Ghent University


Ghent University
Universiteit Gent
Seal of Ghent University
Latin: Academia Gandavensis
Former names
State University of Ghent
MottoSapere Aude (Latin)
Motto in English
Dare to Think/Durf Denken
Established1817; 205 years ago (1817)
RectorRik Van de Walle
Administrative staff
CampusUniversity town
ColoursUGent corporate blue & White [1]
The Guild
Ghent University logo.svg

Ghent University (Dutch: Universiteit Gent, abbreviated as UGent) is a public research university located in Ghent, Belgium. It was established in 1817 by King William I of the Netherlands. After the Belgian revolution of 1830, the newly formed Belgian state began to administer the university. In 1930, the university became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium, whereas French (and, even earlier, Latin) had previously 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.

A Flemish institution, Ghent is one of the biggest Belgian universities, consisting of 44,000 students and 9,000 staff members. The University also supports the University Library – including the famous Boekentoren – and the University Hospital, which is one of the largest hospitals in Belgium. It is one of the greatest beneficiaries of funding from the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO). Ghent University consistently rates among the top 100 universities in the world[citation needed].


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

Foundation, in the 19th century

The university in Ghent was opened on October 9, 1817, with JC van Rotterdam serving as the first rector. 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.[citation needed] The original four faculties consisted of Humanities (Letters), Law, Medicine, and Science, with the language of instruction being Latin. In the first year, it had 190 students and 16 professors. In 1882, Sidonie Verhelst became the first female student at the university.[citation needed]

Pharmacy students during practicum (1890)

After peaking at a student population of 414, the number of students declined quickly following the Belgian Revolution. At this time, the Faculties of Humanities and Science were broken from the university, but they were restored five years later, in 1835. At this time, French also became the language of instruction, taking the place of Latin. However, in 1903 the Flemish politician Lodewijk De Raet would lead a successful campaign to begin instruction in Dutch, and the first courses were begun in 1906.[citation needed]

Ghent University played a role in the foundation of modern organic chemistry. Friedrich 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 contributions to organic chemistry.[citation needed]

2021 Boekentoren - University Library of Ghent

Developments since the 20th century

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.[2]

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.

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.[3] The severest demonstrations took place in 1969 in the wake of May 1968.

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 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[4]
  • Faculty of Bio-science Engineering[5]
  • Faculty of Law[6]
  • Faculty of Sciences[7]
  • Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences[8]
  • Faculty of Engineering and Architecture[9]
  • Faculty of Economics and Business Administration[10]
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine[11]
  • Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences[12]
  • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences[13]
  • Faculty of Political and Social Sciences[14]


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[15]66 (2020)
CWUR World[16]118 (2020-21)
CWTS World[17]75 (2020)
QS World[18]=135 (2021)
Reuters World[19]98 (2019)
THE World[20]=96 (2022)
USNWR Global[21]85 (2021)
National – Overall
ARWU National[15]1 (2020)
CWTS National[17]2 (2020)
CWUR National[16]2 (2020-21)
QS National[18]2 (2021)
THE National[22]2 (2021)
USNWR National[23]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)[24] and 125th by QS World University Rankings.[25] For 2021, Ghent University has been ranked, worldwide, 85th by U.S. News & World Report[26] and 96th by Times Higher Education.[27]

International relations

Ufo campus - University forum
UGent Boekentoren

The university maintains many partnerships within Belgium, across Europe, and throughout the world. For instance, 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 and the U4 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).[28]

Outside of Europe, Ghent University conducts exchange programs on all six continents.[29]

Associated contributions and innovations

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



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. ^ A Language Come Back, TIME Magazine, April 28, 1923
  3. ^ Danniau, Fien. "Haard van verzet" (in Dutch). UGent Memorie. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  4. ^ Vervaeke, Ann. "Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte – Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte".
  5. ^ Vervaeke, Ann. "Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte – Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte".
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-04-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Faculty of Sciences — Ghent University".
  8. ^ "Faculteit Geneeskunde en Gezondheidswetenschappen — Universiteit Gent".
  9. ^ "Faculty of Engineering and Architecture — Ghent University".
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2013-04-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Faculty of Veterinary Medicine — Ghent University".
  12. ^ "Faculteit Psychologie en Pedagoghische Wetenschappen (FPPW)".
  13. ^ "Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences — Ghent University".
  14. ^ "Faculty of Political and Social Sciences — Ghent University".
  15. ^ a b "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020". ShanghaiRanking. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  16. ^ a b "World University Rankings 2020-2021". Center for World University Rankings. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  17. ^ a b "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2020 - P(top 10%)". CWTS Leiden Ranking. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  18. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2021". QS Top Universities. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Reuters World's Top 100 Innovative Universities 2019". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  20. ^ "World University Rankings 2022 - Ghent University". Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  21. ^ "Best Global Universities 2021 - Ghent University". U.S. News Education. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  22. ^ "World University Rankings 2021 - Ghent University". Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Best Global Universities in Belgium". U.S. News Education. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Shanghai Ranking 2017 Results".
  25. ^ "QS Top Universities Ranking 2014–2015". 16 July 2015.
  26. ^ "Best Global Universities 2021".
  27. ^ "The Times Higher Education World University Rankings". 3 September 2021.
  28. ^ "Home". IMSOGLO. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  29. ^ "Bestemmingen — Studentenportaal — Universiteit Gent".
  30. ^ "Daskalidès, Jean (1922–1992) | UGentMemorie". 16 August 2010. Retrieved 2013-10-15.

External links

  • Official website

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