Université libre de Bruxelles

The Université libre de Bruxelles (French: [ynivɛʁsite libʁ bʁysɛl]; English: Free University of Brussels; abbreviated ULB) is a French-speaking research university in Brussels, Belgium. ULB is one of the two institutions tracing their origins to the Free University of Brussels, founded in 1834 by the lawyer and liberal politician Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen.

Université libre de Bruxelles
Seal of the ULB, created in 2013
Latin: Universitas Bruxellensis
MottoScientia vincere tenebras (Latin)
Motto in English
Conquering darkness by science
TypeIndependent/partly state funded
Established1834 (Free University of Brussels)
1970 (ULB)
PresidentPierre Gurdjian
RectorAnnemie Schaus
Administrative staff
Students37,489 (2023-24)[1]
CampusSolbosch, Plaine, Erasme, Gosselies
IMCC [fr]
Atomium Culture

The split occurred along linguistic lines, forming the French-speaking ULB in 1969, and Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in 1970. One of the leading Belgian universities open to Europe and the world,[2][3] the ULB now has about 24,200 students, 33% of whom come from abroad, and an equally cosmopolitan staff.[4]

Name edit

Brussels has two universities whose names mean Free University of Brussels in English: the French-speaking Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Neither uses the English translation, since it is ambiguous.

History edit

Establishment of a university in Brussels edit

Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen, founder of the Free University of Brussels

The history of the Université libre de Bruxelles is closely linked with that of Belgium itself. When the Belgian State was formed in 1830 by nine breakaway provinces from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, three state universities existed in the cities of Ghent, Leuven and Liège, but none in the new capital, Brussels. Since the government was reluctant to fund another state university, a group of leading intellectuals in the fields of arts, science, and education — amongst whom the study prefect of the Royal Athenaeum of Brussels, Auguste Baron, as well as the astronomer and mathematician Adolphe Quetelet — planned to create a private university, which was permitted under the Belgian Constitution.[5][6]

In 1834, the Belgian episcopate decided to establish a Catholic university in Mechelen with the aim of regaining the influence of the Catholic Church on the academic scene in Belgium, and the government had the intent to close the university at Leuven and donate the buildings to the Catholic institution.[7] The country's liberals strongly opposed to this decision, and furthered their ideas for a university in Brussels as a counterbalance to the Catholic institution. At the same time, Auguste Baron had just become a member of the freemasonic lodge Les Amis Philantropes. Baron was able to convince Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen, the president of the lodge, to support the idea for a new university. On 24 June 1834, Verhaegen presented his plan to establish a free university.[6]

After sufficient funding was collected among advocates, the Université libre de Belgique ("Free University of Belgium") was inaugurated on 20 November 1834, in the Gothic Room of Brussels Town Hall. The date of its establishment is still commemorated annually, by students of its successor institutions, as a holiday called Saint-Verhaegen/Sint-Verhaegen (often shortened to St V) for Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen.[8] In 1836, the university was renamed the Université libre de Bruxelles ("Free University of Brussels").[5]

After its establishment, the Free University faced difficult times, since it received no subsidies or grants from the government; yearly fundraising events and tuition fees provided the only financial means. Verhaegen, who became a professor and later head of the new university, gave it a mission statement which he summarised in a speech to King Leopold I: "the principle of free inquiry and academic freedom uninfluenced by any political or religious authority."[6] In 1858, the Catholic Church established the Saint-Louis Institute in the city, which subsequently expanded into a university in its own right.

