Officially it is the university of the Vereniging voor Christelijk Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (Association for Christian Scientific Education).
The association was founded in 1880, and headed by Abraham Kuyper, as the first protestant university. Vrije Universiteit literally means Free University to signify freedom from government and church. The education itself however, is not free 'as in beer'; like all accredited universities in The Netherlands students pay a (government determined) fee, while students receive a student loan from government as well.
About 150,000 students attend the university, with 2,200 scientific employees, and 1,600 non-scientific employees.
Andrew S. Tanenbaum of Computer Networks (the book) fame is a professor at, and head of, the IT division.