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Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Leuven, Belgium


University description (as per official university website)

We take a glimpse at the pastÖ
Situated in the heart of Western Europe, K.U.Leuven has been a centre of learning for almost six centuries. Founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V, K.U.Leuven bears the double honour of being the oldest existant Catholic university in the world and the oldest university in the Low Countries.

In its early days, our university was modelled on the universities of Paris, Cologne, and Vienna. In a short time, it grew into one of the largest and most renowned universities in Europe. Its academic fame attracted numerous scholars who made valuable contributions to European culture. In the sixteenth century the humanist Desiderius Erasmus lectured here, where he founded the Collegium Trilingue in 1517 for the study of Hebrew, Latin, and Greek - the first of its kind. The tutor of the young emperor Charles V, Adriaan Cardinal Florensz of Utrecht, was a professor here before being elected in 1522 as the last non-Italian Pope before Pope John Paul II. The philologist, legal scholar, and historian Justus Lipsius taught here for many years.

The mathematician Gemma Frisius helped to lay the foundations of modern science and tutored many famous scientists, including the cartographer Gerard Mercator, whose map projection is still in use, the botanist Rembert Dodoens, and the father of modern anatomy, Andreas Vesalius. In a later period, the theses of the Leuven theologian Cornelius Jansenius provoked a large and heated controversy both inside and outside the Church. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, K.U.Leuven was an important training centre for Roman Catholic intellectuals from Protestant countries. At the end of the Age of Enlightenment, in 1783, the chemist Pieter Jan Minckelers discovered the suitability of coal gas for lighting. In the nineteenth century, at the instigation of Pope Leo XIII, K.U.Leuven became an important centre of Thomist philosophy.

Not all has been trouble-free, though, in the university's illustrious history. It has had its share of difficulties during the various social and political upheavals in this region from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. More recently, the two World Wars of the twentieth century deeply scarred the university. In 1914, the University Hall with its precious library was set in flames by German troops and 300,000 books were reduced to ashes. Afterwards, an international solidarity campaign with a major American contribution helped construct a new library on the present Ladeuzeplein. Unfortunately, this library was burned down in 1940 during the Second World War and this time only 15,000 of its 900,000 volumes were saved. Since then, the university library, and in fact the entire university, has undergone a thorough reconstruction.

The university is located in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium. With the Dutch language's steady rise to renewed prominence, 1968 saw the university split into two new universities. The French-speaking Universitť Catholique de Louvain moved to the newly built campus in Louvain-la-Neuve. The Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit Leuven remained in the historic town of Leuven. understand the present and face the future
Such a rich history of nearly six hundred years has provided K.U.Leuven with its own dynamic international dimension. Today, international co-operation is regarded as essential for a modern university. Top-level research is judged according to international standards and implies interaction, co-operation, and exchange, both of researchers and results. As such, K.U.Leuven is a charter member of the League of European Research Universities, and European surveys rank K.U.Leuven among the top ten European universities in terms of its scholarly output. Likewise with regard to teaching, several quality surveys demonstrate that K.U.Leuven stands on par with internationally respected institutions in a large number of fields.

This academic reputation attracts students from all over the world. K.U.Leuven has been involved in the Erasmus student exchange programme since its launch in Europe in the late 1980s; the growing success of the Erasmus programme later on led to the launch of the Socrates programme, and today the University of Leuven has over 300 contracts under this programme. Each year around 600 international Erasmus students spend part of their study programme in Leuven, while more than 500 of our students share the same European experience at another university. The TEMPUS-PHARE programme was set up for students and researchers from Eastern Europe, while contacts with universities in the former Soviet Union are being built up through the TEMPUS-TACIS programme. The co-operation with universities in Latin America falls within the scope of the ALFA programme.

Besides these exchange programmes, the university has set up a number of international academic programmes aimed both at Belgian and international students. Unlike the regular Dutch-language programmes, the international academic programmes are taught in English. Most of these programmes confer masterís degrees: full bachelorís degree programmes in English are offered only in the fields of theology and philosophy.

At present, K.U.Leuven caters to more than 31,000 students, around 12% of whom are international students from more than 120 nations. In terms of its personnel, there are 5,287 academic staff, 2,730 administrative and technical staff, and 8,172 university hospital staff members. With regard to its physical facilities, the university occupies a total area of 1,058,445 square metres and it has a total of 26,606 rooms. On the academic side, the university is composed of fourteen faculties, fifty departments and about 240 sub-departments. Further, its network of thirty auxiliary libraries now houses a total of 4.3 million volumes, 14,500 magazines and journals, and 7,492 full text electronic magazines. And concerning its medical facilities, K.U.Leuven supports five hospitals and three affiliated hospitals, with a total of 2,057 hospital beds for the acutely ill.

