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Project Strategic Plan 2021-2026

Higher education institutions are legally obliged to formulate a strategic plan. The Executive Board therefore adopts an institutional plan once every six years. In this plan, the University of Amsterdam describes its ambitions and proposed strategy for the coming six years. On this page you can read more about the creation of the new Strategic Plan and the different phases in the process.

Why is it important to have a strategic plan?

In the first place because it’s a legal obligation. But even more importantly, a strategic plan provides clarity on the UvA’s direction: what do we want to achieve in the coming years and how do we want to do that? Our mission and core values form the starting point as we work towards our longer term vision. A strategic plan also provides insight into external factors and strategic choices that we must make. A good strategic plan thus provides clarity about our direction and serves as a guide for making decisions about what we will and won’t do, and how we will do that.

Duration of a Strategic Plan

The time frame for the strategic plan is six years. The current strategic plan was established in 2021 and will therefore run until the end of 2026. Below you can read how the current plan was created

Stage 0: assembling the building blocks

When preparing the new Strategic Plan, it is important to work on the basis of a shared vision. The shared vision provides direction to policy and describes what the UvA aims to achieve and what others may expect from us. When determining the vision, we will use ‘building blocks’: the many policy documents that have recently been prepared (such as the Diversity Policy Document and the HR Agenda) or those currently being drafted (the Vision on Teaching and Learning, and the Sustainability Policy).

The advantage is that there will be strong coherence between these policy documents and the Strategic Plan that will set out the strategic direction for the years ahead. Another major advantage is that many people at the UvA have already contributed their ideas during the process of preparing policy documents so that we can make good use of the thinking power of the university.

Stage 1: discussing topics

During the first stage, which ran from September until the end of December 2019, the Executive Board held discussions on various topics with various groups. The Strategic Plan is a fixed item on the agenda of meetings with the deans and the representative advisory bodies. Furthermore, round-table meetings were held in September and October on topics that were not reflected in the above policy documents. A one-day conference took place in November, in which a larger group of UvA representatives discussed the dilemmas in the years ahead. The result of stage 1 is a document that concisely describes the starting points and the vision for the new Strategic Plan.

Overview of round-table discussions and conference

  • 25 September 2019, ‘Teamwork’

    The key concept of the HR Agenda, which was adopted a few years ago and is currently being implemented, is that the relationship between the university and staff must be of a reciprocal nature and that today group and teamwork is called for in academia. The ‘Managing your workload’ programme has moreover revealed that working in teams can contribute to managing workload more effectively. We will therefore use the period ahead to initiate a movement in which team performance is recognised and rewarded. The university organisation will essentially miss out on opportunities if it continues to wait until every individual possesses ‘all’ the required qualities for education, research and valorisation in equal measure. If a team ensures an optimal composition of staff qualities at team level, talent will be able to flourish and the university will be able to leverage the available knowledge capital.

    Questions:

    How can we promote teamwork in practice?

    • What do we need to work on to foster this movement? (For example, very simply: where can you create a team space within a reasonable time frame?)
    • How can you create a culture in which teamwork is clearly recognised and utilised?

    • How do you encourage team building between people who are situated at some distance from each other?

    • How will we manage the differences between the disciplinary cultures in this area?

    What are the potential effects of working in teams and how should we manage them?

    • What is the reporting line for a team?
    • How do you offer young academics sufficient opportunities to distinguish themselves to further their career if this no longer proceeds in the traditional individual manner?
    • Relationship between this discussion and the VSNU Recognition & Rewards programme: how can we introduce new appraisal standards in an effective manner, in a global playing field?

  • 3 October 2019, ‘Lifelong Development/Lifelong Learning’ (LLD/LLL)

    The growing importance on the labour market of continuous training for staff has been discussed for many years. In some sectors, such as the medical sector, this has long been cemented in professional practice, but the importance of continuous training increasingly applies to all disciplines. This is because careers span a longer period of time and extend across several, if not numerous, employers, knowledge is becoming obsolete more quickly than ever and continuous training contributes to career development and growth.

    The programmes offered in the Netherlands are fragmented: commercial providers serve the middle segment and universities offer programmes to a limited extent, mainly where a tradition of executive education exists (for example, postgraduate education, the Amsterdam Law School and MBA). This is steadily changing, and universities are preparing a broader range of programmes. The Amsterdam School of Data Science is active in this field and the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences recently launched the UvA Academy, where the other faculties will also be able to offer their study programmes.

