Symposium 'Building academic partnerships in a changing global context'

Ghent University External Stakeholders' Networking Event with presentations and panel discussion on how to approach the current challenges in international (academic) cooperation, followed by networking dinner. 16 May 2023

We invite our external partners for networking, presentations and discussions on building future-proof international partnerships, taking into consideration topics such as human rights, foreign interference, dual use, equal partnerships, ...

The symposium will also be available via livestream for participants who are unable to attend in person. Although we encourage in-person attendance to facilitate networking opportunities, we recognize the importance of engaging with our worldwide network of partners through remote access.

Register to attend the event in person.

Register to attend the event via livestream (we will send you the link a few days prior to the symposium).

Registrations are open until 9 May 2023!


Platform map16:00: Welcome words by Prof Rik Van de Walle, Rector of Ghent University

16:15: Stimulating Ghent University’s international academic cooperation through Regional Platforms, International Thematic Networks and Strategic Institutional Partnerships – Prof. Guido Van Huylenbroeck, Academic Director for Internationalization, Ghent University

  • 16:45: Alumni Abroad: community building through international alumni chapters – Em. Prof. Kristiaan Versluys
  • 17:00: Findings and recommendations of the research project ‘Moving beyond university development cooperation’ – Jolien Tegenbos
  • 17:15: Panel discussion: How to approach the current challenges in international (academic) cooperation and how to build future proof partnerships?
    • Panel members:
      • Irina Ferencz, Director of ACA – Academic Cooperation Association
      • Sami Zemni, Professor, Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University
      • Tawana Kupe, Vice-chancellor and rector, University of Pretoria, South-Africa
      • Fabienne Bossuyt, Professor, Department of Political Sciences, Ghent University
      • Jan Briers, Member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives & Honorary Governor Province of East Flanders
    • Moderator: Gie Goris, Journalist and former editor of MO*Magazine
  • 18:15: Mix & Mingle walking dinner


Irina Ferencz, Director of ACA – Academic Cooperation Association

Irina Ferencz serves as Director of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), a mainly European network of national level (funding) agencies supporting international cooperation and student mobility in higher education. She works in the field of higher education since 2008, having a specific expertise – practice and applied research – in the areas of student and staff mobility in the European context (data collections, trends, policies), as well as in assessing and advising on strategic internationalisation activities at institutional and national level, with a growing interest and activities in the areas of inclusive internationalization and the impact of global developments on international cooperation in higher education. Her expertise is derived from working directly with higher education institutions, funding organizations and policy-makers at national and European level, stakeholder bodies, and international data collectors, on comparative, policy-oriented initiatives and projects, resulting in multiple publications. Irina also serves as the Chair of the WG5 Connecting Research and Practice of the ENIS network, is a PhD candidate at Ghent University, Center for Higher Education Governance Ghent (GHEGG), researching identity and image of meta-organisations in higher education, and a reviewer for two higher education journals. She holds an advanced master’s degree in EU policies and politics from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) and an undergraduate degree from the Babeş-Bolyai University (Romania) in international relations and European studies, being a Romanian national, based in Belgium.

Sami Zemni, Professor, Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University

Sami Zemni is professor in political and social sciences at the Center for Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University (Belgium) where he coordinates and leads the Middle East and North Africa Research Group (MENARG). His area of expertise is politics within the Middle East and North Africa region, with special reference to political Islam. He focuses mainly on developments in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, democratization in the Arab World as well as conflict in the Arab world. As a former director of the Center for Islam in Europe (CIE, 2002–2007), he has also written on issues of migration, integration, racism and Islamophobia.

Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Pretoria, South-Africa

Professor Tawana Kupe is the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria since January 2019. Before joining the University of Pretoria, he held the positions of Vice Principal responsible for running the university, Deputy Vice Chancellor Advancement, Human Resources and Transformation, Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Operations and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Wits University.

He holds BA honours and master’s degrees in English from the University of Zimbabwe, as well as a DPhil in Media Studies from the University of Oslo in Norway. In December 2019, Prof Kupe received an honorary doctorate from Michigan State University in the US, and another from the University of Montpellier in France, in October 2021.

In 2020, he was elected to the international council of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. The organization supports and develops media and communication research throughout the world, and encourages the participation of emerging scholars, women and those from economically disadvantaged regions. Prof. Kupe is the Africa Co-Chair of the Australia-Africa Universities Network, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Michigan State University-led African Alliance Partnership and Chairman of the Montpellier University of Excellence International Advisory Board. Prof Kupe is a board member of the Association of African Universities, the African Research Universities Association, a council member and trustee of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the South African representative of the Austria-Africa University Network.

Fabienne Bossuyt, Professor, Department of Political Sciences, Ghent University

Fabienne Bossuyt is Associate Professor at and co-coordinator of the Ghent Institute for International and European Studies (GIES). She holds a PhD from Aston University (UK) and Ghent University based on a doctoral dissertation on the EU's influence in Post-Soviet Central Asia. Previously, she obtained a Master’s degree in Translation Studies (Ghent University, 2004) and a postgraduate degree in International Relations and Conflict Management (KULeuven, 2005). She is a senior lecturer in the MA programme in EU Studies and the MA Programme in Global Studies. In addition, she is co-director of the Eureast Platform of Ghent University. She is also a Professorial Fellow at UNU-CRIS, and is active as an affiliated researcher of EUCAM and a member of the Academic Board of the European Neighbourhood Council.

Jan Briers, Member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives & Honorary Governor Province of East Flanders

Jan Briers was governor of the province of East Flanders from 2013 to 2018 and has been president of the Festival of Flanders Ghent since 2017. He is also president of the European Festivals Association (EFA), and of the Federation of Music Festivals in Flanders (FMIV). Currently he is a member of the Belgian federal Parliament and Honorary Governor of the Province of East-Flanders.
Jan Briers is known as an experienced bridge builder, internationally renowned, with a great love for East Flanders. As governor, he formed an important link between the different levels of government to bring strategic projects that benefit every citizen to a successful conclusion. In the Federal Parliament, Jan has a specific focus on the Constitution (vice-chairman of the Constitution Committee), the Special Congress Committee (vice-chairman), the NATO Committee and the Committees for Home Affairs, Climate and Foreign Affairs.

Moderator: Gie Goris, Journalist and former editor of MO*Magazine

Gie Goris is a Belgian freelance journalist he worked full-time in global journalism from December 1990 to September 2020, first as editor-in-chief of Wereldwijd (1990-2002), then as editor-in-chief of MO* (2003-July 2020). His expertise: culture and religion in the context of conflict and human development, interculturality and globalization, and Islamism since 9/11. He specialized in Asia (from Iran to Indonesia, from Central Asia to South Asia), with a major focus in recent years on the region around Afghanistan. He is now retired, but remains active as a freelance journalist.