Ghent University broadens its view of the world with changes in the regional platforms

(22-11-2022) A new regional platform and a modified scope of some existing (and sometimes renamed) platforms strengthens Ghent University's international ties.

Last year, Ghent University conducted a broad exercise on the scope and vision of its various regional platforms. After all, the world has evolved considerably since the creation of the first regional platforms 15 years ago. More and more countries are putting themselves on the map academically. Ghent University therefore has more and more partnerships around the world and has also become increasingly active internationally.

"In recent years, Ghent University has experienced a strong increase in research collaborations and students from all over the world. Of our 5,000 doctoral students, 40% already come from outside Europe and about two thirds of publications are the result of international collaboration." (Professor Guido Van Huylenbroeck, Head of Department of Internationalization)

To take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen partnerships in various regions, all regional platforms will actually have a stronger regional focus, and country-based platforms will no longer be used. This entails a change in the scope of three platforms:

  • the Eureast Platform focuses on Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Due to Russia's war against Ukraine, the expansion of this platform was already implemented earlier this year;
  • the East Asia Platform focuses on East Asia, with a strong – but not exclusive – focus on China, Japan and South Korea;
  • and the ASEAN & South Asia Platform covers the entire region of South and Southeast Asia.
The broader scope in no way means that Ghent University will focus less on academic cooperation with specific countries in a platform region. On the contrary: the broadening should strengthen and deepen the cooperation within all countries involved in a region.

This model continues the line that has been followed for some time within the CESAM Platform and the Africa Platform, which include all Central and South American countries and all African countries respectively.

A new regional platform: the North America Platform

Ghent University has had contacts with academic institutions in North America for decades, but until now these have been followed up on an ad hoc basis. With the formation of a regional platform, the North America platform, Ghent University wants to structurally monitor and strengthen these contacts. The platform will therefore be responsible for setting up a targeted strategy with regard to both academic institutions and spin-offs and companies in the region.

Many of the world's best universities are located in North America. It sometimes seems inaccessible to us UGent'ers, but on the contrary: top American universities are interested in establishing ties with a university like Ghent University. Mutual exchanges of students and researchers can lead to joint educational initiatives or research projects. Our local alumni also like to stay in touch with their alma mater, as evidenced by the successful launch of our UGent Alumni Chapters on the West and East Coast. Many of those alumni are affiliated with one of the region's numerous spin-offs and high-tech companies; they are often looking for collaboration or investment opportunities with promising researchers. (Rector Rik Van de Walle, chairman of the North America Platform)

The start-up of the North America Platform is currently being prepared.

Not all countries of the world in a platform

The regional approach promoted by the six platforms aims to strengthen academic collaborations where possible, to mobilize (local) funding for collaboration and to pick up and develop opportunities.

This new approach of regional platforms does not mean that there is or cannot be any contact or cooperation with countries that fall outside the scope of the platforms. European cooperation is promoted through the many agreements within the Erasmus+ programme, research cooperation within Horizon Europe and more recently also within the framework of the European University Alliance ENLIGHT, coordinated by Ghent University. On a global level, there is intensive cooperation with institutions around the world through student exchange agreements, in some cases such as Australia, complemented by intensive partnerships with two strategically chosen universities. In other regions, cooperation focuses specifically on one aspect of the academic spectrum, such as doctoral grants for international researchers.

Academic institutions in any country in the world can therefore be involved in a collaboration with Ghent University, if this is interesting, useful and/or desirable. Our internationalization services therefore support any opportunity that arises in this regard.

Learn more about each platform

In addition to a specific scope, each regional platform also has its own operation and objectives. You can read more about it on their specific webpages: