Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Infobox University
name = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
latin_name = Universitas Bruxellensis

motto = "Scientia vincere tenebras" (Latin)
mottoeng = Conquering darkness by science
established = 1834/1970
type = Independent/Partly state funded
rector = Paul De Knop
president = Eddy Van Gelder
staff = 2,582
students = 8,920
staff-ratio = 3.5:1
city = Brussels
country = Belgium flagicon|Belgium
address = Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussel
campus = Etterbeek and Jette
colours = orange, white, blue color box|orangecolor box|whitecolor box|blue
affiliations = University Association Brussels, UNICA, T.I.M.E.
nobel_laureates = Henri La Fontaine, Jules Bordet, Albert Claude, Ilya Prigogine
website = [http://www.vub.ac.be/english/ www.vub.ac.be]

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is a Flemish university located in Brussels, Belgium.The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is one of the five universities officially recognised by the Flemish government. A [http://www.highereducation.be list] of all official institutes of higher education in Flanders is maintained by the Flemish government.] It has two campuses referred to as Etterbeek and Jette.

The university's name is sometimes abbreviated by "VUB" or translated to "Free University of Brussels". However, it is an official policy of the university not to use abbreviations or translations of its name,nl Citation
year = 2005
title = Stijlhandboek 1.0
publication-place = Brussels
publisher = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
url = http://www.vub.ac.be/downloads/huisstijlhandboek.pdf
accessdate = 2007-11-23
.] because of possible confusion with another university that has the same translated name: the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles.

In fact, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel was formed by the splitting in 1970 of the same Université Libre de Bruxelles, which was founded in 1834 by the Flemish-Brussels lawyer Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen. He wanted to establish a university from state and church, where academic freedom would be prevalent.nl Citation
last = Witte
first = Els (eds.)
year = 1996
title = Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen (1796-1862)
publication-place = Brussels
publisher = VUBPress
isbn = 90-5487-140-7
.] This is today still reflected in the university's motto "Scientia vincere tenebras", or "Conquering darkness by science", and in its more recent slogan "Redelijk eigenzinnig" nl, or "Reasonably opiniated". Accordingly, the university is pluralistic — it is open to all students on the basis of equality regardless of their ideological, political, cultural or social background — and it is managed using democratic structures, which means that all members — from students to faculty — participate in the decision-making processes.According to the statutes of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel: nl Citation
year = 2005
title = Organiek Statuut
publication-place = Brussels
publisher = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
url = http://www.vub.ac.be/downloads/OrganiekStatuut.pdf
accessdate = 2007-11-23

The university is organised into 8 faculties that accomplish the three central missions of the university: education, research, and service to the community. The faculties cover a broad range of fields of knowledge including the natural sciences, classics, life sciences, social sciences, humanities, and engineering. The university provides bachelor, master, and doctoral education to about 8,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students.Figures from the "2006 Yearly Report" of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel: nl Citation
year = 2007
title = Activiteitenverslag 2006
publication-place = Brussels
publisher = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
url = http://www.vub.ac.be/downloads/jaarverslag2006.pdf
accessdate = 2007-11-23
.] It is also a strongly research-oriented institute, which has led to its top-133 position among universities worldwide.According to the [http://www.topuniversities.com/ 2006 THES - QS World University Rankings] . QS Education Trust. Retrieved on November 23, 2007.] Its research articles are on average more cited than articles by any other Flemish university. [cite paper
author = Visser, M.S., Rons, N., Moed, H.F., and Nederhof, A.J.
title = Bibliometrische Studie van Onderzoeksdisciplines aan de Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1992-2001
publisher = Leiden: Centre for Science and Technology Studies, University of Leiden
date = 2003


The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an independent institution. The members of all its governing entities are elected by the entire academic community — including faculty staff, researchers, personnel, and students. This system guarantees the democratic process of decision-making and the independence from state and outside organisations. Nevertheless, the university receives significant funding from the Flemish government, although less than other Flemish universities. Other important funding sources are grants for research projects (mostly from Belgian and European funding agencies), scholarships of academic members, revenues from cooperation with industry, and tuition fees to a lesser extent.