    Questions/statements:

    1. (LLL/LLD) is a collective term for obtaining a Master’s degree at a later stage, brushing up knowledge, retraining, short, long... What should the UvA’s ambition focus on? For instance:
      (1) Master's degree programmes directly following on from a Bachelor's programme, fully subsidised by the government, in sectors with sufficient high-end demand;
      (2) shorter study programmes for the public sector (teachers and policy officials);
      (3) dissemination of the latest scientific insights from our own research to the professional field and primarily our own alumni.
    • How can we implement the LLL/LLD task in a more demand-driven manner?
    • How can we arrive at a feasible business model?
    • In what way do the study programmes we offer differ from those of the commercial providers, such as NCOI (partly in view of the competition rules)?
  • 14 November 2019, Conference: 'The University on the Threshold of the 2020s'
    9:00–9:15  Welcome by President of the Executive Board Geert ten Dam
    9:15–10:00  Keynote speech: The University on the Threshold of the ’20s in times of digitization (Veronique Perdereau, Sorbonne)
    10:15–11:15  Group discussions (small groups) in the foyer about various issues
    11:30–12:15  Keynote speech: The Societal Role of the University on the Threshold of the ‘20s, a view from SSH (Claes de Vreese, UvA)
    12:30–13:45  Walking lunch, informal discussion
    14:00–14:45  Keynote speech: The University on the Threshold of the '20s in times of significant change (Michael Arthur, UCL)
    15:00–15:45  Group discussions (small groups) in the foyer about various issues
    16:00-16:45  Plenary panel discussion with three keynote speakers moderated by Michel Haring
    16:45-17:00

     Summary and closing remarks by Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus

    17:00 Informal drinks

     

Stage 2: translation of concept into a new plan

The second stage ran from January until the end of May 2020 when the starting points from stage 1 were translated into the outlines for the new Strategic Plan.

The ‘Outlines for the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan' were submitted for comment in February and March.

Until 12 March 2020, UvA students and staff were able to respond to the document ' Outlines for the 2021 - 2026 strategic plan'  on the online platform Have your say at the UvA.

During this stage, Part 2 of the Strategic Plan is simultaneously prepared, which involves adding further details to the outlines. Moreover, the plan still is a regularly recurring item on the agenda of the meetings between the deans and the representative advisory bodies, and the academic community is approached to provide an opinion and input at this stage.

In addition, the faculties start working on translating the starting points into their own Faculty Strategic Plan; although the time schedule varies by faculty, the aim is that all the faculties must have completed a plan for their faculty by the end of 2020.

Stage 3: Consent and approval

The working document of the strategic plan is now available, incorporating the outlines (including all the feedback provided) and the agenda points for the years ahead. Please note that the Dutch version of the plan is leading.

The working document of the Strategic Plan is discussed with the deans and directors, the representative advisory bodies and the advisory committees. The consequences of the corona crisis – for the government grant and student intake, for instance – will also be included when finalising the plan. The feedback provided during the discussions, as well as the information from Budget Day, is used as input for the Strategic Plan 2021-2026.

The Executive Board provisionally adopted a draft Strategic Plan on 20 October 2020. On 23 October, the draft Strategic Plan was submitted for approval to the Joint Meeting (GV: Gezamenlijke Vergadering) of the Central Works Council (COR) and the Central Student Council (CSR). The plan is expected to be definitively adopted before the end of the year.

Any comments were addressed which had been made regarding the working document version of the Strategic Plan, which was distributed prior to the summer and discussed with the representative advisory bodies over the past months. This consultation round also yielded comments from committees like the University Committee on Education (UCO) and the University Committee on Research (UOC). Other individuals and groups within the UvA, such as the directors of operational management at the faculties, also made proposals regarding the text. These comments were also addressed as well as possible in the draft Strategic Plan as provisionally adopted and formally submitted to the representative advisory bodies for approval. Once consent has been obtained, the Strategic Plan will be submitted to the Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board is required to approve a Strategic Plan.

  • Who had a say in the Strategic Plan?

    Various opportunities were offered to staff and students to have their say, to provide feedback and to contribute content to the Strategic Plan, see the examples in stages 1 and 2. In ‘Stage 3 Consent and Approval’ participation proceeds through the COR and the CSR. Information regarding the Faculty Strategic Plans is provided by the faculties.

  • Why a strategic plan?

    A strategic plan provides clarity on the UvA’s direction: what do we want to achieve in the coming years and how do we want to do that? Our mission and core values form the starting point as we work towards our longer term vision. A strategic plan also provides insight into external factors and strategic choices that we must make. A good strategic plan thus provides clarity about our direction and serves as a guide for making decisions about what we will and won’t do, and how we will do that.