Striving together towards a super-divers Ghent University



On 1 March the Ghent University Board of Governors approved the diversity plan for the period 2019-2023. It enables Ghent University to harness the wide range of qualities and talents of all of its students and collaborators.

The university’s new diversity plan is the fruit of an evaluation of the policy over the past ten years. In addition, the plan has been reinforced with, and supported by, information gleaned from discussions with the faculty diversity teams, the departments involved, and the Workgroup Diversity and Gender.

Everyone should feel at home

With the new diversity plan on hand, Ghent University wishes to continue its development of a learning, work, and research environment. By this is understood an environment wherein all members of the Ghent University community feel at home and able to fully deploy their talents. This ensures that Ghent University employees have the opportunity to excel in the areas of education, research, and the provision of services.

(quote) "We are living in the midst of a super-divers society and, as Ghent University, we make this diversity the norm", explains vice-rector Mieke Van Herreweghe. "This we are accomplishing not only by attracting a variety of divergent talents, but also by valorising such talents and by accommodating the needs of various groups. To that end, Ghent University opts for an inclusive and integrated diversity policy in order to create a culture and structure wherein everyone feels at home and in which we avoid the stigmatisation of certain target groups."

Culture, structure, in-flow and through-flow

Ghent University’s vision of diversity emerges clearly in the new policy plan via four strategic objectives.

  • Culture. The attention paid to various under-represented groups is systematically integrated into the general strategy and policy processes. This leads to an institutional culture that facilitates the super-diversity present within the society.
  • Structure. The creation of a diversity-oriented institutional culture is a responsibility resting on the entire Ghent University community. We are focused on deploying highly efficient diversity cultures in order to create broad platform, to enhance knowledge development and facilitate the execution of the diversity policy. Within this structure and the attendant processes, Ghent University attaches great importance to inter-sectionality, which starts from the premise that one’s identity is determined by a multitude of factors.
  • In-flow. Ghent University wants to more purposefully search for talented students from under-represented groups, with specific emphasis placed on developing diversity-oriented selection and recruitment procedures of collaborators, thus to enlarge and re-enforce their in-flow.
  • Through-flow. Ghent University is committed to eliminate structural barriers within the learning and work environments in order to enlarge and re-enforce the through-flow of students and collaborators from under-represented groups.

Concrete actions

Within these four domains, Ghent University shall undertake a series of concrete actions in order to bring these objectives to fruition by 2023. For example, Ghent University is already establishing a contact point for refugees, a unique annual path ’UGent in Zicht - Talent Coming ’ where students with immigrant background in their graduation year participate in an active study-choice path, gender actions tailored to each faculty, the organisation of the university-wide elective subject ’Coaching and Diversity’, faculty diversity teams or adapted assistance for collaborators suffering from an employment disability, and a trans-gender policy.

During the coming years, Ghent University shall examine and further develop a number of different tracks. Additional information about this is found in the diversity plan (in Dutch).

"Our new mission and vision entail our establishing a number of new accents in the course of the coming years", so emphasises Mieke Van Herreweghe. "This is a global plan wherein different target groups are given an equal place within one action plan policy. This process enables us to work out the central and faculty diversity programme from a global viewpoint. With it we are addressing ourselves to all prospective and present students and collaborators alike, keeping track of the specific needs of under-represented groups, while at the same time never losing sight of our intention to continue our endeavours even more inclusively."

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