The University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

“Jaarbeurs provides input and thinks up creative solutions. We therefore look forward to returning next year.”

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The festive kick-off to a new academic year is a well-known phenomenon in schools and educational institutions. But the official opening of the academic year in the presence of employees, students who serve on committees and important associates in a genuine theatre, is a very different story. This year, the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht organised the festive opening at the Jaarbeurs Beatrix Theatre.

The event at the Beatrix Theatre was slightly tense for senior project leader Andy Wagenaar, who is based at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. Wagenaar: “In previous years, we held this event at TivoliVredenburg, but this year our preferred date has already been taken. We therefore had to look for a different venue.”

Wishlist

The search for a suitable venue wasn’t easy. Wagenaar: “As the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, we are at the heart of society. We therefore wanted a venue that was in the heart of Utrecht, but also easy to reach. In the spirit of sustainability, we encourage our employees to use public transport or to cycle wherever possible! The venue also had to have a presentable appearance for both internal and external visitors. The venue had to be conducive to meeting others and entering into dialogue with them. It was also important for the venue to have a (partially) segregated area, where we could welcome our special guests, including the King’s commissioner and the mayors of Utrecht and neighbouring municipalities. Jaarbeurs met all of our wishes.”

Festival atmosphere

This year, the theme of the official opening of the academic year was the new Ambition Plan ‘The HU in 2026’. As is the case every year, a festival took place prior to the opening where visitors could participate in inspirational sessions or activities at the festival square. Wagenaar: “The square was organised with a wide range of activities, all directly relating to the themes in the new ambition plan. For example, there was a digital shuffleboard, a magic photo mirror, a ‘testbed’ for the senses and an exhibition of jobs of the future and a robot providing advice about that.”

No lack of inspiration

Participants were then invited to take part in an inspirational session. During this session, an inspirational speaker provided a visionary insight into his or her area of expertise. “There was, for example, a session about the opportunities and threats of new technologies in education, improved cooperation through a knowledge of body language and how, together, we can build on the ‘HU Tribe’. These sessions were linked to experts at the HU from that same area of expertise, to create a connection for visitors between the speaker and actual practice at the HU.”

Success formula

Although the launch was a little tense, the opening was a huge success. Wagenaar: “Both the festival and the official opening went really well. There was a huge turnout, almost 500 people at the festival and 850 at the official opening of the academic year. We received good responses from visitors in our online survey: people were enthusiastic about the new chosen venue. It was professional, yet had an intimate ambience, and it was nice and clearly organised, with all sessions on one stage.”

See you next year!

Not only were the visitors happy about the event and the venue, Wagenaar was also very positive about Jaarbeurs. In fact, so happy that she wants to continue the cooperation: “Jaarbeurs contributed significantly to the success of our important corporate event. As well as the technical support, I was also happy with our contact person. We were able to contact her with any questions or requests, even outside of office hours. Jaarbeurs provides input and thinks up creative solutions. We therefore look forward to returning next year.”

Article by Claire van Berkum