Founded in 1834 by Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is a private research university with several campuses located in the heart of the Belgian capital, giving researchers and a 24,000-strong student body every opportunity to embrace all the perks of a vibrant European city.
ULB offers about 40 undergraduate programmes and nearly 250 graduate courses. Accessible by train from several major European cities in under two hours, about one-third of ULB’s intake are international with 20 per cent coming from Europe. Although it is a francophone institution, international students can take advantage of university languages courses to improve their French and some master’s programmes are taught in English. ULB has strong links with international institutions and works closely with Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a Flemish-speaking institution also based in the capital.
The university’s founding philosophy focused on the idea of freedom of inquiry and students are represented on all decision-making bodies.
ULB’s motto can be translated as “conquering darkness with knowledge” and its scholars have won a variety of awards including four Nobel prizes, 24 Francqui Prizes, a prestigious scholarly award in the sciences in Belgium, and a Fields Medal. Well-known alumni include the English journalist Robert Peston and business school graduate Heidi Cruz, who worked for the Bush administration and is the wife of US politician Ted Cruz.
The university has 12 faculties and incorporates several museums, including one dedicated to zoology, and at the Solbosch campus, ULB’s main location, there is a weekly market selling locally produced food.