is also half an hour from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague by train.
What facilities does UCU have to offer?
Students at UCU are also students of Utrecht University, so they can take advantage of all the facilities the university has to offer. That includes a nearby swimming pool, arts classes, sports classes and extra academic courses.
Lectures at UCU normally comprise 20 students, so classes are very interactive, with lots of conversation.
There are lots of extra-curricular spaces on campus, including rehearsal spaces for bands, a theatre, a gym, a football field and a bar.
In addition, there is a small meditation room set up for all the religions in the world, as well as yoga sessions set up by the university’s mindfulness committee.
What is the accommodation like?
At UCU, we believe that most of your learning actually happens outside the classroom! For this reason, all students are expected to live on campus. This is essentially obligatory in the first two years, but you can stay for the whole three years of your studies if you’d like to, which most students choose to do.
Apartments here house four to 12 students, all at different levels of study and on different degree programmes. Most of the rooms are single, furnished rooms, but students share a kitchen, bathroom and living room.
In your second year, you can request a specific building, and you can choose up to three friends who you would prefer to live with.
Want to explore more European universities? Remember, Unifrog’s Shortlisting tool can help you put together a list of great potential courses.