|Type||Private postgraduate institute|
|Chairman||Herman Van Rompuy|
|Postgraduates||470 from over 50 countries|
|Working languages||English and French|
The College of Europe (French: Collège d'Europe) is a postgraduate institute of European studies with its main campus in Bruges, Belgium, and a smaller campus in Warsaw, Poland. The College of Europe in Bruges was founded in 1949 by leading historical European figures and founding fathers of the European Union, including Salvador de Madariaga, Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide De Gasperi as one of the results of the 1948 Congress of Europe in The Hague to promote "a spirit of solidarity and mutual understanding between all the nations of Western Europe and to provide elite training to individuals who will uphold these values" and "to train an elite of young executives for Europe". The founders imagined the college as a place where Europe's future leaders could live and study together. It has the status of "Institution of Public Interest", operating according to Belgian law. The second campus in Natolin (Warsaw), Poland was opened in 1992. The College of Europe is historically linked to the establishment of the European Union and its predecessors, and to the creation of the European Movement International, of which the college is a supporting member. Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was appointed as the Rector to start in September 2020; former President of the European Council Herman, Count Van Rompuy is chairman of the board.
Students are usually selected in cooperation with their countries' ministries of foreign affairs, and admission is highly competitive. The College of Europe is bilingual, and students must be proficient in English and French. Students receive an advanced master's degree (formerly called Diploma and Certificat) following a one-year programme. Students specialise in either European Political and Administrative Studies, EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies, European Law, European Economic Studies, or European Interdisciplinary Studies (at the Natolin campus). For much of its history the college only admitted a small number of students, although the number has increased since the 1990s.
According to The Times, the "College of Europe, in the medieval Belgian city of Bruges, is to the European political elite what the Harvard Business School is to American corporate life. It is a hothouse where the ambitious and talented go to make contacts". The Economist describes it as "an elite finishing school for aspiring Eurocrats". The Financial Times writes that "the elite College of Europe in Bruges" is "an institution geared to producing crop after crop of graduates with a lifelong enthusiasm for EU integration". Former European Commissioner for Education Ján Fige? described the college as "one of the most emblematic centres of European studies in the European Union". The BBC has referred to it as "the EU's very own Oxbridge". The college has also been described as "the leading place to study European affairs" and as "the elite training center for the European Union's political class". RFE/RL has referred to the college as "a Euro-federalist hot-spot". The Global Mail has described its students as "Europe's leaders-in-waiting". The well-connected graduates of the college are sometimes referred to as the "Bruges mafia;" Schnabel and Rocca note that "many of the most successful Commission staff members are also graduates of the elite College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, which offers a one-year master's course in European studies, and whose graduates are said to form a 'Bruges Mafia.'"
Each academic year is named after a patron and referred to as a promotion. The academic year is opened by a leading European politician. The College of Europe shares several traditions with the École nationale d'administration (ENA) of France, but has a more European focus. Its alumni include the former Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former Prime Minister of Finland Alexander Stubb, the former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy Enzo Moavero Milanesi, several of whom have also been professors at the college. Many of its alumni go on to serve as diplomats and senior civil servants in European institutions.
The College of Europe was the world's first university institute of postgraduate studies and training in European affairs. It was founded in 1949 by leading European figures, such as Salvador de Madariaga, Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide De Gasperi, in the wake of the Hague Congress of 1948, that led to the creation of the European Movement, and is frequently considered the first federal moment in European history. They imagined a college where Europe's future leaders, some from countries only a short while before at war with each other, could live and study together. In particular, it was Spanish statesman Salvador de Madariaga the one who advocated for the creation of a College of Europe, where graduates from different European states could study together, as a way to heal the wounds of the World War II. Although the cultural resolution adopted at the end of the Congress did not include explicit references to the establishment of a College of Europe and only advocated for the creation of a 'European Cultural Centre and a European Institute for Childhood and Youth Questions', the idea of establishing a European University was put forward by Congress attendees immediately after the Congress.
