World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Université catholique de Louvain

Université catholique de Louvain
Seal of the university
Latin: Universitas Catholica Lovaniensis
Motto Sedes Sapientiae (Latin)
Motto in English
Seat of Wisdom, Seat of Knowledge
Established 1425, 1834, 1968
Type Private Catholic
Endowment 370 million(2008)
Rector Vincent Blondel
Administrative staff
Students 27,261
Location Louvain-la-Neuve, with satellite campuses in Brussels, Charleroi, Mons and Tournai, Belgium
Campus Planned community
Colors Blue and white          
Affiliations Académie Louvain
Coimbra Group
Website .be.uclouvainwww
Data as of 2011

The Université catholique de Louvain (UCL, French for Catholic University of Louvain, but usually not translated into English) is Belgium's largest French-speaking university. It is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, which was expressly built to house the university. UCL has satellite campuses in Brussels, Charleroi, Mons and Tournai.

The University of Leuven was founded at the centre of the historic town of Leuven (or Louvain) in 1425, making it the first university in Belgium and the Low Countries. After being closed in 1797 during the Napoleonic period, the Catholic University of Leuven was "re-founded" in 1834, and is frequently, but controversially, identified as a continuation of the older institution. In 1968 the Catholic University of Leuven split into the Dutch-language Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, which stayed in Leuven, and the French-language Université catholique de Louvain, which moved to Louvain-la-Neuve in Wallonia, 20 km southeast of Brussels. Since the 15th century, Leuven, as it is still often called, has been a major contributor to the development of Catholic theology. It is considered the oldest Catholic university still in existence.


  • History 1
  • Faculties and schools 2
  • Campuses 3
  • Prospects 4
  • Rankings 5
  • Student activities 6
    • Cercles 6.1
    • Kots 6.2
    • Kot-à-projet 6.3
    • Student Union 6.4
    • Publications 6.5
    • 24h Vélo 6.6
  • Notable alumni 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
    • References 9.1
  • External links 10


The Catholic University of Leuven, based in Leuven ("Louvain" in French), 30 km east of Brussels, provided lectures in French from its refounding in 1835, and in Dutch from 1930. In 1968, the Dutch-language section became the independent Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, which remained in Leuven, while the French-speaking university was moved to a greenfield campus and town, Louvain-la-Neuve, 20 km south-east of Brussels, in a part of the country where French is the official language. This separation also entailed dividing existing library holdings between the two new universities.

With the democratization of university education already stretching existing structures, plans to expand the French-speaking part of the university at a campus in Brussels or Wallonia were quietly discussed from the early 1960s, but it was not anticipated that the French-speaking section would become an entirely independent university and lose all of its buildings and infrastructure in Leuven. The first stone of the new campus at Louvain-la-Neuve was laid in 1971, and the transfer of faculties to the new site was completed in 1979.

Faculties and schools

The Halles universitaires
  1. Faculty of Theology (theology)
  2. Faculty of Law and Criminology (law)
  3. Faculty of Economic, Social and Political Sciences and Communication (economics, sociology, anthropology, political sciences, communication, journalism, demography, development studies)
  4. Economics School of Louvain (economics)[1]
  5. Louvain School of Management (management)
  6. Faculty of Philosophy, Arts and Literature (languages and literature, history, history of art, theatre, archeology)
  7. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (psychology, education)
  8. Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (medicine)
  9. Faculty of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (pharmacology)
  10. Faculty of Public Health
  11. Faculty of Motor Sciences (kinesiology, physical education)
  12. Faculty of Science (biology, chemistry, physics, geography, mathematics)
  13. Louvain School of Engineering (engineering, computer science), which also uses the name Ecole Polytechnique de Louvain[2][3]
  14. Faculty of Architecture, Architectural Engineering and Urban Planning
  15. Faculty of Biological, Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (bio-engineering, agronomy, environmental studies)


While the main campus of Université catholique de Louvain is based in Louvain-la-Neuve, it also comprises a campus in Brussels, in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, which until recently was called "Louvain-en-Woluwe" (the authorities of the UCL tend to prefer to refer to it as "UCL-Brussels Woluwe" nowadays) for the university's faculty of medicine, a campus in Mons called "UCL-Mons", a minor installation in Charleroi with 133 students (as of 2011) at "UCL-Charleroi", an architectural school in Tournai, "UCL-Tournai", with 540 students (as of 2011), and an architectural school in Brussels, "UCL-Bruxelles Saint Gilles", with 570 students (as of 2011).


According to a 2007 agreement, the Université catholique de Louvain was to absorb three small French-speaking catholic colleges: the Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix (FUNDP) located in Namur, the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis (FUSL) located in Brussels and the Catholic university of Mons (FUCaM) located in Mons and Charleroi. The negotiations for a full merger aborted by an insufficient vote by the general assembly of Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix (FUNDP) in December 2010. The result was a merger between Université catholique de Louvain and Facultés universitaires catholiques de Mons (FUCaM) in Mons, effective from September 15, 2011. The Mons campus is denoted UCL Mons. The three universities still collaborate in consortium, the "Academie Louvain". Within this group, member universities have coordinated their masters programmes in the fields of economics, management, political sciences and sciences as well as the doctoral programmes in all disciplines.


University rankings
ARWU[4] 3–4
ARWU[5] 101–150
QS[6] 154
Times[7] 172

The Université catholique de Louvain educates around 27,261 students from 127 nationalities[8] in all areas of studies at its different campuses. It has educated a large part of Belgium's elite and is still considered, with its Dutch-speaking sister, as a centre of excellence in many fields. In 2006, it was ranked 76th in the world universities ranking established by the Times Higher Education supplement (24th in Europe).