Growth, internal tensions and move edit

The Free University, then housed in the Granvelle Palace, c. 1900

The Free University grew significantly over the following decades. In 1842, it moved to the Granvelle Palace, which it occupied until 1928. It expanded the number of subjects taught and, in 1880, became one of the first institutions in Belgium to allow female students to study in some faculties. In 1893, it received large grants from Ernest and Alfred Solvay and Raoul Warocqué to open new faculties in the city. A disagreement over an invite to the anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus to speak at the university in 1893 led to some of the liberal and socialist faculty splitting away from the Free University to form the New University of Brussels (Université nouvelle de Bruxelles) in 1894. The institution failed to displace the Free University, however, and closed definitively in 1919.[9]

In 1900, the Free University's football team won the bronze medal at the Summer Olympics. After Racing Club de Bruxelles declined to participate, a student selection with players from the university was sent by the Federation.[10][11] The team was enforced with a few non-students.[12] The Institute of Sociology was founded in 1902, then in 1904 the Solvay School of Commerce, which would later become the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. In 1911, the university obtained its legal personality under the name Université libre de Bruxelles - Vrije Hogeschool te Brussel.[13]

The university's football team that won the bronze medal at the 1900 Olympic Games

The German occupation during World War I led to the suspension of classes for four years in 1914–1918. In the aftermath of the war, the Free University moved its principle activities to the Solbosch in the southern suburb of Ixelles and a purpose-built university campus was created, funded by the Belgian American Educational Foundation. The university was again closed by the German occupiers during World War II on 25 November 1941. Students from the university were involved in the Belgian Resistance, establishing Groupe G which focused on sabotage.

Splitting of the university edit

Until the early 20th century, courses at the Free University were taught exclusively in French, the language of the upper class in Belgium at that time, as well as of law and academia. However, with the Dutch-speaking population asking for more rights in Belgium (see Flemish Movement), some courses began being taught in both French and Dutch at the Faculty of Law as early as 1935. Nevertheless, it was not until 1963 that all faculties offered their courses in both languages.[14] Tensions between French- and Dutch-speaking students in the country came to a head in 1968 when the Catholic University of Leuven split along linguistic lines, becoming the first of several national institutions to do so.

On 1 October 1969, the French and Dutch entities of the Free University separated into two distinct sister universities. This splitting became official with the act of 28 May 1970, of the Belgian Parliament, by which the French-speaking Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) officially became two separate legal, administrative and scientific entities.[15][16]

Campuses edit

The ULB comprises three main campuses: the Solbosch campus, on the territories of the City of Brussels and Ixelles municipalities in the Brussels-Capital Region, the Plaine campus in Ixelles, and the Erasmus campus in Anderlecht, beside the Erasmus Hospital.

The main and largest campus of the university is the Solbosch, which hosts the administration and general services of the university. It also includes most of the faculties of the humanities, the École polytechnique, the large library of social sciences, and among the museums of the ULB, the Museum of Zoology and Anthropology,[17] the Allende exhibition room and the Michel de Ghelderode Museum-Library.

The Plaine campus hosts the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Pharmacy. There are also the Experimentariums of physics and chemistry, the Museum of Medicinal Plants and Pharmacy[18] and student housing. This site is served by Delta station.

The Erasmus campus houses the Erasmus Hospital and the Pôle Santé, the Faculty of Medicine, the School of Public Health and the Faculty of Motor Sciences. There is also the School of Nursing (with the Haute école libre de Bruxelles – Ilya Prigogine), the Museum of Medicine[19] and the Museum of Human Anatomy and Embryology.[20] This site is served by Erasme/Erasmus metro station.

The university also has buildings and activities in the Brussels municipality of Auderghem, and outside of Brussels, in Charleroi on the Aéropole Science Park and Nivelles.

Faculties and institutes edit

Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management

International Partnerships edit

University of California, Berkeley, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Université de Montréal, Waseda University, Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, BeiHang University, Universidade de São Paulo, Université de Lausanne, Université de Genève, University Ouaga I Pr. Joseph Ki-Zerbo, University of Lubumbashi[22]