A group of Bruges citizens led by the Reverend Karel Verleye succeeded in attracting the college to Bruges. Professor Hendrik Brugmans, one of the intellectual leaders of the European Movement and the President of the Union of European Federalists, became its first Rector (1950-1972). John Bowie, Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, was appointed Director of the first session held by the college, in 1949. Henri van Effenterre, who was a Professor of Ancient History at Caen University and Alphonse de Vreese, International Law professor at the University of Ghent, also contributed to that first session, who was celebrated at the Gothic Chamber of Bruges Town Hall. The topic of that first session taught to the first promotion of the college (frequently called préparatoire, for it is the only promotion not named after any prominent figure) was 'Teaching history and the development of a European spirit in universities'.
In the decades that followed the establishment of the institution students were hosted at the Navarre Hotel in the historic center of Bruges until 1981. During those first decades of existence the number of postgraduate students was small, though it was increased progressively (from 22 students in 1949 to almost 140 in 1980). The number of enrolled students has increased significantly since the 1980s. Meanwhile, the College consolidated itself as an institution specialized in studies focused on the newly established European Communities (the college was founded in 1949, before the communities were established).
In 1988, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher delivered her famous 'Bruges speech' at the College of Europe, as part of the opening ceremony for that academic year. In her speech, which has been considered by many the cornerstone of the eurosceptic movement that eventually led to Brexit, Thatcher laid down her vision for Europe, claiming that the European Community should remain an economic union, refusing the claims for a closer political integration made by Commission President Jacques Delors. As a part of her speech, Ms. Thatcher also referred to the College as an institution that 'plays a vital and increasingly important part in the life of the European Community'.
After the fall of communism, and in the wake of the changes in Central and Eastern Europe, the College of Europe campus at Natolin (Warsaw, Poland), was founded in 1992 with the support of the European Commission and the Polish government. The Natolin Campus is located in historic palace, part of a 120-hectare park and nature reserve. According to former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors, "this College of Europe at Natolin is more than the symbol of Europe found once again, it is the hope represented in this beautiful historic place. The hope that exchanges can multiply for greater mutual understanding and fraternity". The establishment of a second campus in eastern has been frequently regarded as part of an effort aiming to train young students from eastern countries under the auspices of eastern enlargement. Since the establishment of that second campus in Poland, the college operates as 'one College - two campuses,' and what was once referred to as the 'esprit de Bruges', is now known as the 'esprit du Collège'.
In 1998, former students of the college set up the Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation, which is presided over by Pierre Defraigne. The foundation has among its objectives 'working to promote citizen's ownership of the European democratic space', as well as promoting 'European responses' for contemporary challenges. The name choice when the foundation was established was not casual: Salvador de Madariaga is regarded as the main founder of the college. A bust of him presides over the College library, and one of the halls in Garenmarkt is named after him.
The College of Europe originally had no permanent teaching staff; the courses were taught by prominent academics and sometimes government officials from around Europe. Especially in the last couple of decades, the college has increasingly employed professors and other teaching staff on a permanent basis.
In 2012 the College of Europe became a supporting member of the European Movement International, which noted that the European Movement is "closely linked to the creation of the College of Europe". The academic year 2018-2019 marked the first time in which a promotion was named after a College alumnus, Manuel Marín, Spanish Statesman, EU Commissioner and acting President of the Commission (known as the 'father of the Erasmus Programme'), who had passed away early that year. In 2015, three years before the election of Marín as Patron, former Finish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb was the first College alumnus to be invited to be the Orateur at the opening ceremony of that academic year.
Former Spanish Minister and Cabinet Spokesperson Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, 9th Baron of Claret, served as chairman of the board from 2009 to 2019; in 2019 former Prime Minister of Belgium and President of the European Council Herman, Count Van Rompuy was appointed the new chairman of the board. In May 2020 Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, was appointed rector of the College, the first high ranking political figure from the European Commission to hold the post.
