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The word university is derived from the Latin word universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which means 'community of teachers and scholars'. However, the term universitas often also refers to the universal mentality that is supposed to characterise an academic: an open view of the world, the courage to engage in dialogue or even controversy, and the willingness to consult with colleagues from other universities and research institutions in order to optimise his/her own knowledge.

One of the policy objectives of Hasselt University is to persue a strong international orientation, in both teaching and research. The university therefore encourages doctoral students and their promoters to cooperate with other universities both in Belgium and abroad. Funding can be applied for in various ways for the research mobility of individual researchers. Structural cooperation between two or more universities can also result in a joint PhD.