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PRESS RELEASE - VLIR-UOS to receive honorary doctorate from the Université de Lubumbashi!


VLIR-UOS to receive honorary doctorate from Congolese university

 Brussels, 14 June 2023 – On 23 June, VLIR-UOS will receive an honorary doctorate from the Université de Lubumbashi (UNILU) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This recognition is a token of appreciation for more than 20 years of academic cooperation between our organisation, the Flemish universities and universities of applied sciences and arts, and UNILU, in the form of VLIR-UOS-funded projects and scholarships. Since 1998, no fewer than 24 projects were launched with the University of Lubumbashi, totalling 4 million euros. 

It is a great honour for us to receive this recognition, as this is the first time a foreign university has awarded an honorary doctorate to a Flemish organisation in the context of university development cooperation. Besides VLIR-UOS, ARES, the French-speaking counterpart in Belgium, is also receiving an honorary doctorate for its years of cooperation and commitment.

"The Université de Lubumbashi is delighted to award an honorary doctorate to VLIR-UOS and ARES for their significant contribution to the science and development of DR Congo through partnerships with our Alma Mater, through capacity building, scientific research, and the training of future generations of academics." - Gilbert Kishiba Fitula, rector of the Université de Lubumbashi.

VLIR-UOS is grateful for the long-standing cooperation of Flemish academics with not only UNILU but also other Congolese universities. As many as 152 projects were initiated with university partners in DR Congo since 1998. In addition, over the past five years, our scholarships made it possible for more than 300 Flemish and Congolese students to gain academic experience in Flanders or in DR Congo. Since the year 2000, the number of Ph.D. students at UNILU has doubled, half of whom were funded by Belgian development cooperation. This has a significant impact on research and education, allowing us to really have an impact.

"We enthusiastically look forward to the coming years, in which we will continue, through ongoing and new partnerships, to pursue research and education that contributes to finding sustainable solutions to tackle global challenges. Even in fragile regions, such as the mining region of DR Congo, academic cooperation is a lever for sustainable change, through partnerships based on trust and respect for human rights and with room for critical thinking." - Kristien Verbrugghen, director VLIR-UOS.

In September 2022, we launched a new, large-scale partnership between UNILU and several Flemish higher education institutions. Over the next 10 years, we will work together on capacity building through research and education on biodiversity, governance and security in the mining sector, entrepreneurship, and climate-smart agriculture.

The award ceremony will take place at UNILU's campus in Lubumbashi on Friday 23 June 2023. A new hall will also be inaugurated in honour of Belgium's King Philippe in recognition of his visit to DR Congo and UNILU in June 2022.