The main organisational structure of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is its division into faculties:See the cite web
url = http://www.vub.ac.be/english/home/organizationchart/
title = Organisational Chart of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
accessmonthday = November 24
accessyear = 2007
publisher = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/RG/ Faculty of Law and Criminology]
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/masters/ Faculty of Economic, Social, and Political Sciences] and the Solvay Business School
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/PE/indexE.html Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences]
* [http://we.vub.ac.be/english/ Faculty of Sciences]
* [http://gf.vub.ac.be/english/index.html Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy]
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/LW/ Faculty of Arts and Philosophy]
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/IR/ Faculty of Engineering]
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/LK/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=138&Itemid=187 Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy] These faculties benefit a wide autonomy over how they structure their educational programmes and research efforts, although their decisions need to comply with the university's statutes and must be approved by the central administration.

The central administration is formed by the Governing Board, which is currently presided by Eddy Van Gelder. It decides the university's long-term vision and must approve all decisions made by the faculties. The Governing Board is supported by three advising bodies: the Research Council, the Education Council, and the Senate. These bodies provide advice to the Governing Board on all issues regarding research, education, and the academic excellence of faculty staff, and may also propose changes to the university’s strategy. The daily management of the university is the responsibility of the Rector and three Vice-Rectors. The current Rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is Benjamin Van Camp.


The Vrije Universiteit Brussel offers courses in a large variety of modern disciplines: law, economics, social sciences, management, psychology, physical sciences, life sciences, medical sciences, humanities, engineering, physical education. About 10,000 students follow one of its 128 educational programmes.According to the cite web
url = http://www.vub.ac.be/english/infoabout/education/
title = official list of educational programmes at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
accessmonthday = November 26
accessyear = 2007
publisher = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
] All programmes are taught in Dutch, but 59 are also taught in English. In agreement with the Bologna process, the university has implemented the so-called bachelor-master system. It therefore issues four types of degrees: bachelor's, master's, master after master's, and doctoral degrees.

Admission to the programmes is generally not restricted; anyone can subscribe to the programme of his/her choice. However, prerequisite degrees may be mandatory for advanced programmes, e.g., a bachelor’s degree is required to subscribe to a master’s programme, and a master’s degree is required to subscribe to a master after master’s or doctoral programme. An exception to this is the admission exam to the bachelor in medicine, which is required following ruling of the Flemish government. Tuition fees are low, and even decreased or eliminated for some students with less financial means.

The academic year is divided into two semesters, each spanning thirteen course weeks: the first semester lasts from October to January, the second semester from February to June. Students take exams in January and June. Apart from the Christmas and Easter holidays (both lasting two weeks) that are normally used to prepare for the exams, students are free the week between both semesters and during the Summer holidays from July to September.

The university has implemented several quality control schemes in order to preserve the high quality of its educational programmes. Each semester, all students evaluate the courses they have followed. All programmes are also regularly assessed by internal panels and by external international visitation committees. Furthermore, all programmes are accredited by the Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie, an independent accreditation organisation charged with the accreditation of higher education programmes in both Flanders and the Netherlands.Accreditation details can be consulted at cite web
url = http://www.nvao.net/
title = the website of NVAO
accessmonthday = November 26
accessyear = 2007
publisher = NVAO—Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders


Notable faculty:
* Els Witte
* Hugo Soly
* Catharina Lis
* Jean-Paul Van Bendegem
* Francis Heylighen
* Luc Steels
* Irina Veretennicoff
* Lode Wyns
* Kris Deschouwer


Establishment of a university in Brussels

The history of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is closely linked with that of Belgium itself. At the time of the declaration of independence of Belgium in 1830, three state universities existed in the cities of Ghent, Liège and Leuven. In Brussels, the capital of the newly established country, a university was lacking. A group of leading intellectuals in the fields of arts, science, and education — amongst whom Auguste Baron and the astronomer and mathematician Adolphe Quetelet — pointed out the advantages of a university to the new capital and country. Initially, they sought for the establishment of a state university, but the Belgian government showed little enthusiasm due to the onerous financial burden of yet another state university.

