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Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Dutch-speaking university in Leuven, Flanders, Belgium
Book celebrating the 25 anniversary of the founding of the Catholic University of Louvain, November 3, 1859.
KU Leuven is a research university in the Dutch-speaking city of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium. It conducts teaching, research, and services in the natural sciences, engineering, humanities, medicine, law, business, and social sciences.
The university's full name is Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, officially Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven,A which translates in English as Catholic University of Leuven.B It is however not translated in official communications, like its similarly-named French-language sister university Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain).
Although Catholic in heritage, KU Leuven operates independently from the Church.. KU Leuven is open to students from different faiths or life-stances.
Previous universities in Leuven
The city of Leuven was the seat of three different universities.
The old University of Leuven (or Studium Generale Lovaniense), founded in 1425 by the civil authorities of Brabant duke John IV of Brabant, as well as the municipal administration of the city of Leuven, despite the initial opposition of the chapter of Sint-Pieter, was formally integrated into the French Republic when the Holy Roman Emperor, Francis I, ceded the South Netherlands to France by the Treaty of Campo Formio signed on 17 October 1797. A law dating to 1793, which mandated that all universities in France be closed, came into effect. The old University of Leuven was abolished by decree of the Département of the Dyle on October 25, 1797.
The Catholic University of Leuven was founded in 1834 in Mechelen by the bishops of Belgium, after an official Papal Brief of Pope Gregory XVI. This new Catholic university stayed only briefly in Mechelen, as the bishops already moved the university headquarters to Leuven on 1 December 1835, where it took the name Catholic University of Leuven, intended to continue the heritage and tradition of the Studium Generale Lovaniense founded by Pope Martin V in the Papal Bull Sapientiae Immarcessibilis of 9 December 1425. This occurred after the closure of the State university of Leuven in 1835, where many professors of the old University of Leuven have taught. KU Leuven is generally (but controversially) identified as a continuation of the older institution; controversy lays in the fact that the continuation is mainly of a sociocultural and ecclesiastical nature, but cannot be maintained from a purely juridical perspective as the old University was suppressed under French rule.C In its statutes, KU Leuven officially declares to be the continuation of the Studium Generale Lovaniense established in 1425, and it sets out to celebrate its 600th anniversary in 2025.
In 1968, tensions between the Flemish-speaking and French-speaking communities led to the splitting of the bilingual Catholic University of Leuven into two "sister" universities, with the Flemish-language university becoming a fully functioning independent institution in Leuven in 1970, and the Université catholique de Louvain departing to a newly built greenfield campus site in the French-speaking part of Belgium. KU Leuven's first rector after the split was Pieter De Somer.
In 1972, the KUL 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 company Metris, and manages tens of millions of euros in investments and venture capital.
The university's electronic learning environment, TOLEDO, which started in September 2001, was gradually developed into the central electronic learning environment at the KUL. 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.
On 11 July 2002, the KU Leuven became the dominant institution in the "KU Leuven Association" (see below).
KU 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 November 2014, KU Leuven's Faculty of Economics and Business is accredited by European Quality Improvement System, which is a leading accreditation system specializing in higher education institutions of management and business administration. As of academic year of 2012-2013, the university held Erasmus contracts with 434 European establishments. It also had 22 central bilateral agreements in 8 countries: the United States, China, South Africa, Japan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Vietnam, Poland, and the Netherlands. The vast majority of international EU students came from the Netherlands, while most non-EU ones come from China.
KU Leuven is financially independent from the Catholic Church. Although a representative from the Church sits in its Board of Governors, their function is observational and has no voting power. Its management and academic decisions are similarly autonomous.
In December 2011, the university changed its official name to KU Leuven in all official communications and branding. While its legal name remains to be Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the university uses KU Leuven in all communications, including academic research publications. The long name is only used in contracts and only on the first instance, according to university's communication guidelines. According to its then rector, the change is intended as a way to emphasize its history of freedom of academic inquiry and its independence from the Church, without erasure of its Catholic heritage.
