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The word university is derived from the Latin word universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which translates to 'the community of teachers and academics'. This universitas often also refers to the universal characteristics an academic should display: an open view of the world, the guts to engage in dialogue or even controversy, the willingness to consult with colleagues from other universities and research institutions in order to optimise their own knowledge..

One of the policy goals of Hasselt University is the pursuit of a strong international orientation, both at the education as well as at the research level. The university encourages PhD candidates and their promoters to collaborate with other universities in Belgium and abroad. There are different ways of applying for funding for research mobility for individual researchers. Structural cooperation between two or more universities can also translate to a joint PhD.