Call for International Thematic Networks - 2019

DEADLINE - All Declarations of Intent for International Thematic Networks have to be submitted before Friday 31/01/2020, 12:00h at the Secretariat of the International Relations Office, address: Het Pand, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent.


1. Context: the Integrated Policy plan for Internationalization

Within the framework of the Integrated Policy Plan for Internationalisation, the strategy paper on Strategic Initiatives for International Cooperation (approved by the Board of Governors on 13 March 2015) sets the framework for strategic international cooperation activities.

The goals for Ghent University’s strategic international cooperation are:

  • To strengthen the link between research, education and services to society, within an international context;
  • To enhance visibility and impact of Ghent University in the international environment, by coordinating long-term partnerships in order to consolidate the leading role of Ghent University;
  • To seize opportunities (networking, funding...) within the international environment to enhance the impact of Ghent University.

Special emphasis is put on collaborations that:

  • Focus on networking with high level and/or high potential partners; 
  • Focus on networking with countries, regions or around themes of strategic importance for Ghent University; 
  • Collaborate with partners in the South with a strong focus on human capacity building;
  • Align themselves with the overall strategic goals of Ghent University in sustainable development and internationalization.

Three models for strategic international cooperation have been put forward: (1) International Thematic Networks; (2) Regional Platforms and (3) Institutional Strategic Partnerships. 

2. Ghent University International Thematic Networks

2. 1. Definition & role

An international thematic network is a body for support, cooperation and advice consisting of Ghent University staff members and international partners concerning a specific topic of excellence in education and research at Ghent University with societal relevance and impact.

The network of international partners offers an added value through synergy by strengthening the existing capacity and expertise within Ghent University, and/or strengthening the capacity of partners in the South.

The network offers support to members of the Ghent University community in the chosen disciplines to engage internationally. It supports the development of new initiatives in mobility, research, education and service to society. It strives for an increase both in the quality and in resources for the work done within Ghent University around this theme.

Further, the network promotes the excellence of the institution in this field, thus contributing to the position as an important partner in education, research and service to society and to the international Ghent University brand in general.

According to the main focus of interest several types of ITN can be identified (e.g.):

  1. ITN with objective of strengthening the existing excellence at Ghent University. For this category a main criterion is to prove the own international excellence and the added value of adding international partners to exploit and to promote this excellence; 
  2. ITN with the objective of strengthening the capacity of partners in the South. For this category a main criterion is to prove the excellence of the capacity of UGent and other Northern partners on the topic and the way the transfer of this knowledge is realised
  3. ITN with the objective of strengthening Ghent University’s own capacity through the network. For this category, the main criterion is to prove the importance of the theme for the international position of UGent and how the excellence of the international partners will contribute to realize this international position

In the proposal the coordinator has to indicate based on the focus of the ITN project, but this does not exclude other objectives or a combination of the above objectives. 

2.2. Structure and responsibilities

Each international thematic network is composed of an interdisciplinary group of three Ghent University professorial (ZAP) and/or post-doc staff members, and professorial/post-doc staff members of minimum three different non-Flemish higher education partner organizations. See full guidelines to the call. 

The network is coordinated by a Ghent University professorial staff member (ZAP) as chair of the steering committee with representations of Ghent University and the international partner organizations. The coordinator is responsible for the development, the implementation and the organization of the network’s initiatives and acts as the sole authorized person for the granted budget. 

2.3. Support & funding

Ghent University supports the network with funds for coordination cost, earmarking of internal education and research funds and offering free use of the available facilities for a set of institution wide dissemination activities (conference rooms,…). This funding has to be seen as seed money to enable the network to search of other funding to realize its goals. 

In the framework of the second call Ghent University intends to support three international thematic networks for a period of 5 years with €60.000 /year for coordination costs (including but not restricted to personnel costs, operational costs, travel costs, …). There is a possibility that the funding after a five year period will be renewable. The start date of the funding period is set on the 1st of May 2020.

The network is required to contribute and demonstrate a total co-funding of min. € 60.000/year (in addition to the abovementioned allowance) for the full duration of the network funding period, in order to ensure a sustainable commitment. The sort of co-funding is undefined, but the amount of co-funding must be real and verifiable.

Examples of co-funding are travel costs, organizational costs (workshops, summer schools …), wages for well-defined verifiable tasks (PhD, visiting staff, supporting staff), … The co-funding may be unequal between partners (both the involved UGent groups as the external partners) but the full proposal must be clear how the co-funding is realized and which partners contribute.

Apart from centrally offered financial and organisational support, the engagement of staff members in an international thematic network (e.g. chair or member of the board, or participant to network initiatives) will be fully recognized by the institution in its communication.

3. Procedure

The selection procedure for ITN is divided into two rounds.

  1. In the first round, applicants are asked to submit a Declaration of Intent (DoI) which is conceived as a brief pre-proposal focusing on a project concept. The Declaration of Intent will be evaluated by the Working Group Partnerships and Process Management.
  2. The positive evaluation of the Declaration of Intent is required for entering the second round comprising the submission of a Full Proposal. The Full Proposal will be evaluated by the Expert Group on Internationalization and confirmed by the Executive Board.

Applicants must submit their Declaration of Intent by Fri 31/01/2020, 12:00h and the Full proposal (after positive evaluation of the Declaration of Intent) by Tue 31/03/2020, 12:00h. 

4. Application

See available downloads below of the forms for Declaration of Intent and Full Proposal

5. Evaluation Criteria

The selection will be based on the following specific evaluation criteria, in addition to the overall goals for the Ghent University strategic international cooperation:

ROUND 1 – Declaration of Intent: key criteria concern the main topic and branding

  • Justification of the proposed theme of the network 
  • Added value of the ITN for Ghent University: how will the ITN reinforce the international reputation and branding of Ghent University?
  • Societal impact

ROUND 2 – Full Proposal: key criteria concern the quality of the proposal

  • Overall quality of the proposal with 
    • the clear links between research, education and services to society
    • the implementation of the main objective of the ITN (as one of three types of ITN)
    • the opportunities for the Ghent University community in the international environment
    • feasibility of the proposed activities
    • networking plan
  • Expected outcome (co-publications, gradually approach to joint PhDs, jointly organised educational programmes, capacity building projects,…)
  • Proposed management structure (with emphasis on the role of the partners, with special emphasis on the importance for Ghent University)
  • Proposed financial plan

6. Practical Guidelines

The declaration of intent and the full proposal need to be written in English within the prepared template. The text needs to be written in font Arial 10, spacing 1.15.

The proposals need to be submitted in a complete paper version before the deadline at the secretariat of the International Relations Office, address: Het Pand, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Gent.

Upon submitting a signed proof of receipt will be given, containing the reference number of the proposal. This number will be used in all communication concerning the proposal.

Any failure to comply with the above described guidelines will lead to the ineligibility of the proposal.

7. Selection result

The Ghent University promoter will receive a letter from the Director for Internationalization with the selection result of his/her application. Details on the feedback procedure will be mentioned in this letter. 

8. Reporting and Evaluation

All selected international thematic networks annually report about their activities to the Director in the framework of the Ghent University Annual Report (Jaarverslag).

At the end of the funding period of 5 years an overall evaluation will be made by the Expert Group for Internationalisation.

9. More information & downloads

For further general information about this funding programme, please contact (T +32 9 264 70 19)

Available for download