Throughout its seven decades of history, the College of Europe has developed many different traditions. Some are shared with the École nationale d'administration (both the College and the École name their promotions after a historical figure, being in the College of Europe an outstanding European figure, which is called 'patron'). Besides the choice of a prominent historical figure to name each promotion, each academical year is traditionally inaugurated by a prominent European figure. Furthermore, each year, College of Europe students are named honorary citizens of Bruges prior to their departure, in an enduring display of the close ties existing between the College and the city that hosted it more than seventy years ago. Another trading dating back to the first years of existence of the college is the visit to Flanders fields during the first weeks of the academic year: incoming students are shown the battlefields and graveyards of World War I so as to understand the way in which the bloody conflicts of the 20th Century paved the way for European integration. During that visit, students lay a floral tribute at the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres.
Regarding student life, many traditions have been developed throughout the years. During Christmas, a Christmas tree is placed in each student residence, and students compete by trying to steal and bring to their own residences as much Christmas trees as possible. Another traditional celebration during the academic year is the boat race in the canals of Bruges, frequently held in June. All residences build their own amateur boats, which are manned by College students. Last, since 2010 the Hendrik Brugmans Cup, an annual football tournament, is held by College students. Football teams from both students and alumni participate, each representing a promotion. The tournament is named after Hendrik Brugmans, first rector of the college.
The Bruges campus is situated in the centre of Bruges since its establishment in 1949, which was appointed European Capital of Culture in 2002. Bruges is located in the Flemish Region of Belgium, a Dutch-speaking area, although the college does not use Dutch as one of its working languages.
The college has a system of residences in the centre of Bruges and not far from the Dijver where the main administrative and academic building and the library are situated. None of the residences lodges more than 60 students so that each residence in fact has its own small multinational and multicultural environment.
It consists of the following campus buildings:
The Paul Henri Spaak Building (named after the renowned Belgian socialist politician, and popularly known as Dijver) is college's main administrative building on the Bruges campus. It hosts the college's main reception, some of its offices, classrooms and the library. Located on one side of the Dijver Canal, a white classic façade stands at the front of the main building (where the European, Belgian, Flemish and Brugeois flags hang together), while there is a garden in its back side. The garden is used by the students, who frequently spare their break time there due to its proximity to the library (which is connected to the main building by a corridor). Signed portraits of all the orateurs hang in the walls of the main corridor of the building.
The library building was built in 1965. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands (later Queen Beatrix) laid the first stone of the library in a special commemorative event. Almost three decades after its completion, the library was reformed and enlarged (the works were completed in 1992). Most of the library fonds are devoted to European Studies, together with law, economics, and political and administrative sciences. Access to the library is restricted to College students and academic staff. A bust of Salvador de Madariaga presides over the library main reading hall.
Following the increase in the number of students attending the College each year, the College of Europe (with the support of different entities and institutions, including the Flemish Government and the City of Bruges) reformed the 17th century protected monument of Verversdijk to provide additional auditoria, teaching rooms and offices for academics, research fellows and staff; and to extend its activities. The reform was led by the office of Xaveer De Geyter Architects (XDGA), and the project was nominated to the Mies van de Rohe award in 2009. The Verversdijk premises began to be used by College students in 2007. Besides its academic and administrative use throughout the course, a cocktail is served in its garden to each promotion, following their graduation ceremony at St. Walburga Church (Bruges).
The historical site of Verversdijk owes its name to fact that the owners of the houses standing there at medieval times were dyers who used wool traded with Scotland, as the area was populated by several Englishmen during the Middle Ages. During the Spanish rule, it hosted the schooling houses and the monastery established by the Jesuits in the 17th century. In 1792, the monastery auditorium was used as a meeting place by the Jacobin Club. The main monastery wing (dating back to 1701, and whose façade was plastered in 1865)) was built along the canal, and was used as an athenaeum since 1851. its long inner corridor is an outstanding example of the rococo style in Bruges, whereas, the ashlar staircase is also an element of artistic relevance. The attic of the building, with a total length of 45 meters and a surprisingly well-preserved oak canopy, is currently used as a study room. During the First World War occupation of Belgium, the attic was used as a sleeping room for soldiers of the German Marine.
The monastery wing was also home to the Museum of Modern Painting from 1898 to 1931 (when they were transferred to the newly-established Groeninge Museum). Since 2008, following and agreement between the College and the Groeninge Museum, the college hosts the 'Extraordinary Groeninghe Art Collection', an installation of contemporary works of art featuring international artists at Verversdijk's hallways. Members of the Groeninghe Art Collection meet every two months at the College so as to discuss art, attend lectures by art experts and consider possible purchases.
