Even though the University of Leuven is located in Flanders, the main language of communication in the nineteenth century was French. It wasn’t until 1911, when the first lectures were taught in Dutch, that the Dutch language slowly started to become more important. Against the backdrop of the political turmoil of the late sixties, the University of Leuven was split into two independent sister universities: ‘Katholieke Universiteit Leuven’ (now KU Leuven) with Dutch as the official language, and the French-speaking ‘Université catholique de Louvain’ (UCL). The latter established itself on the brand-new campuses in Louvain-la-Neuve (in the Walloon provinces) and Woluwé (Brussels). Today, the two sister universities are on an excellent footing and collaborate in the areas of education, research and organization.
In 1968, Pieter De Somer became the first Rector of the independent University. The new University pursued scientific development with an international focus. Research boomed, and so did student numbers. It was time to expand, both in and around Leuven, with campuses for science and technology on the Arenberg estate in Heverlee and one for biomedical sciences on Gasthuisberg, where construction works for the new University Hospitals complex began in the 1980s.
In 2002, KU Leuven concluded an association agreement with fourteen Flemish university colleges. The agreement was part of the harmonization efforts that changed the course of the European higher education system with the Bologna declaration of 1999. The academic degree programmes offered by these university colleges have been fully integrated into KU Leuven since 2013. The University now offers degree programmes on campuses in eleven different cities.
Today, KU Leuven accommodates 50,000 students, spread across the various campuses in Leuven and elsewhere in Flanders. The University and University Hospitals Leuven each employ almost 10,000 people. For research, KU Leuven ranks among the world’s finest. KU Leuven has become a cosmopolitan institution in a rapidly changing urban environment. Its unique profile reconciles cutting-edge science with quality of life and openness to talent.
Source: Website of the KU Leuven