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HKU University of the Arts Utrecht

HKU Design, HKU Media, HKU Fine Art

Utrecht , Netherlands Full Member Institution

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Mission Statement

Mission Statement

HKU University of the Arts Utrecht

HKU is a public institution for higher arts education that aims to train talented students as well as possible in free, performing and applied arts and media disciplines and their related educational, technological and economic fields.

An HKU degree certificate, both graduate and postgraduate, qualifies students for known or new professional roles in the cultural sector, media and education, and/or other professions in the creative industries. An HKU degree programme also provides added value by concentrating on artistic professional competence coupled with experience in dealing with interdisciplinary opportunities and innovative and multidisciplinary project practices.

HKU concentrates on the future and on innovation and believes in the importance of forging links between the artistic and creative processes and other professions, disciplines and hybrid professional fields. HKU wants to provide its students and staff with a stimulating and supportive learning environment. Gaining research and entrepreneurial experience in challenging practical situations is regarded as an essential ingredient in this mix.

Through the training of competent, innovative young professionals as well as the research that it initiates and conducts, HKU wants to contribute to the development of known, new and innovative professional practices within and at the cutting edge of the arts.

International Role

HKU is internationally oriented and involved in numerous international programmes and projects. HKU has signed bilateral agreements with well over 100 international partner institutions for the purpose of exchanging students, lecturers and projects.

HKU is actively involved in international networks like Cumulus,  Paradox, EARN and the Art Education Network, and has been (co-) founder of many of these networks.  HKU also cooperates in some major international networks like ELIA, Utrecht Network, MAUI, AEN.

National Role

On a national scale, HKU is regarded as one of the major, leading higher education institutions. The Dutch government earmarked the Creative Industry as one of its top sectors. This is a clear indication that creativity, design, imagination and expression are regarded as important success factors in innovation and economic competitiveness. This is what HKU wants to respond to in its teaching, research and projects with external parties, so that the knowledge and experience of its graduates will dovetail with current professional practice.

In addition, HKU forms part of the cultural, knowledge and educational infrastructure of the city and district of Utrecht. This means that HKU (within the boundaries of its educational mission) plays an important local and regional role as a social factor and as an economic and innovative partner.

HKU is following the trend towards searching for and supporting cooperation in the triple helix form (between business, knowledge institutions and the government).

Main Focus

HKU University of the Arts Utrecht is at the heart of Utrecht’s cultural and student life. With around 4000 students, HKU is one of the largest schools of art in Europe. We offer preparatory courses, bachelor and master programmes and research degrees in fine art, design, media, games and interaction, music, theatre and arts management.

Over the years, HKU has established a reputation as an enterprising university of applied sciences.

HKU is characterised by its continual interest in innovative perspectives on arts education and on new, creative professional practices.

The HKU profile is based on three pillars:

  • the arts (fine arts and design, music and theatre)
  • media (technology and creative and design processes in media in the widest sense of the word)
  • an eye for existing and emerging professional practices in the creative industry, in which artistic musical, theatrical, design and media competences play a role.

HKU has a wide range of degree programmes divided over eight schools: Fine Art, Design, Media, Music and Technology, Games and Interaction, Utrecht Conservatorium, Theatre, and Art and Economics.

HKU is a university of the arts, with its roots in the domain of artistic practices, traditions and current trends. The heart of its/her approach is excellence in a specialised aspect of a specific arts discipline.

In addition, through its differentiated range of degree programmes, HKU wants to nourish the specific talents and opportunities of every individual student within the wide range of career prospects in the creative industry.

Based on this profile, HKU wants to stand out in particular with and invest in the following spearheads:

  • art education
  • research and innovation in the arts
  • interaction, games, music and design technology in new fields of application
  • the development and gathering together of knowledge about the creative industry and its application in new forms of creative entrepreneurship.

HKU intends to develop further as a network organisation which, with the arts and art practices as its basis, forges new links with society and develops innovative applications for social challenges.

In order to express this, HKU adopted the motto: The art of HKU, new practices, new solutions.

Faculties and Departments

HKU Design, HKU Media, HKU Fine Art

Bachelor Level Programs

Bachelor level programs (4 years)

HKU Design

–      Product Design

–      Fashion Design

–      Spatial Design

HKU Media

–      Animation

–      Audiovisual Media

–      Graphic Design

–      Illustration

–      Image and Media Technology

–      Photography

HKU Fine art

–      Fine Art

–      Fine Art and Design in Education

Master Level Programs

Master level programs (2 years)

Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design, programme Fine Art

Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design, programme Scenography

Research Activity and Main Areas

At HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, the creative process itself is a form of research. It occurs in close collaboration with teaching and the professional field.  Art offers solutions to the issues facing society. It provides a different perspective on developments within culture, politics, economics, education and science. Art sets things in motion and gets results, which is why research into art is essential.

A typical HKU research project has an impact on several domains: education, the professional field, society and/or art practice. It not only produces knowledge, insights and perspectives within the arts and art teaching, but also contributes to innovation outside the arts.

We see the creative process as an alternative form of knowledge production when developing research questions, methods and outcomes. The focus is on research based on making art, media and design, which allows us to take a fresh look at existing processes, to improve or revitalise them.

The HKU units that carry out research – the professorships, expertise centres, lecturer-researchers, students, doctoral candidates, Innovation Studio, etc. – are all interconnected. This approach promotes innovation, experimentation and research that transcends disciplines, thereby leading to more collaborative projects and programmes.

It also means that the diversity of our teaching is reflected in our research. This makes our community broader than just the HKU alone. The professional field, partner institutions and art education reflect and experiment together, with one artistic project enriching and informing another.

At HKU we have identified five research areas. These are frameworks rather than strict boundaries, and so one research study could span two research areas. We strive for cohesion and synergy. The research areas don’t have a fixed organisational structure, but each area is linked to one professorship.

Research Areas:

1. Multidisciplinarity

2. Technology

3. Learning

4. Entrepreneurship

5. Emerging Research

See https://www.hku.nl/en/research/professorships to meet our Professorships.

Subject Areas for Exchange Students

HKU Design

–      Product Design

–      Fashion Design

–      Spatial Design

HKU Media

–      Animation

–      Audiovisual Media

–      Graphic Design

–      Illustration

–      Image and Media Technology

–      Photography

HKU Fine art

–      Fine Art

Application Deadlines

15 April for the first semester

1 October for the second semester

Teaching Languages

Dutch and/or English

Semester Dates

The first semester runs from the first week of September through the end of January.

Except at HKU Fine Art where the first semester continues until the end of December.

The second semester is from first the week of February until the end of June.

Cost of Living Per Month (Studying and Living)

Please see the course catalogue for exchange students: www.hku.nl/exchange


Bachelor: 4400
Master: 250

Exchange Students

Incoming: 50
Outgoing: 50

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