News International cooperation
At the end of October, University President Luc Sells went to Australia with Vice-Chancellors Peter Levins and Piet Desmet. The main focus was on partnerships with universities in Sydney and Melbourne.
From 19 to 28 October, a delegation from KU Leuven traveled with the Belgian Economic Mission – led by Princess Astrid – to Australia. The focus was on the visit to the University of Melbourne.
Vice-Chancellor International Peter Levins was also present, as well as Piet Desmet, Vice-Chancellor of Campus Colac Kortrik, who is also responsible for educational technology. The delegation was supported by the International Office of KU Leuven. They visited four institutions: Australian Catholic University (ACU), University of New South Wales (UNSW), University of Sydney and University of Melbourne (UoM). Despite Rector Seals’ unfortunate injury, it was a successful mission. Cooperation pays great dividends.
“During the visits, we made great progress in terms of cooperation,” says Luc Sells, Dean of the University of Leuven. “This has effectively created a number of new collaborations.” The university’s ambitions for collaboration consist of three pillars.
“Many of our Australian partners have requested a return visit.”
Firstly, it wants to focus more on education to increase mobility opportunities between KU Leuven and Australian universities. The second pillar relates to establishing joint doctoral research and then developing into structural research partnerships, including joint application for external funding. The final axis focuses on technology transfer processes.
There is also an extension of existing cooperation to new areas with the Support Coordination Unit. They have a special cooperation with our university, especially from the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. “ACU is the leader in teacher training across Australia,” Sells says. “In this way, they are the ideal partner to take steps together in the internationalization of our teacher training.”
“Australia is almost my second home.”
“Many of our Australian partners have requested a return visit,” Sells adds. “This proves the importance of our personal connections, putting us in a stronger position next to many English-speaking universities in the international higher education landscape.”
KU Leuven currently collaborates with eleven Australian universities and research centres. “These are research collaboration and exchange programs,” Sells says.
Traveling as part of work
“Australia is almost my second home,” Sells says. “I have been here so many times and have been able to build such intense partnerships here that I signed up for this mission without hesitation.”
In 2023, internationalization will be high on the agenda at KU Leuven
In February 2020, just before the lockdown, Sells traveled to Australia for the first time as university president. “The purpose of the visit was to explore opportunities for bilateral collaboration at university level with Universitas 21’s Australian partners,” Sales said. At that time, KU Leuven had recently joined Universitas 21, an international network of 29 research universities.
The 2020 delegation also held discussions with other universities. For example, this is how it was agreed between ACU and the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.
In 2023, internationalization will be high on the agenda at KU Leuven. Sells made this clear in his opening remarks at the beginning of the school year. There he stressed the importance of the university’s international dimension. “A university that wants to belong to the international summit must dare to invest in such sustainable partnerships amidst rapidly changing international relations,” says Sales.
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