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Two Belgian universities in world Top 100

Ghent University's landmark Boekentoren © Michiel Hendryckx/Wikimedia.

The university of Ghent has gained a place in the top 100 universities in the world, according to the annual ranking of universities by the Shanghai Academic Ranking.

Ghent comes in at number 66, the higher of the two Belgian institutions in the top 100, but down five places from last year. The other is the university of Leuven, consistently a high scorer in the various rankings published annually, which this time gains the 85th place, a rise of one place on last year.

Ghent University was founded in 1817 with teaching in Latin, and became the first of Belgium’s Dutch-speaking universities in 1930. Notable alumni include Joseph Plateau, a pioneer in motion pictures, Leo Baekeland, the inventor of Bakelite, and Corneel Heymans, the only Flemish person ever to win the Nobel Prize, in his case for medicine.

The university scores high in the life sciences, in particular economics, as well as computer science, and also has a number of allied institutions prominent in biotechnology, aquaculture and microelectronics. Ghent has been in the top 100 since 2010.

The university of Leuven, formerly known as the Catholic University of Leuven and still carrying the Catholic initial in its abbreviated title KULeuven, was founded in 1425 and is one of the oldest universities in Europe. It has been steadily climbing up the top 100 of the Shanghai rankings since 2014 to reach its highest position so far.

The university was once a world centre for theology and canon law, but attention is now directed more towards engineering, life sciences and medicine, in particular mathematics and computer science.

The university attracts a large number (6,900 at last count) of international researchers, as well as offering 70 master’s programmes in English. The university is a member of an association of the top 20 European research institutions, and spends around 450 million euros every year on research.

The Shanghai rankings are this year led by Harvard (US), with a perfect score of 100, followed by Stanford (US), Cambridge (UK), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) and UC Berkeley (US). The top ten is completed by Princeton, Oxford, Columbia, CalTech and Chicago.

Other Belgian universities outside the top 100 include UCL and ULB (both 150-200), Antwerp, Liege and VUB (all 201-300), Hasselt (601-700) and Mons (901-1000).

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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