It is one of the larger Flemish universities, consisting of 38,000 students and 7,900 staff members. The current rector is Anne De Paepe (nl).
It was established in 1817 by King William I of the Netherlands. After the Belgian revolution of 1830, it was administered by the newly formed Belgian state. French became the academic language until 1930, when Ghent University became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium. In 1991, the university was granted major autonomy and changed its name from State University of Ghent (Dutch: Rijksuniversiteit Gent, abbreviated as RUG) to its current name.