In March 2014 the so-called 'China Library' was established at the Verversdijk compound. A project sponsored by the Information Office of the State Council of the Chinese Government, the library (decorated in Chinese style) is home to ten thousand books and documents in more than six languages, as frequently hosts events related with Sino-European relations or the Chinese culture.
The Hotel Portinari in Garenmarkt 15 with its classical façade was formerly home to Tommaso Portinari, the administrator of the Florentine "Loggia de Medici" in the 15th century in Bruges. It contains eleven apartments for professors and forty student rooms, two "salons" in 19th-century style, the "salon du Recteur" with 18th-century wall paintings and a modern "Mensa" for students. A room dedicated to Winston Churchill (who was among the voices calling for the establishment of the College during The Hague Congress in 1948 and was one of its founders the year after) was inaugurated by his grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, and the British ambassador in 2017. Besides being a student residence and comprising the accommodation for high-profile visitors, Garenmarkt also hosts the canteen for all College students.
The residence is located in a stately home built on classicist style during the 19th century. The building is located in Biskajersplein, a small square named after the Spanish region of Biscay (the square is located on the side the dock where ships coming in from that region unloaded their merchandise in the 15th and 16th centuries. In fact, the actual residence is located on the lot occupied by the Mareminne house, which hosted the consulate of Biscay in the past, although the original building was demolished. Traces of the old consulate building can be found in the inner garden of the residence, which kept the shape of the consulate's horse stable. The residence has a big entrance hall with a majestic spiral staircase, and hosts 53 students every year.
Today, the Natolin campus is part of a 120-hectare historical park and nature reserve--formerly the Royal hunting palace of Natolin--situated in the southern part of Warsaw about 20 minutes by metro from the city centre. The Natolin European Centre Foundation takes care of the complex and has conducted restoration of the former Potocki palace, making it available for the college.
The old historical buildings, including the manor house, the stables and the coach house, were converted to the needs of modern times and new buildings were constructed in a style keeping with the harmony of the palace and its outlying park.
The College houses several academic chairs as well as the Global Competition Law Centre. It publishes several books every year, four series of working papers and an academic journal called Collegium, devoted to the European integration process.
Since the early 1980s, the college has developed a relevant consultancy activity, especially in the field of analysis of EC law. Based on the college's first experiences with service contracts, notably in the field of codification of European Law and related to the implementation of the Internal Market, the Development Office was created to participate in tender procedures and to manage the teams of researchers working under these service contracts.
Over the past 10 years, the College of Europe has been organising cooperation projects funded by various EU programmes, either in consortia with academic partners, companies and law firms, or on its own account. Under TEMPUS programmes, projects for curriculum building in European Studies were set up. With the EU's PHARE, TACIS and CARDS funding the College provided professional training and consultancy in EU affairs in nearly all applicant countries, in Russia and in the CIS. In addition the Office has also involved the college in similar co-operation projects in the framework of the MED-CAMPUS Programme and more recently with EuropeAid funding in Latin America and Asia. The Development Office is now involved in professional training projects and European Studies programmes held in Europe and abroad.
The college has started to organise professional training courses and seminars on European integration issues with partners such as professional, trade and other associations, private companies and administrations. Officials from the European institutions and national administrations have attended tailor-made training programmes.
International conferences have been held at the College since it was founded. These events have become fora for informed discussion on topics that are complementary to the academic expertise of the college, like the annual conference on Humanitarian Law, organised in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is also common to have several European prime ministers deliver a speech during the academic year.
The one-year programme lasts from September until the end of June and is taught in English and French. It includes lectures, research seminars, workshops and meetings with external specialists and various language courses. To be awarded the degree, students must take oral and written examinations at the end of each semester, and submit a 15 ECTS master's thesis in English or French. The thesis gives students the opportunity to undertake individual research, conducted primarily in the second semester, under the supervision of a faculty member. The programmes are enriched by study trips to the European institutions and, for students at Natolin (Warsaw), also to neighbouring countries. Due to the college's extensive network of contacts, students have the opportunity to meet and discuss with policy-makers, practitioners and representatives of the business community throughout their year at the college.
