Bert van der Zwaan appointed new Chair of Nuffic's Board of Trustees

Bert van der Zwaan has been appointed Chair of Nuffic's Board of Trustees with effect from September. Van der Zwaan succeeds Arie Kruseman.
Bert van der Zwaan

Van der Zwaan studied Geology and Palaeontology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Utrecht University. He obtained his PhD from the latter in 1982. Van der Zwaan was appointed professor of Biogeology in Nijmegen in 1991, and in Utrecht in 2002. He served as Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University from 2011 until 2018. During his time as Rector, Van der Zwaan launched various initiatives to strengthen the university's ties with primary and secondary education in the region, such as the 'Meet the professor' event.


Early on in his career, Van der Zwaan realised the importance of international collaboration in education and research. Throughout his academic and administrative career, Van der Zwaan has collaborated closely with educational institutions, government authorities and businesses both in the Netherlands and abroad. In 2015, he wrote a volume of essays titled Haalt de universiteit 2040? (Will the university make it to 2040?), based on conversations with colleagues across 3 continents. In this book, Van der Zwaan concluded that the future of the university was not guaranteed and should be rethought. The book received strong acclaim both within and outside the academic world.

International citizenship

Van der Zwaan is looking forward to his role as Chair. 'International relations are crucial for the Netherlands as a trading nation. Accordingly, it is essential that the entire education spectrum, from primary school to university, pays attention to international citizenship and the opportunities that internationalisation offers. Nuffic is a wonderful organisation which plays a major role in this effort due to its extensive knowledge and expertise. It is therefore a privilege to be joining the Board of Trustees.'

Internationalisation throughout the entire education sector

Cathy Spierenburg, member of Nuffic's Board of Trustees, sees Van der Zwaan as a valuable addition to the team. 'Bert van der Zwaan has his roots in higher education, but he sees and understands the importance of internationalisation throughout the entire education sector. This is what enabled him to win the unanimous backing of the Board of Trustees' members.'

A Chair who knows the ropes

Nuffic Director Freddy Weima is also pleased with Bert van der Zwaan's appointment. 'We are getting a Chair who truly knows the ropes. Van der Zwaan combines solid management experience with heartfelt support for education and a clear vision on internationalisation. I am very much looking forward to working with him.'

Van der Zwaan was appointed following an open application procedure and a positive recommendation from all members of the Board of Trustees.

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