University of Liège

LIÈGE, BELGIUM

The second-largest university in Wallonia, situated on the river Meuse, traces its roots back to the medieval prince-bishops of Liège.

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The university

  • Founded in 1817, the University of Liège has 4 campuses located in 3 cities, housing 11 faculties, teaching to 22500 students, employing over 2000 doctoral students.
  • More than 2200 students are engaged in international mobility, with over 800 foreign students visiting Liège, over 700 students going abroad and another 900 engaged in exchange and cooperation agreements.
  • The University of Liège doesn't have a "very long" history. However, ULiège has ties back to the Middle Ages. For two centuries, its rich history is tightly connected to Europe as redefined by the Treaty of Vienna , then linked to the history of Belgium and its scientific, social and cultural, economic, and industrial destiny.
  • ULiège relies on 200 years of creation and transmission of knowledge unfurled between international openness and regional engagement.

The city

  • The 1000-year-old city of Liège lodged between the rivers Meuse and Légia has a grand past as episcopal city and principality.
  • At the end of the 18th century, with the arrival of John Cockerill, Liège became an industrial centre with the booming coal mining and steel-making industries. At the center of an important railways network, with an airport and the Albert Canal, Liège is also a city of trade mobility. The port of Liège is the second biggest river port in Europe.
  • Between 1960 and 1980 Liège lost two thirds of its manufacturing jobs.
  • Four domains are at the heart of Liège’s current post-industrial activity: metal derivates, new technologies, multi-modal activities and logistics.
  • Liège has the ambition to be a showcase of the European capitals of the future, by being involved in more than 20 twinning relations, in various transnational networks and cross-border projects.
  • Liège is an education city: from nursery school to university, Liège welcomes almost 100.000 pupils and students within its confines.
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University of Liège and UNIC

After the industrial revolution, Liège became one of the richest and most developed places on earth with its heavy industries (coal, steel, weapons, glass). Because of its location and of its flourishing economy, Liège has been a city of labour immigration until its economic decline in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Migrant workforce came from Italy first and later from countries from Turkey, Morocco, Greece, Spain and many others. These migrants were striving to maintain their cultural specificities at the same time as they were growing roots in Liège and integrating in the urban region. As labour force in the mining and steel industry, they mainly came from poorest regions of their own country. Their children did not often have the cultural economic and social capital to succeed in higher education. Consequently, they have been underrepresented in the university, in which no specific policy was develop in the past to attract them and help them to succeed. The port of Liège is the second biggest river port in Europe. With various railways and the Albert Canal, Liège is also a city of trade mobility, what is really appealing to contemporary migrants: Liège is at the crossroad of Europe. Today migrants are coming to Liège for several reasons:  war in Middle East, lack of economic opportunities in Africa, family reunification, etc.

The integration of the foreign and of the immigrant origin students into the university is a challenge for all faculties, and actions are being taken to provide support for passing results, and to encourage active citizenship. Currently, these students call the attention of the University as any student group with specific needs: ULiège has a dedicated administrative department dealing with student well-being. Mobility offered during training may be adapted to these students: virtual, inter discipline, inter faculties. A pooling of proposals with universities with the same type of audience can reinforce the most promising initiatives and the impact of the integration strategies proposed by the University.

The introduction of innovations and continuous training allow everyone to meet the needs of society. The link with society is also expressed by the role university plays in economic development, and training in companies will contribute to the entrepreneurship skills, including language knowledge, intercultural capacity and European citizenship to his academic education. The University of Liège has more than 150 nationalities. The university features an open university and has an excellent reputation in spin-offs.

The University of Liège has joined the UNIC Alliance as it is in line with its important strategic aims to:

  • Strengthen its international positioning
  • Reinforce its originality in Federation Wallonia-Brussels, that is to say its close connections with non-Belgian European universities
  • Reinforce its strength in terms of valorisation of the results of research, with positive impact on teaching and on impact to the society
  • Reinforce the quality of its teaching through shared programs and double or multiple degrees in Europe
  • Improve the integration of the foreign and of the immigrant origin students into the university and to provide support for passing results, and to encourage active citizenship
  • Strengthen the means it offers to students and young researchers in transversal skills, for a personal career developing the talents of each one

The topic of inclusion is challenging for all faculties of the University, and may become a great incentive to change, modernisation and digitalisation of ULiège.

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Aims and Activities

The following key activities will contribute to the future activities of our UNIC Alliance:

  • Through the implementation of an ambitious institutional deposit policy, our University has positioned itself as an Open Access pioneer, both at the national and international levels and acts as role-model. The compulsory deposit mandate adopted by the University in 2007 has led to the success of the ORBi institutional repository. This commitment was confirmed with the creation of different Open Access platforms intended to widely disseminate the scientific production of ULiège. This Open access policy contributes to inclusion of researchers and dissemination of knowledge
  • Through distance learning (MOOCs, etc.) and simulation facilities. The jobs@skills initiative gives digital support to professional skills and profiles

Inclusion values are expressed by

  • Offering international opportunities to all, in both teaching and research
  • Raising the visibility of research trans-disciplinary centres of excellence, as IMISCOE in societal changes
  • ULiège formally committed with the principles of the European Charter and Code of conduct for the recruitment of the researchers and developed an HR strategy for providing and supporting a stimulating and favourable working environment for researchers. ULiège received the award “HR excellence in research” from the EU Commission.

The role and responsibility of the university in WP4 CityLabs is chosen because of the our commitment to society and because of our strong ties with the City of Liège which include the creation of the “Maison des Sciences de l’Homme”, organizing debates and events on society topics and concerns. In the CityLabs, creativity and entrepreneurship are fostered by the “Liège Creative” initiative, giving room to dialogue between humanities and sciences.

Modernisation of the University will be effective by digitalisation, but also by the “management of change”:

  • Simplifying procedures and international connections in order to foster better governance, including integration into networks and up skilling-based development of carriers.
  • Quality management is one of the explicit challenges for ULiège since 1998, with the first institutional assessment request by the EUA. Since then, a number of initiatives have been undertaken for the improvement of teaching, research and the administrative operations of the institution. Working on integrated governance within the UNIC consortium is a good challenge in term of sustainable quality of procedures.

In addition, the University of Liège is experienced as a socially responsible university to address science-societal issues in meeting between academics, researchers, practitioners and civil society actors by supporting citizen initiatives carried out by ULiège researchers. The University of Liège relies on their experience with bringing companies and entrepreneurial expertise into the university (VentureLab), bringing entrepreneurs and the creative sector together (Liège Creative) and uniting the city and social sciences (Maison de Science de l’Homme).

The topic of inclusion is challenging for all faculties of the University, and may become a great incentive to change, modernize and digitize ULiège.