Education at the Crossroads of Europe: Higher Education in Belgium

Because of Belgium’s unique history and the mix of languages spoken within its borders, its education system is funded by one of the three main communities: the Flemish, French and German-speaking communities. At the higher education levels the administration of the schools is organized by two main communities, the Flemish and the French, with German-speaking students often going to Germany to continue their studies. Higher education in Belgium is mostly free and students that have received their high school diploma are eligible to enroll. The four major areas of higher education that are not open to anyone are medicine, the arts, the engineering sciences and the management sciences.

There are six Flemish and eight French universities that issue academic degrees at the bachelor, masters’ and doctoral levels, while there are five associations of colleges that have varying numbers of associated campuses, as well as eight registered Institutes of Higher Education. There are also a large number of French colleges, art colleges and institutes. Enrollment fees are set by the government and indexed yearly with a three-tiered system of financial aid to students based on their eligibility. Entrance to the more restricted courses like medicine and the arts is based on scholastic examinations, and management sciences requires prior experience with management and control topics.

Belgium is a signatory to the Bologna Accords that have been adopted across Europe as a measure to standardize academic degree and educational quality control across the Eurozone. This ensures that the qualifications that are earned in Belgian universities and Institutes of Higher Learning are accepted as being of the highest standards, and facilitates the greater sharing of resources across European universities in general. Belgian institutions of higher education are open to foreign students, and since the adoption of the Bologna system they offer degrees on the standard Bachelor and Masters’ system.

Despite the fragmentary nature of Belgian society, generally the Belgian system of higher education is cohesive as well as integrated into the broader European system of universities. This means that Belgian institutes of higher education offer the highest standard of education possible, which is freely available to anyone that meets the qualification standards required for enrollment. Higher education in Belgium is internationally focused, and the Flemish institutions in particular offer courses in English as well as many other languages.

Belgian education has a good reputation, and qualifications from Belgian universities and colleges are recognized because of the exemplary nature of its regulatory system, and its obligatory accreditation system. The high quality of Flemish education is recognized in the academic world by the high esteem Belgian universities that offer doctoral studies are held in among world university rankings. Higher education is thriving in Belgium because of the cultural and social diversity of that nation, and the recognition of the standards that it sets for qualifications that students earn there. As a part of the European academic system, Belgian institutes of higher education continue to produce trained professionals of the highest quality, which in turn continues to create confidence in the standards of education they receive.


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