ENLIGHT adds a new dimension to international education and research

(12-02-2021) A brand new collaboration project with eight other European universities aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and research.

Ghent University will be part of ENLIGHT, a project aimed at shaping the future of the university. “We are adding a new dimension to international education and research”, says rector Rik Van de Walle.

Ghent University is involved in pioneering a new ‘European University’, a network with the universities of the Basque countries (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Bratislava (Slovakia), Galway (Ireland), Göttingen (Germany), Groningen (The Netherlands), Tartu (Estonia) and Uppsala (Sweden). 

“Ghent University is already very heavily involved in international education and research,” says rector Rik Van de Walle. “Just think of the Erasmus exchanges, our campus in Korea, and the many ERC grants received by our researchers."

Rik Van de Walle: "With ENLIGHT we are adding yet another dimension. In a structural partnership, the nine ENLIGHT universities will not only work together, but also with their city and region, to identify social challenges and actually tackle them through education and research. In this way we wish to create, for example, new forms of education in which students work alongside researchers, citizens and companies in tackling real social issues, and in doing so work beyond the borders of their own discipline and their own university.”

Testing grounds

ENLIGHT must therefore act as a kind of catalyst to achieve innovation over the long term. “We must do more to ensure that previous hurdles disappear and to create openness between the universities”, says Gijs Coucke from the International Relations Office (Department of Educational Policy), as one of the Logo ENLIGHTproject pioneers. 

“It is a platform in which we can create testing grounds. In doing so, we can learn lots about the future of education”, explains Hilde Van Puyenbroeck, head of the Educational Quality Assurance Office (Department of Educational Policy). 

Scientific progress

The project also offers many opportunities for researchers. “Researchers already tend to be rather internationally oriented. ENLIGHT can be the lever to facilitate more European research. The project makes it easier to get in touch with researchers in the different universities and increases the efficiency of collaboration”, explains Gijs Coucke.

ENLIGHT network

Windows of opportunity 

ENLIGHT can also open all kinds of doors for students. In fact, in the future we will be looking at creating ‘windows of opportunity’ in the curricula. “We wish to teach students to go deep into their own domain, but also to look at the broad perspective and be able to work with people from other disciplines and cultures. This is essential for effective innovation and problem solving”, says the university. This is why windows of opportunity can help. “These can be spaces in the curriculum with elective course units, which allow students to work across different disciplines.” 

Focus on topics

Over the next three years, ENLIGHT will focus on five social topics: climate change, health and well-being, inequality, digital revolution, energy and the circular economy. Within these domains, we will look how best to manage our collaboration. “We will begin with these five important domains as a basis for development”, explains Gijs Coucke. 

The project can therefore be very beneficial for both students and researchers. “It would be impossible to make all these changes in the short term. It is a long-term project in which we must look closely at the opportunities, in order to establish where and which changes are appropriate”, says the university. “Our ambitions, however, are clear”, confirms Rik Van de Walle. “With ENLIGHT, we are taking another step to make Ghent University a truly international university.”

ENLIGHT kick-off week from 1 to 5 March 2021 – register now!

The official kick-off of ENLIGHT is planned in early March. Various online sessions will be organised between 1 and 5 March 2021, to find out more about the project and be involved in building the future of the partnership. Register here to participate in the kick-off.

A first call has been launched as part of ENLIGHT. Would you like more information? Be sure to check out the programme of the ENLIGHT kick-off week and get yourself registered. 

banner kick-off event Enlight