During the meeting, they explored opportunities for increasing collaboration between universities in Flanders (Belgium) and the UK. The event was hosted by the General Representation of the Government of Flanders in the UK and jointly organised by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR), Universities UK (UUK) and the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).
Over the course of the day, VLIR, UUK and FWO highlighted the value of the strong and well-established links between British and Flemish universities.
There is a strong record of academics and researchers moving between the UK and Flanders. Today, 135 British nationals are working at Flemish universities. In 2015-16, there were 710 Belgian staff working in the UK, a figure which has almost doubled in the last 10 years. These flows have been aided by the Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions, funded by the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation.
There is a similarly strong history of Flemish and British students moving between the two countries for both full degree study and mobility opportunities. In 2015-16, there were 581 Flemish students taking up credit mobility (including Erasmus+) in the UK, up from 139 in 2008-09. In 2014, the Erasmus+ programme supported 388 Flemish students to study in the UK, and 236 UK students to study in Flanders. In the same year.
Looking at joint international publications, Flanders is UK's 6th most common collaborator and the UK ranks as Flanders' 3rd most common partner. Within the Horizon 2020 programme, researchers from the UK and Flanders already collaborate in 498 research projects. Furthermore, EU monitoring reports show that the UK was Belgium's second most common collaborative partner in the FP7 programme. The UK is a partner in ten out of the 18 European Research Area Network (ERA-NET) 'cofund' calls in which FWO also participates.
These figures demonstrate the many collaborations that exist between British and Flemish institutions. These ties are strong and benefit both Flemish and British citizens and economies. VLIR, UUK and FWO strongly believe that this collaboration contributes to European science and innovation, supporting a knowledge-based economy to the benefit of all.
To mark future collaboration, a join statement on continued partnership between British and Flemish universities was drafted. You can read the statement here.