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The University of Humanistic Studies is a denominational university that is recognised and funded by the state just like regular universities. Since its establishment in 1989, the University has developed into a leading academic knowledge centre that has progressively shaped and steered the multidisciplinary science of Humanistic Studies.

The University celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014. To mark this lustrum, we created a (Dutch-language) site displaying numerous bits and pieces of our history.


The University of Humanistic Studies grew from the original ‘Humanistisch Opleidings Instituut’ (HOI), or Humanist Training Institute. The Humanist League (‘Humanistisch Verbond’) first began a training programme for humanist counsellors in the army, in 1962. Two years later, the HOI was established as an auxiliary foundation  of the Humanist League.

The HOI initially offered a two-year training programme, recognised by the Ministers of Defence and of Justice. From January 1977, the HOI was funded as a three-year higher vocational  programme. In August 1980 it became a four-year programme.

At the same time, the profession of humanist counselling was undergoing strong theoretical and methodological development. Counsellors had to meet increasingly higher demands, and thus the need arose for an education programme at the/an academic level.

The birth of the University of Humanistic Studies

On 29 May 1986, the Humanist League founded the Stichting Humanistisch Instituut voor Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs en Onderzoek (HIWOO) (‘Humanist Institute for Academic Education and Research’). A request was submitted to the state to formally recognise HIWOO as a denominational (or ‘special’) university. The name was changed into the Universiteit voor Humanistiek (UvH).

On 26 January 1989, the Minister of Education and Science submitted to parliament a provisional decision to appoint the UvH as a denominational university. It took another 18 months for the formal appointment to be enacted, since it required a legislative amendment.

Since 1989 the University has conducted a number of thorough organisational changes, most importantly the introduction of the Bachelor/Master structure in 2003.

In the summer of 2009 the University relocated from its original two premises at the Drift and Van Asch van Wijckskade to a historical building at the Kromme Nieuwegracht, at the heart of Utrecht’s medieval city centre.

The University was formally appointed as a denominational university in 1991, pursuant to Article 218 of the Higher Education and Research Act. The Master programme of Humanistic Studies is a combined academic and vocational programme, comparable to the ecclesiastical programmes offered by faculties of theology.