The accolade, which was launched in conjunction with the European Commission, was awarded to Ghent (Gent in Flemish) over Italy’s Padua, Toulouse in France, Valencia in Spain and Austria’s capital.
“Winning the Erasmus Destination of the Year 2023 has been an amazing experience,” said Yasmine Collier, one of Erasmus Student Network Gent’s local reps.
“We’re thrilled to have our hard work recognised, and it has motivated us to continuously improve our mobility support,” she added.
The local chapter of ESN was founded early on in its involvement with the Erasmus scheme – the first years of mobility in the city saw just 33 students.
Ghent is increasingly gaining popularity in the tourism sector, due to its proximity to the capital and being less overwhelmed by crowds – four university colleges and two universities find their home in the city, and it is well known locally as a university town.
The destination of the year initiative was first introduced to identify “great practices of supporting student mobility at the city level”.
The ultimate aim is to showcase how local student associations – like ESN Gent – are attempting to make their cities “better mobility destinations”.
Factors that were considered in the final decision included the collaboration with key HEIs, correspondence with the city itself and how the network ensures “high-quality” student mobility.
“All of us at ESN International are very excited… about how [this initiative] can inspire new practices among the different stakeholders involved in student mobility,” said Nikolina Đurić, a board member at ESN International.
“We’re thrilled to have our hard work recognised”
“For us, [it] represents an opportunity to celebrate the hard work that goes into creating a more diverse and inclusive global student community,” she continued.
The decision to make Ghent this year’s destination of the year took place in April at ESN’s Generation Meeting, which was held in Bucharest, Romania.
While the decision was not put down to a strictly student vote, it was made by representatives from the European Commission, EAIE, the Academic Cooperation Association, the Youth Forum and European Students’ Union.