From 1949 to the 1990s, students in Bruges enrolled in three programmes:
In recent years, other programmes have been created:
At Natolin (Warsaw) campus, the study programme European Interdisciplinary Studies offers four majors: EU Public Affairs and Policies, The EU in the World, The EU and its Neighbours and European History and Civilisation.
The academic programmes of the College of Europe are accredited by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). Each study programme corresponds to a total of 66 credits (ECTS).
Annual intakes are highly selective and student selection takes place in the Spring, usually in association with the foreign affairs ministries of their respective countries of origin. The offered academic programmes typically require a university degree in economics, law, political science or international relations plus advanced knowledge of the working languages of the college.
Application may be made to national selection committees or by direct application to the College of Europe for individuals from a country where no selection committee exists. As of 2014, there are 28 national selection committees.
The College of Europe in Bruges traditionally awards three degrees, one in European Economic Studies, one in European Legal Studies and one in Political and Governance Studies. Since the 1990s the college has also established some new degrees.
The College of Europe in Natolin awards the degree of Master of Arts in European Interdisciplinary Studies.
The current degrees awarded by the College of Europe in Bruges are:
The Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs (MATA) programme was inaugurated in 2017. It is the first-ever two-year programme of studies at the College of Europe. Offered together with The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA), the programme leads to a joint diploma. Students spend one year at each institution, and can start the programme on either side of the Atlantic. They can choose to follow one of five study tracks (Economic Studies (Bruges); International Relations and Diplomacy (Bruges); Interdisciplinary Studies (Natolin); Legal Studies (Bruges); Political and Governance Studies (Bruges)). The first year of studies is entirely dedicated to coursework, including multidisciplinary courses on transatlantic affairs. During their second year, students in the MATA programme do a high-level internship as well as one semester of coursework culminating in the submission of a master's thesis. The MATA programme leads to 120 ECTS points and is offered in English.
Until the 1980s, the master's degree was officially known as the Certificate of Advanced European Studies (French: Certificat de Hautes Études Européennes) followed by the specialisation (law, economics or political and administrative studies). As part of European standardisation, the degree was renamed into the master's degrees listed above.
The Administrative Council, presided by Mr Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of Belgium, includes representatives of the two host countries and of European governments. It is the highest decision-making authority, and is responsible for the approval and implementation of the College's objectives. The Executive Committee exerts the delegations which were entrusted to it by the Administrative Council. Reporting to the Administrative Council, it ensures sound financial and administrative management.
The Natolin Campus is governed by an Executive Board assuring its sound financial and administrative management. Its members include representatives from the two host countries as well as the Rector and Vice-Rector of the College of Europe. Its Chairman is Jacek Saryusz-Wolski.
The Rector, Federica Mogherini, directs and coordinates the College's activities and chairs the Academic Council. The Vice-Rector, Ewa O?niecka-Tamecka, is responsible for the management of the College of Europe Natolin Campus.
The Academic Council, including members of both campuses, represents the academic community of the College of Europe and ensures the maintenance and development of high level teaching activities and research. It is chaired by the Rector.
The rector directs and coordinates the college's activities.
The vice rector is responsible for the day-today administration of the Natolin (Warsaw) campus.
Academic years at the College are known as promotions. Each promotion is named after an outstanding European, referred to as the promotion's patron. The College of Europe shares this tradition with the French École nationale d'administration (ENA).
The opening ceremony each year is presided over by a prominent politician, referred to as the Orateur; they have included Angela Merkel, David Miliband, Jean-Claude Juncker, Javier Solana, José Manuel Barroso, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Juan Carlos I of Spain, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand. Being invited as the college's Orateur is considered a high honour.
