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Ghent University

Ghent University
Universiteit Gent
Latin: Academia Gandavensis
Former names
State University of Ghent
Motto Audere Sapiens
Motto in English
Dare to Think
Established 1817
Type Public
Rector Anne De Paepe[1]
Administrative staff
9,000 [2]
Students +41,000 [2]

Ghent, Kortrijk, Belgium

Affiliations Santander Network
Erasmus Student Network
European University Association

Established in 1817 by King William I of the Netherlands, Ghent University (Dutch: Universiteit Gent, abbreviated as UGent) is a public research university located in Ghent, Belgium. After the Belgian revolution of 1830, the newly-formed Belgian state began to administer the university. In 1930, it became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium—French having been the academic language up to that point. In 1991, the university was granted major autonomy and changed its name from State University of Ghent (Dutch: Rijksuniversiteit Gent, abbreviated as RUG) to its current designation. It is one of the larger Flemish universities, consisting of 41,000 students and 9,000 staff members. The current rector is Anne De Paepe.

Ghent consistently rates among the top universities not only in Belgium but also throughout the world. As of 2014, Ghent University ranks 90th globally according to Times Higher Education,[4] 129th according to QS World University Rankings,[5] and 70th according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[6]


  • History 1
  • List of rectors 2
  • Faculties 3
  • Characteristics 4
  • Rankings 5
  • International Relations 6
  • Notable alumni 7
  • Notable faculty 8
  • See also 9
  • Notes and references 10
  • External links 11


The university in Ghent was opened on 9 October 1817, with JC van Rotterdam serving as the first rector. In the first year, it had 190 students and 16 professors. The original four faculties consisted of Humanities (Letters), Law, Medicine and Science, and the language of instruction was Latin. The university was founded by King William I as part of a policy to stem the intellectual and academic lag in the southern part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, later to become Belgium. The University of Liège was founded as part of the same movement.

After peaking at a student population of 414, the number of students declined quickly following the August Kekulé (7 September 1829 – 13 July 1896) unraveled the structure of benzene at Ghent and Adolf von Baeyer (Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer), a student of August Kekulé, made seminal contributions to organic chemistry.

In 1882, Sidonie Verhelst became the first female student at the university.

French became the language of instruction, taking the place of Latin, after the 1830 Revolution. In 1903, the Flemish politician Lodewijk De Raet led a successful campaign to begin instruction in Dutch, and the first courses were begun in 1906.

During World War I, the occupying German administration conducted Flamenpolitik and turned Ghent University into the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium. A Flemish Institute (Vlaemsche Hoogeschool), commonly known as Von Bissing University, was founded in 1916 but was disestablished after the war and French language was fully reinstated. In 1923, Cabinet Minister Pierre Nolf put forward a motion to definitively establish the university as a Dutch-speaking university, and this was realized in 1930. August Vermeylen served as the first rector of a Dutch-language university in Belgium.[7]

In the Second World War, the German administration of the university attempted to create a German orientation, removing faculty members and installing loyal activists. However, the university became the focal point for many resistance members as the war progressed.

After the war, the university became a much larger institution, following government policy of democratizing higher education in Flanders during the 1950s and 1960s. By 1953, there were more than 3,000 students, and by 1969 more than 11,500. The number of faculties increased to eleven, starting with Applied Sciences in 1957. It was followed by Economics and Veterinary Medicine in 1968, Psychology and Pedagogy, as well as Bioengineering, in 1969, and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The faculty of Politics and Social Sciences is the most recent addition, in 1992.

In the 1960s to 1980s, there were several student demonstrations at Ghent University, notably around the Blandijn site, which houses the Faculty of Arts & Philosophy.[8] The severest demonstrations took place in 1969 in the wake of May 1968.

The university officially changed its name from Rijksuniversiteit Gent (RUG) to Universiteit Gent (UGent) in 1991 following an increased grant of autonomy by the government of the Flemish Community.

On 22 March 2005, Paul Van Cauwenberge succeeded Andreas De Leenheer as rector.

