The Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles, began life in 1858 as a Philosophy Department in the Institut Saint-Louis. This department was set up to offer courses that prepared prospective law students for the ‘candidature’ exam, a pre-requisite for law degrees at the time, and which were then based on the study of philosophy and literature.
In 1929 Saint-Louis was reclassified as a university-level institution to enable it to award degrees in philosophy and literature. In 1948, the Philosophy Department became an ‘Association without lucrative purpose’ (asbl), adopting the title ‘Faculté universitaire Saint-Louis’.
The 1960s saw a phase of accelerating change. The still new Faculty of Saint-Louis became independent of the Institut; there were new buildings, more personnel and more students. The crowning success of the decade came when the "Faculté" became the "Facultés universitaires" and a new institution composed of three Faculties and a School of Philosophy & Religion came into being.
Through the 1970s and 1980s Saint-Louis introduced a range of evening study and multilingual programmes.
The university has today become a recognised centre of excellence in the field of human sciences.
To offer just a few examples of recent developments, Saint-Louis:
has introduced Specialised Master’s programmes and doctorates;
participates in the Francqui Chair visiting professor programme;
has created a number of research posts (under FNRS, FSR, and other funds);
participates in the PAI and ARC programmes;
has set up doctoral schools;
participates in inter-university student exchange programmes (such as ERASMUS and North-South cooperation);
participates in collaborative research, and last but not least it created an Institute for European Studies.
With a view to improving the university’s visibility both within Belgium and abroad, where the title ‘University Faculties’ may sometimes be misunderstood, in 2012 a request was submitted to the Minister for Higher Education, Jean-Claude Marcourt, to modify its official name.
The ‘Decree on higher education and the organisation of academic study’, adopted on 7 November 2013 by the Parliament of the French Community, refers to our university’s new name, thus ushering out ‘The University Faculties’ and heralding a new beginning for Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles.
In April 2014, another Decree with importance for Saint-Louis was adopted by the Parliament of the French Community. It stipulates that the first cycle (undergraduate) ‘Translators and Interpretors’ programme(s) offered by the Institut Libre Marie Haps, which currently comes under the responsibility of the Ecole Léonard de Vinci, will be transferred to the University of Saint-Louis at the start of the 2015-2016 academic year. These undergraduate programmes will form the basis of an entirely new Faculty that will join the 3 existing Faculties and the Institute of European Studies.
The last two years have been characterised by the organising of new postgraduate courses: a Master in Strategy and Analysis of Interactive and Collaborative Communication, awarded jointly with the Institut Supérieur de Formation Sociale et de Communication (part of the Haute Ecole ICHEC - ISFSC), and a Master in Gender Studies co-organised by the six universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.
At the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, the university’s general assembly, by a majority of over 80% of the votes, adopted the blueprint for a merger with the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), which is to come into effect after the amendment of the executive framework.