The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (abbreviated as VU, VU University Amsterdam, "Free University Amsterdam") is a university in Amsterdam, Netherlands, founded in 1880. The VU is one of two large, publicly funded research universities in the city, the other being the University of Amsterdam (UvA).The literal translation of the Dutch name Vrije Universiteit is "Free University". "Free" refers to independence of the university from both the State and Christian Church. Both within and outside the university, the institution is commonly referred to as "the VU". The VU University Amsterdam was chosen as the best university in Amsterdam by students in 2018.
Although founded as a private institution, the VU has received government funding on a parity basis with public universities since 1970. The university is located on a compact urban campus in the southern Buitenveldertneighbourhood of Amsterdam and adjacent to the modern Zuidas business district.
In 2014, VU had 23,656 registered students, most of whom were full-time students. That year, the university had 2,263 faculty members and researchers, and 1,410 administrative, clerical and technical employees, based on FTE units. The university's annual endowment for 2014 was circa €480 million. About three quarters of this endowment is government funding; the remainder is made up of tuition fees, research grants, and private funding.
The official university seal is entitled The Virgin in the Garden. Personally chosen by Abraham Kuyper, the Reformed-Protestant leader and founder of the university, it depicts a virgin living in freedom in a garden while pointing towards God, referring to the Protestant Reformation in the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th century. In 1990, the university adopted the mythical griffin as its common emblem.