|Year||Name of promotion (Patron)||Students||Speaker at opening ceremony (Orateur)
(Bruges unless otherwise noted)
(Bruges unless otherwise noted)
|2021-2022||Éliane Vogel-Polsky||-||- (Bruges) and - (Natolin)|
|2020-2021||Mário Soares||477||Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (Bruges) and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (Natolin)|
|2019-2020||Hannah Arendt||471||Donald Tusk (Bruges)|
|2018-2019||Manuel Marín||461||Antonio Tajani (Bruges) & Tibor Navracsics (Natolin)|
|2017-2018||Simone Veil||492||António Costa (Bruges) & Andrzej Duda (Natolin)|
|2016-2017||John Maynard Keynes||467||Jean-Claude Juncker (Bruges) & Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (Natolin)|
|2015-2016||Frédéric Chopin||479||Alexander Stubb (Bruges) & Johannes Hahn (Natolin)|
|2014-2015||Falcone & Borsellino||437||Mariano Rajoy (Bruges) & Petro Poroshenko (Natolin, cancelled)|
|2013-2014||Voltaire||445||Íñigo Méndez de Vigo (Bruges) & Bronis?aw Komorowski (Natolin)|
|2012-2013||Václav Havel||444||Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Bruges) & Vladimir Filat (Natolin)|
|2011-2012||Marie Sklodowska-Curie||448||Giorgio Napolitano (Bruges) & José Manuel Barroso (Natolin)|
|2010-2011||Albert Einstein||435||Angela Merkel (Bruges) & ?tefan Füle (Natolin)|
|2009-2010||Charles Darwin||402||Jerzy Buzek (Bruges) & Toomas Hendrik Ilves (Natolin)|
|2008-2009||Marcus Aurelius||381||Yves Leterme (Bruges) & Hans-Gert Pöttering (Natolin)|
|2007-2008||Anna Politkovskaya & Hrant Dink||415||David Miliband (Bruges) & Carl Bildt (Natolin)|
|2006-2007||Nicolaus Copernicus||413||Jean-Claude Juncker (Bruges) & Alaksandar Milinkievi? (Natolin)|
|2005-2006||Ludwig van Beethoven||384||Javier Solana (Bruges) & Viktor Yushchenko (Natolin)|
|2004-2005||Montesquieu||404||José Manuel Barroso (Bruges) & Josep Borrell Fontelles (Natolin)||Nikola Poposki|
|2003-2004||John Locke||391||Joschka Fischer (Bruges) & Danuta Hübner (Natolin)|
|2002-2003||Bertha von Suttner||370||Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (Bruges) & Erhard Busek (Natolin)|
|2001-2002||Simon Stevin||365||Aleksander Kwasniewski (Bruges) & Guy Verhofstadt (Natolin)|
|2000-2001||Aristotle||375||George Papandreou (Bruges) & Jan Kulakowski (Natolin)|
|1999-2000||Wilhelm & Alexander von Humboldt||374||Jacques Delors (Bruges) & Jean-Luc Dehaene (Natolin)|
|1998-1999||Leonardo da Vinci||337||Jean-Luc Dehaene (Bruges) & Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant (Natolin)|
|1997-1998||Hendrik Brugmans||326||António Guterres (Bruges) & Ursula Stenzel (Natolin)|
|1996-1997||Alexis de Tocqueville||319||Wim Kok (Bruges) & Aleksander Kwasniewski (Natolin)||Ledi Bianku|
|1995-1996||Walter Hallstein||306||Klaus Hänsch (Bruges) & Jacques Santer (Natolin)||Aude Maio-Coliche, Alexander Schallenberg|
|1994-1995||Ramon Llull||296||Juan Carlos I of Spain (Bruges) & Andrzej Olechowski (Natolin)||Valerie Plame, Alexander Stubb (Finnish prime minister), Alyn Smith (Natolin)|
|1993-1994||Stefan Zweig||263||Thomas Klestil||Geert Van Calster|
|1992-1993||Charles IV||264||Jacques Santer||Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Danish prime minister), Stephen Kinnock|
|1991-1992||Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart||212||Flavio Cotti||Nick Clegg (UK deputy prime minister), Árni Páll Árnason, Luis Garicano, Miriam González Durántez|
|1990-1991||Hans & Sophie Scholl||245||Richard von Weizsäcker|
|1989-1990||Denis de Rougemont||200||Jacques Delors|
|1988-1989||Christopher Dawson||204||Margaret Thatcher||David McWilliams, Sylvie Lucas, Gry Tina Tinde|
|1987-1988||Altiero Spinelli||178||François Mitterrand|