In 1834, the Belgian episcopate decided to establish a Catholic university in Mechelen with the aim of regaining the influence of the Catholic Church on the academic scene in Belgium, and the Belgian government had the intent to close the state university at Leuven and donate the buildings to the Catholic institution.Citation
last = Lamberts
first = Emiel
last2 = Roegiers
first2 = Jan (eds.)
year = 1990
title = Leuven University, 1425-1985
publication-place = Leuven
publisher = Leuven University Press
isbn = 90-6186-418-6
.] The liberals in Belgium strongly opposed to this decision, and furthered their ideas for a university in Brussels as a counterbalance to the Catholic institution. At the same time, Auguste Baron had just become a member of the freemasonic lodge "Les Amis Philantropes", as had a large number of other intellectuals with enlightened ideas. Baron was able to convince Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen, the president of the lodge, to support the idea for a new university. On June 24, 1834, Verhaegen presented his plan to establish a free university.

After sufficient funding was collected among advocates, the Université Libre de Bruxelles was inaugurated on November 20, 1834, in the Gothic room of the city hall of Brussels.cite web
url = http://www.ulb.ac.be/docs/ulb-prestige/histuk.html/
title = Presentation of the Université Libre de Belgique
accessmonthday = November 24
accessyear = 2007
publisher = Université Libre de Belgique
] After its establishment, the Université Libre de Bruxelles faced difficult times, since it did receive no subsidies or grants from the government; yearly fundraising events and tuition fees provided the only financial means. Verhaegen, who became a professor and later head of the new university, gave it a mission statement which he summarized in a speech to King Leopold I: the principle of "free inquiry" and academic freedom uninfluenced by any political or religious authority.

Splitting of the university

In the nineteenth century, courses at the Université Libre de Bruxelles were taught exclusively in French, the language of the upper class in Belgium at that time. However, with the Dutch-speaking population asking for more rights in Belgium, some courses were already taught in Dutch at the Faculty of Law as early as 1935. Nevertheless, it was not until 1963 that all faculties offered their courses in Dutch.cite web
url = http://www.vub.ac.be/english/home/about.html
title = About the University: Culture and History
accessmonthday = November 25
accessyear = 2007
publisher = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
] On October 1, 1969, the university was finally split in two sister institutions: the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel. This splitting became official by the law of May 28, 1970, of the Belgian parliament, by which the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Université Libre de Bruxelles became two separate legal entities.nl cite web
url = http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/edulex/database/document/document.asp?docid=12770
title = Law of May 28, 1970, concerning the splitting of the universities in Brussels and Leuven
accessmonthday = November 25
accessyear = 2007
publisher = Belgisch Staatsblad/Flemish Government

Basic principles

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an open, tolerant, and pluralistic university.nl Citation
year = 2007
title = Redelijk eigenzinnig 2008-2009
publication-place = Brussels
publisher = Vrije Universiteit Brussel
url = http://www.vub.ac.be/downloads/Smaakmaker.pdf
accessdate = 2007-11-23
.] Its central principles are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in particular the principle of "free inquiry" for the progress of humanity. The latter includes the dismissal of any argument of authority and the right of free opinion. The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is the only Flemish university that has incorporated such principle in its statutes. The principle of free inquiry is often described by a quotation of the French mathematician and philosopher Henri Poincaré:epigraph
quote = Thinking must never submit itself,
neither to a dogma,
nor to a party,
nor to a passion,
nor to an interest,
nor to a preconceived idea,
nor to anything whatsoever,
except to the facts themselves,
because for it to submit to anything else would be the end of its existence.
cite =
This principle is also reflected in the university's motto "Scientia vincere tenebras", or "Conquering darkness by science", and in its seal. The seal of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel displays a beggar's wallet and joined hands on the orange-white-blue (the colours of the Prince of Orange) escutcheon in the emblem, referring to the struggle of the Protestant Gueux and the Prince of Orange against the Spanish rule and the Inquisition in the sixteenth century.

