The Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe
A unique resource
for Ireland in Europe


Programme Descriptions

Our Programmes

With over 30 years expericence of delivering high quality customised programmes for organisations accross the island of Ireland we are very proud to have dveloped some long standing and new relationships with clients from different sectors.

Our reputation for delivering content rich, bespoke programmes delivered in the comfort of our residential facilities and supported through our high standard of catering has ensured that clients have left the Institute refreshed and inspired.

Bray Choral Society

Bray Choral Society marked thirty years since their formation with a visit organised by the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe that took in the battlefield sites and memorials of the First World War, a concert in the University City of Leuven and an enjoyable few days in Brussels and Bruges.

On arrival at Brussels National Airport, the group of over thirty choristers and their partners boarded the coach and took the pleasant journey to the historic city of Ieper and check in to their hotel in the city centre for the night.  Following lunch, it was off around the Ieper Salient with a starting point at the Island of Ireland Peace Park.  Here the group got to perform their first piece of the weekend, Criost i mo Chroi, a traditional Irish air composed by their Musical Director, Mr Frank Kelly.

Continuing on the circuit with a professional tour guide, the group were informed about the history, atrocities and lasting problems of the First World War.  Opportunities to visit Bayern Wald, Tyne Cot Cemetery, the area of the Battle of Passchendaele and the town of Messines where the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions fought side by side.

That evening the Choral Society attended the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate and sang as the wreaths were laid by various civil society organisations.  Their contribution to the evening was much appreciated by the hundreds gathered for the ceremony.

On Saturday morning, the Choral Society headed south to the University City of Leuven, their destination for the night.  After a rehearsal at St Joseph’s Church in the City there was some free time to explore this medieval Flemish town.  

A good crowd had gathered for the concert that evening and the Choral Society’s performance lifted the hearts of those present and made for a different Saturday night in Leuven.

St Anthony’s English Speaking Parish of Kraainem in Brussels was the venue for the Choral Society to perform their final pieces of music on this trip.  The 11.30am mass was celebrated by Fr Brendan Scully, himself a former parish priest in Bray and the group were joined after mass by Fr Pat Power, a former school chaplain in Bray.  All round acquaintances were renewed.

Time now for some rest and relaxation and the Choral Society spent the remainder of Sunday in Brussels City Centre and while some returned to Ireland the next day, others continued to mark their success of thirty years with a day visit to Bruges.

Bray Choral Society
Queen's University Belfast School of Engineering - MEng Benelux Study Visit

Fourth-year Engineering students undertake a Sunday-Friday study visit to an eclectic variety of engineering projects and exhibitions in the Benelux area in week 7 of the academic year. Their itinerary begins with a day trip to the Rhine delta in the Netherlands, where the students visit the Maeslandkering flood surge barrier near the Hook of Holland. After a guided tour and an interactive exhibition in the visitors’ centre, the students have a break for lunch before going to nearby Delft Technical University for a laboratory tour and lecture from academics working in flood prevention research and civil engineering. Taking a private hire coach back to the Institute in the evening, an evening meal awaits the group.


The next day takes the students to southern Belgium where they visit the Strépy-Thieu canal boat lift, including a boat trip which demonstrates the 180m boat lift in action. A guided tour of the engine-room and a film demonstration follows, after which the students head back to Leuven – approximately 90 minutes from the site.


The third day of the busy programme starts with a visit to the Brussels Atomium, and continues to the coastal town of Oostende where the students visit C-Power’s off-shore wind facility. A presentation is given in the visitors’ centre by an engineer – and boat trips to the turbines themselves are available, weather-permitting.


Closer to home, the last substantive day of the programme involves a tailored visit to the Port of Antwerp, where the focus of interest is on multi-modal transfer of goods from ships to land-based transport.


After a busy schedule, Friday morning is spent enjoying Leuven farmers’ market, before a coach transfer to the airport around lunchtime.

Belfast Metropolitan College & Invest NI: DEL Export Sales and Marketing Academy

In 2014-2015, the Institute provided one section of a 12-week Department of Employment and Learning training programme for a total of 45 graduates preparing for a placement programme in exporting firms in Northern Ireland. Across three separate cohorts, graduates used the Benelux market as an test-bed for how to proceed with their company’s sales projects in markets around the globe.


As an introductory lecture in the Institute’s main conference room, Prof Etienne Cracco of ICHEC Business School in Brussels lays out ‘the Uncommon Common Market’ as a context-setter for export-salespeople looking at the European markets. This interactive half-day programme is followed up with ‘Operating in the Benelux market’, setting out the practicalities of commercial activity in our own region.


Following the introduction, the graduates are thrust into the real world – a visit to a logistics trade fair in Antwerp, where they are tasked with identifying challenges and opportunities in distribution for their own products in their given markets. Opportunities for networking with distribution and logistics professionals and making contact with possible commercial partners are plentiful in trade fairs within a short distance of the Institute’s campus.


Returning to the Institute after lunch, Prof Cracco reviews their progress at the trade fair and gives his penultimate class, ‘Strategic Positioning for Competitive Advantage’.


