Ghent University

Dutch-speaking university in Belgium

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3C PartnershipWebsitewww.ugent.beGhent University logo.svg

Ghent University (Dutch: Universiteit Gent, abbreviated as UGent) is a public research university located in Ghent, Belgium.

Established before the state of Belgium itself, the university was founded by the Dutch King William I in 1817, when the region was incorporated into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands after the fall of First French Empire. In that same year, he founded two other universities for the southern provinces as well, alongside Ghent University: University of Liège and State University of Leuven.

After the Belgian revolution of 1830, the newly formed Belgian state began to administer Ghent University. In 1930, UGent became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium. Previously, French (and, even earlier, Latin) had been the standard academic language in what was Université de Gand. In 1991, it was granted major autonomy and changed its name accordingly from State University of Ghent (Dutch: Rijksuniversiteit Gent, abbreviated as RUG) to its current designation.

Located in Flanders, Ghent is one of the largest Belgian universities, consisting of 44,000 students and 9,000 staff members. The university also supports the Ghent University Library (including the famous Boekentoren) and the Ghent University Hospital, which is one of the biggest hospitals in Belgium. In addition to satellite campuses elsewhere in Flanders and a Global Campus in Songdo, South Korea, Ghent University maintains many inter-university partnerships and programs both inside and outside of Europe.

An avowedly research-driven and socially minded university, UGent consistently rates among the top 100 universities in the world.[2][3] It is one of the greatest beneficiaries of funding from the Flemish research council. It was also among the Top 30 recipients of major research grants awarded by the European Research Council under the funding framework Horizon 2020 (2014–2020).[4]


Painting of the establishment of the State University of Ghent in 1817 when the city was under Dutch rule

Foundation in the 19th century

Ghent was one of the largest and most important cities of Europe in the medieval period.

The university in Ghent was opened on 9 October 1817, with JC van Rotterdam as the first rector. The foundation of universities in Ghent, Liege, and Leuven that year – by the Dutch King William I – was part of a larger policy to stimulate academic lag across the southern provinces of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (which would later become Belgium).[citation needed] The original four faculties comprised Humanities (Letters), Law, Medicine, and Science, with the language of instruction being Latin. In the first year, it had 190 students and 16 professors.

Pharmacy students during practicum (1890)

In the wake of the Belgian Revolution, of 1830, the number of students declined, having peaked at 414. Although the faculties of humanities and science were dissolved from the university, they were restored five years later, in 1835. At this time, French also became the language of instruction, taking the place of Latin.

Ghent University played a role in the foundation of modern organic chemistry. Friedrich August Kekulé unraveled the structure of benzene at Ghent and Adolf von Baeyer (Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer), a student of August Kekulé, made contributions to organic chemistry.[citation needed]

In 1882, Sidonie Verhelst became the first female student at Ghent University, in science and pharmacology.[5]

2021 Boekentoren - Ghent University Library

Developments in the 20th century

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.[citation needed]

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.[6]

Student Association "Société Académique d'Histoire" (1910)

In the Second World War, the German administration of the university attempted to create a German orientation, removing faculty members and installing loyal activists.

In the postwar period, Ghent 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.

In the 1960s, there were several student demonstrations at Ghent University, notably around the Blandijn site, which houses the Faculty of Arts & Philosophy.[7] The most severe of demonstrations took place in 1969 in the wake of May 1968.

Since the end of the Cold War

In 1991, the university officially changed its name from Rijksuniversiteit Gent (RUG) to Universiteit Gent (UGent), following an increased grant of autonomy by the government of the Flemish Community. The faculty of Politics and Social Sciences is the most recent addition, in 1992.

The university in the city: panorama of Ghent illustrating the presence of the university
1 Ufo – university forum / 2 Economics and Business Administration / 3 De Brug - university cafeteria / 4 Boekentoren – university library / 5 Ledeganck – Exact Sciences and Botanical Garden / 6 Blandijn – Humanities / 7 Plateau & Rozier – Applied Sciences / 8 Observatory Armand Pien / 9 Therminal – Student Society Building / 10 UZ – Medicine & Health Sciences / 11 Home Boudewijn

Academic profile

Aula academica

Organisation and structure

Ghent University consists of eleven faculties with over 130 individual departments. In addition, the university maintains the Zwijnaarde science park and Greenbridge science park.

