The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (in short K.U.Leuven) is the Flemish successor institution to the oldest university in Belgium, founded in 1425 (see Catholic University of Leuven). Centrally located in the town of Leuven in Flanders, the K.U.Leuven is officially a Dutch-speaking institution. Worldwide, however, especially in the English speaking world, the university is often known by its anglicized French name 'Louvain'. 'Louvain' 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).
In 2006, more than 30,000 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 2005, the university has been led by Marc Vervenne who replaced former rector André Oosterlinck. 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.
In polarized 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.However, nowadays these polarized classifications are less relevant than they once were. In fact, the K.U.Leuven is not Catholic in any real sense, certainly not in the sense of adhering always to Church teachings. In this respect, K.U.Leuven is more often regarded as being 'progressive' in relation to other Catholic universities worldwide. 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.
K.U.Leuven is a strongly research oriented university, and among its achievements is to have featured among the top European universities in terms of scientific output (although not yet impact). Rijndael, the cipher chosen as the Advanced Encryption Standard, was developed at K.U.Leuven.
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".
Facts and figures
General financial overview
In 2005, the total revenue of K.U.Leuven was EUR 506.8 million. 60.3% of this went to personnel costs, and 39.7% was spent on operations and equipment.
Academic year 2005-2006
3,770 international students
K.U.Leuven employs 8,017 people.
The university hospitals employ 8,172 people.
Research expenditures: EUR 230 million
Research expenditures by percentage: exact sciences, 44%; biomedical sciences, 30%; humanities, 19%; interfacultary institutes 7%
4,447 researchers (1,227 senior and 3,220 junior researchers), measured in full-time equivalents
3,000 publications (in 2004) in international peer-reviewed academic and scientific journals
427 doctorates (117 by international doctoral students)
Fifty-eight spin-off companies
Member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), a group of twenty European research-intensive universities committed to the values of high-quality teaching within an environment of internationally competitive research
102 postgraduate academic programmes:
- Fifty supplementary programmes (fifteen of which are in English, and eight of which are interuniversity programmes)
- Fifty-two specialization programmes (twenty-one programmes taught in English, twenty-one interuniversity programmes)
One undergraduate campus in Kortrijk
Four academic programmes taught completely in English (Philosophy, Theology, Religious Studies, and Canon Law)
Participation in three Erasmus Mundus programmes: 572 students from K.U.Leuven went abroad, 591 international students came to K.U.Leuven
Participation in three Tempus-CARDS programmes, three Tempus-Tacis programmes, and five Alfa programmes
Partner in twenty bilateral interuniversity collaboration agreements
Seventeen selective bilateral interuniversity agreements for PhD students
Development cooperation: twenty-two ongoing projects in Africa, fourteen in Asia, and fifteen in Central and South America (projects both under K.U.Leuven's own initiative, and in connection with University Institutional Cooperation)
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Ranked 61st in the 2007 THES - QS World University Ranking
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Ranked 72nd in the 2008 THES - QS World University Ranking
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Ranked 65th in the 2009 THES - QS World University Ranking
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Ranked 86th in the 2010 QS World University Ranking
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Ranked 68th in the 2011 QS World University Ranking