Hopefully, this has given you a more vivid picture of K.U.Leuven. K.U.Leuven's rich history can be read not only from the city's street names, but also from the dozens of historical university buildings. The medieval cloth hall, near the famous gothic town hall, is the university's administrative centre. The beautifully restored Great Beguinage houses students and guest professors. And numerous other old colleges and residence halls give Leuven the stylish face of a university town with a tradition. Where else can you find a university within a town, and indeed a 'town' within a university, so dynamically integrated? Its rich historical tradition continues to serve as a solid foundation for top-level research and centres of academic excellence. To this day, K.U.Leuven thrives as a bustling student town with a strong international allure, where various cultures meet and experiences are exchanged.

Mission statement

The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, founded in 1425, is a Flemish University of Catholic signature with an international orientation. It has the legal status of a private institution.

As a university, K.U.Leuven is an academic institution at which both groundbreaking research and knowledge transfer are essential and complementary.

As a university, K.U.Leuven distinguishes itself from other research centres by its freedom of inquiry, by the disinterested character of its fundamental research, by its focus on education and by the fact that it encompasses almost all academic disciplines within its walls.

As a university, K.U.Leuven distinguishes itself from other educational institutions by the fact that its teaching is based on and nourished by its own research and by its interdisciplinary approach.

It defines its tasks and priorities autonomously and the members of its academic staff enjoy academic freedom in the exercise of their duties.

In the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge, K.U.Leuven is guided only by the demands of scientific methodology and deontology.

In a number of fields, K.U.Leuven aspires to a place among the centres of excellence in Europe and in the world.

K.U.Leuven transfers knowledge through high quality interdisciplinary education. Its programmes integrate professional training into a broad ethical, cultural and social formation. Rather than passing on mere factual knowledge, it promotes the skills of identifying, formulating and solving problems. It creates the necessary conditions for a stimulating educational experience. Special attention is paid to the permanent evaluation of its education in order to enhance the studentsí capacity for independent study, to provide intensive individual guidance and an adequate evaluation system, to safeguard the excellent pedagogical skills of the teaching staff and to promote the use of new teaching methods and technologies.

The K.U.Leuvenís first and second cycle undergraduate programmes contribute to as broad a participation as possible of young people in a qualitatively outstanding university education, which takes place in an intellectually stimulating, socially supportive and student-centred environment. At the same time, K.U.Leuven is continuously oriented towards new target groups.

In addition, it pays special attention to the training of young researchers, mainly within the context of their doctoral studies. It also offers postgraduate programmes in a number of fields, aimed at the broadening and deepening of knowledge.

Besides education and research, K.U.Leuven fulfils still other important tasks through its dedication to serving society. In a spirit of critical service, it places its expertise at the disposal of the government, of organizations and of industry. It addresses its concern for public health with special care and with respect for human dignity at the university hospitals. On the basis of its research results, it ensures the permanent education of its graduates in their professional lives.

As a Catholic university, K.U.Leuven is a critical centre of thought within the Catholic community. As such, it is deeply concerned with the relationship between science and faith and with the dialogue between the church and the world.

On the basis of its Christian view of humankind and society, K.U.Leuven reflects on the axiological, ethical and religious problems emerging from developments in science and technology and from changes in social and cultural life. This reflection takes place in a free, open climate and in collaboration with kindred universities. Special attention is paid to the personal dignity of human beings, to the protection of the weak and to justice and peace. K.U.Leuven also creates a spiritual climate which fosters the full human and religious development of the members of the university community.

As a Flemish university, K.U.Leuven stimulates the participation of the Flemish people in the technological and cultural progress of the world. In co-operation with other Dutch-speaking universities, it contributes to the development of their common culture.

As an internationally oriented university, K.U.Leuven is heir to an age-old tradition of hospitality to foreigners. Thanks to intense inter-university collaboration and to the exchange of students and faculty members, its development and transfer of knowledge actively contribute to the enrichment of culture and science, both in Europe and throughout the world.

In its unique atmosphere, both at the campuses in Leuven and Kortrijk, K.U.Leuven is committed to the accomplishment of this mission, together with its alumni and with regional and national communities.

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