Diversity and inclusion

Dutch universities are committed to creating a safe, inclusive and diverse working and learning environment in which everyone is equal and has equal opportunities. They are taking steps together in this context, for example in order to ensure a diverse student and staff population.

For example, all universities have published targets for female professors in order to prevent female talent from being underutilised, especially in higher positions. These targets have led to an increase in the number of female professors at universities in the period 2015-2020. Targets will also be set for the period 2020-2025. Universities can also take steps to ensure diversity in the student population. As yet, there is no good overview of the differences in ethnicity within the workforce. Gathering this information is an important area of attention.

Diversity officers
Diversity officers are academics or professionals who work in the field of diversity and inclusion. Most universities have a (chief) Diversity Officer, some even more than one. There are also universities that do not have a (chief) Diversity Officer. These universities entrust the diversity portfolio to the board, which is supported by a team or task force.
The duties of a diversity officer include raising awareness of diversity and inclusion, creating and developing diversity policy, encouraging cultural change, identifying and stimulating initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, monitoring and reporting, as well as setting up and maintaining a network.

National action plan
In 2020, a national action plan was drawn up by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in close collaboration with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH), the Expertise Centre for Diversity (ECHO) and the National Diversity Officers Consultative Committee (LanDO).

 The action plan is also endorsed by the PhD Candidates Network of the Netherlands (PNN) and PostdocNL.

A national advisory committee chaired by Professor Vinod Subramaniam, rector of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, will advise the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and education and research institutions, on the monitoring and achievement of the objectives.
This action plan sets out five ambitions for 2025:

  • Embedding diversity and inclusion more effectively, such as in the assessment of research proposals and accreditations.
  • Better and broader monitoring of diversity in education and research, including social safety and inclusion.
  • Establishing an award system to make policy and funding diverse and inclusive.
  • Combining and supporting institutional diversity plans, so that more cooperation can take place.
  • Establishing a national knowledge centre for diversity and inclusion. This knowledge centre will develop, combine and share knowledge and expertise.

The universities will continue to put the theme of diversity on the agenda in a proactive manner. They are convinced that this will lead to better performance in both research and education and for the university as a whole. More information about why universities consider a diverse workforce important can be found on this page.