The Crown Prince of Belgium has overseen the signing of the University of Melbourne’s first university-wide agreement with a Belgian university.

In Melbourne for the Belgian Government’s trade delegation to Australia, His Royal Highness Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement between Melbourne and Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - the Free University of Brussels.

The agreement focuses on graduate exchange opportunities in areas of business and economics, humanities and social sciences.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Susan Elliott said the agreements were a great step forward in European collaboration. “In signing this agreement, we not only provide immediate exchange opportunities for our graduate students, but both institutions also acknowledge the opportunity for further engagement and exchange beyond this scope,” she said.

“ULB’s strong post-graduate focus aligns very well with the University of Melbourne’s own curriculum, and its partnerships approach provides us with an opportunity to better learn and connect with the EU.”

ULB has close links to European Union policy makers and administrators, and is seen as an international leader in the higher education sector, as the host site for the Network of Universities for the Capitals of Europe (UNICA).

A Faculty level agreement was also signed between the Melbourne School of Engineering and the School of Engineering at the Université Catholique de Louvain à Louvain-La-Neuve, to promote research collaboration between the two faculties particularly in the field of bionics.

Dean of the Melbourne School of Engineering Professor Iven Mareels said the agreement provide greater opportunities to Melbourne engineering students. “Collaboration between Australian and Belgian universities can really only lead to win-win outcomes. Belgian universities are particularly good when it comes to industry-university interaction, and this collaboration will be of particular benefit to students wishing to do international internships,” he said.

The University has a number of staff already doing work in Belgium - 25 academics are completing research across 13 Belgian institutions in areas such as health science, political science, architecture, engineering, psychology and computing and information systems.