06 - Belgium - Admission requirements

Generally, the French Community does not apply a limited admissions system ( numerus clausus): all students holding the standard required diplomas may be admitted. There are however some exceptions to this rule.

To enter higher education, a student must hold an upper secondary education certificate ( CESS), awarded upon completion of a full secondary education cycle by a French Community full-time secondary school or social advancement school, or conferred by the French Community’s board of examiners. Holders of a CESSthat was awarded upon completion of a 7th vocational year are the only students that are required to sit for exams administered by the Board of Examiners of the French Community to earn a higher education access certificate ( DAES). In addition, no one may be admitted to exams for a first-cycle study year without proving sufficient command of the French language.

Each higher education institution is free to impose entrance requirements in addition to those legally mandated. Such requirements may regulate access to certain studies, e.g. a medical exam and a physical evaluation for access to physical therapist training and lower-secondary physical education, sports, and leisure agrégé courses for future teachers; or a drawing test for admission to artistic education.

Students freely choose the higher education institution in which they wish to enrol. The choice may be made until December 1 of the academic year underway, without prejudice of the right to recourse. The government, upon opinion of the Category Council, may however exceptionally authorize a student to enrol between December 1 and February 1, if justified by the invoked circumstances.

The circumstances under which a university, hautes écoles or art college may refuse enrolment are defined, and a recourse procedure against enrolment refusal is foreseen.

As regards the hautes écolesand the universities, the French Community has taken various measures aimed at facilitating the re-direction of students:

  • a system of gateways that authorises the hautes écolesand the universities, by right, to enrol a student in a programme when s/he has completed the studies that provide access to such a programme;
  • customized enrolment, i.e. the possibility left to examination boards to grant exemptions to students who have already completed certain study years;
  • taking into account students’ personal and professional acquisitions.


Every enrolment is for an academic year and concerns a specific study programme. However, under conditions laid down in the study regulations, a student may choose to follow during an academic year a coherent subset of a study programme for a total of 30 to 90 credits. With the agreement of the academic authorities, a student may enrol in several different study programmes during a same academic year. In order to be regular, an enrolment must comprise at least 30 credits in a given programme, except for students who are repeating a year (whose study year may comprise a lower number of residual credits), students enrolled in a preparatory year, and students enrolled in a supplemental year. A regular student enjoys rights and duties linked to this status. As regards the application of legal and regulatory provisions other than those in the decree of 31 March 2004, he is deemed to be a full-time student.

Under conditions laid down in the study regulation, a student may enrol in other organised educational or training activities. Such enrolment may lead to the award of a certificate or proof of credits obtained.

The general conditions for access to first-cycle study are defined in the decree of 31 March 2004. In particular, studies are accessible to: holders of the upper secondary certificate ( CESS) awarded as of school year 1993-1994 by a French Community fulltime or social promotion school and accredited by the ad hoc Commission; holders of the same diploma awarded, as of calendar year 1994, by the French Community’s examination board; holders of a higher education certificate or diploma awarded by a fulltime or social promotion school; holders of a foreign diploma or certificate recognised as equivalent by decree, European directive or international agreement.

There are also conditions applicable to the second and third cycles. Dispensations and customized admissions are also possible.

By justified decision, the academic authorities can also refuse enrolment of a student, according to the procedure laid down in the study regulation. This is possible when the student was subject to a measure of exclusion from a higher education institution during the five preceding academic years; when the enrolment application concerns studies that do not lead to an academic grade; or, lastly, when the student does not meet the requirements set out in the decree of 27 July 1971 on the funding and supervision of university institutions.

When a refusal is made by a university institution organized by the French Community, the student may, within 30 days and by registered post, appeal against the decision to the Minister who may, within 30 days, invalidate the refusal.

The university institutions subsidized by the French Community include in their regulations the creation and operation of a commission charged with reviewing appeals by students against an admission refusal. This commission, which offers guarantees of independence, may, in the respect of the methods laid down in the regulations, invalidate the refusal.

