Rectorial election 2021

Rectorial Election 2021

Election results

After several intensive weeks, today (11/05/2021) was the day, all voters went to the ballot box (digitally). The votes have been counted and we can announce that Prof. Sels has been re-elected as rector at the KU Leuven for 2021-2025, with 63,9% of the votes.

We would like to thank both candidates for the interesting debates and good cooperation.

Furthermore, we thank our Faculty consultative bodies, the campus councils ánd every student who has cast a vote at a Faculty Congress for their efforts. 

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


Every four years, Rectorial elections are held 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 can help determine the outcome of this battle. But how did it 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 elections. Every student has had the opportunity to make their voice heard through their Faculty Consultative Body. 

The importance of the Student Vote

The last Rectorial election (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 battle 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.

Rectorial election debates

As with previous rectorial elections, Stura organises an internal ánd external debate in the weeks before the election. During these debates candidates can further explain their views and answer questions from the students. The internal debate, which took place on Friday April 30th, was organised 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, is intended for the wider public, which means all students of KU Leuven were invited. Rewatch the external debate with English interpretation below!

The candidates
Luc Sels
Most of us already know Professor Sels, as he is the current rector. Before his mandate as rector, he was dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business from 2009 to 2017.

Jan Tytgat
Professor Tytgat – who describes himself not as an opposing candidate, but as an alternative candidate – challenges incumbent Rector Sels. He is currently head of the Toxicology and Pharmacology Department within the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Faculty Congresses

Every student at KU Leuven will have the opportunity to vote for the new Rector. But don’t worry, you will not have to go to the ballot box yourself. The General Assembly has chosen to work with electors, who are fairly distributed over the student numbers of the faculties. For example, the smaller faculty of Theology and Religious Studies gets 3 out of 332 electoral persons for their faculty student vote, while the faculty of Law gets 30 out of the total.

The voting will take place via a Faculty Congress, which will be organised by the student representatives of your Faculty. At this congress, a discussion will take place, after which you will be able to cast a well-considered vote. The Rector candidate who obtains the most votes at the Faculty Congress of your faculty will then receive all the student votes that your representatives may cast. Going back to the example above, this means that if you are a Criminology student and you cast a vote at your Faculty Congress, 30 of the 332 student votes will go to the rectorial candidate who gained the majority at the vote of your congress .

Do you study at more than one faculty? Then you may cast your vote at the Faculty Congress of the faculty where you take the most credits. 

When will my Faculty’s congress take place?
Special Election Regulations for the Student Vote 
To avoid fragmentation of our voting block, student representatives constantly coordinate with each other. They develop election rules that help determine how students cast their votes. Consider the number of electors each group gets. For example, there are a lot more civil engineers than theologians studying at KU Leuven. They also address the question of whether students should, for example, vote for the same candidate during a second or third round of voting. The first round does not always result in an absolute majority for a particular candidate. All this tinkering with electoral procedures is mainly done in the Rectorial Elections Task Force. This group includes members of Stura and student representatives of each Faculty (FO), from the economists of StEB to the scientists of OOR and philosophers of NFK. They provide regular feedback to the General Assembly (GA) of the Student Council. After several months of tweaking and further refinement, the Electoral Rulebook appears for a final time at the General Assembly. The debate is opened. Members express their reservations, ask questions and approve the regulations when they agree. After approval from the GA, the regulations went to the KU Leuven Academic Council for further consideration.

The approved Election Regulations for the Student Vote can be found below.

[Note that this is an unofficial translation of the Dutch version that has been approved by the General Assembly and the Academic Council]
As you can see, 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.
The Rectorial election: a walkthrough video 
Play Video
Overview of important dates
groot - 2020-2021