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50 years independent, 185 years connected to ULB… You might have heard by now that VUB and ULB are celebrating their 50th and 185th birthday this academic year. On friday, september 20, we will kick off the festivities with a shared Academic Opening in the Parc du Cinquantenaire. We want the entire country to know that we are celebrating, so VUB rector Caroline Pauwels and ULB rector Yvon Englert will be stepping in as chief editors for the popular newspaper Metro. Don’t forget to snag a copy on your way to the Academic Opening. It will be a true collector’s item!


Rector, stick to what you now. This could easily be mistaken for a headline that explains why Brussels-based universities get to work with the editors of Metro on a special edition that will be avaiable in all Belgian railway stations. But one musn’t forget that our rector Caroline Pauwels is a communication scientist at heart. One who expertly knows what the job on hand entails and who managed to co-create a very ‘Brussels’ edition of the popular newspaper alongside ULB rector Yvon Englert and the entire Metro team. Because 185 years of ULB and 50 years of VUB research has lead to a fair share of newsworthy research nuggets.


Furthermore, there is a major overlap between research and journalism. Our founding father Théodore Verhaegen already realised this when he explained our point of view and raison d’être to King Leopold I: “Investigating the important questions that pertain to man and society, free of political or religious influence. Looking into the sources of all that is true and good in complete and total freedom. That, Your Majesty the King, is the role our university plays in the bigger picture.” Still to this day, these words remain our guiding principles.


Research communication in full transparency


“For me and my cherished colleague Yvon Englert, it was a golden opportunity to harvest and bundle VUB-ULB research in our very own edition of Metro as part of our birthday celebrations. Our researchers are given a truly unique platform, so that we can show those who are not that familiar with our universities, what it is that we do. After all, the work of our researchers is always at the service of society. In that spirit, there is no harm in highlighting our contributions to our country and the public debate. Transparency holds everything together”, says rector Pauwels. “That we get to share our knowledge with everyone in the free Metro newspaper is something to be applauded.”


Brussels Living Lab


Our capital city as a living lab. Brussels is the main hub for an important part of our research. So as you can imagine, finding topics that deserve a spot in this very special birthday edition wasn’t much of a challenge for the rectors and Metro editors. Brussels simply has a whole lot to offer. “Our researchers were happy to provide Metro with their latest results on mobility, education, the environment, health care and other relevant areas. Yes, even how you can transform Brussels into a literal goldmine…”, teases Lies Feron, VUB press officer. “If the readers are just as enthousiastic as our researchers, we will consider this take-over a successful endeavour.”


The editors of Metro echo this wish: “As a media company with a heart that beats for the younger generations and all things Brussels, this collaboration with the rectors of VUB and ULB ticked all the boxes. We tried to excite our readers with interesting insights from the academic world and we do feel like we did just that with this one of a kind edition of our newspaper”, says Xavier Vuylsteke de Laps, NL coordinator at Metro.


Celebrate with us


During the course of the academic year, both universities will be organising numerous festivities in Brussels city and on their campuses, starting with their shared Academic Opening in the Parc du Cinquantenaire. The grand opening on september 20 will be followed by a series of lectures, JRSLM (a thought-provoking art exhibit in Pilar), a rowing regatta on the waters of Brussels, Saint V,… 


You’re curious to learn more or you do not want to miss any of these special activities? Then do take a look on and celebrate with us. See you soon!

Stop the press! ULB and VUB are celebrating their birthday