Although the economic crisis also had negative consequences for higher education, there were many positive points for the University of Groningen in 2011.
The number of students, Dutch and international, reached an all-time high, for example.
The University of Groningen also climbed virtually all the international ranking lists of research institutions.
This is revealed not only by the Annual Report 2011 (the official accountability document) but also by the Annual Review 2011, an overview of current affairs for the general public.
Unlike in previous years, the official Annual Report 2011 has only appeared in digital form. The Annual Review 2011 is published as a brochure, in both Dutch and English.
The number of students climbed to an all-time high of over 28,000 (reference date 1 October 2011). The number of first-year students increased to over 5,900, despite some degree programmes having a fixed intake quota.
The intake of foreign students at the University of Groningen is currently growing by about 10 percent a year. At the start of academic year 2011-2012, the University welcomed 1,400 new students and PhD students from 125 different countries. Questionnaires have also revealed that foreign students experience their time studying in Groningen as stimulating. Of all Dutch universities, the University of Groningen was given the highest ‘recommendation mark’ by its foreign students.
It is also encouraging that the average study duration is declining. The introduction of the Binding Study Advice (BSA system) in 2010 has turned out to be a success, not only technically and organizationally, but also in relation to content. Student study success has increased significantly. The percentage of students who earn all 60 ECTS credit points within a year increased from 30 to 40, and the percentage of students who earned at least 40 ECTS in the first year increased from 63 to 75. The Elsevier questionnaire has revealed that students are also happy with this situation, as for the first time the University of Groningen achieved a joint first place with regard to student satisfaction.
In 2011, research at the University of Groningen scored significant successes, including the development of a nano-scale molecular vehicle by Prof. Ben Feringa’s research group. This is a scientific breakthrough, and the reason why the journal Nature published it as a cover article. Further, the Chinese Academy of Sciences qualified this nano vehicle as one of the ten most important scientific breakthroughs in 2011.
Another example of top research concerns the way the ageing process of body cells can be studied and perhaps delayed. An article about this by Dr Bart van der Sluis, in a cooperation funded by alumnus Paul Baan with Prof. Jan van Deursen of the Mayo Clinics in Rochester (US), was allocated a place by the journal Science in the top 10 of scientific articles in 2011.
In 2011, the University of Groningen again climbed the ranks on various international ranking lists. In the Academic Ranking for World-Class Universities of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University China, the University climbed from 109th place to 103rd place, opening the way to a top 100 position in 2012. Research quality was also demonstrated in other international ranking lists. Groningen is one of the fastest growing universities, measured by the number of publications appearing each year in renowned journals.
Another important indicator for the quality of Groningen research is that the University was awarded a large number of prestigious research grants by the European Research Council (ERC). Nine ERC Starting Grants were awarded to the University of Groningen, from a total of 47 for all Dutch universities and a total of 480 in all of Europe. The University of Groningen was also successful on three occasions for an ERC Advanced Grant, a much more selective grant. In money terms, this is worth over EUR 20 million.
The Healthy Ageing, Energy and Sustainable Society research fields have developed into the University’s most important spearheads. ERIBA, the European Institute on the Biology of Ageing of the UMCG and the University of Groningen, attracted top researchers from all over the world and has already produced important publications.
Energy research took firm shape when a FOM focus grant of EUR 5 million was awarded to Kees Hummelen’s group. Further, projects in the Energy Delta Gas Research programme (EDGAR) and the Dutch national research programme on CO2 capture, transport and storage (CATO) were started up. In 2011, the University of Groningen and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen also launched the Energy Academy Europe. The main theme of the research and teaching will be the transformation to sustainable forms of energy provision. In the next ten years, knowledge institutions, the business world and the government will invest up to EUR 100 million in developing this institute.
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