Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action


An International Course Programme (ICP) is an accredited (initial or supplementary) master's programme of two, three or four semesters in a development-relevant subject. It is organised at a university in Flanders, with participants from developing countries as the target group. Within an ICP, VLIR-UOS finances a total of 12 scholarships a year.

Such an ICP is organised every year at Hasselt University. The Master of Statistics is an English-language master's programme spread over two academix years which has been organised by Hasselt University every year since its inception in 1988. From the outset, a programme was opted for with a high scientific profile and a strong emphasis on the applied aspects of statistics. It quickly proved to be of great interest to students from developing countries. This prompted the organisers to convert this existing programme, with the approval of VLIR-UOS, into an international course programme (ICP). The Master of Statistics ICP is funded by VLIR-UOS, and scholarships are offered to participants from developing countries. The application of recognition for this programme was ultimately received very positively because of its innovative nature (in terms of both content and teaching), scientific importance and relevance to development.

The goal of the Biostatistics ICP is to offer a vocational programme that leads to positions of ultimate responsibility in the management of statistical data, derived from either epidemiological or clinical studies (medical statistics) or ecological, biological or agricultural research (biometrics). The programme is designed to train scientists from the South, whose expertise will ensure that they have an immediate science-based impact within health care and food. By influencing policy within these socially relevant fields, they can help address critical problems in developing countries.

The Biostatics ICP is unique in Belgium; even in Europe, only a few similar programmes are offered. The academically rigorous programme is based on high-level scientific expertise. Internationally, the programme also has a strong reputation, as is clear from the international character of the student intake. Besides the various VLIR-UOS scholarship students from the South who take the programme every year, there are other participants from developing countries, as well as students from Eastern and Western European countries. Finally, there is growing interest among Flemish students in enrolling in this programme.

For more information about this ICP, click here.

For more information about scholarships, click here.

For more general information, visit the VLIR-UOS website.

An International Training Programme (ITP) is an intensive, interactive short-or medium-term programme with practical applications, organised at a university or university college in Flanders and aimed at participants from developing countries. The subject of an ITP relates to development challenges in one or more developing countries. VLIR-UOS finances about 13 scholarships a year within an ITP.

An ITP entitled 'Road Safety in Low and Middle Income Countries: Challenges and Strategies for Improvement' is organised at the University of Hasselt every year. This initiative usually takes place from mid-September to mid-December. (2016: 15 September - 9 December).

During this training course, participants become familiar with certain theories and methods that they then learn to apply. Three subjects are adressed during the ITP:

Infrastructure and mobility: The participants study infrastructure topics, as well as the life cycle of instrastructure projects and their modification. They then examine the impact of infrastructure on road safety and link infrastructure to behavior: to what extent can road infrastructure influence human behaviour in traffic, and vice versa: how can behaviour contribute to better infrastructure design?

Behaviour: The participants learn to explain traffic and travel behaviour, as well as to organise awareness campaigns and educational programmes to influence this behaviour.

Road safety policy: Finally, the participants examine mobility and road safety policy. As new developments occur in cities or the countryside, a look will be taken at how road safety and mobility policy can be adapted to reflect them, taking account of a number of different aspects such as economics, demographics, ecology, spatial planning and so on.

Promotor: Prof. dr. Tom Brijs

For more information about this ICP, click here.

For more information about scholarships, click here.

For more general information, click here.

Within the International Conferences Programme (INCO), VLIR-UOS supports conferences in Belgium or in one of the partner countries for which VLIR-UOS has devised a country strategy. An INCO always treats a theme relevant to development and aims to offer participants from developing countries the opportunity to play an active part in a scientific conference and to transfer the knowledge they acquire and apply it in their country or origin.

In 2014, Hasselt University secured funding for an INCO in collaboration with The Walking Egg. Prof. Willem Ombelet and Hasselt University organised an international conference (3-4/10/2014) in Stellenbosch, South Africa, on the topic 'Global access to infertility care: The Walking Egg project'.

For more general information, visit the VLIR-UOS website.

UHasselt INCO on Low Cost IVF technology wins prestigious 'The Best of What's New Award' from Popular Science Magazine

Researchers at Hasselt University, the East Limburg Hospital (ZOL) and the University of Colorado received 'The Best of What's New Award' from the American Popular Science Magazine in 2014. Their research into the development of a low-cost IVF technique is part of The Walking Egg Project, which aims to increase awareness about childlessness in the Third World. The results were presented at an INCO (international conference), which was made possible thanks to financing from VLIR-UOS.

Read the press release here.

A Short Course Initiative (KOI) is an intensive practical training course taught in English for one to two weeks on a theme relevant to development. It is organised at a university or university college in Flanders or in one of the partner countries for which VLIR-UOS has devised a national strategy. VLIR-UOS finances 12 scholarships within a KOI.

The KOI programme aims to increase and deepen knowledge and expertise on a theme relevant to development in actors from developing countries.

KOI have regulary been organised at Hasselt University in the past at the Institute for Mobility.

For more information about scholarships, click here.

For more general information, visit the VLIR-UOS website.

