The objective of academic diplomacy is on the one hand to support the Flemish universities, university colleges and research institutions in their international activities. On the other hand the Flemish higher education and research institutions are partners in the daily implementation of the Flemish foreign policy, reinforcing the image of Flanders as an innovative and learning region of outstanding quality.
Flemish universities and university colleges have long-standing institutional agreements and cooperation with universities in Southern Africa. The General Representation of the Government of Flanders aims to facilitate and strengthen the contacts between these institutions and between academic expatriates, students, researchers and teachers.
The educational system in Flanders prepares young people to perform optimally in a rapidly changing and increasingly internationally oriented society. The system’s excellence is confirmed by the results of the PISA assessment project – the Program for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD – which measures the scholastic performance of 15-year-olds in 57 countries in reading proficiency, problem-solving skills, and mathematic and scientific knowledge. Flanders’ education system ranks sixth in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015. When it comes to maths and science education, the region is in third position in the world.
Flanders has numerous international schools. There are, for example, the Antwerp British School and the Antwerp International School; the International School of Brussels and the British School of Brussels; and the College of Europe in Bruges, which provides university-level courses and houses the international research and training centre of the United Nations University. Ghent opened an international school in 2012, and the city of Leuven, KU Leuven and Imec research centre recently established an international private primary school that offers courses in English.
Flanders has five public universities: Leuven, Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt and Brussels. KU Leuven, with more than 32,000 students, is the largest and the oldest in the Low Countries, followed by the Ghent University, which has nearly 30,000 students. Three of these universities feature in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016: KU Leuven, Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. Academic excellence is also a core value of Flanders’ business schools and university colleges.