Pieter DHONDT 6 The existing examination system made a reform of the educational programs, the educational methods, or the structure of the four universities, completely impossible, according to the great majority of professors. The mutual distrust between the universities prevented the introduction of more freedom. It was argued that freedom to improve and to reform inevitably went hand in hand with freedom to abuse. The universities of the competing ideological group would only aim at attracting as many students as possible, if necessary, even at the expense of the quality of the granted diplomas. Only the preservation of the independent examining boards could prevent this inclination, it was stated. Also with regard to the content of the educational programs, a great deal of distrust existed between the different universities. The permanent tensions between the catholic university in Leuven and the free university in Brussels were obvious, but, around the middle of the nineteenth century, the bishops increasingly interfered in the education at the state universities too. Of course, their influence was largest at their own university in Leuven, certainly from 1872, when the ultramontane episcopate controlled the administration of the university completely, due to the appointment of a rather weak rector. Many professors who adopted a somewhat progressive attitude in one way or another, were put on the carpet. The Université catholique de Louvaindefended its policy with the argument that it had to guarantee the preservation and the spread of the true catholic doctrine. The Université libre de Bruxellespresented itself in the first place as the counterpart of the Catholics in Leuven. It had to restore the balance between Catholics and liberals with regard to university education and the liberal institution was needed to prevent the catholic university from falling into extremism. Moreover, according to its own perception, the university in Brussels was essential for the preservation of the state universities, which would not be able to compete with the catholic university on their own. In their turn, the state universities considered themselves indispensable to preserve university education in general, because of the precarious financial situation of the free universities. Simultaneously, they epitomized another compromise, viz. that between Dutch- and French-speaking people.