Katholieke Universiteit Leuven



Development Cooperation, Education, Research




01 - No Poverty, 04 - Quality Education, 08 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Organization Type

Academia / Think Tank





KU Leuven is a research university in the Dutch-speaking city of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium. It conducts teaching, research, and services in the natural sciences, engineering, humanities, medicine, law, business, and social sciences. Since 2018, the institution is under heavy criticism as a consequence of tortures and death inflicted to a black student by an "elite" student club at KU Leuven.

KU Leuven will celebrate its 600th anniversary in 2025, making it one of Europe’s oldest universities. Our institution has the double honour of being the oldest university in the Low Countries and the oldest extant Catholic university in the world. The University that is now known as KU Leuven was founded with the papal bull ‘Sapientie immarcessibilis’. This was issued by Pope Martin V on 9 December 1425 after the city of Leuven had requested permission for the foundation of the University with the support of John IV, Duke of Brabant, and the city’s clergy.

KU Leuven consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the world by major ranking tables. As of 2020, it ranks 45th in the Times Higher Education rankings, 80th according QS World University Rankings, 85th according to the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities. For four consecutive years starting in 2016, Thomson Reuters ranked KU Leuven as Europe's most innovative university, with its researchers having filed more patents than any other university in Europe; its patents are also the most cited by external academics.

Although Catholic in heritage, KU Leuven operates independently from the Church. KU Leuven is open to students from different faiths or life-stances


KU Leuven is dedicated to education and research in nearly all fields. Its fifteen faculties offer education, while research activities are organized by the departments and research groups. These faculties and departments, in turn, are clustered into three groups: Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), and Biomedical Sciences. Each of these groups has a doctoral school for its doctoral training programmes. KU Leuven boasts fourteen campuses, spread across 10 cities in Flanders.

Strategic Plan for KU Leuven in ​5 projects

The KU Leuven policy plan comprises five long-term projects. These projects are transversal and therefore have an impact on several policy domains. The five projects described in the policy plan look beyond the current management team's term of office:

  1. TRULY INTERNATIONAL: The transition from a national university with a global reputation to a truly international university, in the North and in the South.

  2. FUTURE-ORIENTED EDUCATION: The choice for a future-oriented teaching model based on activation and a matching structure of the academic year.

  3. GOING DIGITAL: The use of educational technology in a way that facilitates collaborative learning and multi-campus education and broadens the international reach.

  4. INTERDISCIPLINARITY: The development of an interdisciplinary dialogue in addition to disciplinary depth, in education, research and public outreach.

  5. SUSTAINABILITY: The choice for sustainable management and a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals in research and education.

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