Another basic principle of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel — also incorporated in the university's statutes — is that the institution must be managed according to the model of democracy. Practically, this means that all members of the academic community — faculty staff, researchers, personnel, and students — are represented in all governing bodies. In this way, the university ensures that everyone has a voice in its decision-making processes and participates in its management. This principles must also guarantee the independence of the university and the academic freedom.

Campus and facilities

Most of the faculties are located on the campus Etterbeek (which is actually located on the territory of the neighbouring borough of Elsene), it is the liveliest of the two campuses. The activities mainly take place in the numerous auditoriums and labs. In addition, there is a modern sports centre with various rooms for sporting activities, a football pitch encircled by a running track and an on-campus swimming pool. For eating out, there is not just the student restaurant, but also some snack bars ('t Complex, Opinio, Kultuurkaffee).

The campus in Jette is also a fully-fledged campus. The University Hospital (UZ Brussel) is in the vicinity. All medical courses and research, the so-called life sciences (medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, the biomedical and paramedical sciences) take place here.

Institutional cooperation

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel cooperates with several institutions of higher education. They are:

*Université Libre de Bruxelles
*UNICA, the Institutional Network of the UNIversities from the CApitals of Europe
* Top Industrial Managers for Europe
*The University of Kent (Brussels School of International Studies)
*Vesalius College, an anglophone institution sharing the VUB campus
*Erasmushogeschool Brussel (together with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel they make up the Brussels University Association)
*Brussels Chamber of Commerce
*UCOS, the University Development Cooperation Centre
*XIOS Hogeschool Limburg and Provinciale Hogeschool Limburg
*Royal Military Academy
*Higher Institute for Re-adaptation Sciences Louvain
*Worldwide, on the international level the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has concluded institutional collaboration agreements with 38 universities all over the world, and student exchange agreements with 160 universities

Student life

Notable alumni

Scientists & Academics

* Jean Bourgain (1954-)
* Leo Apostel (1925-1995)
* Ingrid Daubechies (1954-)
* Sophie de Schaepdrijver (1961-)
* Kris Deschouwer
* Willy Gepts (1922-1991)
* Raymond Hamers
* Clement Hiel (1952-)
* Wim Leemans
* Pattie Maes
* Christine Van Den Wyngaert (1952-)
* Helena Van Swygenhoven
* Els Witte
* Lode Wyns


* André Delvaux (1926-2002)
* Jef Geeraerts (1930-)
* Erik Pevernagie (1939)
* Fabienne Demal (Axelle Red) (1968-)


* Tony Mary (1950-)


* Louis Tobback (1938-)
* Annemie Neyts (1944-)
* Norbert De Batselier (1947-)
* Karel De Gucht (1954-)
* Christian Leysen (1954-)
* Patrick Dewael (1955-)
* Frank Vanhecke (1959-)
* Bert Anciaux (1959-)


* Sébastien Godefroid (1971-), olympic sailor


* Yves Desmet

Notes and references

See also

* Science and technology in Flanders
* Université Libre de Bruxelles
* University Foundation
* Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology (VIB)
* Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC)

External links

* [http://www.vub.ac.be/english/ Official website] of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/ Official website] of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
* [http://www.vub.ac.be/vlaamsestudenteninbrussel/markante.html More complete list of famous alumni (in Dutch)]
* [http://www.highereducation.be/content.php?section=zoekmachine&subsection=eenvoudig&action=zoeken Find an officially recognised programme of this institution in the Higher Education Register]
* [http://www.virbr.be/ V.Ir.Br. - VUB Engineering Alumni Association]
* Top Industrial Managers for Europe

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