KU Leuven and Vietnam: building the future together

23/02/2019

Vietnam is an important partner country for KU Leuven. The number of joint research projects is on the rise and over 500 alumni of KU Leuven currently apply the knowledge they gained at the university in their home country. All the more reason to establish an alumni chapter and highlight this cooperation.

The first cooperation projects with Vietnamese researchers started in the nineties, but the number of partnerships has increased significantly in the last ten years. Vietnam is an interesting partner country for academics; its development-related and multidisciplinary research projects are especially interesting for our scientists, engineers, and bioscience engineers. They are always looking for innovative solutions for both local and global issues. The researchers work on topics that are very close to the Sustainable Development Goals: food safety, climate change, water supply, water treatment and harvest problems.

The Vietnamese researchers, in turn, highly value a PhD from KU Leuven. After obtaining their PhD, they often join the board of a university in their home country. Moreover, they maintain close relations with their supervisors in Flanders. This becomes the basis for a new kind of partnership, aimed at capacity-building within a research department or, sometimes, at a more central institutional level. Such commitments not only constitute valuable learning experiences for the Vietnamese researchers, but they also broaden the research outlook of the Leuven academics.

Alumni in Vietnam

Vietnam is the home country of over 500 KU Leuven alumni and, as such, saw the establishment of its own alumni chapter in 2018. Alumni use this network to support the initiatives of KU Leuven in the region. On the basis of their experience, they also help prospective students with any questions they may have.

The chapter is led by a steering committee of alumni. The chair is Professor Minh Nguyen Thi Hong. She obtained a PhD in Engineering Technology at KU Leuven and is currently an associate professor at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology (HUST).

International alumni chapters

“These are an important asset for KU Leuven. Broadening the research and educational cooperation with international partners is very high on the KU Leuven agenda,” says Vice Rector for International Policy and Alumni Policy Peter Lievens. “Two key aspects of our current strategy are fostering new talent in these emerging countries and promoting international mobility.  And as more KU Leuven alumni go on to build international careers, we strengthen our global network.”

“This is where the international alumni chapters come in: they create opportunities for our alumni to connect with each other, and they constitute a direct link with the alma mater. We also call upon the chapters for cooperation, student recruitment, academic diplomacy, or to establish links with partner institutions and the local economy.”

“Our international alumni chapters are all about community-building,” says Martine Torfs from the Alumni Office at KU Leuven. They are informal networks that help our alumni to (re)establish and maintain close ties with each other and with KU Leuven. Moreover, the chapters play an important part in the recruitment of local students and researchers.”

“But we engage with our international alumni in other ways as well. We send newsletters, organise alumni trips or invite alumni to join us for education fairs in their country.  We also reach out to honorary doctors and former visiting scholars because they are members of the KU Leuven community as well. They are ambassadors for our university.”    

INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI CHAPTERS 

In 2013, KU Leuven established its first international alumni chapter in Shanghai, China. Today, our university has alumni chapters in twelve countries:  Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.


Source: KU Leuven - Julia Nienaber, Iris Lambrigts, Katrien Bollen, Shana Michiels, Christophe Johanns (videos)