A very European union

More than 15,000 Edinburgh alumni live and work across mainland Europe. Many are part of active groups who come together for networking, social and academic events and maintain strong ties with the University.

European building

The Edinburgh University Brussels Society is one such group of alumni that enhances Edinburgh’s reputation abroad while maintaining strong ties with the University.

The group consists of former students based in and around Brussels, many of whom work in various EU institutions and public sector groups or simply live in the city.

Gabriel Goldberg is co-president of the society. Having graduated in International and European Politics in 2002, he returned to Brussels but was keen to continue his relationship with the University.

“When I completed my degree and came home to Brussels, I found I missed my time in Edinburgh,” explains Gabriel. “So with a couple of friends we decided to create the Edinburgh University Brussels Society – an informal society that would provide a platform for members to stay in touch with the University and unite likeminded people in Brussels.” By maintaining a close relationship with the University, the group links visiting Edinburgh academics with professional life in Brussels and acts as a platform for the University in terms of profile and potential fundraising.

Gabriel founded the society in 2002. Since then the group membership has grown to more than 300 alumni. Gabriel notes the vital help the society has received from the University’s Development and Alumni department.

When I came home to Brussels, I found I missed my time in Edinburgh. So with a couple of friends we decided to create the Edinburgh University Brussels Society.

Gabriel GoldbergEdinburgh University Brussels Society founder

“What’s amazing about the Development and Alumni department at the University is that they’re there to help,” explains Gabriel. “They will meet with groups around the world in order to help individuals initiate projects and provide support. It makes our job much easier and puts us in a closer relationship with the University.”

When moving to a new city, Gabriel urges all graduates to check if there is a local alumni society and make the effort to stay in touch with fellow graduates and the University.

“Everyone in their professional life is so busy. We tend to forget how passionate we were about the subject we studied at university. Edinburgh offered us incredible experiences. The alumni clubs help us refresh and relive these great memories and keep in touch with the University.”

Along with Gabriel, Victor Loewenstein is co-president of the Brussels Society. He graduated from Edinburgh in 1960 and prior to his retirement served as board member and managing partner of one of the largest executive search firms in the world. In his role with the Brussels Society, he gains a lot of satisfaction in being able to bring alumni together.

“An individual’s social network tends to be within your year of graduation,” says Victor. “So there is a great satisfaction in mixing the generations at alumni events. It’s good for the younger generations to see that there are individuals who are ten, twenty or thirty years older who still appreciate the role that the University played in their own personal and professional development.”

An international alumni club provides the opportunity to maintain good memories from student days, from formative years and where you made a lot of contacts and friendships.

Victor LowensteinEdinburgh University Brussels Society co-president

“An international alumni club provides the opportunity to maintain good memories from student days, from formative years and where you made a lot of contacts and friendships, and it’s also a forum where members have the chance to give something back to the University.”

In 2008, the Victor H. Loewenstein Scholarship was created in order to provide financial support to a non-British candidate for an MBA programme. Victor’s help also extends to the careers day that he and Gabriel organise each year at Scotland House in Brussels for more than 20 MSc International and European Politics students from Edinburgh.

“During their week in Brussels, students visit the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission and meet with organisations, NGOs and corporations that use the city as a platform to relate to the European Union,” explains Victor.

“We bring half a dozen alumni to talk to the students. People who went through the same experiences provide advice on gaining employment in the Brussels area, which can be very helpful in terms of their future career development.”

“The careers day has been running for more than ten years and a number of people have been able to gain employment as a result. The event demonstrates how helpful alumni can be in providing advice and support to graduates who are planning their next steps in the job market.”

Gabriel and Victor were also involved in helping organise a Brexit-focused alumni forum in Brussels earlier this year. The event, led by the Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, attracted former students from across Europe, and debated what the UK leaving the European Union could mean for the University and the wider higher education sector.

Gabriel comments: “Europe is important for the University. Edinburgh does not want to close its doors to Europe. The alumni club and all our members continue to provide our utmost support to the University to ensure that Edinburgh’s links with Brussels and Europe remain strong.”

Victor is keenly aware that Edinburgh is an international University with a global outlook. He hopes that in the wake of Brexit, alumni can be further engaged to preserve the link between Edinburgh and the rest of the world, and that the University continues to be international in character.

Find an alumni group near you

 There are alumni clubs and contacts across the world, along with a range of groups and resources online.

Alumni groups