1964: the opening of Twente Technical College

 In 2017, the University of Twente passed a remarkable milestone: its 10,000th student registration. That’s quite an achievement, considering the first student intake in 1964 consisted of just 247 young men and women. Those very first first-years were welcomed onto campus with a festive introduction period, culminating in the official opening on 14 September 1964.

The induction period and the official opening in 1964 were organized by a committee of students from the Dutch Student Council (of course the brand-new Technische Hogeschool Twente (‘Twente Technical College’), as the university was then known, didn’t have any students of its own yet) and college staff members. Campus Dean Jan Schuijer chaired the committee.

There was so much interest in this new campus-based university that the administrators were afraid there’d be a crush at the opening ceremony, so the committee was responsible not only for planning the day, but also for drawing up a guest list. To assuage curiosity, the committee organized an ‘open day’ for citizens of Twente to visit the campus.

On 14 September 1964, Technische Hogeschool Twente was officially opened by Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard. The royal couple were given a guided tour of the campus and were serenaded by the very first intake of students: at the sound of a gong, the ‘student choir’ seemed to rise out of the ground and greeted the visitors with the student anthem ‘Io vivat’. The students wore black farmers’ caps, symbolizing their connection with the local area, and white lab coats in reference to their technical educational programme. Both a flight of doves and hundreds of orange balloons were released into the air. The doves stood for the college’s contact with the outside world, while the orange balloons represented its connection with the Royal Family. The rest of the programme took place in the theatre in the city centre of Enschede, where the first public senate hearing was held.

Once the festivities were over, of course, the students had to get down to work, both on their studies and on building a campus community. They were true pioneers, those first 247 students; they were the first people to take on the campus experiment, and the first to shape the culture of student self-governance, laying the foundations for the more than 10,000 students who can be found on campus today.

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