Official Opening Academic Year 2020-2021

(21-09-2020) Come ON, OFF we go. Ghent University started a special academic year on Friday 18 September, from the Campus UZ Gent.

This academic year we’ll be going for it together, ON and OFF. Ghent University students and staff members will meet on and off campus, on- and offline: to learn, to collaborate, to research… Because we want to. And because we can.

This year, the academic year didn't kick off with a colourful parade and formal assembly in the Aula, but as it should be in these special times: ON and OFF. Why? Once again… Because we want to. And because we can.

The ceremony was initiated with a walking-and-bicycle-relay-race by representatives from all sections of the staff. Professor Sandra Van Vlierberghe, Doctor-assistant Joachim Schouteten, communications officer Sten Sundahl and student Emma Coppieters made their way through Ghent. From the heart of the University at the Aula Academica to the Campus UZ Gent as an ode to the health sector, they passed by the Rectoraat, Saint-Peter's Square and the GUM, which will soon open its doors to the public. The opening of the ceremony at Campus UZ Gent was officiated by vice-rector Mieke Van Herreweghe, followed by interviews and finally closed by the rector Rik Van de Walle's speech.

We wish all UGent'ers a great start of the new academic year.

Come ON, OFF we go!

The complete livestream is available on the Ghent University Facebook page and Ghent University YouTube channel.

Rectorial Address

Prompted by first-year Pharmaceutical Sciences student Emma Coppieters, Rector Rik Van de Walle officially declared the opening of the new academic year.

Watch his speech below, or read the full text (NL).

"Welcome (back) to Ghent University, dear students. Be ambassadors of our university, of a Ghent University that deals wisely with change and with the virus. I have before and now continue to express my confidence in you. Exactly like I express my confidence in our employees." (Rector Rik Van de Walle)

Welcoming Words

Vice-rector Mieke Van Herreweghe welcomed everyone with words of thanks, encouragement and belief in cooperation. Read the full text (NL).

"Last year, we asked our lecturers to be mild during examinations. This was met with a great many positive responses. This year, I would ask the students to show their lecturers that same mildness. Lecturers are searching or have been searching how to shape on/off education in a way that stays true to the study material and their own personalities. It might not be perfect on day one, but I would ask that you show understanding and patience when something doesn't work as well as intended." (Vice-rector Mieke Van Herreweghe)


All interviews are available in the livestream mentioned above, in the order as mentioned below.

Professor Hendrik De Bie

¨Professor De Bie (Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Department of Electronics and Information Systems) talked about the new challenges of contemporary teaching, the new lecturing techniques, the online classes, the immense efforts of the student administrations to finish the class- and exam schedules on time and the pros and cons of teaching and being taught in the age of corona.

Sarah Adeyinka

Doctoral student Sarah Adeyinka (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy) talked about her experiences as a non-EU researcher at Ghent University - both before and during the lockdown. The things that helped her grow, the challenges and what she thinks research will look like in the future.

Sarah Vermeersch

Student psychologist Sarah Vermeersch handled the aspects that are important to a positive well-being during studying and working at Ghent University in 2020 - 2021. She focused specifically on mental support for students and personnel.

Maarten Buytaert

The committed student Maarten Buytaert (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Student of Medicine) discussed the challenges facing students at Ghent University this year, the first-year-students in particular, and the impact they have on the otherwise so vibrant student life in Ghent.

Read more about how Maarten believes in a good academic year, with students, lecturers and all of Ghent University working together.