|1986-1987||William Penn||177||Ruud Lubbers|
|1985-1986||Christopher Columbus||158||Felipe Gonzalez||Chris Hoornaert, Margaritis Schinas|
|1984-1985||Madame de Staël||123||Altiero Spinelli|
|1983-1984||Jean Rey||133||Garret FitzGerald||Marc van der Woude, Fiona Hayes-Renshaw, Carine Van Regenmortel, Christian Lequesne|
|1982-1983||Joseph Bech||122||Gaston Thorn|
|1981-1982||Johan Willem Beyen||123||Bruno Kreisky||Enzo Moavero Milanesi (Italian foreign minister and EC deputy secretary-general), Xavier Prats Monné (EC director-general), María Angeles Benítez Salas (EC director-general), Mary O'Rourke QC, Margunn Bjørnholt, Peter Arbo, Bernadette Andreosso-O'Callaghan, Karl Cox, Philip Woolfson|
|1980-1981||Jean Monnet||131||Simone Veil||Philippe Régnier|
|1979-1980||Salvador de Madariaga||140||Dries van Agt||Ursula Plassnik (Austrian foreign minister), Andrew Tyrie, Martin Donnelly, Marc Jaeger|
|1978-1979||Paul-Henri Spaak||130||Guy Spitaels||Claudia Kahr, Bruno de Witte|
|1977-1978||Karl Renner||128||Mario Soares||Louise Fréchette, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, Holger Michael, Thomas Mayr-Harting|
|1976-1977||Peter Paul Rubens||120||Leo Tindemans||Jonathan Faull|
|1975-1976||Adam Jerzy Czartoryski||101||Edgar Faure||David O'Sullivan|
|1974-1975||Aristide Briand||111||Herman De Croo||Simon Hughes|
|1973-1974||Giuseppe Mazzini||92||Karl Otto Pöhl||Manuel Marín, Ioanna Babassika|
|1972-1973||Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi||59||George Brown, Baron George-Brown||Jo Leinen, Poul Skytte Christoffersen, Jaap de Zwaan|
|1971-1972||Dante Alighieri||58||Altiero Spinelli & Hendrik Brugmans||Loukas Tsoukalis, Iwo Byczewski|
|1970-1971||Winston Churchill||57||Jean Rey & Hendrik Brugmans||Luc Coene, Niels Egelund|
|1969-1970||William the Silent||49||Prince Albert of Belgium & Hendrik Brugmans||Berno Kjeldsen|
|1968-1969||Konrad Adenauer||47||Robert van Schendel & Hendrik Brugmans||Robert Verrue|
|1967-1968||Comenius||54||Alfons de Vreese||Nuala Mole, Helen Wallace, Lady Wallace of Saltaire|
|1966-1967||George C. Marshall||56||Jean Rey & Hendrik Brugmans||Goenawan Mohamad|
|1965-1966||Thomas More||52||Hendrik Brugmans||Adrien Zeller, Josef Joffe, Nigel Forman|
|1964-1965||Robert Schuman||45||Salvador de Madariaga & Hendrik Brugmans||Lars-Jacob Krogh|
|1963-1964||Thomas Paine||48||Hendrik Brugmans||Helmut Türk|
|1962-1963||August Vermeylen||46||Pierre Harmel & Hendrik Brugmans||György Schöpflin|
|1961-1962||Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz||37||Hugo Geiger & Hendrik Brugmans||Albert Rohan|
|1960-1961||Saint-Simon||38||Hendrik Brugmans||Leif Terje Løddesøl|
|1959-1960||Sully||43||Hendrik Brugmans||Torolf Raa, Gabriel Fragnière|
|1958-1959||Fridtjof Nansen||40||Hendrik Brugmans||Franz Ceska, Frans Alphons Maria Alting von Geusau|
|1957-1958||Henry the Navigator||40||Hendrik Brugmans||Guy Spitaels|
|1956-1957||Raoul Dautry||36||Hendrik Brugmans||Jim Oberstar|
|1955-1956||Virgil||33||Hendrik Brugmans||Francesco Paolo Fulci|
|1954-1955||Alcide De Gasperi||36||Hendrik Brugmans|
|1953-1954||Erasmus||39||Hendrik Brugmans||Ian McIntyre|
|1952-1953||Tomá? Garrigue Masaryk||40||Hendrik Brugmans||Jon Ola Norbom, Otto von der Gablentz|
|1951-1952||Juan Vives||30||Hendrik Brugmans|
|1950-1951||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry||35||Hendrik Brugmans||Werner Ungerer, Gaetano Adinolfi|
|1949||Préparatoire (no name)||22||Victor Van Hoestenberghe & Salvador de Madariaga|
Many former students of the college, referred to as anciens (French for alumni), have gone on to serve as government ministers, members of various parliaments, diplomats and high-ranking civil servants and executives.
