Union University
Union University Dept of Computer Science
Department of Computer Science

Study Abroad in Belgium

Facts and Figures

  • 26,636 students (2395 international students)
  • 1,442 professors; 2,624 researchers; 2,672 administrative and technical staff; 7,571 university hospital staff
  • The budget (K.U.Leuven) in 2001 was: 442 miljoen euro.
  • Three campuses in Leuven: Humanities (center of Leuven), biomedic sciences (Gasthuisberg), exact sciences (Heverlee-Arenberg)
  • One undergraduate campus in Kortrijk (KULAK)
  • 14 faculties, 50 departments, at about 240 sub-departments
  • 62 academic programmes in Leuven. Twelve of those also partially (first cycle or first candidature) in Kortrijk.
  • 4 completely English academic programmes (Philosophy, Theology, Religious Studies, Canon Law)
  • 104 post-graduate academic programmes: 50 supplementary programmes (15 of them are in English,8 are inter-university programmes) and 52 specialization programmes (21 in English, 21 inter-university)
  • 5,700 million francs for scientific research exclusively VIB -dotation and external resources (55% goes to research in exact sciences, 25% to biomedic sciences, and 20% to humanities)
  • 295 research groups with an average amount of 12 million francs of research funds
  • 2 012 publications per year in international peer-reviewed scientific magazines
  • 260 doctorates per year (58 of them by foreign doctorandi)
  • Participation in 1 coordinating Erasmus programme: 588 students from K.U.Leuven go abroad, 570 foreign students come to K.U.Leuven
  • Participation in 3Tempus-CARDS, 3Tempus-Tacis programmes and 5 Alfa programmes
  • Partner in 20 bilateral interuniversity collaboration agreements
  • 17 selective bilateral interuniversity agreements for Ph.D. students.
  • Development cooperation: 22 ongoing projects in Africa, 14 in Asia, 15 in Central and South America (Own Initatives projects and University Institutional Cooperation)
  • University library (Central library and 23 subsidiaries) with a collection of 4,2 million volumes and subscriptions to 14 500 magazines
  • Alumni Lovanienses with almost 26 000 members


We take a glimpse at the past…

Situated in the heart of Western Europe, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven has been a centre of knowledge for almost six centuries. Founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V, the K.U.Leuven bears the honour of being the oldest Catholic university in the world still in existence and the oldest university in the Low Countries. In its early days this 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 scientists who have made valuable contributions to European culture. Let us enumerate a few renowned names. In the 16th century the humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, lectured here. 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 years.


The mathematician, Gemma Frisius, helped build the foundations of modern science and tutored many famous scientists: the cartographer, Gerard Mercator, whose map-projection is still in current 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, caused huge controversy both inside and outside the Church. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the 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 physicochemist, Pieter Jan Minckelers, discovered the suitability of coal gas for lighting. In the 19th century, at the instigation of Pope Leo XIII, the K.U.Leuven became an important centre of Thomist philosophy.

Not all has been trouble-free, though, in the University's long history. It has had its share of difficulties during the various social and political upheavals in this region from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Of late, the two World Wars of the 20th century deeply scarred the University. In 1914, the University Hall with its precious library was set to 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 Msgr. Ladeuzeplein in 1928. Unfortunately this library was burned down in 1940 during the 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 steady rise to renewed prominence of the Dutch language, the University was eventually split in 1968 into two new universities. The French-speaking Université Catholique de Louvain moved to the newly built campus in Louvain-la-Neuve in Wallonia, Belgium. The Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit Leuven remained in the historic town of Leuven.

…to understand the present and face future

Such rich past of almost six hundred years has provided the K.U.Leuven through the centuries 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. One European survey ranks K.U.Leuven among the top ten European universities in terms of its scientific output. Likewise with regard to education, several quality surveys demonstrate that the University of Leuven stands at par with internationally respected institutions in a large number of fields of study.

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 eighties; 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 about 500 of our students share the same European experience at a foreign 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 graduate degrees: undergraduate programmes are offered in English only in the fields of Theology and Philosophy.

As of the present, the K.U.Leuven caters to around 26,368 students 8.2% of whom are international students (from 102 nations). In terms of its personnel, there are 4,663 members in the academic staff, 2,492 in the administrative and technical staff, 7,030 in the teaching hospital staff. 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 14 faculties, 50 departments and about 240 sub-departments. Further, its network of 30 auxiliary libraries now houses a total of 3,000,000 volumes. And more specifically on its medical facilities, the K.U.Leuven supports 5 hospitals, 3 affiliated hospitals, with a total of 2,057 hospital beds for the acutely ill.

Hopefully, all this has given you a more vivid picture of K.U.Leuven. The 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 Main Beguinage houses students and guest professors. And other numerous old colleges and residence halls give Leuven its 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 has served as a solid foundation on which its top-level research and centres of academic excellence have been constructed. In addition, K.U.Leuven thrives as a bustling student-town, with a strong international allure, where various cultures meet and experiences are exchanged and enriched. While it thrives at the heart of Europe, the K.U.Leuven opens its doors and looks forward to more years of academic and scientific service from within Flanders, Belgium to the wider international community.