The university has been placed in the top 200 universities in the world by multiple central ranking tables. In addition, the UT was ranked the best technical university in The Netherlands by Keuzegids Universiteiten, the most significant national university ranking.
The university was founded in 1961 as Technische Hogeschool Twente or (THT). After Delft University of Technology and Eindhoven University of Technology, it became the third polytechnic institute in the Netherlands to become a university. The institution was later renamed to Universiteit Twente (University of Twente) in 1986, as the result of the changes in the Dutch Academic Education Act in 1984.
The Dutch government's decision to locate the country's third technical university in Enschede, the main city of Twente, had much to do with the north-eastern province's rich manufacturing industry (textiles, metal, electrical engineering, chemicals). Another important consideration was the fact that the local economy needed a boost to compensate for the dwindling textile industry. Just as the fact that the municipality of Enschede made the Drienerlo estate available for the first campus University of the Netherlands.
The University of Twente was built on the former country estate of Drienerlo, situated between Hengelo and Enschede. The 140-hectare estate consists of woodland, meadows and water. Architects Van Tijen and Van Embden designed the first — and so far only — Dutch campus university along American lines where students and staff live, work and pursue their leisure activities on campus.
The Student Union, which is run entirely by students, manages several premises, including the student social centre(de pakkerij) and study centre(Wallstreet) in Enschede and The Water sport complex on the Twentekannal.
According to the Times Higher Education Ranking, the University of Twente is considered one of the 200 most prestigious universities globally. The university performed particularly strongly in the Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 2021 ranking. Here, the university was ranked eleventh in the world rankings. At the same time, psychology and social sciences also performed well, receiving 101-125 in the world rankings.
In the Shanghai Ranking 2021, the University of Twente's Geoinformation and Earth Observation Sciences were awarded. In the field of remote sensing, the university landed among the top ten universities in the world. The commitment in this area will be further expanded in the coming years.
According to Keuzegids Universiteiten, the most significant national university ranking, the University of Twente is the best technical university in the Netherlands.
The current director of the university is professor Thom Palstra. The other two members of the executive board are Victor van der Chijs (president executive board) and Mirjam Built-Spiering (vice-president)
There are five faculties at the University of Twente; each faculty is in turn organized into several departments:
Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS) – i.a. Communication studies, psychology, public administration, educational science & technology, European studies, environmental & energy management and Risk management
Engineering Technology (ET) – i.a. Mechanical engineering, civil engineering, industrial design engineering and sustainable energy technology.
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) – i.a. Electrical engineering, applied mathematics, interaction technology, internet science & Technology and computer science.
Science and Technology (ST) – i.a. Chemical engineering, applied physics, biomedical engineering, health sciences, advanced technology and nanotechnology.
Next to the programmes administered by the faculties mentioned above, University College Twente offers the broad honours BSc programme in Technology and Liberal Arts and Sciences, or ATLAS for short, and the Twente Graduate School offers post graduate education (PhD and PDEng). Since 2019, this study is part of the faculty ITC.