List of faculties

  • Faculty of Arts and Philosophy[8]
  • Faculty of Bio-science Engineering[9]
  • Faculty of Law[10]
  • Faculty of Sciences[11]
  • Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences[12]
  • Faculty of Engineering and Architecture[13]
  • Faculty of Economics and Business Administration[14]
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine[15]
  • Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences[16]
  • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences[17]
  • Faculty of Political and Social Sciences[18]


Standing on the Blandijnberg, the Boekentoren houses the Ghent University Library, which contains nearly 3 million volumes. The university library has joined the Google Books Library Project. Among other notable collections, it preserves Papyrus 30, an early manuscript of the Greek New Testament.

The university is also a partner in the development of De Krook, the new public library and media center in the center of Ghent, opened in 2017.

UGent boekentoren (right), St Bavo's Cathedral (left)

Reputation & rankings

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[19]66 (2020)
CWUR World[20]118 (2020-21)
CWTS World[21]75 (2020)
QS World[22]=135 (2021)
Reuters World[23]98 (2019)
THE World[24]=96 (2022)
USNWR Global[25]85 (2021)
National – Overall
ARWU National[19]1 (2020)
CWTS National[21]2 (2020)
CWUR National[20]2 (2020-21)
QS National[22]2 (2021)
THE National[26]2 (2021)
USNWR National[27]2 (2021)

Ghent University consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the world and, alongside the Catholic University of Leuven, the best in Belgium. In 2017, it was ranked, globally, 69th by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (or Shanghai ranking)[28] and 125th by QS World University Rankings.[29] For 2021, Ghent University has been ranked, worldwide, 85th by U.S. News & World Report[30] and 96th by Times Higher Education.[31]

International relations

Ufo campus - university forum
UGent Boekentoren

The university maintains many partnerships within Belgium, across Europe, and throughout the world.

Inside Belgium, Ghent University supports the Belgian Co-ordinated Collections of Micro-organisms and the Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie.

Within Europe, it is a member of the Santander Network, the Enlight (previously the U4) Network, and the 3i University Network. It also participates in the Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research. In addition, the university cooperates with numerous universities for the Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus programs; within the framework of the latter, it heads the International Master of Science in Rural Development and the International Master of Science in Soils and Global Change (IMSOGLO).[32]

Beyond Europe, Ghent University conducts exchange programs on all six continents.[33] Frameworks include its campus in South Korea and its 3C Partnership.

Associated contributions and innovations

Ghent University has been instrumental in the development of COinS and Unipept.[citation needed]


  • Rommelaere Instituut

    Rommelaere Instituut

  • Law School

    Law School

  • Rectorate


  • Botanical garden

    Botanical garden

  • The Boekentoren, designed by Henry van de Velde, is one of the most famous university buildings

    The Boekentoren, designed by Henry van de Velde, is one of the most famous university buildings

  • The Technicum, or Faculty of Engineering

    The Technicum, or Faculty of Engineering

  • Aula Academica

    Aula Academica

  • Faculty of Bioengineering

    Faculty of Bioengineering

  • The Blandijn houses the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy

    The Blandijn houses the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy

  • UGent Campus in Kortrijk

    UGent Campus in Kortrijk

  • Faculty of Psychology

    Faculty of Psychology

  • Resto Overpoort 2010PM 0098 21H7081.JPG
  • Library of the department of Architecture and Urbanism

    Library of the department of Architecture and Urbanism

  • Boekentoren


  • UGent Boekentoren

    UGent Boekentoren

  • Library of the Humanities Faculty

    Library of the Humanities Faculty

  • Museum of Zoology

    Museum of Zoology

  • Institute for Anatomy

    Institute for Anatomy

  • Rectorate


  • Voormalig restaurant Overpoort UGent.jpg
  • Gent Universiteitscampus Voldersstraat-PM 07207.jpg


  • Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, statesman

    Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, statesman

  • Henri Pirenne, historian

    Henri Pirenne, historian

  • George de Hevesy, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry

    George de Hevesy, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry

  • Maurice Maeterlinck, Nobel Prize winner in Literature

    Maurice Maeterlinck, Nobel Prize winner in Literature

  • Corneel Heymans, Nobel Prize winner in Medicine

    Corneel Heymans, Nobel Prize winner in Medicine

  • Marguerite Legot, first female government minister in Belgium

    Marguerite Legot, first female government minister in Belgium

  • Yaakov Dori, president of the Technion, Haifa

    Yaakov Dori, president of the Technion, Haifa

  • Suzanne Lilar, feminist writer

    Suzanne Lilar, feminist writer

  • Jozef Schell (right), molecular biologist

    Jozef Schell (right), molecular biologist

  • Marc van Montagu, molecular biologist

    Marc van Montagu, molecular biologist

  • Robert Cailliau, co-inventor of the World Wide Web

    Robert Cailliau, co-inventor of the World Wide Web

  • Guy Verhofstadt, politician

    Guy Verhofstadt, politician

  • Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, jurist and diplomat

    Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, jurist and diplomat

  • Hélène Mallebrancke (1902-1940) Civil engineer and Belgian Resistance member in Second World War

    Hélène Mallebrancke (1902-1940) Civil engineer and Belgian Resistance member in Second World War

Notable alumni

Notable faculty


  • 1817–1818: Jean Charles Van Rotterdam
  • 1818–1819: Franz-Peter Cassel [nl]
  • 1819–1820: Jean Baptiste Hellebaut
  • 1820–1821: Johannes Schrant [nl]
  • 1821–1822: François Egide Verbeeck
  • 1822–1823: Jean Guillaume Garnier
  • 1823–1824: Pierre De Ryckere
  • 1824–1825: Louis Vincent Raoul
  • 1825–1826: Jacques Louis Kesteloot
  • 1826–1827: Jean Charles Hauff
  • 1827–1828: Jacques Joseph Haus
  • 1828–1829: Pierre Lammens
  • 1829–1830: Jozef Kluyskens [nl]
  • 1830–1831: Jacques Van Breda
  • 1831–1832: Leopold Auguste Warnkoenig
  • 1832–1833: François Verbeeck
  • 1833–1834: Jacques Joseph Haus
  • 1834–1835: Jacques Louis Kesteloot
  • 1835–1838: Jacques Joseph Haus
  • 1838–1839: Philippe Auguste De Rote
  • 1839–1840: Jozef Kluyskens [nl]
  • 1840–1841: Jean Timmermans
  • 1841–1842: Josephus Nelis
  • 1842–1843: Georg Wilhelm Rassmann
  • 1843–1844: Charles Van Coetsem
  • 1844–1845: Marie-Charles Margerin
  • 1845–1846: Jean-Baptiste Minne-Barth
  • 1846–1847: Joseph Roulez
  • 1847–1848: François Verbeeck
  • 1848–1852: Eloi Manderlier
  • 1852–1855: Hubert Lefebvre [Wikidata]
  • 1855–1857: Constant Serrure [nl]
  • 1857–1864: Joseph Roulez
  • 1864–1867: Jacques Joseph Haus
  • 1867–1870: Charles Andries [nl]
  • 1870–1873: Joseph Jean Fuerison
  • 1873–1879: Floribert Soupart [nl]
  • 1879–1885: Albert Callier [nl]
  • 1885–1887: Jean-Jacques Kickx
  • 1887–1891: Gustave Wolters
  • 1891–1894: Adhémar Motte
  • 1894–1897: Charles Van Cauwenberghe
  • 1897–1900: Polynice Van Wetter
  • 1900–1903: Gustave Van der Mensbrugghe [nl]
  • 1903–1906: Paul Thomas [nl]
  • 1906–1909: Hector Leboucq
  • 1909–1912: Victor De Brabandere [nl]
  • 1912–1915: Henri Schoentjes
  • 1916–1918: Pierre Hoffmann
  • 1918–1919: Henri Schoentjes
  • 1919–1921: Henri Pirenne
  • 1921–1923: Eugène Eeman
  • 1923–1924: Jean-François Heymans
  • 1924–1927: Georges Van Den Bossche [Wikidata]
  • 1927–1929: Camille De Bruyne
  • 1929–1930: Jules Meuwissen [nl]
  • 1930–1933: August Vermeylen
  • 1933–1936: Albert Bessemans [nl]
  • 1936–1938: Louis Fredericq [nl]
  • 1938–1939: Jean Haesaert
  • 1939–1941: René Goubau
  • 1940–1944: Guillaume De Smet [nl]
  • 1944–1947: Edgard Blancquaert [nl]
  • 1947–1950: Norbert Goormaghtigh [nl]
  • 1950–1953: Albert Kluyskens [nl]
  • 1953–1957: Jan Gillis [nl]
  • 1957–1961: Pieter Lambrechts [nl]
  • 1961–1969: Jean-Jacques Bouckaert [nl]
  • 1969–1973: Daniël Vandepitte [nl]
  • 1973–1977: André Devreker [nl]
  • 1977–1981: Julien Hoste [nl]
  • 1981–1985: André Cottenie [nl]
  • 1985–1993: Leon De Meyer [nl]
  • 1993–2001: Jacques Willems [nl]
  • 2001–2005: Andreas De Leenheer [nl]
  • 2005–2013: Paul Van Cauwenberge
  • 2013–2017: Anne De Paepe [nl]
  • 2017–2021: Rik Van de Walle [nl]