Faculty or Institute Bachelor's degrees Master's degrees Complementary master's degrees
Faculty of Architecture Architecture Architecture
Faculty of Philosophy and Letters Ancient Languages and Literature:
1. Classic orientation;
2. Oriental orientation
Ancient Languages and Literature:
1. Classic orientation (1 or 2 years)
2. Oriental orientation (1 or 2 years)
African Languages and Cultures
Pedagogy in Higher Education
Language Sciences
Art History and Archaeology Art History and Archaeology (1 or 2 years)
Art History and Archaeology: Musicology Art History and Archaeology: Musicology (1 or 2 years)
French and Roman Languages and Literature Cultural Management
History Ethics
Information and Communication French and Roman Languages and Literature (1 or 2 years)
Modern Languages and Literature French and Roman Languages and Literature: French Foreign Language
Modern Languages and Literature:
1. General orientation
2. Germanic orientation
3. Oriental orientation
4. Slavic orientation
History (1 or 2 years)
Philosophy Information and Communication (1 or 2 years)
Religious and Secular Studies Information and Communication Sciences and Technologies
Modern Languages and Literature (1 or 2 years)
Modern Languages and Literature:
1. Arab orientation
2. Germanic orientation (1 or 2 years)
3. Oriental orientation (1 or 2 years)
4. Slavic orientation (1 or 2 years)
Multilingual Communication
Performing Arts
Philosophy (1 or 2 years)
Religious and Secular Studies
Faculty of Law and Criminological Science Law Criminology Economic Law
Law International Law
Public and Administrative Law
Social Law
Tax Law
Faculty of Psychological Science, and of Education Psychology and Educational Sciences Educational Sciences Pedagogy in Higher Education
Psychology and Educational Sciences: Speech Therapy Psychology Psychoanalytic Theories
Speech Therapy Risk Management and Well-being at Work
Faculty of Sciences
(recently absorbed the Institute of Environment Gestion (IGEAT))
Biology Actuarial Science Nanotechnology
Chemistry Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology
Computer Sciences Bioengineering: Agricultural Sciences
Engineering: Bioengineering Bioengineering: Chemistry and Bio-industries
Geography Bioengineering: Environmental Sciences and Technologies
Geology Bioinformatics and Modeling
Mathematics Biology (1 year)
Physics Chemistry (1 or 2 years)
Sciences (Polyvalent first year) Computer Sciences (1 or 2 years)
Environmental Sciences and Management (1 or 2 years)
Geography (1 or 2 years)
Geology (1 or 2 years)
Mathematics (1 or 2 years)
Organismal Biology and Ecology
Physics (1 or 2 years)
Tourism Sciences and Management (1 or 2 years)
Faculty of Applied Sciences/Polytechnic School Engineering: Bioengineering Bioengineering: Agricultural Sciences Conservation and Restoration of Immovable Cultural Heritage
Engineering: Civil Bioengineering: Chemistry and Bio-industries Nanotechnology
Engineering: Civil Architect Bioengineering: Environmental Sciences and Technologies Nuclear Engineering
Civil Engineering: Architectural Transportation Management
Civil Engineering: Biomedical Urban and Regional Planning
Civil Engineering: Chemistry and Material Science
Civil Engineering: Computer
Civil Engineering: Constructions
Civil Engineering: Electrical
Civil Engineering: Electro-mechanical
Civil Engineering: Mechanical
Civil Engineering: Physicist
Faculty of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Biomedical Sciences
Dentistry Dentistry
Medicine Medicine
Veterinary Medicine
Institute of Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences Biomedical Sciences Clinical Biology (for pharmacists)
Pharmaceutical Sciences Hospital Pharmacy
Industrial Pharmacy
Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Human and Social Science Anthropology
Political Science Human Resources Management
Sociology and Anthropology Political Science (1 or 2 years)
Political Science: International Relations
Population and Development
Public Administration
Sociology and Anthropology (1 year)
Work Science (1 or 2 years)
Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management Business Engineering Business Engineering Industrial Management and Technology
Economics Economics (1 or 2 years) Microfinance
Institute of European Studies European Studies European Law
Interdisciplinary Analysis of European Construction

Research edit

At the heart of the Free University of Brussels there are at least 2000 PhD students and around 3600 researchers and lecturers who work around different scientific fields and produce cutting-edge research.

The projects of these scientists span thematics that concern exact, applied and human sciences and researchers at the heart of the ULB have been awarded numerous international awards and recognitions.