The following day, the graduates participate in workshops and seminars given by Prof Marco Hellemans in ‘Glommunication’ – valuable practical training in cross-cultural commercial communication. Prof Helleman’s one-day course condenses essential sales skills into short segments and uses presentations, role-plays and discussions to enhance the participants’ competence and confidence in representing their company internationally.


On the final day, Profs Cracco and Hellemans teach in tandem and help the graduates develop their individual sales plans for their company’s projects. The day finishes with a seminar on ‘Future Challenges in doing Business Globally’.


Friday morning is spent reviewing the classes with Belfast Metropolitan College staff, and the students make their way by coach to the airport in the afternoon.

Joint University Programme in Translation Studies

In April 2016, the Leuven Institute hosted a three-day study visit for a combined group of Translation Studies Masters students from Dublin City University, University College Cork and Queen’s University Belfast.

The programme included talks and seminars at the Leuven Institute from academics and experts on topics ranging from translation theory to EU career possibilities for translation graduates. The group visited the European Commission’s headquarters the Berlaymont and a key aspect of the study visit was a visit to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Translation, where students heard practical talks from senior translators on a number of topics relating to course content.

The programme concluded with a visit to the European Parliament which included a tour of the chamber, meetings with Parliamentary translation and interpretation staff and an address by the Vice-President of the Parliament, Máiréad McGuinness MEP.

Cork Institute of Technology - International Business in Languages

The Leuven Institute welcomed a group of International Business students from Cork Institute of Technology in February 2016 for a week-long programme. The study visit allowed the students to gain a deeper insight into European and global business and to learn about the political context that shapes international trade policy.

The programme included seminars at the Leuven Institute on topics relevant to course content. This was followed by visits to the European Institutions, the Parliament and the Commission. MEPs Deirdre Clune and Liadh Ní Riada spoke at length with the students before a member of Parliamentary staff gave the group a guided tour. The group then visited the European Commission where officials from DG Trade discussed current macroeconomic issues in international business. 

Site visits to IMEC, a global leader in nanotechnology R&D and Audi Brussels proved to be particular highlights of the programme. The programme also included a visit to the Irish Embassy where the group was addressed by H.E. Eamonn Mac Aodha, Irish Ambassador to Belgium.

Trinity College Dublin - Masters in Business Administration

The Trinity MBA, a top 10 ranked European MBA programme, brings both its executive part time and full time class to the Irish College Leuven each year for its European Residency Week where MBA candidates undertake a module in International Negotiations and participate in master classes known as the Management Across Borders series.

Participants also engage in briefing sessions in the European Parliament and Commission where issues such as global trade and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area talks are addressed. This year the Trinity MBA Leuven address will be given in the Irish College by His Excellency Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov, Russian Ambassador to the European Union.

College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise

Around 20 students of the Northern Ireland College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) on BSc and HND courses participate in a multi-faceted residential study visit in Leuven as part of their studies.

The study visit is 5 days long and encompasses lectures, visits to several Belgian farm businesses and a visit to Brussels to interact with EU Institutional staff and MEPs. The academic content is delivered on-campus and features speakers from the European Commission’s DG Agriculture, academics from KU Leuven and Northern Ireland civil servants working on CAP and other agricultural issues.

Staff in Leuven organise 2 days of field-trips to Belgian farms in the surrounding area, typically a mixture of dairy, meat and agrarian businesses. Participants have the opportunity to engage directly with the farms’ management and also with representatives of the Boerenbond, the Belgian Agricultural Association.

A day-trip to Brussels includes visiting Northern Ireland MEPs’ offices in the European Parliament and meetings with British and Irish agricultural lobbying organisations.

The Leuven Institute’s staff work closely with CAFRE to develop the programme content in advance, so that the study visit’s programme content is of maximum utility for the participants and is within the College’s budget. Costs for coach travel around Belgium and accommodation are charged at cost-price by the Institute, with any additional costs met directly by CAFRE. Typically, experts and study visits are sourced at negligible extra cost. The use of the Institute’s facilities and development of the programme content is always free of charge for residential progammes.


Maynooth University European Studies Programme

A key part of the second year of NUI Maynooth's BA European Studies course is an annual study visit to Leuven early in the second semester.

The 2014 study visit lasts 6 days and includes on-campus lectures at the Institute on the Belgian political system, Irish regional affairs and Belgian/European foreign policy. It also includes a visit to the EU Institutions in Brussels to meet with Institutional staff and MEPs, a careers session at the Institute and day trips to Ieper and Antwerp. The on-campus lectures allow participants to hear talks on a wide range of topics  relevant to the European Studies course by specialists from KU Leuven, the Commission and trade union representative bodies amongst others.

A day-trip to Brussels includes visits to the offices of the Irish Perm Rep in Brussels and the Northern Ireland Executive as well as a tour of the European Parliament and a discussion with an Irish MEP.

The programme finishes with a formal dinner at the Institute along with a talk given by a guest of honour.

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