In 2018, a student of African origin died during a cruel hazing ritual to enter the Reuzegom fraternity. The perpetrators, whose parents mostly belong to the upper class, are being prosecuted, but were so far only lightly sanctioned by the university authorities. As a consequence of these events, which attracted international media coverage, the institution received criticism as to how it handled the matter.
Students study in learning center AGORA at KU Leuven.
KU Leuven's main campus is in Leuven where school faculties, libraries, institutes, residence halls, the university hospital UZ Leuven, and other facilities are interspersed throughout the city proper, as well as just outside its ring road in Heverlee borough. Its intercultural meeting center Pangaea is located in the city center. The University Sports Centre is located in Heverlee, including Univ-Fit gym. In addition, the UNESCO World Heritage SiteGroot Begijnhof, a historic beguinage in the south of city, is owned by the university and functions as one of its many residence halls.
Public transport within the city is primarily served by the De Lijn bus system. Leuven is a main hub in Belgium's and nearby country's train network. Leuven station is located in the northeast edge of the city.
Academics at KU Leuven is organized into three groups, each with its own faculties, departments, and schools offering programs up to doctoral level. While most courses are taught in Flemish, many are offered in English, particularly the graduate programs. Notable divisions of the university include the Higher Institute of Philosophy and the Rega Institute for Medical Research.
The students of the university are gathered together in the student's council Studentenraad KU Leuven. They have representatives in most meetings at the university, including the Board of Directors. It was separated from LOKO [nl] in 2012-2013 when the different locations outside of Leuven became part of the university. LOKO remained the overarching student organisation for all students in the city of Leuven.
Biomedical Sciences Group
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences
Department of Cardiovascular Sciences
Department of Oral Health Sciences
Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
Department of Human Genetics
Department of Imaging and Pathology
Department of Kinesiology
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Department of Neurosciences
Department of Oncology
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences
Department of Development and Regeneration
Department of Public Health and Primary Care
Doctoral School of Biomedical Sciences
Humanities and Social Sciences Group
Institute of Philosophy
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
Faculty of Canon Law
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Economics and Business
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
Documentation and Research Center for Religion, Culture, and Society (KADOC)
Leuven Language Institute
Doctoral School for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Science, Engineering and Technology Group
Faculty of Architecture
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Engineering Science
Faculty of Bioscience Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Technology
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Department of Architecture
Department of Biology
Department of Biosystems
Department of Civil Engineering
Department of Chemistry
Department of Chemical Engineering
Department of Computer Science
Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT)
Department of Materials Engineering
Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Mathematics
Center for Science, Technology, and Ethics (CWTE)
Arenberg Doctoral School of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Science, Engineering and Technology Group
European Centre for Ethics
HIVA -- Research Institute for Work and Society
Interfaculty Centre for Agrarian History
University Statistics Centre (UCS)
KU Leuven University Energy Institute
LUCAS -- Centre for Care Research and Consultancy
Artes - Ladeuze Library
KU Leuven has 24 libraries and learning centers across its 12 campuses, containing millions of books and other media. Its theology library alone hold 1.3 million volumes, including works dating from the 15th century. The following libraries are found at its Leuven campus:
2Bergen -- Biomedical Library
2Bergen -- Campuslibrary Arenberg (exact sciences, engineering sciences, industrial engineering sciences, bio--engineering sciences, architecture and kinesiology and rehabilitation sciences)
Artes -- Ladeuze & Erasmushuis (Humanities & Social Sciences Group and the Faculty of Arts)
Library of Psychology and Educational Sciences
Library of Social Sciences
Library of the Institute of Philosophy
AGORA Learning Centre
EBIB Learning Centre
MATRIX (music and audio recordings library)
Maurits Sabbe Library (Library of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies)
Universitair ziekenhuis Leuven (UZ Leuven) is the teaching hospital associated with the KU Leuven. Its most well known and largest campus is Gasthuisberg, which also houses the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences and most of the faculty of medicine.