Recipients of honorary doctorates

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Basic principles: Corporate colours – website of the UGent
  2. ^ "UGent Mission Statement".
  3. ^ "Recent rankings overview".
  4. ^ "ERC Report on Horizon 2020".
  5. ^ "Ghent University Memorials".
  6. ^ "A Language Come Back", Time, 28 April 1923
  7. ^ Danniau, Fien. "Haard van verzet" (in Dutch). UGent Memorie. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  8. ^ Vervaeke, Ann. "Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte – Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte".
  9. ^ Vervaeke, Ann. "Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte – Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte".
  10. ^ "Faculty of Law Ghent University". Archived from the original on 6 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Faculty of Sciences — Ghent University".
  12. ^ "Faculteit Geneeskunde en Gezondheidswetenschappen — Universiteit Gent".
  13. ^ "Faculty of Engineering and Architecture — Ghent University".
  14. ^ "Faculty of Economics and Business Administration". Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Faculty of Veterinary Medicine — Ghent University".
  16. ^ "Faculteit Psychologie en Pedagoghische Wetenschappen (FPPW)".
  17. ^ "Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences — Ghent University".
  18. ^ "Faculty of Political and Social Sciences — Ghent University".
  19. ^ a b "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020". ShanghaiRanking. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  20. ^ a b "World University Rankings 2020-2021". Center for World University Rankings. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  21. ^ a b "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2020 - P(top 10%)". CWTS Leiden Ranking. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  22. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2021". QS Top Universities. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Reuters World's Top 100 Innovative Universities 2019". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  24. ^ "World University Rankings 2022 - Ghent University". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Best Global Universities 2021 - Ghent University". U.S. News Education. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  26. ^ "World University Rankings 2021 - Ghent University". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Best Global Universities in Belgium". U.S. News Education. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Shanghai Ranking 2017 Results".
  29. ^ "QS Top Universities Ranking 2014–2015". 16 July 2015.
  30. ^ "Best Global Universities 2021".
  31. ^ "The Times Higher Education World University Rankings". 3 September 2021.
  32. ^ "Home". IMSOGLO. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Bestemmingen — Studentenportaal — Universiteit Gent".
  34. ^ "Daskalidès, Jean (1922–1992) | UGentMemorie". 16 August 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2013.

External links

  • Official website
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Coordinates: 51°02′48″N 3°43′41″E / 51.046582°N 3.727918°E / 51.046582; 3.727918

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