South initiatives are small-scale projects with limited budgets, between academics in Flanders on the one hand and in developing countries on the other. There are two types of South initiatives: 'seed funding', when new partnerships are being established, and 'harvest funding', when the impact of a finished project is increased. The maximum duration of a South initiative is two years.

South initiatives at Hasselt University:

  • 2007: Opportunities for a transport & logistics study within the framework of a Business Administration degree at the National University of Management (NUM), Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Prof. G. Janssens)
  • 2013: Cleaner production and sustainability in the city of Cienfuegos, Cuba (in conjunction with KULeuven and VITO, UHasselt: Prof. J. Yperman)
  • 2014: Etude épidémiologique de l’insuffisance cardiaque à Lubumbashi : facteurs de risque, prise en charge, pronostic ; DR Congo (Prof. Mullens, Prof. Steels)
  • 2014: Co-creating strategic eco-tourism projects to promote sustainable waterfront development in Dar es Salaam and Kigoma, Tanzania (Prof. Cuyvers)

A new call was recently launched for SI 2017 (submission deadline: 25 March 2016). Click here for more information about application forms.

Go to the VLIR-UOS website for more information.

A TEAM (formerly Own Initiatives) is a collaborative project between two university departments, one located in Flanders and the other in the South. The objective is to increase the capacity of the participating departments by exchanging and building knowledge. The maximum duration is five years.

Go to the VLIR-UOS website for more information.

Capacity building network in biostatistics for public health innovation in Kenya
This project rund from 2016 to 2020 and aims at the creation of a collaborative network between 2 established and 7 younger Kenyan universities, UHasselt (promotor: prof. dr. Braekers), UGent, KU Leuven and KEMRI and builds capacity in biostatistics at 3 levels: joint supervision of PhD and master students and co-organization of annual workshops. The central approach is scientific innovation, collaboration and hands-on application of statistical methodology through real-life datasets on communicable diseases and cancer research to support policy and management of dominant public health challenges in Kenya.

Cuban-Flemish Training and Research Programme in Biomedical Statistics and Bio-informatics
This Independent Initiative is a collaboration with the Universidad Central Marta Abreu de Las Villas in Havana, Cuba, in the field of biostatistics. It was instigated by CenStat and started in 2005 for a period of five years, under the supervision of Prof. Molenberghs. The objective of the project is to create a high-quality biostatistics programme at the University of Havana, following the model of Hasselt University's Master in Biostatistics. Education and health care have long been priorities of the Cuban government. Although the country has a long tradition in the fields of mathematical statistics, it did not yet offer any Biostatistics programme. CenStat's Independent Initiative aims to remedy this situation, through a collaboration between ten Flemish and Cuban universities.

Backbone project
This project, led by Mr Marc Thoelen, ended in 2008. For five years, they worked hard at improving the Internet connections and facilities of the Congolese University in Kinshasa (UNIKIN), among other means by installing glass fibre networks, satellites, databases and PC classrooms. The objective of this project was to connect UNIKIN with the rest of the world, thus lifting it out of its international isolation. Additionally, the project team hoped these infrastructural improvements would lead to an increase in the managerial capacities of the university.

Kisangani (DR Congo)
The non-profit Kisangani vzw supports the agricultural development project which was founded by Kisangani's Faculty of Science. This project is still running and was created from Prof. Gevaerts' project, which ran from 1997 to 2003 and taught people in Kisangani better ways of ensuring their food supply.

Surinam Faculty of Medicine
The objective of this project, which ran from 1996 until 2001, was to strengthen education and research performed in the preclinical phase at the Anton De Kom University in Surinam (Paramaribo). The project was led by Prof. Van Zwieten.

An IUC programme consists of a broad long-term collaboration between a limited number of universities from the South and Flanders, and is geared towards the broad institutional development of universities in the South. Local priorities and necessities are linked to existing Flemish expertise.

Universities from the South are (basically) nominated by a Flemish university. This takes place in several stages:

  • general call and partner selection
  • drafting of priorities by the selected partner universities from the South.
  • matchmaking: identification of Flemish research groups with the most suitable expertise for the various projects
  • drafting of a first three-year programme
  • operationaliation in annual programmes
  • etc.

Ultimately, these steps lead to the execution of three-year plans with intermediate evaluation and monitoring. In principle, the total duration of such a collaboration is 12 years.

Per partner university, the IUC programme consists of several projects. These can be educational or research projects, or projects relating to central policy and management of the partner universities (e.g. ICT, library development, etc.). These projects can be adopted by all Flemish universities. Execution is therefore not limited to the coordinating university and the local university.

At present, Hasselt University is involved in two IUC partnerships and we have several project leaders within our university. You can find an overview of current projects below. You can go to the IUC website for more information about the partnerships within which these projects are being organised.

Click here for more information about the Hasselt University IUC with Kisangani.

University Country Timing University Coordinator Project leaders Team members
UNZI Zimbabwe '97-06 KUL Prof. Odeurs G. Janssens  
SLU/BSU Philippines '99-08 KUL Prof. De Waele   G. Janssens,
JU Ethiopia '07-'17 UGent Prof. Duchateau P. Janssen N. Veraverbeke,
M. Granitzer,
Z. Shkedy
ADEKUS Suriname '08-'18 KUL Prof. Van Petegem G. Janssens P. Steels,
KJ. Van Zwieten,
P. Janssen,
N. Veraverbeke
UEM Mozambique '08-'18 UGent Prof. Valcke M. Aerts,
P. Foubert
UNALM Peru '09-'19 KUL Prof. Schrevens   P. Janssen,
A. Peters
UL South-Africa '09-'19 UA Prof. Van Geertruyden Prof. Faes Z. Shkedy
UNIKIS Congo '10-'20 Hasselt University Prof. Ackaert Prof. J.M. Rigo  A. Peters, Prof. Gevaerts
UO Cuba '13-'22 VUB Prof. Sahli A. Cuypers,
J. Yperman
Hué Vietnam '13-'22 UGent Prof. Bossier G. Janssens J.M. Rigo
Mzumbe Tanzania '13-'22 UGent Prof. Stroeken W. Vanhaverbeke J. Cheng
Bahir Dar Ethiopië '17-'26 UGent Prof. Nyssen M. Goovaerts  
UMI Marokko '17-'26 UHasselt Prof. J.M. Rigo Prof. Vanheusden, Prof. Hendriks Prof. Hellings, Prof. Bito, M. Goovaerts

1. IUC/CUI UNIKIS 2010-2020

In December 2009, VLIR-UOS decided to deepen its collaboration on a country level with Congo. Three Congolese partner universities were selected to function as centres of expertise within the national cooperation programme. In addition, a transversal programme was created for capacity building for seven Congolese partner universities (as had already been done for ICT).
The selected partners for an Institutional University Cooperation (IUC) with Congo were:

  • Université de Kisangani (UNIKIS) (coordination: Hasselt University: Prof. Hugo Gevaerts)
  • Université Catholique du Congo (UCC) (coordination: UA: Prof. Tom De Herdt)
  • Université Catholique de Bukavu (UCB) (coordination: KULeuven: Prof. Kanigula Mubagwa)

Prof. Hugo Gevaerts, emeritus consultant at Hasselt University and a highly experienced expert on Congo in general and collaboration with UNIKIS especially, was asked to coordinate this project.

In September 2010, a formulating mission took place in Kisangani to refine and materialise the projects for the first phase, running from 2010 until 2013. The budgets were allocated for the coming 12 years and administrative guidelines were mapped. The programme consisted of three projects:
Project 1 'Agronomie'
Project leaders: Prof. Dhed'a Benoit (UNIKIS) & Prof. Geert Baert (Hogeschool Gent)
Team members: Prof. Rony Swennen (KUL), Prof. Geert Haesaert (Hogeschool Gent) and others
Project 2 'Biodiversité'
Project leaders: Prof. Hippolyte Nshimba (UNIKIS) & Dr. Erik Verheyen (UA)
Team members: a.o. Prof. Raoul Van Damme (UA); Prof. Anne Laudisoit (University of Liverpool)
Project 3 'Renforcement institutionel'
Project leaders: Prof. Kimbuani (UNIKIS) & Prof. Jean-Michel Rigo (UHasselt)
Coordinators: Prof. Hugo Gevaerts (UHasselt) & Prof. Oleko Woto (UNIKIS)

Administrative follow up: Stéphanie Frère and Marc Thoelen (Hasselt University), Fidèle Lungymba and Pauline Mwimba (UNIKIS).

The first year of the project was mainly dedicated to investments and the foundation of the necessary infrastructure (search fields, laboratories) to prepare for the actual work of the coming years. During the second year (January 2013), a delegation of ten Flemish partners was able to evaluate the results of their projects in Kisangani.

For instance, three laboratories were renovated and equipped, and 107 banana plants were grown using in vitro technology. Thanks to the institutional project, 50 UNIKIS teachers and staff members received computer science training and an English laboratory was created. Demand from the UNIKIS staff for similar programmes is growing: during this mission, vice rector Jean-Michel Rigo taught a number of courses, among others about studentcentric teaching methods and evaluation in higher education.

The second phase of the programme started in 2014. The projects, project leaders and objectives remain identical. Project three will be more focused, with more programmes and activities for personnel in academic French, ICT, educational science, management and more. During the second phase, Prof. Rigo will be the programme's administrative coordinator, and Prof. Gevaerts will remain the academic coordinator.

Contact Stéphanie Frère ( or 011/26.80.15) for more information about this programme.

An overview of the career of Prof. Hugo Gevaerts can be found here.

2. Project Congo 2009-2012

L'Université de Kinshasa (UNIKIN) is the most important university in the DR Congo, but years of civil wars and political instability has left it in a deplorable state. During the colonial period and the aftermath of independence, the education institution functioned as an incubator for development, but the quality of its education has visibly deteriorated during recent years.

Hasselt University's Faculty of Medicine has collaborated with UNIKIN since 2007, helping improve its medicine programme. Particular emphasis is based on improving the contacts between UNIKIN and Hasselt University (as well as KULeuven, another partner within the project), in order to offer support with reforming the course package and teaching methods, with increased attention for independent studying, and the development of exam systems adapted to large groups.