Rectorial Election

Soon we will have to choose a new Rector at KU Leuven again. As you will see below, organizing the student vote requires a lot of work. Yet the past teaches us that this is anything but wasted effort. As a cohesive block, you have more say, more say in making education and student life better, one rector at a time.

Below you can access all the information from the past rectorial election, during academic year 2024-2025 this page will be updated with new information.

Elections 2020-2021

Rectorial elections are held every four years in the spring. Professors from various disciplines, faculties and groups then compete against each other. Not only your student advisor, professors or  assistants have the right to vote. As students, we were able to help determine the outcome of this battle. But how did this all work? And what does the role that candidates aspire to actually entail? We told you all about it in the run-up to the past elections. As a student, you had the opportunity to make your voice heard through your Faculty Consultative Body.

Luc Sels
Among most of us, Professor Sels was already known, as he was the incumbent rector. Before his tenure as rector, he was dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business from 2009 to 2017.
Jan Tytgat
Professor Tytgat -who described himself not as an opposing candidate, but as an alternative candidate- challenged incumbent Rector Sels. During the election period, he headed the  Toxicology and Pharmacology Department within the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The rectorial election of 2016-2017 was a close race. Professor Sels won with 50,58% from incumbent Rector Professor Torfs. With a difference of less than two percentage points, the outcome of the election was determined. This means that a small group can make a big difference! Especially as students, we can have a deciding vote if we organize properly. After all, we represent around 10% of the vote. For candidates, it is therefore important to have fans in each of the voting groups. 

As with previous rectorial elections, Stura organized an internal ánd external debate in the weeks before the election. During these debates, candidates could further explain their views and answer questions from the students.

The internal debate, which took place on Friday April 30th, 2021, was organized for the members of the General Assembly. During this debate, the GA was able to ask all its questions.

The external debate, which took place on Monday April 26th 2021 was intended for the wider public, which means all students of KU Leuven were invited. The debate was moderated by Wim de Vilder. Rewatch the external debate with English interpretation below!

Every student at KU Leuven had the opportunity to vote for the new Rector. However, they did not all have to go to the ballot box themselves. The General Assembly chose to work with electors, who were fairly distributed over the student numbers of the faculties. For example, the smaller Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies received 3 out of 332 electoral votes for their faculty student vote, while the Faculty of Law & Criminological Studies received 30 out of the total.

Voting was conducted through Faculty Congresses, which were organized by the student representatives of each faculty. A discussion took place at these congresses, after which students were able to cast an informed vote. The Rector candidate who obtained the most votes at a Faculty Congress then received all the student votes that the representatives of that faculty were allowed to cast. Going back to the example above, this meant that if you are a Criminology student and cast a vote at your Faculty Congress, 30 of the 332 student votes would go to the rector candidate who won the majority at that Congress’ vote.

Students who studied at more than one faculty cast their vote at the Faculty Congress of the faculty where they took the most credits.

To avoid fragmentation of our voting block, student representatives constantly coordinated with each other. They worked out Election Regulations that helped determine the way students could cast their votes. Consider the number of electors each group received. For example, there are many more Civil Engineers than Canon lawyers studying at KU Leuven. They also considered whether students should, for example, vote for the same candidate during a second or third round of voting. After all, the first round does not always produce an absolute majority for a particular candidate.

All this tinkering with election procedures happened mainly in the working group rectorial elections. This group consisted of members of Stura and representatives from each Faculty Consultative Body, from the economists of StEB to the scientists of OOR and philosophers of NFK. They provided regular feedback to the General Assembly. After several months of adjustment and further refinement, the Election Regulations appeared for a final time at the GA. The debate was opened. Members expressed concerns, asked questions and approved the regulations when they agreed. After GA approval, the regulations went to the Academic Council for further consideration.

View the approved Student Voice Election Regulations for the 2021 election below.

[Note that this is an unofficial translation of the Dutch version that has been approved by the General Assembly and the Academic Council]

The Rector for 2021-2025 was announced on May 11, 2021.
All electors left for the ballot box (digitally) that day. The votes were counted: Prof. Sels was re-elected rector of KU Leuven for a four-year policy term with 63.9% of the votes.

Stura thanked both candidates for the interesting debates and good cooperation.
In addition, we thanked our FSC’s, campus councils and every student who cast a vote through a Faculty Congress for their efforts.

As Student Council we put our trust in a constructive cooperation with Rector Sels.