What led to this agreement to
change degrees at Howest?
In fact, the change comes from the European Union, which called for more uniformity in the award of degrees – the Bachelor’s after three years of study and the Master’s after five years. That was more than a decade ago, which is the time it’s taken for the Flemish government to implement the necessary measures.
What difference will it make for
They’ll still spend all their time here in West Flanders, just like before. That’s important because of the links we have with industry and the many businesses that are in this part of the country. But the students will now be awarded degrees from Ghent University.
Isn’t there a worry that
Howest will lose some of its
independence, after being
swallowed up by this giant
Of course that was a concern. This is like a business unit – 10% of Howest – that we are selling to a much larger company. The other 90% of Howest stays independent. But I think we’ve reached a good agreement. We’ve always been occupied with applied research – research at the request of and in the interests of industry, at home and abroad, from San Francisco to Tokyo. Whereas the university is more concerned with fundamental research. So while there is room for each to contribute to the other, there’s not really a question of them taking us over.
When do the changes come into
Not the next academic year coming up, but the one after that. There are already some changes being made on the work floor, so to speak, but for the students the changes begin in September of 2013.