Rectors of Flemish universities demand more budget for infrastructure


All five of Flanders’ university rectors have penned an open letter demanding that government funding for campus infrastructure be more than tripled

‘Six-fold return’

All five Flemish universities have joined together to request more funding for campus infrastructure. An open letter in De Morgen was signed by rectors from the universities in Ghent, Antwerp, Hasselt, Leuven and Brussels.

It is often said that Flanders’ greatest natural resource is its brains. “Our universities’ power to appeal to future students and to fresh research talent from at home and abroad, but also our potential in innovation and our contribution to socio-economic development, begins and ends with the quality of the infrastructure in which we work,” reads the letter.

The rectors go on to say that every euro invested delivers a six-fold return. “Investing in bricks and mortar is an investment in the future and delivers a guaranteed return.”

Very little structural improvements have been made to Flanders’ university buildings since the 1970s. Aside from concrete renovation and maintenance projects, further investments will be necessary in new technologies, say the rectors. They are asking that the budget for university infrastructure be increased from the current €31 million to €110 million a year.

The letter also states that France and Germany invest much more in their university infrastructure and that they do not want Flemish universities to “miss the boat”. While they are not short on space, the rectors say, “the teaching and research areas are not keeping up with the international competition”.

Photo: Rob Stevens/KU Leuven