According to QS World University Rankings by Subject in 2019, KU Leuven ranked within the world's top 50 universities in the following fields: Sports-related Subjects (11), Theology (14), Dentistry (17), Classics and Ancient History (22), Library and Information Management (23), Psychology (24), Statistics and Operational Research (26), Mechanical Engineering (30), Philosophy (31), Geography (34), Pharmacy & Pharmacology (35), Education and Training (36), Law (37), Social Policy and Administration (39), Development Studies (43), Materials sciences (45), Chemical Engineering (46), Politics (49), Sociology (50), Life Sciences and Medicine (56), Social Sciences and Management (60), Arts and Humanities (61), Engineering and Technology (61). Also according to QS, many other KU Leuven programs rank within the top 100 in the world, including Linguistics, English Language and Literature, History, Anatomy and Physiology, Architecture, Anthropology, Computer Science and Information System, Biological Sciences, Civil and Structural Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Business and Management Studies, Mathematics, Economics and Econometrics, Chemistry, Accounting and Finance .
B.^ According to the university's style guidelines, KU Leuven is the only official name in all languages. (in Dutch) However, according to the university's statutes, KU Leuven is an abbreviation of Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, which is the university's legal name by the law of 28 May 1970 issuing legal personality to the institution,  in the university's own official publications,  with a variant Katholieke Universiteit Leuven according to the Flemish Community of Belgium. 
C.^ The Old University of Leuven (1425-1797) is the oldest university in the low countries, and the Catholic University of Leuven (1834) is generally, yet controversially, identified as a continuation of it. In the mid-1800s, Belgium's highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that the 1834 "Catholic University of Leuven" was a different institution created under a different charter and thus cannot be regarded as continuing the 1425 "University of Leuven". See also: History of the Old University of Leuven.
^Emiel Lamberts and Jan Roegiers, Leuven University, Löwen, 1990, s. 21 : « The foundation of Louvain was the work of both ducal and municipal authorities. John IV, the Duke of Brabant, encouraged by two of his councillors, Engelbert van Nassau and Edmund van Dynter, strongly favoured the etablishment of a higher centre of Learning in his dukedom ». Nicolaus Vernulaeus, Academia Lovaniensis, Löwen, Petrus Sassenus, ed. 1667, s. 1 : « Primus Academiae Conditor fuit Ioannes Quartus, Lotharingiae, Brabantiae, et Limburgiae Dux, Marchio Sacri Imperii » und Édouard Van Even, Louvain dans le passé et le présent, s. 551-552: « C'est à Jean IV que les historiens ont attribué la gloire de cette fondation. ....Or, dans les comptes, nous avons constaté que l'université fut érigée par l'édilité louvaniste et que Jean IV n'a pas fait beaucoup plus que de permettre à son secrétaire d'adresser une supplique à la cour de Rome et de placeter les bulles d'érection » with the support of John IV, Duke of Brabant.
^In article 1 of its statutes, as approved by the Board of Trustees and published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 22 April 2020, KU Leuven declares himself to be the "continuation of the Studium Generale founded by Pope Martin V in the Papal Bull Sapientiae Immarcessibilis of 9 December 1425" (Belgisch Staatsblad/Moniteur belge 22.04.20 p. 27746). From a purely juridical perspective, the two institutions are distinct. Indeed, according to a ruling of the Cour de Cassation of Belgium of 26 November 1846: "The Catholic University of Leuven can not be regarded as continuing the old University of Leuven", in, Table générale alphabétique et chronologique de la Pasicrisie Belge contenant la jurisprudence du Royaume de 1814 à 1850, Brussels, 1855, p. 585, column 1, alinea 2. See also: Bulletin Usuel des Lois et Arrêtés, 1861, p. 166.
