Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Organization Rules and regulations Education

Groningen: elite sports student city!

Are you an elite athlete? Do you want to combine top-level sports with an academic career? If so, the University of Groningen is the place for you.

Our university offers students the freedom to realise their personal ambitions and qualities. We offer exceptional talents, such as elite athletes, the extra boost they need. Our elite sports student programme will help you make the most of both your athletic and professional careers. Follow in the footsteps of hundreds of other athletes! Find out why our programmes for professional athletes is unique to the Netherlands.

What is the Elite Sports Student Programme?

The University of Groningen Elite Sports Student Programme (Studenten Topsportregeling Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, STOR) is designed to help you combine two successful careers. We offer the opportunity to effectively combine your athletic and academic activities. For example, a personal academic career counsellor will help you adjust your learning pace, timetable and examination schedule to your training sessions and competitions where possible. You will also make arrangements on the number of required credits.

While elite sports students are required to complete the full curriculum, you may be exempted from the binding study advice (BSA) under certain conditions. Many athletes have already made use of this option. Students with NOC*NSF elite athlete status are eligible for a special certificate upon graduation. This diploma supplement expresses the appreciation of both the University of Groningen and NOC*NSF.

Elite Sports Student Grant

Students with an elite sports student status are also eligible for financial compensation: the elite sports student grant, a joint scheme offered by Hanze UAS and the University of Groningen. Students may apply for this financial contribution – set at € 2,000 per academic year – a total of four times over the course of their studies. Athletes must meet specific criteria in order to qualify, including requirements with regard to their athletic performance and study progress.

Choosing a degree programme

Free ACLO card and gym membership

The ACLO is the overarching sports association for Hanze UAS and University of Groningen students. ACLO determines the range of sports programmes available to students from both institutions. Students with an elite sports student status can apply for a free ACLO card and gym membership. The card offers access to a broad range of sports activities. We can also help you prepare for a weight training programme and supervise your progress. Specialised courses in the area of sports psychology, taping and bandaging are also available. Visit the ACLO website for more information on the available options.

Extra facilities and activities for athletes

Our athletes can make use of high-end facilities such as test and strength measurements, movement analysis, performance diagnosis and team sport game plan analysis at the SportsFieldLab. We also organise regular activities for our athletes. Our knowledge sessions offer an opportunity to meet other athletes, exchange experiences and learn all about relevant issues such as interacting with the press and promoting yourself on social media. Athletes can also contribute to the University of Groningen's institutional health and vitality. For example, you could team up with other athletes to share your unique stories during a college tour, or hold sports clinics for staff and students.


We work with coaches, trainers, sports associations and various other partners, including Topsport NOORD, NOC*NSF and Hanze UAS.

Do I qualify?

Want to find out whether you qualify for the elite sports student programme and/or the grant? Click here to view the University of Groningen and Hanze UAS Qualification List. The list provides an overview of the requirements for each individual sport. However, our elite sports student programme coordinator may apply these criteria more leniently in practice.

Chosen a degree programme? Time to check whether your athletic programme and academic schedule match up. To start exploring the possibilities (and impossibilities), you can make an appointment with our elite sports student programme coordinator Cees Reitsma at Cees can tell you everything there is to know about our programme, the elite sports student grant and facilities for athletes. Once you have chosen a degree programme at the University of Groningen, you will be subject to the same enrolment requirements as our regular students.

Olympic wall

Students and staff participating in the Olympics alongside their studies or work duties will be given a place of honour at the Zernike Campus! The Hanze UAS/University of Groningen sports centre introduced an Olympic wall in 2012.


Ilse Kolkman

Rower Ilse Kolkman is successfully combining her Pre-Master's in Psychology with a professional athletic career.

Ilse Kolkman

'I've been living and studying in Groningen since 2015. I originally started on a Bachelor's in Educational Sciences, which I followed up with a Pre-Master's in Psychology in preparation for my Master's in Developmental Psychology next year. I chose the University of Groningen because I liked the city. Groningen feels a bit like a town, and I felt at home right away. I started rowing at the Aegir Student Rowing Association in my first year, and kept getting better. I've taken part in two U23 World Championships, and managed to win a silver medal in 2018.

They regularly check whether I'm still managing to combine my studies with the elite sports student programme, and help me make adjustments where necessary. The programme also provides video recordings of lectures so I can follow courses when I'm in Amsterdam or abroad for training or competitions. I can even postpone deadlines and examinations or do them remotely if I really need to. Finally, RUG also offers financial support. For example, I get a free ACLO pass every year for my weight training. Students with an elite sports student status are also reimbursed for exercise tests and functional and physical screenings. Certain athletic achievements also qualify you for a grant.

Elite sports student Ilse Kolkman
Elite sports student Ilse Kolkman

I haven't had any problems combining sports with my studies so far: I officially completed my Bachelor's and finished my Pre-Master's within a year. I row alone a lot, so I'm pretty flexible in terms of when I train; I can generally schedule training sessions around my studies. I also have training sessions in larger boats in Amsterdam with girls from other cities. They're usually scheduled for the weekend, though, so that's generally not a problem. I expect the Master's will be a bit more difficult. I'll be spending a lot of time on my work placement. Still, it doesn't really matter if that means my studies take a bit longer. I'm only 22 now, and I already finished my Bachelor's in three years thanks to the elite sports student programme.'

Roel Boomstra

World Draughts Champion Roel Boomstra is taking a Master's in Physics at the University of Groningen. With graduation drawing near, Roel is happy he chose the RUG.

Roel Boomstra (left)
Roel Boomstra (left)

'I've always liked mathematics, but I was more drawn to the applied part. That is why, in the end, I decided physics would be a better fit. I choose Groningen because it's closest to where I was born in Emmen, and it seemed like a great city. The elite sports student programme also appealed to me.

They help me plan my study activities, I get to reschedule examinations if I have a tournament and I even get to catch up on any lectures I miss. Every year, I finish half an academic year in consultation with my study adviser. That really helps me combine my sport with my studies.

I won the European Championship in 2014 and the World Championship in 2016 and 2018. I'm mainly focused on finishing my degree programme at the moment. I'm not sure what I'll do once I get my degree: I'm keeping all my options open for now.'

Sanneke de Neeling

Professional ice skater Sanneke de Neeling combines her daily training sessions in Thialf arena with her Life Science and Technology studies. She's certainly doing well: in addition to taking part in the World Sprint Speed Skating and Single Distances Speed Skating Championships last year, she was also issued a positive binding enrolment decision.

Sanneke de Neeling
Sanneke de Neeling

'I've been a professional speed skater for over five years now. I live in Heerenveen because it's close to the Thialf arena where I train every day. I'm originally from Rotterdam, though. I'm studying Life Science and Technology and majoring in Biomedical Engineering. The University of Groningen was the most logical option because I wanted to combine studying and skating. It's near Thialf, and they offered the programme I wanted. I'd also heard good things about their elite sports student programme from my team mates.

I get extra leave days and they let me reschedule some examinations and resits and catch up on practicals, which really helps me combine my studies with skating. It all gets a bit stressful at times, but I feel great once I've passed everything.

This year, I'm hoping to take part in the European and World Speed Skating Championships in Single Distances. I dream of taking part in the Olympics one day. In terms of my career, I'd like to work in the biotech sector. I would love to design prostheses.'

Last modified:13 March 2020 12.26 a.m.
printView this page in: Nederlands