The research carried out at the ULB is financed by different bodies such as the European Research Council, the Walloon Region, the Brussels Capital Region, the National Fund for Scientific Research, or one of the foundations that are dedicated to research at the ULB; the ULB Foundation or the Erasme Funds.

Since the early 2000s, the MAPP project has started studying political party membership evolution through the time.

Rankings edit

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[23]101–150 (2023)
CWUR World[24]211 (2020–21)
CWTS World[25]359 (2020)
QS World[26]189 (2024)
THE World[27]201–250 (2024)
USNWR Global[28]=222 (2023)

Notable people edit

Charles Michel, Belgian Prime Minister (2014–2019) and President of the European Council
Amélie Nothomb, Belgian Francophone novelist

Nobel Prize Winners edit

For pre-1970 notable faculty and alumni, see Free University of Brussels:

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ http://www.cref.be/annuaires/tab_rentr%C3%A9e_2023
  2. ^ "Université libre de Bruxelles". QS Top Universities. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  3. ^ "ARWU World University Rankings 2016 | Academic Ranking of World Universities 2016 | Top 500 universities | Shanghai Ranking - 2016". www.shanghairanking.com. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "A University born of an idea". Université libre de Bruxelles. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Witte, Els (1996). Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen (1796–1862) (in Dutch). Brussels. ISBN 90-5487-140-7. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ Lamberts, Emiel; Roegiers, Jan (1990). Leuven University, 1425–1985. Leuven: Leuven University Press. ISBN 90-6186-418-6.
  8. ^ "Pierre Théodore Verhaegen and St V". Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  9. ^ Laqua, Daniel (2013). The Age of Internationalism and Belgium, 1880–1930: Peace, Progress and Prestige. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-8883-4.
  10. ^ Great Britain's first home Olympic football adventure by Jon Carter, ESPN, 26 Jun 2012
  11. ^ Before the World Cup: Who were football’s earliest world champions? by Paul Brown on Medium Sports, 6 Jun 2018
  12. ^ Games of the II. Olympiad - Football Tournament by Søren Elbech and Karel Stokkermans on the RSSSF
  13. ^ Nerincx, Edmond (8 November 1911). Loi du 12 août 1911 accordant la personnification civile aux universités de Bruxelles et de Louvain (PDF) (in French). Brussels: Belgian official journal. p. 4846. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  14. ^ "About the University: Culture and History". Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Retrieved 25 November 2007.
  15. ^ "Chambre des Représen tant" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Law of 28 May 1970, concerning the splitting of the universities in Brussels and Leuven" (in Dutch). Belgisch Staatsblad/Flemish Government. Retrieved 25 November 2007.
  17. ^ "Muséum de Zoologie et d'Anthropologie". www2.ulb.ac.be. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Université Libre de Bruxelles - page 3". www2.ulb.ac.be. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  19. ^ "Musée de la Médecine de Bruxelles". Musée de la médecine. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Musée d'Anatomie et d'Embryologie humaines - page 2". www2.ulb.ac.be. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Home". www.iee-ulb.eu. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Les relations internationales de l'ULB". www.ulb.ac.be. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020". ShanghaiRanking. Retrieved 7 March 2024.
  24. ^ "World University Rankings 2020-2021". Center for World University Rankingsg. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  25. ^ "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2020 - P(top 10%)". CWTS Leiden Ranking. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  26. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2021". Top Universities. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  27. ^ "World University Rankings 2024 - Université libre de Bruxelles". Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 7 March 2024.
  28. ^ "Best Global Universities 2022-23 - Université Libre de Bruxelles". U.S. News Education (USNWR). ). Retrieved 7 March 2024.

References edit

  • Despy, A., 150 ans de L‘ULB. Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, 1984
  • Noel, F., 1894. Université libre de Bruxelles en crise, Brussels, 1994

External links edit

  Media related to Université libre de Bruxelles at Wikimedia Commons

50°48′42″N 4°22′52″E / 50.81167°N 4.38111°E / 50.81167; 4.38111