The university was founded in 1927 by Martinus Cobbenhagen as a Roman Catholic Trade College. In 1936 it was renamed Katholieke Economische Hogeschool,
in 1963 – when the faculties of Law and Social Sciences were founded – Katholieke Hogeschool Tilburg (KHT). The university’s central main building is now known as the Cobbenhagen Building.
It was not until the mid-1980s that faculties and universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands were allowed to call themselves universities. At that time, the (specialist) universities of applied sciences were also to bear the name of the university according to an amendment to the law. For this reason, the Katholieke Hogeschool Tilburg (KHT) was forced to change its name again in 1986. Because Tilburg University would lead to an undesirable abbreviation (KUT), it became the Catholic University of Brabant (KUB).
The name history runs like a thread through the history of the university and has already led to hilarity in how Tilburg University was perceived. As a result, the name was seen as a compromise. In 2001, the name was changed again, in Tilburg University (UvT). The city name returned; the adjective ‘catholic’ could be found in the subtitle inspired by the catholic tradition. In 2010 it was again decided by the Executive Board of the University to use the international name Tilburg University as the official name with the subtitle Understanding Society.