Uncertain future for university cooperation for development
The Belgian government has released only 67% of the VLIR-UOS budget for 2013. There is still uncertainty about the other 33% and about the budget for the coming years. The Belgian government wants to transfer the university cooperation to the Belgian federated states. Several projects and scholarships for 2013 have been cancelled.
The federal government is willing to transfer the responsibility for university cooperation for development to the federated states. In the case of VLIR-UOS, this would be Flanders. As long as a final decision is pending, the federal government does not want to guarantee the budget for the coming years.
We regret that this situation is damaging the ongoing academic partnerships and programmes and that it demotivates the persons involved.
VLIR-UOS continues, together with the Flemish universities and university colleges, to pressurize the Belgian government to guarantee the future of the university cooperation for development.
The vice-chancellors of the Flemish universities have decided to mainly safeguard the ongoing commitments and to ensure the completion of projects that have already been started. In addition priority is given to activities within the framework of the country strategies.
This means that a total of 32 cooperation projects between universities and university colleges in Flanders and the South won’t be able to take place, as well as 19 education programmes in Flanders.
Furthermore, there are 265 students from the South and 186 Flemish students who will ultimately not receive a scholarship in 2013.
We are currently searching for extra means to be able to finance the selected projects and scholarships after all.
What is the proposition of VLIR-UOS for the future?
We continue to exert pressure on the federal government to release the remaining 33% of our budget 2013. We also ask the government to guarantee the budget of 2014, and of the following years, as quickly as possible, in order to comply with the commitments it has made with VLIR-UOS.
With the government of Flanders, we would like to develop a complementary and independent policy for university cooperation. We are pleased to note that there is a willingness and openness on the Flemish side to develop this Flemish policy together. However, everyone realizes this will take time.
(18 June 2013)