UCL location

The Université Catholique de Louvain is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, in South-East of Brussels, the head city of Belgium.

The story of UCL

In 1425, the Duke of Brabant, the chapitre collégial de Saint-Pierre (collegiate chapel of Saint-Pierre) and the town councillors were brought together in their shared desire to set up a university in Louvain. On the 9th December, the bull Sapientie immarcessibilis heralded, under the authority of Pope Martin V, the birth of the university.

The setting up of the university meant the town could respond to the needs of a changing world. Until the end of the 18th century, it educated most senior civil servants, jurists, magistrates, lawyers and doctors from the Netherlands (successively Burgundians, Spaniards and Austrians).

The university also had its hand in the emancipation of the modern subject at the end of the 15th century. Vésale, Mercator and many others came to Louvain fired up with academic ambition. Humanism, illuminated by the work of Erasmus, who spent several years in Louvain, benefiting from the presence of researchers from all over Europe, such as the Spaniard Vives, and served by the remarkable Collège des Trois Langues, founded in 1518, was to produce remarkable results over the course of the 16th century, in particular the work of Justus Lipsius.

When the Austrian Netherlands and the Principality of Liège were made part of France, the university was forced to close in 1797. It was reformed as a State University (Université d'Etat) in 1816 (at the time of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) and then refounded as a Catholic university in1834, after Belgium gained independence.

Closely combining teaching and research, the Université catholique de Louvain set up five new faculties (to add to the five created in 1834), institutes, special schools, laboratories and seminaries and took over the running of the clinics and hospitals.

Since 1880, each generation of UCL graduates has counted, in each discipline, internationally renowned scientists amongst their number.

The university also became increasingly well-known across the globe thanks to the ever- growing number of foreign students, the foundation of the Lovanium university in Congo and the countless exchanging of views and ideas with other continents.

Belgium’s progression towards federalism and the granting of autonomous status to the linguistic communities led to the institution in 1970 of two independent universities with a shared past. The Université catholique de Louvain moved towards Brabant wallon and Brussels, founding Louvain-la-Neuve and l'UCL-Bruxelles in Woluwé Saint-Lambert.

Set up in 2004 by virtue of a decree organizing higher education, the Académie universitaire Louvain brings together the Catholic university faculties of Mons, the university faculties Notre-Dame de la Paix in Namur, the university faculties Saint-Louis and the Université catholique de Louvain.

On 8 March, 2006, UCL and a group of higher education institutes formed a centre for higher education.

The crossover towards the Bologna system began in 2004. In 2005, the university launched a Development plan which examines how to deal with the challenges of globalization.

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