Our website uses cookies to improve your experience. To make optimal use of this website please agree to our cookie policy.

I agree I do not agree.


IUC 2026 - Stage 1 - Expression of Interest and Commitment




Stage 1 of selection procedure



An Institutional University Cooperation (IUC) partnership is a long-term institutional cooperation project between a university in a partner country and Flemish higher education institutions, lasting 12 years. An IUC project strategy is steered by the strategic plan of the partner university and focuses on:

•  enabling a change process within the partner university leading to improved institutional performance via transversal institutional strengthening sub-projects;

•  strengthening educational and research capacities via different academic theme based sub-projects.

This should capacitate the partner university to operate as driver of change for global sustainable development in its country, region, and globally.  

Access to this programme is restricted. The IUC programme is only accessible to partner universities with substantial prior cooperation experience with one or more Flemish higher education institutions and to proposals and coordinators who have full institutional support from the top management of their university. Prior cooperation, high quality standards and full institutional support have become eligibility criteria for new IUC projects.  
The IUC 2026 intake process is a multi-stage process with 3 main selection stages. This call concerns Stage 1: the Call for Expressions of Interest and Commitment.  

Different phases

An IUC project, lasting 12 years, is developed via different phases:

  • Phase-in (ca. 1 year): project formulation activities, preparing the operational and management modalities/set-up and support structure within the partner and Flemish university’s policy framework and governance, and identification of (PhD) scholars.

  • Two main project phases of 5 years each, with a Phase 1 focusing on capacity building and creating the conditions for uptake, and a Phase 2 focusing on consolidation, uptake, impact, and sustainability.

  • Phase-out (ca. 1 to 2 years): taking stock of all results; financial and administrative closing; closing event; preparing for search for new funding opportunities to sustain the partnership.

Set-up of an IUC partnership

An IUC project adopts a Multi-Institutional Partnership (MIP) set-up, involving multiple teams of academics and specialists from the partner institution, as well as multiple Flemish universities and universities of applied sciences and arts.

An IUC project also adopts a Multi-Stakeholder Partnership (MSP) set-up, involving different stakeholders from society (e.g., governments, civil society organizations, private sector) from the beginning.

Selection procedure

  • Stage 1 - Expression of Interest and Commitment: focus on fit for purpose for IUC of the project partners and project vision

  • Stage 2 - Concept Note: focus on fit for purpose for IUC of the partner university, project strategy & content, and consortium development (MIP and MSP)

  • Stage 3 - Phase-In: focus on fully fledged proposal, operational and management modalities/set-up & support structure

A maximum of 10 Expressions of Interest and Commitment will be selected. A maximum of 6 IUC projects can start on 1 September 2026.

Expression of Interest and Commitment

Applicants are invited to develop a joint (Flemish-partner) Expression of Interest and Commitment. The focus is on selecting partnerships with an inspiring impactful project vision, supported by a partner and a Flemish university that are both fit for purpose for IUC. High-level institutional commitment from their respective academic authorities is essential to ensure the success of the IUC project and institutionally contribute to it.

The main elements of the Expression of Interest and Commitment are:

  1. Process: how was the proposal developed, who is involved, track record, etcetera.

  2. A presentation of the partner institution: profile and value framework, track record of cooperation with Flemish higher education institutions, institutional strategy, context analysis, factsheet.

  3. Project content: a high-level project vision

  4. Project organisation

    ·        Coordinators: presentation of the coordinators’ team, their track record of cooperation, motivation, justification of fit for purpose, etcetera.

    ·        Partner and Flemish institution: organisation of the project, justification of fit for purpose,

    Letters of commitment from the rector of the involved institutions for the project, project organization and the coordinator.

  5. Partnership: approach to broaden and embed the partnership locally and in Flanders as Multi-Institutional and Multi-Stakeholder Partnership

Eligibility of partner universities


  • Open to all recognised universities located in an IUC partner country. Top 2000 institutions of the Webometrics Ranking of Universities list are not eligible.

 Cooperation track record

  • The partner institution should have been awarded at least one VLIR-UOS project (SI, TEAM, ITP, or JOINT) that started in 2015 or later. In case the VLIR-UOS project has not yet been finalised by 31 August 2024, additional justification of (VLIR-UOS project) management performance must be provided.

  • Former IUC universities are not eligible.

Number of applications

  • A partner institution can submit only one application.

Eligibility of coordinators

Affiliation and statute of the coordinators

  • Flemish coordinator: professor at a Flemish university with a ZAP statute (Independent Academic Personnel), with a minimum ZAP appointment level of 10% (or equivalent), and an 80% employment status, and with minimum 7 remaining active years at the time of submission. A co-coordinator should be appointed in case the coordinator does not have 7 more active years to go, with the co-coordinator having at least 7 remaining active years and meeting the eligibility criteria for coordinatorship

  • Partner promoter: professor, with at least an 80% employment status at the partner university involved

Additional criteria

A Flemish academic can be coordinator of only one IUC project. Flemish coordinators of ongoing IUC projects on the date of submission of the Expression of Interest and Commitment are not eligible.

Budgetary framework

The maximum annual budget of an IUC project is still under revision. Currently it stands at € 600,000, meaning that the budget for a first phase of cooperation is up to € 3,000,000.

The final budget will be mentioned in the IUC 2026 Call for Concept Notes.

Important dates

The Call for Expressions of Interest and Commitment will be launched on 4 July 2024.

An online information session was organised on 8 July 2024.

Deadline for the submission of an Expression of Interest & Commitment is 17 October 2024 (17h00 CET).

Did you miss the information session? Check the info here.