Founded in 1817 as a Latin-speaking State University by William I, King of the Netherlands, Ghent University is a relatively young university. After its independence in 1830, the Belgian State was in charge of the administration of Ghent University; French was the new official academic language. In 1930 Ghent University became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium. The Decree of 1991 assigned great autonomy to the university.
Over the years eminent scientists such as Joseph Plateau (physicist, considered as a pioneer in the development of motion pictures), Leo Baekeland (inventor of Bakelite) and Corneel Heymans (Nobel Prize winner in Medicine) studied and worked at Ghent University.
With a view to cooperation in research and scientific service, numerous research groups, centres and institutes have been founded over the years. Several of them are renowned worldwide, in various scientific disciplines such as biotechnology, aquaculture, microelectronics, history,...