Higher education system in Flanders
Belgium is a federal country with three official languages (Dutch, French and German). Flanders is one of the federal entities with full competence over higher education. Brussels, the capital of Flanders and Belgium, also functions as the multilingual and multicultural capital of the European Union and is the seat of many international governmental (e.g. NATO) and non-governmental organisations (e.g. Human Rights Watch).
Higher education in Flanders is therefore internationally oriented and Flemish higher education offers a wide range of programmes in English and other languages. The quality of Flemish higher education is ensured by its transparent regulatory framework and its obligatory accreditation.
Types of institutions
There are two main categories of higher education institutions in Flanders: the statutory registered institutions and the (non-statutory) registered institutions. Only these institutions are allowed to offer Bachelor and Master's degrees.
- Statutory registered institutions
These institutions are the traditional higher education institutions and were already recognised by the Flemish authorities before the higher education reforms of 2003. All these institutions receive public funding for their education and scientific research.
There are three main types of statutory registered institutions:
- University Colleges;
- Postgraduate institutions.
- Registered institutions
Registered institutions are institutions that have gone through a formal registration procedure and are officially registered by the Flemish government.
The registration procedure includes proving financial solvency and setting up cooperation agreements with a recognised institution (national/international) to guarantee students finishing their studies in cases where an institution halts its activities (e.g. bankruptcy).
Higher education is mainly offered by university colleges and universities. Universities offer programmes with an academic orientation. University colleges offer programmes with a professional orientation. However, they can also offer programmes with an academic orientation if they do so in an ‘Association' with a university. Such an association is an official body in which the cooperation between a university and one or more university colleges is officially established. They are for example responsible for the link with research in academic programmes offered by university colleges. The degrees are awarded by the universities and university colleges themselves.
Types of programmes
Flanders has a three cycle degree structure: Bachelor - Master - Ph.D
- Bachelor's degrees
- Bachelor's programme (professional orientation)
- Bachelor of Advanced Studies (professional orientation)
- Bachelor's programme (academic orientation)
- Master's degrees
- Master's programme
- Master of Advanced Studies
- PhD degrees
- Doctorate programme
Overview degree structure
Read more: Degree structure in Flanders