Understanding Society

Tilburg University is convinced that it can contribute to solving social issues by developing and transferring knowledge and bringing together people from various disciplines and organizations.

Educational profile

Knowledge, skills, character

The educational profile of Tilburg University is unique in the Netherlands. It is built on three pillars: knowledge, skills and character. Students and alumni of Tilburg University stand out among those of other universities in having a great deal of attention paid to ‘character building’ in their studies. They will be well-equipped to further develop their talents, increase their knowledge, and contribute to society.

Tilburg University aims to educate students to be thinkers who act, who actively contribute to society: thinkers of character. We call them TiU shaped professionals:

tiu shaped professionial •    The vertical part of T: depth of academic knowledge and professional expertise and expert skills
•    The horizontal part of T: breadth of academic knowledge and generic skills
•    Character

Besides in-depth academic knowledge and professional expertise (knowledge), Tilburg alumni possess not only generic (21st-Century) skills and expert (professional) skills but also the (moral) character to make the right decisions and get things done in cooperation with other people. Tilburg University students, apart from knowledge and skills, develop ethical consciousness that defines their character.


Academic knowledge & professional expertise

Icoon kennis zonder tekst Tilburg University imparts to its students a comprehensive and high-quality grounding in knowledge upon which they can build and specialize. We teach them to deal effectively with complexity and change in society. They gain insight into the ‘classics’ while also becoming conversant with the state of the art in their particular field.


Generic and expert skills
skills We distinguish six categories of generic skills: academic skills, digital and administrative skills, social skills, creative and innovation skills, personal development, and labor market skills. All TiU students are trained in these skills, as part of the curriculum or offered on top of it (such as labor skills). Skills are made explicit and visible in terms of EC credits, either integrated in the course or offered as a separate EC curricular strand. Skills courses and content and experimental courses will always be interrelated, for example by case studies used in the content courses being integrated into the skills courses.



Tilburg University educates students to become thinkers of character. The students are

  • academically minded, critical and passionate;
  • curious and thinking constructively about solutions to urgent (international) social problems;
  • smart and prudent when it comes to taking risks and not losing sight of the human dimension;
  • above all, they are thinkers showing initiative, thinkers of character who take action, who put the insights they have acquired into practice, and who, within a social domain, not only understand society, but also move it forward, driven by a strong sense of solidarity and a powerful capacity to empathize.

To ensure that our students graduate as TiU-professionals Tilburg University invests in:

Small-scale classes and mentoring

Tilburg students are part of a learning community in which they develop and grow. Degree programs with a relatively large number of students will apply the principle of ‘small within large’. Students will be part of a smaller core group - a ‘Class’ - which is kept together during at least one year of the program and coached by a dedicated Mentor Team.

Developing 21st-Century Skills

Debating skills, presentation skills, digital knowledge, etc. are directly applicable during classes or assignments. The development of certain specific skills requires special training courses or course components.


This will be an important means to enhance character building. Not only during their education are students invited to take responsibility for their own development; once they are graduated and function as professionals, they are required to reflect on their own role within a team, in a larger organizational context, and in society at large. Self-assessment tools will be introduced in the programs.

Curriculum teams

All study programs come under the authority of a program director who presides over a Curriculum Team. The aims of the Curriculum Teams are:

  • stimulating the internal consistency of the curriculum (including course design, balanced assessment, etc.).
  • monitoring the content of the curriculum and making sure it is fully up-to-date.
  • bringing the outside world into the curriculum.

Extra (curricular) activities

To grow into ‘thinkers of character’, it is not enough to simply attend lectures and pass exams. Some character-building activities are integrated into the curriculum, such as classes in philosophy (12 EC for Bachelor’s programs). However, the 21st century has its own, complex problems for which students need to be prepared.  In order to prepare students for these challenges, Tilburg University stimulates students to participate in extracurricular activities, such as participation in the University Council or School Council, active participation in student associations and societies, in honors programs or outreaching programs, activities of Academic Forum, etc. These will enable active students to learn skills and create networks which will facilitate professional opportunities.

Uniform annual schedule – Mobility window

Compatibility of lecture schedules to ensure that students can do a Minor abroad or at another Dutch university, or do an internship without this creating problems in their regular schedule


This will give students the opportunity to collect, organize, and present (multimedia) evidence of their learning experience in the course of their education. e-Portfolios have the potential to assist students in becoming more intentional and active learners by helping them to take ownership of their (academic) progress. It includes things like (self-reflection) assessments, 360-degree feedback, BSA-results (info on official recommendations regarding continuation of their studies), extra-curricular activities, sports-related activities, and paid jobs. Having kept a portfolio like this, students will enter the labor market better prepared.

Philosophy courses

In order to work on character building, academic teaching should have a broader aim than purely the transfer of knowledge of a particular field. This idea goes back to the founding principles of our institution. The central position of the philosophy courses in our Bachelor’s programs remains an important prerequisite.

Tilburg University educates self-conscious and societally engaged thinkers, who understand society and want to play a meaningful role in advancing it, driven by solidarity, a strong sense of responsibility, and a great deal of sensitivity to the wants and needs of others.

This makes Tilburg University the university par excellence of humans and society.