The next generation: the Antwerp higher education institutions are digital, diverse and sustainable

Antwerp University Association opens the academic year

Together with its partners University of Antwerp, AP University College, Antwerp Maritime Academy and Karel de Grote University College, the Antwerp University Association opened the academic year on 29 September 2022 at the Stadsschouwburg of Antwerp.

In his inauguration speech Rector Herman Van Goethem particularly addressed the new generation of students. "The world is in flux. Today, we welcome young people born in 2004 to higher education. They are eighteen now and the only world they have ever known is a destabilised one. The latter, dear students, is true for all of you. This destabilisation began with the financial crisis of 2008, followed by the eurozone crisis, the European migrant crisis of 2015, and rising populism including the Trump episode. Meanwhile, climate change is thundering towards us at a staggeringly fast pace, in the context of rising political extremism that was additionally fuelled by a pandemic starting in 2020. On top of that, since February 2022 a war has been raging that is testing Europe’s limits. We are in the midst of an eventful period in which organisations, countries and structures are shaken to their foundations.

During the previous academic year, the topics of discussion in the media were climate change, health care, inappropriate behaviour, student initiations, wokeness and so on – but that was all blown away by the energy crisis that hit Europe last summer. Cold and poverty, alongside Ukraine: these are the prevalent issues today. We are entangled in a war situation – yes, there is European war. We will face a difficult time, but afterwards the skies will clear.

But, dear students, the question is: what can we do, we and you together, both at our university and for the world? How do we forge the deep crisis we are experiencing now into an opportunity in which we contribute to humanity and to the world?"