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Flemish Inter-University Council (VLIR) publishes its 2024 “election memorandum”

In the context of the upcoming regional and federal elections in Belgium in 2024, Flemish universities presented their commitments and expectations in their Election Memorandum issued by the Flemish Inter-University Council (VLIR) earlier this month.  

A key demand is the call for the “restoration of the social contract between the government and the universities”. The Memorandum emphasises that this can only happen if the government meets its statutory obligations to ensure universities are adequately funded and thus able to fulfil their missions in education, research, and community service. 

Therefore, in their Election Memorandum the Flemish universities call on future policymakers to restore the basic funding for universities to enable them to maintain and contribute to the well-being and prosperity of Flanders as a knowledge region, and address societal challenges, including the green and digital transitions. 

The Memorandum summarizes the funding cuts made by the government over the past years. These include, for example, the under-indexation of all components within basic financing (operating, investment, and social grants) and the skipping of the so-called “clicking system” by which the evolution of funding follows the evolution in the number of students (under certain conditions).  

The Memorandum sets out 18 requests to the next Flemish government for the phase 2024-2029. These include, amongst them, the following: 

  • To fully correct the past under-indexation and to fully apply the indexation mechanisms in the future, with a special correction in the financing of social grants as well as to compensate for the postponed clicks from the past;  
  • To invest further in research infrastructure and increase funding for scientific research generally; 
  • To create opportunities to set up, in close consultation with businesses and universities, pilot projects for a more pragmatic language policy that can better attract global talent, especially senior academics who may currently find Dutch language prerequisites discouraging; 
  • To increase the funding for cooperation with higher education institutions in the Global South.   

The full Election memorandum can be read here (in Dutch)