Call for International Thematic Networks - 2022 - 2026

1. Scope of the call

Ghent University’s ITN portfolio currently comprises 12 International Thematic Networks, covering a wide and diversified range of interdisciplinary themes and involving partner networks from all continents across the globe.

The ITN portfolio is dynamic in two ways: (1) Each individual ITN has been given the opportunity to evolve within the chosen interdisciplinary theme and develop the most efficient structure for cooperation. (2) As a whole the ITN portfolio is not static: with a dynamic portfolio Ghent University wishes to adapt to new emerging themes for cooperation in our changing global and social context, as well as to explore new cooperation and new partners to increase its visibility and impact on the international stage.

In order to stimulate the further development of the ITN portfolio, a new call for International Thematic Networks (2022-2026) with a total budget of 180.000 € is open to support both the renewal of existing ITN (at the end of their first 5-year period) and the startup of new ITN proposals:

  1. Existing International Thematic Networks can apply for extended funding. Existing ITN who are at the end of the first 5-year funding period can re-apply for a second funding period with reduced (50 %) UGent funding support. In case of non-selection, one re-application is possible in a next call. An application as new ITN on the same topic is not allowed. 
  2. Proposals for new International Thematic Networks.

2. Context: the Integrated Policy plan for Internationalization

In the framework of the Integrated Policy Plan for Internationalisation, Ghent University intends to make effective and strategic choices with regard to international cooperation and qualitative partnerships.

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

Read more on Ghent University’s strategic international cooperation and the goals set out for this type of cooperation in the Integrated Policy plan for Internationalization and in the guidelines for the calls for International Thematic Networks (New ITN and Existing ITN).

3. Ghent University International Thematic Networks

3. 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 collaboration with partners in the Global South. For this category a main criterion is to prove how collaboration between all partners involved contributes to a mutual exchange of knowledge and capacity building and to international excellence and impact.
  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.

3.2. Structure and responsibilities

Each international thematic network is composed of an interdisciplinary group of at least 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 calls (New ITN and Existing INT). 

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.

3.3. Support & funding

Ghent University supports the network with funds for coordination, earmarking of internal education and research funds, and free use of available facilities for institution wide dissemination activities (e.g. conference rooms,…).

The ITN allowance is considered to be start-up financing and/or seed money with the aim of creating the structure and capacity to initiate coordinated cooperation actions, to generate new project funding, and eventually to become sustainable in the long term.

New International Thematic Networks receive a funding amount of 60.000 € per year for a period of 5 years for coordination (including but not restricted to personnel costs, operational costs, travel etc.). Upon completion and successful evaluation of a first 5-year period, existing International Thematic Networks can re-apply for a second 5-year funding period with reduced funding support of 30.000 €  per year. The max. funding duration for ITNs is limited to 10 years. After two 5-year funding periods the ITN cannot apply for further renewal, but may further benefit from the general and technical support from the central internationalization services upon agreement. The funding period for proposals selected in this call is 2022-2026 . In case of non-selection, only one re-application is possible. An application as new ITN on the same topic is not allowed. 

The network is required to contribute and demonstrate co-funding in addition to the Ghent University allowance, so that the total turnover of the ITN amounts to min. 120.000 € per year (or min. 600.000 € for the full duration of the 5-year funding period). This implies that the ITN have to demonstrate a co-funding of 60.000 € per year during their first 5-year funding period, and 90.000 € per year during their second 5-year funding period. More details on the required co-funding are mentioned in the guidelines to the calls. (New ITN and Existing ITN).

4. Procedure

Existing ITN are asked to submit a Request for Renewal, consisting of an Evaluation Report about the 1st funding period and a Full Proposal, focusing on the added value of a second funding period. The Request for Renewal will be evaluated by a designated selection committee, composed of faculty representatives and representatives of the central departments. After a selection has been made, the Expert Group on Internationalization will validate this, after which the Executive Board of Ghent University will formally confirm this decision.
DEADLINE: Applicants for renewal must submit their Request for Renewal by Friday 12/11/2021, 12:00h.

The selection for NEW ITN is divided in two phases.
In the first phase, applicants for new ITN are asked to submit a Declaration of Intent (DoI) which is conceived as a brief pre-proposal focusing on a project concept. The Declarations of Intent will be evaluated by a designated selection committee, composed of faculty representatives and representatives of the central departments . A positive evaluation of the Declaration of Intent is required for entering the second round, for which a Full Proposal has to be submitted.

In the second phase, the Full Proposals will be evaluated by the selection committee. The Expert Group on Internationalization will then validate the selection made by the selection committee, after which the Executive Board of Ghent University will formally confirm the selection.

DEADLINES: Applicants for new ITN must submit their Declaration of Intent by Friday 12/11/2021, 12:00h and the Full Proposal (after positive evaluation of the DoI) by Fri 18/02/2022, 12:00h.

5. Application

All necessary templates for the two types of application are available on this webpage, in the section ‘More information & downloads’.

6. Evaluation Criteria

The selection will be based on the specific evaluation criteria that can be found in the guidelines to the calls (new ITN and existing ITN), in addition to the overall goals for the Ghent University strategic international cooperation.
For ITN applying for renewal, the selection committee will pay additional attention to the following criteria:

  1. Justification and added value of a second funding period.
  2. Continued added value of the ITN for Ghent University: how will the ITN further reinforce the university wide polity choices and international strategy of Ghent University?
  3. Budget: extent to which the network will overcome the decrease in funding from Ghent University, sustainability of the network in the long term.

7. Practical Guidelines

All application documents need to be written in English within the designated template. The text needs to be written in font Arial 10, spacing 1.15. All templates for the application(s) can be found below in the section ‘More information & downloads).

The proposals need to be submitted electronically before the deadlines mentioned in the quidelines. The e-mail should be send to Marieke.merckx@ugent.be

Upon submitting a proof of receipt will be sent via e-mail, 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.

8. Selection result

REQUEST FOR RENEWAL

The selection committee selects the ITN for renewal at the end of November 2021. The Ghent University promoter will receive a notification from the Director for Internationalization with the selection result of his/her application after the meeting of the selection committee. The motivation of the decision of the selection committee will only be provided after the formal decision of the Executive Board.

NEW ITN

First phase: The selection committee selects new ITN for admission to the second phase (the submission of a Full Proposal) at the end of November 2021. The Ghent University promoter will receive a notification from the Director for Internationalization with the selection result of his/her application after the meeting of the selection committee.

Second phase: The selection committee selects the new ITN based on the Full Proposal at the beginning of March 2022. The Ghent University promoter will receive a notification from the Director for Internationalization with the selection result of his/her application after the meeting of the selection committee. The motivation of the decision of the selection committee will only be provided after the formal decision of the Executive Board.

9. Reporting and Evaluation

All selected international thematic networks annually report about their activities to the Director for Internationalization. At the end of their funding period (Y5 or Y10), every ITN has to submit their final evaluation, regardless whether the ITN will apply for renewal. Detailed information on reporting and evaluation can be found in the guidelines to the call.

10. More information & downloads

For further information about this funding programme, please contact marieke.merckx@ugent.be (International Relations Office)

Available for download: