UHasselt is a civic university committed to making and keeping this Region strong – a good place to build a future, a career, a business, a home, a life.
Sustainability, diversity, globalisation, digitalisation, inequality… Our societies are faced with a myriad of grand challenges. In such a complex world where tectonic plates are shifting, much is expected from – publicly financed – universities. And rightfully so. Universities cannot stand apart from what is happening outside of their walls. They must assume responsibility and share knowledge.
It is UHasselt’s guiding belief that we can serve society best by being a civic university. Our civic mission is aimed at making and keeping this Region strong – a good place to build a future, a career, a business, a home, a life.
Where civic universities differ from all others is in the natural connection they have with their immediate surroundings. Their growth and development are closely linked to that of the Region. Regional needs, challenges and opportunities are the most important driving forces of their education and research. They consider this natural connection as the heart of their civic identity and the cornerstone of education and research quality.
Civic universities have an economic, social, cultural, environmental, physical and health impact in their Region. They are engines for social equality, innovation and prosperity. They enrich cultural life and build deep connections with the world of arts and culture in their Region. They are guardians of public heritage and engines for urban renewal. They are catalysts for social cohesion and public places of assembly, information and debate. They play a critical role in their Region’s transition to a sustainable and healthy society.
Civic universities use the Region as a ‘living laboratory’ and a source of inspiration for education and research. They build on the proximity of knowledge, talent, ideas and infrastructure, and connect with companies, governments, knowledge institutions, schools, civil society and citizens in the Region. Thanks to this kind of kaleidoscopic interaction, together, they can accelerate innovation and meet the challenges at hand. And thanks to this academic research inspired by the Region, they can create considerable added value internationally.
Civic universities are deeply devoted to the Region they are part of – but they cherish strong connections with the world as well. They have an international network of universities, companies and organisations. They attract top talent from around the world, produce research publications of the highest international level and enjoy excellent scores in academic rankings. Inspiring the world, being inspired by the world – it is part of being a civic university too.
Our choice to be a civic university aligns with our historical roots. More than fifty years ago, the downfall of old industries and rising inequalities tore apart the Region’s social and economic fabric. Many young people had the brains but not the means to go to college. This lack of highly-educated professionals hampered the growth of new industries, putting the Region’s prosperity at stake. A university in the Region would enhance the future and well-being of its people. This thought fuelled a grassroots movement of committed citizens, politicians, entrepreneurs and civil society members. In the end, their demands, dreams and ambitions led to the legal foundation of Hasselt University, in 1971.
In the past five decades, the world has changed at a tremendously fast pace. Amidst shifting tectonic plates in our economy and society, Hasselt University changed too. Our initial focus on educating young people was broadened to include doing research and fostering innovation. We developed new programmes, created new partnerships and defined new research priorities.
Our connection to the Region has remained close, but our role as civic university has grown. More than ever before, we believe that knowledge comes with responsibility and commitment. This belief is part of our history, present and future.
Goddard, J. and Vallance, P. (2013) The University and the City, London: Routledge.
Goddard, J., Hazelkorn, E., Kempton, L. and Vallance, P. (2016) The Civic University: The Policy and Leadership Challenges, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Read our interview (pdf, 3.3 MB)with Professor Emeritus John Goddard (Newcastle University) about the civic university.
As civic university we assume our responsibility, commit ourselves and share our knowledge in ways that benefit society. Strong public engagement was, is and always will be at the core of who we are and what we do. Our students, staff, researchers and alumni are both able and willing to make our society smarter, more agile and better. Today’s and tomorrow’s challenges guide our teaching, research and social engagement. Innovation is a constant in everything we do.
As civic university we want to deploy people and knowledge to tackle society’s major challenges – in full collaboration with others. We measure our success in achieving this goal by the University’s and Region’s continuous growth in impact as well as reputation. Therefore, we will:
In this way, Hasselt University will become a place where the Region meets the world and the world meets the Region.
To do fully justice to our mission and realize our vision, we are guided by the following values:
Fostering a sustainable society. Stimulating health and wellbeing. Enhancing the Region’s economic fabric. Improving equity in education. Safeguarding heritage. Hasselt University works to build a Region that is strong and prosperous. Education and research are both a goal in itself as well as a means for attaining an even better future.
At our Field Research Centre and Ecotron Hasselt University, scientists explore the impact of climate change on biodiversity in our Region.
The ‘Limburg Birth Cohort’ project studies the effects of early life exposure to air pollution, involving more than a thousand children from across the Region.
In 2015, UHasselt launched its Commercial Sciences programme in the wake of calls from local business for such highly-educated professionals.
UHasselt is part of the ‘Limburg Talent Academy’ (TALim), providing underprivileged youth with opportunities to further develop and grow.
Hasselt University turned the city's former, nineteenth century prison into a place where Law students learn and study, and new students enrol.
The ‘Huuradvies’ legal clinic provides tenants and landlords with hands-on advice and information. UHasselt's Law students take part on a voluntary basis, on top of their studies.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare students volunteered at hospitals, senior living communities and vaccination centres across the Region.
During ‘Live Projects’, students of the Faculty of Architecture and Arts take part in community-based design, working together with local stakeholders.