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History Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science in Nijmegen was founded in 1957. The new faculty was nationwide considered to considerably strengthen the scientific knowledge infrastructure that was highly desired to go with the industrial developments in the Netherlands after the war.

Initially, the faculty grew fast. During the eighties and nineties the inflow of students decreased, but dva_huygens_7361because of the commitment to the so-called “Nijmegen model” the faculty revived spectacularly. Also with regard to research the faculty is significantly successful. Since 2007, the faculty has been housed in the Huygens building and a few buildings around it.

Below, you can find the in-depth story of the Faculty of Science’s colourful history.

The sixties

In the sixties, the faculty expanded further in accordance with contemporary modern insights in which research and education were no longer practiced in autonomous laboratories with the professor in a key position. Instead, it developed into an organisation with large-scale research facilities, accommodation, and all supporting services were housed together, which improved both the quality and efficiency of the faculty.

The faculty’s expectations and ambitions were high, causing it to grow quickly in the sixties. Initially, the Faculty of Science consisted of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology; later, computing science and astronomy were added.

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Successfully obtaining research funds

Already in the sixties, the faculty was confronted with the consequences of the nationwide budget cuts in higher education, even though the development was still in progress. Nonetheless, the faculty achieved good results for educating students and conducting research. Partly because the number of students at the faculty increased steadily, causing less time to be available for research, the faculty actively focused on obtaining research funds from the second and third flows of funds. This soon proved to be successful, and has continued to be increasingly successful throughout the years.

Currently, the faculty is obtaining as much money from other flows of funds as from the government’s first flow of funds. The focus on a limited number of fields of research, led by excellent researchers, and the collaborations between researchers and multidisciplinary research institutes have played an important part in the successes of education and research, as well as the successful acquisition of external funding.

The roaring eighties and nineties

The development of the numbers of students was, by contrast, less successful for a while: during the eighties and nineties, in accordance with the nationwide trend, the inflow of students decreased steadily. At the end of the nineties, the future of our faculty was unsure partly because, during that same time, an important decision needed to be made regarding the new housing of the faculty, as the existing buildings did not meet the needs and requirements anymore. In response to this situation, the faculty developed a strategy to attract more students based on intensive relations with VWO institutions and the labour market, broad Bachelor’s programmes, modern and stimulating didactics, and by connecting the study programmes to both the strong research profile of the Faculty of Science as well as the career prospects of science students. This model proved to be very effective: the inflow of students in our study programmes increased spectacularly from 200 first year students in 1998, to 600 first year students in 2013. The past few years, this inflow has stabilised.

The Nijmegen model

This so-called Nijmegen model has now gained national and international recognition as a “good practice” for stimulating the inflow of students to the study programmes as well as the innovation of the study programmes. Since 2007, the faculty is housed in the magnificent Huygens building, which has an open structure, stimulating interaction between students and staff members. Due to the great increase of students and staff members, some groups are currently being housed in a few smaller buildings around the Huygens building.