List of rectors

# Name Birth and death Office started Office ended Vice rector
André Devreker 8 November 1922
Leisele (West Flanders)

15 April 2012
Sint-Martens-Leerne (East Flanders)
1973 1977
Julien Hoste 30 May 1921
Ghent (East Flanders)

1 December 2011
1977 1981
André Cottenie 15 September 1919
Evergem (East Flanders)

op 21 February 1997
Mariakerke (East Flanders)
1981 1985 Julien Hoste
Leon De Meyer 1985 1993
Jacques Willems Bruges (West Flanders) 1993 2001 Etienne Vermeersch (1993–'97)
Andreas De Leenheer (1997–'01)
Andreas De Leenheer 16 May 1941
Zele (East Flanders)
2001 2005 Marc De Clercq
Paul Van Cauwenberge 2 April 1949
Zottegem (East Flanders)
1 October 2005 30 September 2013 Luc Moens
Anne De Paepe
(first female rector)
4 October 1955
Ghent (East Flanders)
1 October 2013 Freddy Mortier


Ghent University consists of eleven faculties, composed of more than 130 departments:

  • Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Sciences
  • Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Engineering and Architecture
  • Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
  • Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
  • Faculty of Bio-science Engineering
  • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Faculty of Political and Social Sciences


In contrast to the Catholic University of Leuven, or the Free University of Brussels, Ghent University considers itself a pluralist university in a special sense (i.e. not connected to any particular religion or ideology, hence its motto Inter Utrumque or 'In Between Both Extremes').


University rankings
ARWU[9] 89
Times[10] 85
QS[11] 148

Ghent University is consistently ranked among the best universities in Belgium and worldwide (top 100).

Ghent University rises from place 85 to 70 in the recently published Shanghai ranking. Again Ghent University has the highest score of all Belgian universities in this world ranking of universities. In the 2009 THE–QS World University Rankings (From 2010 two separate rankings will be produced by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings) list of the top 100 universities in the world, Ghent University was ranked in 136th place. In the Times Top 50 Life Sciences Universities 2011-2012, Ghent ranked 36th. In the 2010 QS World University Rankings[12] it was ranked 192nd, whereas the 2011 rankings placed it at 165th.[13] In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2010, it was ranked 124nd. An overview of the last years:

Year Rank (change)
2014 85 ( 5)
2013 90 ( 16)
2012 106 ( 59)
2011 165 ( 27)
2010 192 ( 56)
2009 136 ()
2008 136 ( 12)
2007 124 ( 20)
2006 141 ( 77)

Ghent University was ranked 89th among world universities by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2012.[14] The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), commonly known as the Shanghai ranking, is a publication that was founded and compiled by the Shanghai Jiaotong University. The rankings have been conducted since 2003 and then updated annually. An overview of the last years:

Year Rank (change)
2013 85 ()
2012 89 ()
2011 89 ()
2010 90 ()

Ghent was also placed among top 95 universities in the world according to the Russian-based Global University Ranking.[15]

International Relations

The university has several partner universities in the frame of Erasmus or Erasmus Mundus. Outside Europe UGhent has exchange programs on all six continents.[16]

Notable alumni

The Boekentoren, designed by Henry van de Velde, is one of the most famous university buildings
The Blandijn houses the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy
Faculty of Science

Notable faculty

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Ghent University central administration – rector. UGent. Retrieved February 4, 2010
  2. ^ a b (Dutch) Feiten en cijfers - Universiteit Gent. UGent. Retrieved September 15, 2014
  3. ^ Ghent University at a glance: facts and figures. UGent. Retrieved February 4, 2010
  4. ^ - The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 - The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 . 
  5. ^ "QS Top Universities Ranking 2014-2015". 
  6. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014". 
  7. ^ A Language Come Back, TIME Magazine, April 28, 1923
  8. ^ Danniau, Fien. "Haard van verzet" (in Nederlands). UGent Memorie. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities: Global". Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  10. ^ "World University Rankings 2015-2016".  
  11. ^ "QS World University Rankings® 2015/16". Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  12. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2010 Results". 
  13. ^ "QS World University Rankings - 2011". Top Universities. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  14. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities - 2012| Top 500 universities | Shanghai Ranking - 2012 | World University Ranking - 2012". Shanghai Ranking. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Daskalidès, Jean (1922-1992) | UGentMemorie". Retrieved 2013-10-15. 

External links

  • Official website
  • More information about higher education in Flanders/Belgium (in English)
  • Find an officially recognised programme of this institution in the Higher Education Register
  • THE Rankings – Ghent University (2008)
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