Ghent University's vision on the use of animals for research

Ghent University believes in the added value of using animals for research at the present time, as a means of furthering knowledge to benefit humans and animals.
This conviction does not reduce the responsibility of researchers to reflect on how to reduce, as far as possible, both the number of animal tests they conduct as well as the suffering and discomfort that laboratory animals undergo. Ghent University has an open attitude to the debate on the scientific usefulness and ethical acceptability of animal research and testing within the context of contemporary society.

Ghent University's policy regarding animal testing and laboratory animal welfare:

  1. Following the university motto: ‘Dare to think’, academic curiosity and innovation – together with academic freedom – are central values at the university. These are embedded in a rigorous ethical framework, and this is particularly important when it comes to the use of laboratory animals.
  2. The domain of life sciences is a cornerstone of research at Ghent University, and animal research and testing offers significant added value here, along with other approaches. It is often impossible to find alternatives, at least for the time being, and this research benefits both humans and animals. Ghent University encourages the use and development of alternative methods that do not involve animal use.
  3. The use of laboratory animals in teaching is being optimised, and kept to a minimum. Here too, animal welfare is paramount.
  4. Ghent University fully supports the principle of the three R’s: working to replace, reduce and refine animal testing.
  5. The university monitors practice to ensure that the relevant legislation is strictly adhered to, and encourages staff and students to follow a culture of care with regard to the use of laboratory animals.
  6. Ghent University acknowledges the importance of internal and external legal checks, and has internal procedures for handling complaints about the use of laboratory animals.
  7. As an institution, Ghent University seeks to proactively accompany, support and engage with its research community to be progressive in the field of ethics and welfare regarding laboratory animals.
  8. Ghent University is committed to building support from the public and other relevant actors for its use of animal testing, development of animal testing policy, and for its work to improve animal welfare.
  9. Ghent University stands behind its policy on laboratory animals, and stimulates it to its employees and students, regardless of their status or funding, as well as to the partners with whom it collaborates.

Read the full Policy Statement of Ghent University (in Dutch).

Transparency about animal research and testing

In 2019, Ghent University signed the transparency agreement regarding research in Belgium using laboratory animals.

In this way, our university commits to communicating clearly and openly about animal research and testing, alternatives to animal use, and the relevant legislation. This is in the interests of the research community, as well as of the animals and of society. It is also a reflection of Ghent University policy: we want to be an open institution, proud of what we do, and fully aware of the ethical aspects of research conducted within the institution. Transparency also fosters academic and public discussions on animal testing, and Ghent University wants to play an active role in this debate.

Belgium was the third country in Europe, after the UK, Spain and Portugal, to draw up a transparency agreement, in collaboration with the European Animal Research Association (EARA). You can find the transparency agreement here on the website of the Belgian Council for Laboratory Animal Science (BCLAS).