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Catholic University of Leuven
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Seal of the University of Leuven
Latin: Universitas Catholica Lovaniensis
Motto Sedes Sapientiae (Latin)
Motto in English "Seat of Wisdom", or "Seat of Knowledge"
Established 1425 / 1834 / 1970
Type Independent/Partly state funded
Endowment 950 million EUR
Rector Mark Waer (2009-2013)
Staff 8,871
Students 35,347
Doctoral students 3,677
Location Leuven, Belgium
Campus Leuven, Kortrijk
Affiliations Coimbra Group
Data as of 2008

The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven About this sound listen (in short K.U.Leuven[1]) is the Flemish offshoot of the oldest university in the Low Countries which was originally founded in 1425 (see Catholic University of Leuven). Centrally located in the historic town of Leuven in Flanders, the K.U. Leuven is officially a Dutch-speaking institution. With 35,347 students in 2008-2009, the K.U. Leuven is also the largest university in the Low Countries. The university of Leuven was for centuries a major contributor to the development of Catholic theology. With predecessor institutions dating back to 1425, the K.U.Leuven and its French-speaking counterpart, the Université catholique de Louvain, are regarded as the oldest existing Catholic universities in the world.

The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven also has a campus at Kortrijk, formerly known as Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Afdeling Kortrijk (KULAK).


General description

The K.U.Leuven is a strongly research-oriented university. Among its many accolades is to be reckoned among the top universities of Europe. In the 2009 Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) university ranking, the K.U.Leuven was ranked 65th in the world and 21st in Europe, making it the highest ranked university from Belgium in either category by a significant margin.[2]

In the academic year 2008-2009, 35,347 students were attending classes at the 14 faculties of the K.U.Leuven, about 4000 of whom were foreign students, many of whom were able to follow courses offered in English. Most courses, however, are taught in Dutch. The K.U.Leuven is a member of the Coimbra Group (a network of leading European universities) as well as of the LERU Group (League of European Research Universities). Since August 2009, the university has been led by Mark Waer who replaced former rector Marc Vervenne. The Belgian archbishop, Cardinal Godfried Danneels is the current Grand Chancellor and a member of the university board.

The K.U.Leuven is dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, under her traditional attribute as 'Seat of Wisdom', and organizes an annual celebration on 2 February in her honour. On that day, the university also awards its honorary doctorates. The seal used by the university shows the medieval statue of the Sedes Sapientiae, Leuven, in a vesica piscis shape.

In Flanders, the K.U.Leuven is nominally Catholic, whereas the University of Ghent and the University of Antwerp are officially neutral on issues of religious/philosophical orientation, and the Free University of Brussels is Freethinking.[3] However, nowadays these classifications are less relevant than they once were. Students and staff tend to choose a university rather for pragmatic reasons - such as the quality of education, the distance to the campus or even the offered opportunities - than purely for religious or philosophical reasons.


Castle Arenberg, part of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.
For the history of the pre-1970 university see Catholic University of Leuven#History.

In 1968 tensions between the Dutch-speaking and French-speaking communities led to the splitting of the bilingual Catholic University of Leuven into two "sister" universities, with the Dutch-language university becoming a fully-functioning independent institution in Leuven in 1970, and the Université Catholique de Louvain decamping to a greenfield campus site in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Pieter De Somer became the first rector of the K.U. Leuven.

In 1972 the K.U.Leuven set up a separate entity, "Leuven Research & Development" (LRD), to support industrial and commercial applications of university research. It has led to numerous spin-offs, such as the technology companies Option and Metris, and manages tens of millions of euros in investments and venture capital.

On 11 July 2002 the K.U.Leuven became the dominant institution in the "K.U.Leuven Association" (see below).


The University Library
For the history of the university library prior to 1970, see Catholic University of Leuven#Library.

When the university was split, those books that could not be divided otherwise (e.g. according to the wishes of the benefactors who donated them) were divided as follows: those with an odd-numbered shelfmark stayed in Leuven, while the even-numbered ones moved to Louvain-la-Neuve. This gave rise to the widespread myth that every other volume was separated - splitting up runs of journals and volumes of encyclopedias - but since such series each had a single shelfmark this was never in fact the case. The Central Library alone now owns about 1,300,000 works.

The K.U.Leuven's Faculty of Theology library is among the most comprehensive in the world.


Interfaculty and interuniversity institutes

Notable alumni

For pre-1970 alumni see Catholic University of Leuven#Notable alumni.

Honorary doctorates

Famous recipients of honorary doctorates at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven include:


Notable divisions of the university include the Higher Institute of Philosophy and the Rega Institute for Medical Research.

The university is a member of the Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology (VIB). The Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC) is a spin-off company of the university.

The students of the university are gathered together in the student's society LOKO. They have representatives in most meetings at the university, including the Board of Directors.

Since July 2002, thirteen higher education institutes have formed the K.U.Leuven Association. The members are[4]:

Electronic learning environment: TOLEDO

Toledo, which started in September 2001, was gradually developed into the central electronic learning environment at the Association K.U.Leuven.

The word is an acronym for "TOetsen en LEren Doeltreffend Ondersteunen" (English: effectively supporting testing and learning). It is the collective name for a number of commercial software programs and tools, such as Blackboard. The project offers the Question Mark Perception assignment software to all institution members and has implemented the Ariadne KPS to reuse digital learning objects inside the Blackboard environment.

International acclaim

On the 2009 THE–QS World University Rankings list of the top 200 world universities, KU Leuven is ranked on the 65th place[5]. An overview of the last four years.

Year Rank (Change)
2005 95
2006 96 ( 1)
2007 61 ( 35)
2008 72 ( 11)
2009 65 ( 7)

See also


  1. ^ According to the university's style guidelines, the name of the university should not be translated in publications. See Huisstijl K.U.Leuven: Naamgeving (in Dutch).
  2. ^ The Times Higher Education - QS World University Rankings 2008: The Complete Rankings
  3. ^ The Vrije Universiteit Brussel explicitly subscribes to a principle of Freethought enunciated by Henri Poincaré
  4. ^ Associations Members. Retrieved March 4, 2007.
  5. ^

External links

Coordinates: 50°52′40.28″N 04°42′02.32″E / 50.8778556°N 4.7006444°E / 50.8778556; 4.7006444



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