In the 2011 QS World University Rankings[9] the Université Catholique de Louvain was ranked 125th overall in the world, moving up one place from its position of joint 126th in the 2009 THE–QS World University Rankings (in 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University Rankings parted ways to produce separate rankings).[10] An overview of the THE-QS Rankings up to 2009:
Year Rank (Change)
2005 88
2006 76 (Increase 12)
2007 123 (Decrease 47)
2008 116 (Increase 7)
2009 126 (Decrease 10)
Academic Ranking of World Universities
Year Overall Rank Clinical Medicine
and Pharmacy
Life and
Agriculture Sciences
Social Sciences
2003 201–300
2004 101–152
2005 101–152
2006 102–150
2007 102–150 51–75 77–106 77–104
2008 101–151 52–75 76–107 77–107
2009 101–151 51–76 76–100 76–100
2010 101–150 51–75 76–100 76–100

Student activities


Cercles are Student Societies or Fraternities based around each faculty. The Cercles, along with the Régionales (which are based around their respective regions of origin) coordinate and manage most of the students' animation and nightlife. Most Cercles run small bars to fund their activities, and also jointly operate a larger nightclub, "La Casa".

Cercles and Régionales are run exclusively by member students known as the Committee. These members are elected every year, usually by voting from all members (active or otherwise) wishing to participate, although some Cercles restrict the number of possible voters in some cases.

Aside from promoting student folklore and coordinating student animation, Cercles also offer academic aid to students in their respective faculties and organize more cultural activities, such as visits to museums and/or other cities, conferences, and low-cost trips for students (for example skiing in the Alps during the Winter Break).

Every Cercle and Régionale has its own customs and traditions, but some are practiced by all :

The Baptême (French: baptism) is a hazing ceremony used by most to induct new members, who then participate in a number of trials and activities involving eggs and other foodstuff, paint, demeaning chants etc. Baptized members (les Baptisés) are among the most common type of members, and some Cercles and Régionales try to only accept new members this way, although "it is in no way an obligation to be baptized in order to be a part of the Cercle or to frequent them".

The calotte is a Belgian student cap worn by students attending Catholic universities. They are emblems of student folklore dating back to the late 19th century. Nowadays, most calottes are passed by way of a ceremony known as the coronae. How they are passed and what must be known or done to deserve it depends on the Cercle or Régionale and is generally kept secret. One thing that is universally known, is that there is a lot of singing involved.

Cercles are notorious for their generally high output of alcohol (especially beer) and low level of cleanliness. Students tend to wear old clothes that they don't mind damaging or dirtying as a consequence, and the overall ambiance is more akin to a rave or a frat-party than a nightclub or sports bar.


Student accommodation in Belgium comes in the form of a "kot", a term having Belgian Dutch origin. A "kot" can be translated as den or hut. The French way to form the plural of "kot" is "kots" (in Dutch, the plural of "kot" is "koten"). In the bilingual region of Brussels, where there are both Dutch- and French-speaking universities and their students, it is common that "for rent" signs are in French only, with the French plural of "kot".


Unique to UCL a Fraternity and sorority houses, but smaller in size with only the committee living in the kot. Being small several Kots can be situated in the same, university owned, apartment building. One of them is "le kap contes", a kot promoting the art of storytelling. Another is called "Kap Délices" which suggests lots of activities as theme buffets, cooking lessons, material renting and a lot of other things related to cooking.[11]

Student Union

The AGL (General Assembly of Louvain students) is the UCL's Students' union. The body comprises an executive Committee, and a legislative Council. The Committee consists of ex-officio members: President, Vice-Presidents for Education & Welfare, VP for the Medicine faculty (Situated in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert), General Secretary, Activities Officer, Communications Officer, Operations Officer, Foreign student's Officer, Cultural Officer, Editor-in-Chief & Deputy Editor-in-Chief as well as the president of the Council.[12]


Quinzaine a University produced newsletter, La Savate produced by the AGL and the monthly l'étincelle by the Kot-à-projet KAP Etincelle. Cercles also produce publications.

24h Vélo

A fanciful bike float at the 24h vélo de Louvain-la-Neuve

The 24 Hour Cycle (24h Vélo) is, nominally, a Belgium’s largest student event, with concerts and stands lasting the full 24hrs.

Notable alumni

For pre-1968 alumni see Catholic University of Leuven.

See also


A.^ The Old University of Leuven (1425) is the oldest university in the low countries, and the Catholic University of Leuven (1834) is sometimes, controversially, identified as a continuation of it. It should be noted that Belgium's highest court, the Court of Cassation has ruled that the (1834) Catholic University of Leuven cannot be regarded as continuing the old (1425) University of Leuven.[13] See Old University of Leuven#History.
B.^ This is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 1884, the university celebrated its 50th anniversary, acknowledging its actual date of foundation.[14] Only in 1968 did the new Catholic university dare to add the date 1425 to its neo-gothic seal (created, without the date, in 1909).


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ In the year 1887, the Catholic University of Louvain, has celebrated his 50th anniversary.... E. Descamps, in : Université Catholique de Louvain : Liber Memorialis : 1834-1884, Louvain : Peeters, 1887, p. V : "les fêtes du cinquantième anniversaire de l'Université catholique de Louvain ont eu un brillant éclat et un immense retentissement".

External links

  • Official web site of Université catholique de Louvain (French)
  • Louvain School of Management's official website. Louvain School of Management is the affiliated business school of UCL and is part of the CEMS network of leading European business schools.
  • The Louvain-la-Neuve Science Park website
  • Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) is located in the School of Public Health of the university

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.