This was the academic opening 2023-2024

Read on for VUB rector Jan Danckaert’s opening speech, the VUB press release, photos of the event and information about EUTOPIA.

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VUB opens up international exchange to more students in 10 countries

University alliance aims to tackle polarisation and intolerance

Friday 29 September 2023 - The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) opened its academic year today in a symbolic location: the European Parliament in Brussels. The opening took place alongside the nine like-minded European universities that with VUB form the EUTOPIA alliance. This collaboration model creates connected communities, or thematic networks, that allow students, lecturers and researchers to expand understanding of contemporary social challenges. Within EUTOPIA, VUB is taking the lead in developing this academic model, which can be an important weapon in the continuing battle against polarisation.

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"Europa, EUTOPIA and the need for a new Renaissance"

Climate change, geopolitical tensions, digitalisation: we live in a world in transition. To deal with these societal challenges, Europe needs a new Renaissance. We need an era in which people are guided by curiosity, openness and connection, with diversity the engine to transcend individual and societal boundaries.

Networks like EUTOPIA – in which university communities on campuses across Europe build knowledge and insights together to find solutions to these contemporary societal challenges – contribute to that.

But how, exactly? Find out in the opening speech of VUB rector Jan Danckaert.

By VUB rector Jan Danckaert AcademicOpeningSpeech23-24.pdf - 196 KB


During the academic opening, the rectors of the 10 EUTOPIA partner universities signed an agreement that gives the collaboration model a legal basis. With this agreement, they are reaffirming their ambition to build the European university of the future.

A word of explanation about the alliance....

  • Participating universities: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Babes-Bolyai University (Romania), Ca’ Foscari Venice (Italy), CY Cergy Paris Université (France), Technische Universität Dresden (Germany), University of Gothenburg (Sweden), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), NOVA University Lisbon (Portugal), Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona (Spain) and the University of Warwick (UK).
  • How do they work together? By creating connected communities around teaching and research, they encourage their students, lecturers and researchers to work together on specific projects. In doing do, they also encourage free enquiry and critical thinking.
  • Why? The added value of the collaboration model is that it puts an international experience within reach for many more members of the participating universities’ communities. By enabling students, teachers and researchers to build knowledge together on concrete projects, they experience the local nuances of each other’s viewpoints and are encouraged to work together in a respectful way. In addition, they come into contact with other languages – and multilingualism is an important asset in the 21st century.

Want to know more about EUTOPIA?

Video 1: What is EUTOPIA?

Video 2: Students on EUTOPIA

Video 3: EUTOPIA in action

To the EUTOPIA website >

Photos of the academic opening ....

… and the signing of the agreement by the EUTOPIA partners

Nathalie Vlaemynck
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Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


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