Do you know VUB?

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. Through tailor-made high quality research and education, VUB wants to contribute in an active and committed way to a better society for tomorrow.

That is our mission.

Radically humanistic, Radically urban, Radically mild

Our mission

What we promise

For more than 180 years VUB has helped build a better society as an innovative, free inquiring and critical thinking university. We are linked to the world from within our international capital Brussels. A never-ending quest for knowledge, insights and enlightenment form the golden thread in all we do in education, research and social commitment.

At the same time we continue to advance our very personal and democratic approach that enables all the members of the VUB-community to grow, so they can successfully take up their roles in the world of today and tomorrow.

Download the Organisational statute.

Shared values

What drives us

All members of the VUB community endorse our value spectrum.

  • We place humanity central
  • A democratic attitude guides our (co)operation
  • Respect for and trust in each other characterises our community
  • Curiosity drives us in learning, researching, innovating and working
  • We strive to obtain the highest possible quality in everything we do
  • Multidisciplinarity and cooperation are our starting points
  • We stimulate entrepreneurship and cooperation within and outside the university
  • We see diversity as an asset
  • We strive for sustainability in all its facets
  • Societal relevance drives us in all our choices

Gender and diversity

Impact on a better world


Honory doctorates


Our assets

As is the case with mankind, the character of VUB relies on a number of strong assets:

  • Passion: the urge to know, to understand, to deepen, to opine, to create, to inspire, drives us.
  • Commitment: there is a high commitment level with the research community, the students, society, the world.
  • Critical thought: VUB is reasonably headstrong. We distinguish ourselves through our critical thinking and our questioning of everything that crosses our path. We cherish free inquiry and the right to think crosswise.
  • Humanistic in the sense that it is free and open. Freedom in all its shapes defines the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Freedom of research, freedom of thought with an open mind, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and other conventions.

The world needs you

Can we count on you?

Brussels is our living lab

Academia meets urban

University with character

VUB always has a free thinking and humanistic approach to everything it does. Mankind is our standard and free inquiry our working method.

  • We advance society and ourselves
  • We do so through challenging education, through groundbreaking scientific research and through the dissemination of our knowledge in society
  • Our roots are Flemish, but our future is international
  • Brussels is our city that we actively help build
  • We feel like global citizens inside a close-knit community
  • Our approach is personal and democratic
  • We are challengers and thus ‘rethinkers’ and do not shy away from controversy
  • As critical thinkers we are forward in our communication
  • We actively seek out cooperation but pass up on grey compromise

Forward with a mission

Four like-minded vice rectors with a plan. How do they help shape the joined ambitions and goals of  VUB? Find out here.

Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen

How it all started

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) originated from the French speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), that was founded in 1834 by a Brussels’ lawyer with Flemish roots, Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen. It was his intention to create a university independent of church and state at which academic freedom would roam. Although ULB would already teach in Dutch at the law faculty as early as 1935, it wouldn’t be until 1963 before practically all the faculties would teach in Dutch.  


The law of May 28th, 1970 legally confirmed the administrative, legal and scientific division of the old university into a Dutch speaking (VUB) university and French speaking (ULB) university. A division which had been de facto in place since October 1st, 1969.

The sister universities VUB and ULB currently work in close relationship with each other and launch joint initiatives in education, research...

Thinking must never submit itself

VUB is the only Flemish university that has the principles of ‘Free Inquiry’ written into its articles of association. These principles are based on the writings of French mathematician and natural philosopher Henri Poincaré (1854-1912): ‘Thinking must never submit itself’. Today, it is still our basic philosophy.

VUB Heritage


History and ideology

The full story!

How we will proceed

In this complex and exciting world VUB wants to maintain its position as a medium sized university and continue to grow from there. With ambitions for the future and a clear plan.

Clear plan for high ambitions

Universities operate in turbulent times and feel the budget cuts, the rationalisations by the government - ‘who will be allowed to provide higher education’ - the competition for the student, the international war for talent and the rising pressure on scientist to perform. But Vrije Universiteit Brussel mainly looks forward to the interesting challenges:

  • the continued democratisation of higher education for ever more diverse audiences
  • the question for relevant and socially legitimate research and education
  • the global city Brussels and VUB in that international setting
  • the new technologies that offer chances for lifelong learning...

In this complex and exciting world VUB wants to maintain its position as a medium sized university and continue to grow from there. With ambitions for the future and a clear - general strategic - plan (ASP). ASP 1 led the way in 2009 with university wide targets until 2012. ASP 2, our guide towards 2016, put forward 3 main strategic goals:

  • an improved student success rate
  • an efficient student recruitment
  • a stronger financial position

Today VUB is working with rector Caroline Pauwels on its road to 2030, with ASP 3.

With a vision for tomorrow

Strategic Plan

Creating the European university of the future


VUB-ULB in & for Brussels