^Nicolaus Vernulaeus, Academia Lovaniensis, Louvain, chez Petrus Sassenus, édition de 1667, p. 1 : Primus Academiae Conditor fuit Ioannes Quartus, Lotharingiae, Brabantiae, et Limburgiae Dux, Marchio Sacri Imperii, Hannoniae, Hollandiae, Zelandiae Comes, et Dominus Frisiae, Religionis et optimarum Artium Princeps amantissimus. Movit illum miseratio imprimis primariae in Brabantia Urbis Lovanii, quae intestinis afflicta seditionibus, dilapsisque in Angliam et aliò mercimoniis, ac diminuto Civium artificumque numero vacua pene facta erat, ut iterum instauraretur frequentareturque. En : Emiel Lamberts and Jan Roegiers, Leuven University, Louvain, 1990, p. 21 : « The foundation of Louvain was the work of both ducal and municipal authorities. John IV, the Duke of Brabant, encouraged by two of his councillors, Engelbert van Nassau and Edmund van Dynter, strongly favoured the etablishment of a higher centre of Learning in his dukedom ». Édouard Van Even, Louvain dans le passé et le présent, pp. 551-552: « C'est à Jean IV que les historiens ont attribué la gloire de cette fondation. ....Or, dans les comptes, nous avons constaté que l'université fut érigée par l'édilité louvaniste et que Jean IV n'a pas fait beaucoup plus que de permettre à son secrétaire d'adresser une supplique à la cour de Rome et de placeter les bulles d'érection ».
^Édouard Van Even, Louvain dans le passé et le présent, p. 552: « On avait également besoin du concours de l'écolâtre du chapitre de Saint-Pierre, maître Guillaume Neve, alors le chef de l'instruction à Louvain. Dans le principe, ce fonctionnaire se montra hostile au projet. C'était, sans doute, affaire d'intérêt personnel. Quoi qu'il en soit, la ville se vit obligée de recourir à l'intervention d'un prêtre, appelé Rutger Reppen, pour conquérir l'écolátre à sa cause. Cet ecclésiastique dut rencontrer chez le fonctionnaire du chapitre une résistance sérieuse ».
^Jules Delhaize, La domination française en Belgique, Brussels, 1909, tome III, p. 171 : « Les articles 3 et 4 du traité de Campo-Formio consacrèrent enfin, au point de vue international, la réunion de la Belgique à la France. Voici ces articles. Art. 3 - Sa Majesté l'Empereur, Roi de Hongrie et de Bohême, renonce pour elle et ses successeurs en faveur de la République française, à tous ses droits et titres sur les ci-devant provinces belgiques, connues sous le nom de Pays-Bas autrichiens. La République française possédera ces pays à perpétuité, en toute souveraineté et propriété, et avec tous les biens territoriaux qui en dépendent»
^The law of 15 September 1793 had decreed the suppression of all the colleges and universities in France, but the universities remain de facto until the new law of 7 ventôse year III (25 February 1795) creating the Écoles centrales. In accordance with this law the University of Louvain was abolished by Decree of the Departement of the Dijle. Louis Trénard, De Douai à Lille, une université et son histoire, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1978, p.37 note 6.
^Jan Roegiers et al., Leuven University, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 1990, p. 31: "With the Law of 3 Brumaire of Year IV, which reorganized higher education in the French Republic, there was no place for the University of Louvain, and it was abolished by Decree of the Departement of the Dijle on 25 october (1797)".
^ abRuling of the Cour de Cassation of Belgium of 26 November 1846: "The Catholic University of Leuven can not be regarded as continuing the old University of Leuven", in, Table générale alphabétique et chronologique de la Pasicrisie Belge contenant la jurisprudence du Royaume de 1814 à 1850, Brussels, 1855, p. 585, column 1, alinea 2. See also: Bulletin Usuel des Lois et Arrêtés, 1861, p. 166.