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Belgium: Study in the heart of Europe

Belgium 24 November 2008, 00:00

The huge advantage of higher education in the Wallonia-Brussels Community lies in the diversity of the available courses of study...

The huge advantage of higher education in the Wallonia-Brussels. The students have the possibility of following short-term or long-term programmes. The programmes are dispensed in different establishments classified according to the type of education in which they specialise: university education or non-university higher education.
University education

University establishments are specifically designed to offer three cycles of study and to carry out scientific research. Teaching and research go hand in hand at university level.
The universities are recognised and subsidised by the French Community of Belgium. They are grouped together in the form of university academies :

  •  l’Académie universitaire Louvain {Université Catholique de Louvain (ULC), Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix à Namur (FUNDP), Facultés Universitaires Catholiques de Mons (FUCaM)} ;
  •  l’Académie universitaire Wallonie-Bruxelles {Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Université de Mons-Hainaut (UMH), Faculté Polytechnique de Mons (FPMs)} ;
  •  l’Académie universitaire Wallonie-Europe {Université de Liège (ULg), Faculté Universitaire des Sciences Agronomiques de Gembloux (FUGAGx)}.

University studies are organised in three cycles :

  • 1st cycle studies lead to the academic qualification of bachelor, with a duration of three years (180 credits).
  • 2nd cycle studies lead to the academic qualification of :
  • master after 1 year (60 credits), or, in some cases, after 2 years (120 credits) ;
  • veterinary doctor after three years (180 credits);
  • doctor in medicine after four years (240 credits).
  • The academic qualification of advanced master enables the acquisition of a specialist professional qualification. This programme, with at least 60 credits, may be acquired following an initial programme of at least 300 credits.
  • Third cycle studies include on the one hand the doctoral programme (60 credits), which leads to a research training certificate, and on the other hand work linked to the preparation of a doctorate thesis, which leads to the academic qualification of doctor following thesis examination. In the French Community of Belgium, the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (F.R.S.-FRNS) manages the twenty doctoral schools that group together the thematic doctoral schools. In principle, they are inter-university, interdisciplinary and international.

Non-university higher education
The Institutes of Higher Education and the Art Academies organise short–term or long-term higher education courses. The Higher Institutes of Architecture only offer long-term higher education courses.

  • Short-term higher education courses that lead to vocational qualifications are organised in one single cycle that leads to the academic grade of Bachelor (180 to 240 credits). The programme contains both practical and theoretical elements. Some institutes of higher education also offer a year of specialisation at the end of the 1st cycle.
  •  Long-term higher education courses are organised into two cycles :
    • The 1st cycle of studies lasts for 3 years (180 credits) and leads to the academic grade of bachelor.
    • he 2nd cycle of studies carries 60 or 120 credits that can be acquired respectively in one or two years of study at least and leads to the academic grade of master.

Consequently, equivalence exists between the qualifications awarded by the universities and the institutes of higher education.

Language of teaching

The language of teaching and assessment for activities carried out by students in these various establishments is, in principle, French. However, some courses are taught in another language (for example English). Students are informed of this upon their application.

Students not having had the opportunity to learn French but who have a command of English may sign up without difficulty for doctoral studies and certain specialised university programmes in Belgium. On their arrival, they will be able to acquire a basic grasp of French.

Some establishments organise, either during the holidays or throughout the academic year, French language classes aimed at foreign students experiencing difficulties in learning the language. The majority of universities have a language centre which organises courses in French as a foreign language. Information may be obtained from the registration services of the establishments.

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