Four Belgian universities have made it into this year’s World University Rankings published by Times Higher Education.
The university of Leuven achieves the highest-ranking of the four, climbing to 42nd place from last year’s 45th place.
"It is something special internationally when you end up in that top 50,” said rector Luc Sels.
“You notice that other universities look very close at the top of the pack. This may put us in the top four, five or six of universities in continental Europe and that is a position that we would very much like to retain."
The university of Ghent comes into the top 100 having been absent since 2015, in 96th place.
"The Times Higher Education is a very prestigious ranking that is followed internationally, so of course we are happy,” said rector Rik Van de Walle.
“The increase is the result of an increased reputation, both in education and in research. We are apparently a place that has become even more attractive becomes than it already was."
The university of Antwerp rose from 170 to 143, its highest position ever.
“We are very happy with that. That is a great boost and an incentive to continue," said rector Herman Van Goethem.
He attributed Antwerp’s steep climb to the increase in research papers being published.
"We have been building on that for a long time and year after year it is starting to pay off. We have reached top speed and that also contributes to the growth of our reputation. That also plays a role in those rankings."
The university of Louvain-la-Neuve is the last of the Belgian institutions, in 158th place, up from 164 last year.
The rankings are based on four criteria: education and research, which together account for 90% of the score; and internationalisation and valorisation of research, respectively 7.5% for international character and 2.5% for industry income.
And while Belgian universities perform well, there are no real surprises at the top of the rankings, occupied as ever by names like Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, Cambridge, Yale and Princeton.
Oxford retains its top position, and will shortly welcome a new student at Lincoln College: Crown Princess Elisabeth of the Belgians, who will begin studying politics and history, presumably in preparation for a career in her father’s footsteps.