Today it is exactly sixty years ago that the Dutch parliament, on the proposal of Education Minister Cals, agreed to the establishment of a Technical University in Enschede. That moment is regarded as the founding date of the University of Twente. The Technical Hogeschool Twente, as it was then called, was the third technical university in the Netherlands.
Although the Minister decided to establish a new Technical University in Eindhoven, it became clear soon after its opening in 1956 that the second Technical University would not be able to meet the great demand for engineers. A short, bitter competition ensued for the third Technical University, with Enschede competing with Arnhem, Assen, Leeuwarden, Deventer and Zwolle.
After three dropouts (Leeuwarden, Assen and Arnhem), the final phase of the battle concerned three cities in the same province: Zwolle, Deventer and a combined bid of the cities of Hengelo and Enschede. The varied industrial infrastructure in the eastern part of Twente argued in favour of Hengelo-Enschede, but in terms of cultural climate, both Zwolle and the Hanseatic city of Deventer were much better. The fact that both Deventer and Enschede had the possibility - and showed willingness - to transfer the land needed for the construction of a technical college to the State 'free of charge', put Zwolle at a distance, but that still left two competitors who were competing with each other.
The Twente lobby was working overtime and showed great support among citizens and businesses. A large number of companies and benefactors spontaneously raised a considerable sum of money within five days. In addition to the lobby, two other factors played an important role: a strategic blunder on the part of the municipality of Deventer and, finally, the Drienerlo estate. A small estate between Hengelo and Enschede, but exceptionally beautiful and historically extremely important (read more about the history of the Drienerlo estate in the canon 'Landgoed Drienerlo en de Boerderij').
So what was the ultimate deciding factor in choosing Twente? Let's rely on the words of the Minister of Education, Jo Cals: 'The convincing force with which [...] the establishment of a technical college at Drienerlo has been pleaded for, as well as the sacrifice that has been made by industrial and other companies, leads the undersigned to expect strong support from the authorities and the population in this area with regard to the establishment of a technical college in Twente'.
Every month, the University newspaper U-Today published a story entitled 'In the Eye of the Beholders', in which those involved at the time look back on the years they spent at the UT. The Canon of the UT tells you all about the most memorable moments in the history of the UT.