VIVES University of Applied Sciences emerged from the merger of two universities of applied sciences in West Flanders, KHBO in the north of the province and KATHO in the south. On June 23rd 2010, KHBO and KATHO signed a letter of intent for cooperation. The merger and the name were announced on December 21th 2012.
KHBO and KATHO had previously been founded in 1995. After all, the decree of 13 July 1994 on the universities of applied sciences in the Flemish Community stipulated that existing educational institutions had to unite in larger, multidisciplinary entities. Throughout Flanders, 162 higher education institutions were merged into twenty-nine colleges of higher education.
In 1995, five universities of applied sciences in North West Flanders decided to unite in the Catholic University of Applied Sciences Bruges-Ostend (KHBO): the Higher Technical Institute (Bruges), the Higher Technical Institute (Ostend), the Catholic Industrial University of Applied Sciences of West Flanders (Ostend), the Saint Andrew's Standard School (Bruges) and the Saint John's Institute for Nursing (Bruges). The various campuses in Bruges were merged with a central management and administration in a new building in 2008 in Xaverianenstraat.
Furthermore in 1995, in the south of the province, the Catholic University of Applied Sciences of South-West Flanders (KATHO) was founded from the merger of the Higher Institute for Nursing and Biotechnology (HIVB) in Roeselare, the Regents school-Standard School (Reno) in Torhout, the Pedagogical Higher Education (PHO) in Tielt and four colleges in Kortrijk: het Higher Institute of Trade and Languages (Hantal), the Higher Institute for Nursing and Midwifery (HIVV), the Institute of Psychosocial Training (Ipsoc) and the Free Higher Institute of Technology and Computer Science (VHTI). In the spring of 2004, the various departments of KATHO in Kortrijk were given a new beating heart with the opening of the central building 't Forum.
A first seed for the merger of KHBO and KATHO was planted in 2002, when both universities of applied sciences joined the KU Leuven Association, a network of high-quality higher education institutions spread over Flanders and Brussels.
When the first academic year of VIVES University of Applied Sciences started on September 18th 2013, VIVES was immediately one of the largest universities of applied sciences in Flanders. In 2017, the teacher training course moved from Tielt to Kortrijk, so that from then on VIVES had six study areas in five student cities: Applied Engineering and Technology (Bruges, Kortrijk and Ostend), Applied Social Studies (Kortrijk), Biotechnology (Roeselare), Commercial Sciences, Business Management and Informatics (Bruges and Kortrijk), Education (Bruges, Kortrijk and Torhout) and Health Care (Bruges, Kortrijk and Roeselare).