Leuven is not just another European location with a picture-perfect historic centre and medieval charm. Located deep in the heart of Flanders, it is the epitome of a student city, where modernity, history and academic excellence blend in a perfect harmony.
Beyond academia, Leuven also embraces multiculturalism and diversity. Thanks to its welcoming atmosphere, enriching cultural experiences, and inclusive community, it is clear why so many international students choose it every year as their next study destination.
Leuven is renowned for its accessible facilities and infrastructures. The city center, with its pedestrian-friendly streets, is easily navigable by foot or bicycle, making it convenient to access university buildings, libraries, shops, and cafes.
And great news! Due to its compact size, it is easier to find affordable housing options, including dormitories, shared apartments, and private rentals.
Another one of its highlights is the area's vibrant social and cultural scene. The city hosts numerous events, festivals, and cultural activities throughout the year, providing ample opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the local traditions and connect with fellow colleagues.
Also, as a visitor, don't miss the chance to stop by its famous breweries. Leuven hosts the headquarters of Inbev (of Stella Artois fame) - among many more.
As an international student in Leuven, you'll have access to high-quality education, renowned faculty members, and cutting-edge research opportunities.
Noteworthy universities include:
Founded in 1425, KU Leuven is one of Europe's oldest and most prestigious universities, enrolling upwards of 60,000 students (20% of whom are international). Over its 600 years of existence, this Catholic research university has shaped the city – its social life and its economy – and turned it into a magnet for research and tech. Not only it was named Europe’s most innovative institution in 2019 by Reuters, but it is also considered the largest and highest-ranked in Belgium, and one of the top 100 worldwide.
While EU/EEA students can work during their studies and stay after graduation without restrictions, other international students can work up to 20 a week during term time, and more during the holidays. After graduation, non EU/EEA students can apply for a residence permit for an ‘orientation year’ to look for employment.
Many part-time job opportunities for students will require knowledge of Dutch, but it is also possible to find employment after graduation with a basic knowledge of the local language.
The presence of such an innovative and active university in town feeds into a fertile environment for research and development organisations, tech, IT and business. One of the most well-known R&D organisations headquartered in Leuven is IMEC, which conducts research in nanoelectronics and digital technologies.
Leuven is home to three remarkable science parks: Leuven Science Park, Haasrode Research Park, and Arenberg Science Park. Home to companies from Siemens to the newest start-ups, they currently also attract top researchers, entrepreneurs, and many modern technology-driven companies.
The easiest way to get to Leuven is by flying to Brussels. The capital's airport, with direct daily connections to Europe and the rest of the world, is (only!) about 15 minutes by train from Leuven.
Belgium shares its borders with four countries: the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, and France to the south. If you are traveling from any of these countries, another fast and sustainable option is to travel by high-speed train.
Regarding low-cost alternatives, there are also bus routes and car sharing platforms that connect Leuven directly with most Belgian cities and with some European capitals such as Paris or Amsterdam.