Université catholique de Louvain

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Université catholique de Louvain
Catholic University of Leuven (UCLouvain)
motto Sedes sapientiae
founding 1425
1834 in Mechlin
Sponsorship ecclesiastical
place Louvain-la-Neuve (headquarters), Woluwe-Saint-Lambert , Tournai , Saint-Gilles , Mons , Charleroi , Namur
country BelgiumBelgium Belgium
Rector Vincent Blondel
Students 30,760 (as of 2017)
Employee 5,073
Annual budget € 220 million (2017)
Website www.uclouvain.be
Les halles universitaires:
seat of the central university administration

The Université catholique de Louvain or UCLouvain ( German  Catholic University of Leuven ) is a free Catholic French-speaking university based in Louvain-la-Neuve (German New Leuven ) in Belgium . The medical faculty is located in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert / Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe in the Brussels-Capital Region .

In its current form, it was created as a result of the split of the Catholic University of Leuven into a Dutch- and a French-speaking university in 1968 in the course of the Flemish-Walloon conflict . The German translation of the name is misleading because it also in lions remaining Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (abbreviation KULeuven applicable). Despite all historically conditioned discontinuities, both universities see themselves in a tradition of Löwen university history, to which they refer in their seals with reference to the founding date of the first Löwen University of 1425 and in their self-presentation, even if the justification of this traditional reference has not remained undisputed is.


To the history up to 1968 → Main article History of the University of Leuven
Coat of arms of the old University of Leuven (1425–1797)

The University of Leuven was founded in 1425 as the studium generale and the first university on the Brabant-Dutch territory. In 1797 Brabant was formally ceded by Austria to France . Due to the politically uneasy situation, the number of students at the university fell. Since the university opposed the alignment of French university policy, it was closed by decree on October 25, 1797 after 372 years of its existence.

The subsequent Imperial University of Leuven was founded by the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1817. After the Belgian Revolution , which also found numerous followers among Löwen students, the Provisional Government closed the Löwen Faculties of Law and Natural Sciences on December 16, 1830. With the law of September 27, 1835, the University of Leuven was completely closed.

The new Belgian constitution of 1831 made it possible to found the Catholic University of Mechelen . After the Reich University was closed, it was decided on October 13, 1835, to move the Catholic University of Mechelen to Leuven. The city made seven buildings of the old university, the botanical garden and the St. Pieter Hospital available to the university, in return the Bishops' Conference undertook to build a university, “like the famous academy, which existed for about four centuries The Catholic University in Leuven, although at the time purely French-speaking, campaigned for the promotion of Flemish culture and at that time was the only university in Belgium to offer lessons in the Dutch language . But there was also the demand for lessons in Dutch. From 1911 onwards, on the initiative of Rector Paulin Ladeuze (1870–1940), some courses were offered bilingually in each faculty.

The destroyed library in Leuven in 1915

The university suffered severe damage during the First World War . The restoration of the destroyed university library and the rebuilding of the holdings took decades. The university first admitted women to study in 1920. After the First World War, demands from students for instruction in Dutch became louder again. The Second World War had even more serious consequences for the university than the first. On the night of May 16-17, 1940, the university library was completely destroyed for the second time and only 15,000 of its 900,000 volumes could be saved. Numerous university buildings were completely destroyed in 1944.

Tensions between French-speaking and Dutch-speaking students, which had subsided in the 1930s, increased again in the 1950s. The University of Löwen was still a predominantly French-speaking institution, although the lectures and administration were now bilingual. In 1960 the number of Flemish students exceeded French speakers for the first time. At the political level, the reform of the language legislation has started. The French-speaking professors at the university saw themselves increasingly distressed and founded the “ Association du corps académique et du personnel scientifique de l'Université de Louvain ” (ACAPSUL), as a counterpart to this, a union of Flemish professors was formed. Following the enactment of the Belgian language laws in 1962/1963, considerations arose to relocate the French-speaking part of the university to Wallonia .

The University of Leuven had become by far the largest university in Belgium, so that in 1965 some courses were outsourced to Woluwe-Saint-Lambert / Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe and Kortrijk . In December 1965, after student unrest, a commission began its work, which, chaired by Professors Edward Leemans and Xavier Aubert , dealt with the restructuring of the university. After three months of work, it came to different results: while the French-speaking members opposed a move to Wallonia, this was supported by the Flemish members. The Belgian Bishops' Conference subsequently named Pieter De Somer as Vice Rector of the Dutch-speaking part and Professor Edward Leemans as Commissioner General of the university, both lay and Flemish-minded. The student riots continued anyway. In the French-speaking camp, the realization began that a division could no longer be avoided. In the autumn of 1968, the division into the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Université catholique de Louvain was decided.

In months of negotiations, the modalities of the separation were discussed, in particular the compensation payments that the Université catholique de Louvain should receive for the buildings and facilities left behind in Leuven. For the Université catholique de Louvain, a new planned town south of the language border, Louvain-la-Neuve ("New Leuven"), was built near Ottignies from 1971 , the first Belgian new town to be founded in three hundred years. Louvain-la-Neuve today forms the city of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve with Ottignies . Both universities were given legal personality on May 28, 1970.

The university today

Université catholique de Louvain, theological faculty

Today the Université catholique de Louvain is the largest French-speaking university in Belgium with 30,760 students. However, with this number, UCLouvain is still much smaller than KUL ( Katholieke Universiteit Leuven ), which has almost 37,000 students. UCLouvain has 5,000 employees and the libraries house over 2 million books. There are 10 faculties:

  • Faculty of Theology
  • Philosophical Faculty
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Economics, Social and Political Sciences
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Psychology and Education
  • Medical school
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Applied Sciences
  • Faculty of Applied Bio-, Agro- and Environmental Sciences


After the division, the following rectors headed the Université catholique de Louvain:


More in detail : List of famous personalities from the University of Leuven

Honorary doctorates (selection)

Before the division

After the division


  • R. Mathes, Leuven and Rome. On the foundation of the Catholic University of Leuven with special consideration of the church and educational policy of Pope Gregory XVI , Essen, 1975.

See also

Web links

Commons : Université catholique de Louvain  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. https://perso.uclouvain.be/vincent.blondel/
  2. Numbers on uclouvain.be
  3. Numbers on dailyscience.be
  4. Members. In: www.fiuc.org. International Federation of Catholic Universities, accessed October 1, 2019 .
  5. ^ Marc Nelissen, Leuven, Rom en Brabant . In: Nelissen, Roegiers, van Mingroot, De stichtingsbul van de Leuvense universiteit, 1425-1914 . Universitaire Pers Leuven, Löwen 2000, ISBN 90-5867-070-8 , p. 70: " de universiteit voerde het stadswapen van Leuven, een dwarsbalk van zilver op een veld van keel, maar voegde in de right bovenhoek van het schild een nimbus toe van waaruit een hand een opengeslagen boek aanreikte . "
  6. ^ De Universiteit te Leuven . Universitaire Pers Leuven, Leuven 1976, ISBN 90-6186-034-2 , p. 223.