Alumni of note of the College of Europe (from 1949) include
Alumni of note of the College of Europe in Natolin, Poland (from 1993) include:
In February 2019, a series of press pieces published by EUobserver revealed that the Bruges-based institute was paid by the Saudi government to set up private meetings between Saudi ambassadors, EU officials, and MEPs. Although EU lobby transparency rules say that academic institutions should register if they "deal with EU activities and policies and are in touch with the EU institutions", the College of Europe is not listed in the EU joint-transparency register. On 13 February, MEP Alyn Smith of Greens/EFA wrote to ask Jörg Monar, Rector of the College of Europe, to provide assurances that the institute has not received "financial contributions from the Saudi authorities in any form" in its efforts to set up meetings with the EU institutions. On 20 February, Marietje Schaake of the ALDE group presented a written question to the European Commission on this issue. This written question was the subject of a response from the European Commission published on 17 May in which it explained not having any direct evidence as to the facts reported, nor being able to comment on the sources of revenue of the College of Europe beyond European subsidies. A group of College alumni collected signatures to demand the institution to stop organising private meetings between MEPs and the Saudi government.
In a letter to the President of the European Parliament's Budget Control Committee Ingeborg Gräßle, Jörg Monar, Rector of the College of Europe, confirmed the organization of trainings for Saudi officials and criticized the media for reporting them as lobbying. The rector indicated that these meetings had no lobbying dimension but sought to show to the Saudis the reasons why the Union defended certain values, privileging communication over isolation to defend European values.
Inside Arabia Online, an online publication, characterised the lobbying by Saudi Arabia as part of a concerted effort to reverse the Kingdom's inclusion on the EU's "blacklist", which intends to penalize countries failing to combat terrorism financing and money laundering.
The French language weekly news magazine Le Vif/L'Express published an article on 21 February 2019 based on the testimony of former students from recent years. The article reported a culture of sexual harassment and misogyny at the College of Europe. Cases of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour were described in the magazine, including frotteurism, forced kisses and groping. Various students reported to Le Vif/L'Express that the administration observes a code of silence on this issue. Cases of inappropriate behaviours by the academic staff were also reported. Contacted by Le Vif/L'Express magazine, the administration replied that: "In some occasions in the past, some students have crossed the personal barriers of other students". On 5 March 2019, a former student of the College of Europe, published an opinion in Le Vif/L'Express magazine, stating that a culture of sexual harassment and misogyny existed at the College of Europe when she was studying there.
On 21 February 2019, a group of students of the College of Europe published an open letter pointing out errors in the coverage by the magazine Le Vif and requesting corrections under the right of reply. On 25 April 2019, the Student Association for Gender Equality and Queeropeans wrote an open letter to the Rector of the College of Europe, welcoming the efforts already undertaken by the Women's Rights Watch Society and the Working Party on Gender Equality and calling for the implementation of a comprehensive and detailed program to prevent any form of harassment and promote a safer working environment.
Both campuses of the College of Europe apply regulations, which at the Bruges campus take the form of a Code of Conduct and at the Natolin campus the form of a Code of Conduct and a Policy of Countermeasures against Discrimination and Harassments.
It is no accident that institutes such as the celebrated Ecole Nationale d'Administration in France or the College of Europe in Belgium produce so many political leaders.