In 1817, King William I of the Netherlands founded the Ghent University
(abbreviated RUG), consisting of four faculties : Arts, Law, Science and Medicine. Twenty
five years later, subsequent to the formation of the Belgian State in 1830, French
replaced Latin as the official language of instruction. The struggle to introduce Dutch
instead of French broke out during the 1880s, motivated by the consideration that the
majority of the population in the Flemish North of the country spoke Dutch. In 1930, on
the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Belgian Independence, the change-over to
Dutch was finally legislated. After the Second World War, Government subsidies increased
and the University gradually became more accessible to the general population. Step by
step, it has become self-governing.
The first Physical Education Institute in Belgium was established at the Ghent University
and incorporated into the Medical Faculty in 1908. It was to remain the only school of its
kind until 1931.
Following the changeover to Dutch at the Ghent University, it was only logical that a
Dutch-language counterpart to the French Veterinary Science Institute in Kuregem (near
Brussels) should be established. After a long period of political struggle concerning its
location, the knot was cut in 1934 : a Veterinary Science Institute was added to the
Medical Faculty in Gent. In 1968 this Institute was separated from the Faculty and became
the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
In 1938 professor C. Heymans was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for
his discovery of the chemoreceptors in the aortic and carotid sinus area, which regulate
respiration. Under C. Heymans's leadership the Institute of Pharmacology became an
international meeting place for research workers.
In 1970 the Institute of Pharmacy was also separated from the Faculty of Medicine and
became the first Pharmaceutical Faculty in Belgium.
The Ghent University is one of the largest universities in Belgium. In 1992, it celebrated
its 175th anniversary, looking back on a history of solid academic achievements in a wide
range of disciplines. At present, there are more than 20,000 students.
More than 3,000 students are educated in medicine at the Faculty of Medicine. There are
146 professors, 96 of whom on a full-time basis. Many professors are heads of clinical
services, and all of them contribute in teaching, research and clinical activities.
Besides medicine, the schools of dentistry, physical education and kinesitherapeutics are
a part of the Faculty of Medicine.
Every year more than 130 doctors graduate from the Medical Faculty.
Patient care and scientific research combined with the most recent diagnostic techniques
The Ghent University Hospital (UZ) is the largest hospital in Flanders and plays a unique
role in the region. Because of the close co-operation with the Faculty of Medicine, the
nursing of patients is linked to education and scientific research. With its 1,059 beds,
the Ghent University Hospital can guarantee a full duty service for all kinds of
The Ghent University Hospital houses a complete series of hightechnological services such
as the burns unit, the centre for bone marrow transplantations, the departments of
Intensive Care to new-born babies, Neonatology, Kidney Dialysis, Cardio-vascular Surgery,
Microsurgery, Lithotrity, Liver Transplantations, and so on.
The Ghent University Hospital admits 27,000 patients annually. The total hospitalisation
time amounts to 320,000 days. The outpatients' clinics treat 400,000 patients a year, and
every year more than 11,000 patients undergo surgical operations in the Ghent University
Recent evolutions in medicine have resulted in a wide range of new and highly specialised
services such as the Centre of Sports Medicine, the Psycho-somatic outpatients' clinic,
the Day Clinic for Medical Oncology, a Centre for Fertility disorders, Industrial and
Environmental Medicine, an Aids Reference Centre, etc. ...
The treatment of the patients is also supported by departments which carry out basic
scientific research : the Centre of Medical genetics, the Laboratory of Bacteriology and
Virology, the N. Goormaghtigh Institute of Pathological Anatomy, the Laboratory of Normal
and Pathological Physiology, the J.F. and C. Heymans Institute of Pharmacodynamics and
Therapy, the Department of Hygiene and Social Medicine.
On the hospital grounds there is also a fully-equipped Clinic for Dentistry and Diseases
of the Mouth and Jaws.
The Ghent University Hospital is one of the most important employers in the region, with
over 3,000 employees, among which are 400 professors and doctors and 1,500 nurses and
The campus is situated near the centre of Gent, and lies at the junction of the European
motorways E17 and E40.