trains IT professionals: open 24/7, free of charge

No more textbooks and endless lectures at university: at Campus 19, students are trained to become IT professionals in the most innovative and accessible way possible. Prior qualifications aren’t a must. What you do need is a healthy dose of common sense, a good amount of willpower and the ambition to become the most sought-after person on the job market: an IT professional.


he first floor of DPG Media’s Antwerp headquarters is abuzz with students, night and day. Campus 19 opened its doors there on 19 October 2022, and they haven’t closed since. The campus is open 24/7, allowing students to work at their own pace.

The innovative coding school is part of Ecole 42, which has proved successful in many different countries. After its launch in 2013, the concept grew to more than 40 campuses across the world in nine years. Since 2018, the originally French IT campus has had a branch in Brussels under the name ’19, where 350 students receive training every year.

Flemish talent in high demand

As a financial partner for the Brussels campus, DPG Media could not resist the request to help set up a campus in Flanders. After all, companies across the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium are looking for qualified IT workers, and the labour market is tight. And it’s not just tech companies that are looking for new talent – the demand is also high in other sectors. For the past several years, this has made IT professionals some of the most coveted targets for recruiters.

Together with six other companies based in the Antwerp area, DPG Media decided to put down the funds to open Campus 19 in Antwerp. Needless to say that each of these partners believes in the learning concept, but other considerations also played a role. Christian van Thillo, who helms DPG Media as its executive chairman, explains: “I don’t know many projects that offer young people these kinds of opportunities to build a successful career. It’s a social, inclusive and multicultural project that allows young people to become role models for others.”

Accessible and high-quality

Thanks to the unique partnership in Antwerp, Campus 19 is able to offer its courses to students free of charge. A diploma isn’t required – anyone over 18 can apply for training without any prior knowledge – and the project targets both young people who have dropped out of school and adults looking for a career change. There are 150 spots available in Antwerp.

Candidates first go through a four-week vetting process, which mainly looks at whether they have enough motivation to stay the course. They then embark on a learning pathway that’s both unique and the same all over the world: students learn how to code in an interactive and innovative way, without being taught by professors. They go to campus to access the training programme, which offers online tutorials and allows them to acquire basic skills at their own pace.

“I’m now much more motivated to go for it”

Birgit Van Mol, Niels De Vos & Geert Dewaele (HLN/VTM)

“Onze lezers werden luisteraars, al 2 miljoen keer”

“Het was Niels die met het idee kwam om De Kroongetuigen uit het archief te halen. In die succesvolle VTM-televisiereeks vertellen speurders, familieleden en getuigen bekende en onbekende moordverhalen uit Vlaanderen van begin tot einde. ‘Wat als we de audiotracks nu eens herbewerken en in een podcast verwerken?’, vroeg hij zich af. De podcastserie De Kroongetuigen was geboren.

Birgit, voormalig VTM Nieuws-anker, verwelkomt de luisteraars en leidt elke aflevering in. Het resultaat verbaast iedereen. Doordat je geen reconstructiebeelden bij de audio krijgt, zoals op tv, begin je automatisch het verhaal te visualiseren in je hoofd. De gebeurtenissen en getuigenissen komen daardoor zo mogelijk nog echter over.

Toen we in januari 2022 De Kroongetuigen lanceerden, voelden we meteen de connectie met onze lezers die luisteraars werden. In totaal heeft Niels nu 22 afleveringen herbewerkt, goed voor meer dan 2 miljoen beluisteringen. Dagelijks komen daar nog duizenden luisteraars bij, omdat elk verhaal ook tijdloos is. De Kroongetuigen viel intussen twee keer in de prijzen: de Belgian Podcast Award in de categorie Documentaire, en in januari van dit jaar de allereerste Kastaar! (de Vlaamse mediaprijzen voor televisie, radio en digitaal) in de categorie podcast. Een geweldige bekroning.”

De podcast De Kroongetuigen begon op 7 januari 2022 bij HLN en VTM Nieuws en telde afgelopen jaar 15 afleveringen.

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Peer learning

Because all campuses are open 24/7, each student can create their own personal learning schedule. Participants help each other with the exercises and lessons throughout the programme, providing support and enabling efficient knowledge transfer.

“The assignments are structured in a way that forces you to do your own research,” says Campus 19 student Casper Caluwe. “You have to use a search engine or get a fellow student to help you if you don’t know something or get stuck. To me, that’s a much more appealing system than sitting in class, listening to a professor, trying not to drift off. When I can look things up and try things myself, I’m much more motivated to go for it.”

Students who have mastered the basic skills can opt to specialise further in subjects such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and e-gaming. Depending on the level students want to attain, the pathway takes between two and five years to complete. That’s still a long way off for the first cohort of students at the new Antwerp campus. As first-year students, they’ve only just started to discover the wonderful world of coding, taking their first steps towards what will hopefully be a successful career.