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The Katholieke Universiteit LeuvenA (in English: Catholic University of Leuven),B abbreviated KU Leuven, is a research university in the Dutch-speaking town of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium, founded in 1834 in Mechelen as the Catholic University of Belgium and moved its seat to the town of Leuven in 1835 where it changed its name to Catholic University of Leuven.
It conducts teaching, research, and services in the natural sciences, engineering, humanities, medicine, law, and social sciences.
KU Leuven consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the world by five major ranking tables. As of 2019, it ranks 48th globally according to Times Higher Education, 80th according to QS World University Rankings, and 93rd according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities. For four consecutive years starting in 2016, Thomson Reuters ranked KU Leuven as Europe's most innovative university, with its researchers having filed more patents than any other university in Europe; its patents are also the most cited by external academics. A number of its programs rank within the top 100 in the world according to QS World University Rankings by Subject.
The old University of Leuven was founded at the center of the historic town of Leuven in 1425, making it Belgium's first university.
Once formally integrated into the French Republic, a law dating to 1793 mandating that all universities in France be closed came into effect. The University of Leuven was abolished by decree of the Département of the Dyle on October 25, 1797.
The new Catholic University of Leuven was "founded" in 1834, but is frequently (but controversially) identified as a continuation of the older institution.C In 1968, the Catholic University of Leuven split into the Dutch-language Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven and the French-language Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), which moved to Louvain-la-Neuve in Wallonia and Brussels. Historically, the Catholic University of Leuven has been a major contributor to the development of Catholic theology. It is considered the oldest extant Catholic university. Although Catholic in heritage, it operates independently from the Church. KU Leuven is open to students from different faiths.
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 departing to a newly built greenfield campus site in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Pieter De Somer became the first rector of the KUL.
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.
In the 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.
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 Dutch, many are offered in English, particularly the graduate programs.
Biomedical Sciences Group
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
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
Science, Engineering and Technology Group
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
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.
Students attending a conference at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
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.
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 sometimes, 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.
^Encyclopédie théologique, tome 54, Dictionnaire de l'histoire universelle de l'Église, Paris : éd. J.P. Migne, 1863, sub verboGrégoire XVI, col. 1131 : "Après sa séparation de la Hollande en 1830, la Belgique libérale a vu son Église jouir d'une véritable indépendance. Les évêques s'assemblent en conciles, communiquent avec le Saint-Siège en toute liberté. Sur l'article fondamental des études, ils ont fondé l'université catholique de Louvain, où les jeunes Belges vont en foule puiser aux sources les plus pures toutes les richesses de la science". And : Edward van Even, Louvain dans le passé et dans le présent, Louvain, 1895, p. 606 : "Par lettre collective du 14 novembre 1833, le corps épiscopal s'adressa à Grégoire XVI, à l'effet d'obtenir l'autorisation nécessaire pour ouvrir l'école. Cette autorisation fut octroyée par un bref du 13 décembre suivant. Une circulaire épiscopale, datée du 20 février 1834, annonça aux fidèles la fondation d'une Université catholique".
^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)".
^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.