Lustrum year 2023-2024 opened with focus on the university of the future

Presenter Nizar El Manouzi on stage with mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb at the Opening Academic Year 2023.
Annelien Bredenoord opens the Academic Year officially by sounding the gong.
Alexander Santos Lima

Every year on the first Monday of September, we celebrate the opening of the new academic year of Erasmus University Rotterdam. This year, this traditional gathering was even more special: it was also the kick-off of our university's 22nd lustrum. A festive programme in the Laurenskerk focused on the theme 'The future of education'.

Among others, internet pioneer Marleen Stikker, chairman of the Executive Board Ed Brinksma and Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb shared their views on tomorrow’s university from their expertise and experience. The Hermes House Band lived up to their reputation as favourite student band, and the ceremony was hosted by Nizar El Manouzi, EUR medical student and presenter of children’s TV programme Klokhuis.

Vanessa Abel on stage with ChatGPT background
Alexander Santos Lima

Examples of education of the future

Two inspiring initiatives at our university were given a stage. Student Aubrey Ngo explained why UNIC – a network of ten European universities in post-industrial cities – is a perfect example of the education of the future. As a student of the virtual exchange programme, she works on innovative solutions to social problems.

This also happens at Erasmus X, where social and technological developments are experimented with within EUR curricula. Director Vanessa Abel mentioned as an example the innovation hub HefHouse in the Feijenoord district, where students are introduced to practice and connect their book wisdom with human stories and society.

Marleen Stikker on stage
Alexander Santos Lima

Marleen Stikker on the role of the university in technological development

In her keynote speech, internet pioneer, and director and founder of Waag Society Marleen Stikker had the audience reflect on the development of technology and how to stay within planetary boundaries: after all, technology has a large ecological footprint. In doing so, she stressed that technological innovation cannot go without social innovation.

“I expect a stronger position of universities in the question of how to deal with AI,” she stated. Cross-disciplinarity, she said, is necessary to be able to contribute socially from knowledge production: something Erasmus University Rotterdam is already actively working on.

dr. Bonnie French wins the Education Prize at the Opening Academic Year 2023.
Alexander Santos Lima

Award ceremonies

Traditionally, awards are presented during the ceremony to reward excellence in our academic community.

The Education Prize 2023 was won by Dr Bonnie French, associate professor of Sociology at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Jury member and rector magnificus Annelien Bredenoord praised her ability to create an inclusive and inspiring learning environment where students feel inspired, challenged, understood and safe to discuss sensitive issues.

EFR wins Sustainability Award 2023 during Opening Academic Year 2023-2024
Alexander Santos Lima

The Executive Committee of the Faculty Association of Erasmus School of Economics received the annual Sustainability Award from the hands of Vice-President of the Executive Board Ellen van Schoten. The EFR managed to develop into the Netherlands’ first CO2-neutral study association and plans to use the prize money to organise a sustainability festival on campus Woudestein.

The Rotterdam Thesis Award is a joint annual thesis prize of our university and the Municipality of Rotterdam. This year, Mayor Aboutaleb awarded the prize to Enoch Tabak for his outstanding thesis on the alleged regional economic benefits of large distribution centres. Aboutaleb invited Tabak to the City Hall to talk further about the significance of his research findings for Rotterdam policy.

Mayor Aboutaleb at the Opening Academic Year 2023.
Alexander Santos Lima

The impact of education on the city of Rotterdam

The mayor then spoke to moderator Nizar El Manouzi about the education of the future. Education is the main key to a smart city, according to Aboutaleb. "Internationalisation is the basis of education by exchanging knowledge and questioning each other. Without internationalisation, there is no good education," the Rotterdam mayor said.

“The future begins with today’s choices”

Lastly, chairman of the Executive Board and Professor of Computer Science Ed Brinksma reflected on three current themes: the language of internationalisation, concerns about sustainability and the deceptiveness of artificial intelligence.

Ed Brinksma speeching on stage
Alexander Santos Lima

In response to the new bill on Internationalisation of Higher Education, he argued for a language policy that does not deter international talent, and for the steering elements already requested in order to achieve a good balance in intake. “The future starts with the choices now: with our educational vision, we embrace national and international talent to be and remain as EUR purveyors of tomorrow's leaders and shapers,” Brinksma argued.

When it comes to the future of our planet, dialogue is much needed, according to the chairman. That is why EUR is organising 14 dialogues on sustainability in the coming period. Impact-driven education and broad and inclusive cooperation with all kinds of social partners are also indispensable for real progress. And as for dealing with artificial intelligence, he underlined the enormous importance of classical academic skills, such as the ability to think critically, verify facts, and validate data.

“For the next 110 years, all our collective knowledge, wisdom, commitment, energy and the Rotterdam hands-on mentality will be needed to meet the new challenges,” Brinksma concluded, after which the 2023-2024 academic year was officially opened.

Opening Academic Year 2023-2024

Opening Academic Year 2023-2024 - aftermovie

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