Theme-based shared flat (kot-à-projet)
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|Number of Kap's||About 130|
|Capacity (each)||6 to 12 persons|
|Kap's first started in Louvain-la-Neuve (there are almost 80 kap's now), but it's also developed in Liège, Namur and Brussels|
A theme-based shared flat (called kot-à-projet or Kap in French) is a unique concept created by the université catholique de Louvain which consists in sharing a flat between six and twelve students and working together on a project. The project lasts for one (academic) year and can embrace cultural, social or humanitarian activities. There is a total of about 130 Kaps in Belgium gathering more than 1000 students. For example, one of them helps primary school students for their courses, another one takes care of handicapped people and yet another one is organizing sport events in Louvain-la-Neuve. Exchange students are particularly keen to find a place in one of these kaps because it is an opportunity integrate the Belgian culture and improve their French. As a result, some of the Kap's have a room reserved for exchange students only.
Theme-based shared flat were created in 1972 in Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium. This young students city was built after the Dutch students chased the French students from the Catholic University of Leuven. This situation led to the fact that new forms of social relations and a new innovative culture's conception were created. During its creation, the city included the concept of kot-à-projet which was a perfect way to meet the new objective of socialization. Is the reason why the university directly began to support, to fund the kaps, and make them attractive for the students in the first year of their creation.At the beginning, these theme-based shared flat were recognized as "student organizations" and were inspired from the community houses (mostly Christian) existing before this Dutch-French separation. In this period the issue of mixing sexes in accommodations occupied an important place. Although it remained officially banned,the university was used to allows the theme-based shared flat's occupants to choose their flatmates. It's the reason why, despite the university authorities not really realized this, the theme-based shared flats were the first mixed accommodation in Louvain-la-Neuve.
Most kap's are just association but those who want can organize a non-profit organization in case they have to manage a significant amount of money. The internal organization is really special because its adapted to the student's lifestyle. Indeed, students generally stay in the same theme-based flat, depending of their academic career only two or three years and sometimes even less. This turnover has to be compensate by finding every year new people interested in taking the lead of the kap. For this existing members organize dinners meeting to welcome newcomers. Furthermore, to stay alive and continue to proof their utility, kaps must defend their lives each year in front of a commission. This commission is composed of officials from the UCL and students, it examines the whole year covered by the kap, reads the file summary and plans for next year and then decide whether to give to the kap an additional year on the campus.
How does it work ?
All the kap's are organized round a committee called "the organ". This committee has three mains functions :
The Chairman is responsible for the kap's official representations and govern the commission in charge of listening kap's defense about their renewal .
The treasurer receives subsidies from the university and from the municipality and is responsible for redistributing them to the different kaps.
The external relations
The manager is responsible for coordinating contacts between the kaps, the University and the City
Categorization of the projects
The different proposed projects of the kaps are numerous but they can be categorized :
|Awareness projects||These projects defend humanitarian and ecological causes and fight against discrimination|
|Student service projects||These projects provide for example the centralization of the purchasing of syllabus, the communication of information on the campus.|
|Cultural projects||These projects propose some excursion ( theater, museums, to discover film or comics,...), events,...|
|Catholic projects||Projects organizing parochial activities|
|Language projects||These project invite students to practice a foreign language outside the university context ( discussion table in a pub,...)|
- For the university : implementation of a social and cultural climate
- For the organizer : discount on the rental fee, rooms and subsidies available to achieve the projects and opportunity to enjoy their life out of the study context. Furthermore, it is a complement to their personal experience (can be useful on a CV)
- For the users : small events organized every week which answer to student's needs.
Specificities of each city
Theme-bases shared flat started in Louvain-la-Neuve but this concept has been expanded to Liège, Namur and Brussels. In total there are about 130 kap's in Belgium. Precisely 80 kap's in Louvain-le-Neuve, 16 kap's in Namur and 30 kap's in Brussels. Liège city is still developing the concept.