In his New Year's message, Prof. De Graeve championed a greater involvement of the students in the organization of the entire University College: from policy to management to education and quality control. “The students must feel acknowledged. When that is not the case, we have failed.”
With regard to quality assurance, the President pleads for a flexible system: “no bureaucratic straight jacket or police regulations in disguise, but an approach that aims to advance the well-being and the opportunities of students and teachers.”
With respect to opportunities, according to Prof. De Graeve, these can only be significantly improved if the Master's programs in Industrial Sciences become fully fledged two-year programs. In that respect, GROUP T has developed a formula in which the traditional one-year Master's program is spread out over a two-year path and supplemented with an Entrepreneurial Engineering Experience, which is a large and ambitious project in a company or in cooperation with a company.
Also strongly conducive for opportunities, according to the President, is intensifying the cooperation with partners in Belgium and abroad. In Leuven this refers to the alliance with the K.U. Leuven, but also with the reputable Interuniversity Micro-Electronics Center IMEC, the University Hospitals and the numerous high-tech companies in the region.
Abroad, GROUP T has meanwhile built an extensive network, initially in China but, more recently, also in Southeast Asia and India. Wen Jiabao, prime minister of China, did not leave any doubt about it during his visit to India in late 2010. “The fast-paced economic growth of China and India is the engine of the world economy.” “This growth is something that GROUP T wants to anticipate more then ever,” according to Prof. De Graeve. “We bring together the world's largest democracy and most ancient culture. At this moment, almost 20% of our engineering students are from China already. In 2012, the first batch from India will arrive. At the Beijing Jiaotong University, the International Class of GROUP T had a successful start this academic year. We also want to organize such classes at other partner universities abroad. In India and Cambodia but also in Ethiopia where we already have four partner institutions. This is not just one-way traffic from abroad to GROUP T. Our cooperation is aimed at giving our Flemish students the opportunity to gain as much international experience as possible.”
Culture of innovation
Intensifying the international dimension is also one of the priorities of the new Director General. “It is the cornerstone of our achieving-excellence strategy that will make or break the future of GROUP T.” But there are also others, according to Prof. De Ryck. In his inaugural speech he also referred to the optimization of quality assurance, the further development of research in cooperation with the K.U. Leuven and other partners and the professionalization of the entire GROUP T team. “Crucial to our future, however, is the preservation of our identity,” the General Director states. “The engine and the fuel of the innovation culture that characterizes us are GROUP T's mission and 5E education and research concept, composed of the five essential ways to experience existence and to develop as an individual and a professional: Engineering, Enterprising, Educating, Environmenting and Ensembling. Everything we teach, research and undertake must be imbued with these five Es.”