Université catholique de Louvain

For the pre-1968 university, see Catholic University of Leuven (1834–1968). For the present-day Dutch-language university, see Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
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
Type Private Catholic
Established 1425,A 1834, 1968
Endowment 370 million(2008)
Rector Vincent Blondel
Administrative staff
Students 29,711
Location Louvain-la-Neuve, with satellite campuses in Brussels (Woluwe and Saint-Gilles), Mons, Tournai and Charleroi, Belgium
Campus Planned community
Colors Blue and white          
Affiliations CEMS
Coimbra Group
Website www.uclouvain.be
Data as of 2011

The Université catholique de Louvain (UCL, French for Catholic University of Louvain, but usually not translated into English to avoid confusion with the Catholic University of Leuven (1834–1968)) 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.AB 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.


For the history of the university prior to 1968, see Catholic University of Leuven (1834–1968) § History.

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.


In 1425, Dukes of Brabant created the University of Louvain[1] (Université de Louvain) and has been deleted under Joseph II and under the French Republic.

In 1817, the University of the State of Louvain (Université de l’Etat de Louvain) was founded and closed the 15th August 1835.[2]

In 1834, bishops of Belgium created the Belgium Catholic University (Université Catholique de Belgique) also known under the name Catholic University of Malines (Université Catholique de Malines).

In 1835, near after the suppression of the University of the State of Louvain (Université de l’Etat de Louvain), the Belgium Catholic University (Université Catholique de Belgique) set up to Louvain.[3] The advantage of the city of Louvain was its reputation of old university residence.

The law voted the 27th September 1835 stated that there would be only one university funded by the State of Belgium in Louvain. By consequence, the Catholic University of Malines (Université catholique de Malines) moved to Louvain, took the advantage of the reputation of the city and adopted a new name: Catholic University of Louvain (Université Catholique de Louvain).

In a catholic winning back spirit established by the pope Grégoire XVI,[4] the promoter and first rector Monseigneur de Ram wanted to create a shield which will repulse religion’s enemies and block every doctrines weakening the catholic society bases.

In 1845: foundation of the Pharmacy school

1865: Creation of the engineering schools

In 1884: The “Université catholique de Louvain” celebrated solemnly its fiftieth birthday[5]

In 1968, as a result of the linguistic issues, the University is divided in two different universities: one French speaking which will be built in the province of Brabant Wallon and one Dutch which stayed in the same infrastructure.

In 1970, these two universities are established by law: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Université Catholique de Louvain.

In 1971, laying of the first foundation stone in Louvain-la-Neuve. New city reserved for the French speaking infrastructure.

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)[6]
  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[7][8]
  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[9] 4
ARWU[10] 151–200
QS[11] 149
Times[12] 167

The Université catholique de Louvain educates around 27,261 students from 127 nationalities[13] 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[14] 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).[15] An overview of the THE-QS Rankings:

Year Rank (Change)
200676 (Increase 12)
2007123 (Decrease 47)
2008116 (Increase 7)
2009126 (Decrease 10)
2012127 (Decrease 2)
2013138 (Decrease 11)
2014154 (Decrease 16)
2015149 (Increase 5)

Academic Ranking of World Universities

Year Overall Rank Clinical Medicine
and Pharmacy
Life and
Agriculture Sciences
Social Sciences
2007102–150 51–75 77–106 77–104
2008101–151 52–75 76–107 77–107
2009101–151 51–76 76–100 76–100
2010101–150 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. 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 Kot-à-projet (kap) is a kot whose inhabitants have similar interests and who organise activities for the general student population, they are similar to 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.[16]

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.[17]


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
Main article: 24h velo (LLN)

The 24 Hour Cycle (24h Vélo) is, nominally, a bicycle endurance road race held in October, organised by CSE Animations (Centre Sportif Etudiant). While there is an elite race with teams of two, Student groups enter novelty themed multi-bike vehicles, in the shape of a Van or Whale for example, for prizes. The quality of these designs range in terms of artistic merit, and ability to stay intact over the duration of the race. A 240-minute race also takes place for teenagers. The event is probably best known for what happens off the track. Concurrent with the race is Belgium’s largest student event, with concerts and stands lasting the full 24hrs.

Notable alumni

For pre-1968 alumni see Catholic University of Louvain.

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.[18] 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.[19] 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).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Université catholique de Louvain.


  1. Universalis, Encyclopædia. "UNIVERSITÉ DE LOUVAIN". Encyclopædia Universalis. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  2. Graffart, Arlette (1987). La matricule de l'Universite de Louvain (1817-1835). Bruxelles: Album de Carlos Wyffels. p. 181.
  3. Encyclopedie theologique (1863). Dictionnaire de l'histoire universelle de l'Eglise. Paris: J.P. Migne.
  4. Ndaywel è Nziem, Isidore (2010). Les annees Lovanium. Paris: L'Harmattan. p. 19.
  5. Descamps, E. (1887). Universite Catholique de Louvain: Liber Memorialis: 1834-1884. Louvain: Peeters. pp. V.
  6. "Bienvenue à l'Ecole d'Economie". Université catholique de Louvain. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  7. "Bienvenue à l'Ecole Polytechnique de Louvain". Université catholique de Louvain. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  8. "All Universities". CLUSTER. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  9. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2016: USA". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  10. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2016". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  11. "QS World University Rankings® 2016/17". Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2016. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  12. "World University Rankings 2016-17". THE Education Ltd. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  13. "UCL - En quelques chiffres". Uclouvain.be. 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  14. "QS World University Rankings". Topuniversities. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  15. "QS World University Rankings". Top Universities. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  16. "Kap Délices | Accueil". Kapdelices.net. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  17. 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
  18. 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".

Coordinates: 50°40′10.6″N 04°36′44.15″E / 50.669611°N 4.6122639°E / 50.669611; 4.6122639

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