Access to first cycle engineering science studies with a view to obtaining the degree that certifies these is reserved to students who pass the special admission examination. This test is cooperatively organized by the university institutions authorised to organize first cycle engineering science studies; these institutions are obliged to participate in the organization and evaluation of the test, under the conditions stipulated by the government.

The test aims to evaluate the general aptitude to undertake higher education studies as well as skills specific to the study domain.
It covers the following subjects:

  • French
  • Mathematics
  • Science: physics, chemistry, biology, geography
  • History
  • A second language (Dutch, English, German or Latin), chosen by the student.

Students who meet the general conditions for access to first cycle studies are exempted from subjects other than mathematics. The government decides the detailed test programme.

Following the federal government’s decision to limit access to the profession of medical doctor, quota systems were progressively set up in the medicine faculties. First cycle studies in medicine as well as dentistry are structured in two parts. The first part comprises 60 credits which may be earned in one year of studies. The second part comprises 120 credits which may be earned in at least two years of studies. Access to the second part is conditional on obtaining a certificate awarded following an orientation test. This certificate is awarded to students who obtained at least 60 points out of 100 and who successfully completed each course included in the first year study programme within the limit of available places, the number of which is determined each year by the government of the French Community.

For the academic years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, access to the first cycle of veterinary science studies, with the objective of obtaining the grade that is awarded, is conditional on passing an interuniversity entrance examination and obtaining the relevant certificate. At most 250 certificates are awarded each year. The examination aims to evaluate the specific aptitudes to undertake university education in the discipline and covers French, mathematics and science (physics, chemistry, biology, geography).

There are gateways between non-university and university higher education. The diplomas from non-university higher education that are related to second cycle university studies have been classed into three categories, according to the conditions under which the holders of these diplomas have access to the corresponding second cycle university studies. Depending on studies completed in non-university higher education, supplemental access conditions to second cycle university studies may be imposed: one or several additional courses (master), one or several additional courses possibly leading to a preparatory year (bachelor in long-type education), or preparatory year (bachelor in short-type education).

Under certain conditions, holders of an academic degree awarded in non-university higher education are credited for at least 60 credits upon admission to a first university cycle.

There are also possibilities for customized admissionto studies. Under the general conditions laid down by the academic authorities, examination boards take into account the credits acquired by students in successfully completed higher education courses or parts thereof. Students benefiting from these credits are dispensed from the corresponding parts in the study programmes. The boards may also take into account within this framework the knowledge and skills acquired by students through personal or professional experience.

By the decree of 16.06.2006, the Government has imposed on the academic authorities a requirement to limit the number of non-resident students (as defined by the decree) enrolling for the first time at a university in the French Community in courses leading to the bachelor degree in physiotherapy and rehabilitation and the bachelor degree in veterinary medicine. The Government’s Commissioners or delegates at the universities are charged with monitoring compliance with the provisions of the decree.

Hautes Écoles

Students have a free choice of which haute école to enrol in. Any student may enrol in the haute école of his/her choice up to 1 December of the academic year underway.

An entrance examination is organised in certain sections of paramedical education (nurse, speech therapist) and social education (social worker, social auxiliary, social counsellor).

There are two types of gateways towards non-university higher education:

  • gateways that allow passage from a successful study year in a university or architecture college to a study year in a haute école;
  • gateways that allow passage from a successful study year in a haute écoleto another study year in a haute école.

There are lists to establish correspondences between one or two first years of study successfully completed in a university and the 2nd year of study in a short-type or long-type programme in a haute école, or the 2nd cycle of a long-type programme in a haute école. The haute école authorities may impose supplemental training corresponding to students’ particular situations. Such a supplement may not lead to a situation in which the hourly volume of the programme followed by students who successfully completed a first year of university education is more than 150 hours than the 2nd year programme to which the gateways entitles. It cannot make the hourly volume higher than that of the 2nd year in which the student wishes to enrol after he has already successfully completed a second year of university education.

Similar conditions regulate transition from a year successfully completed to another year within the haute école, when this corresponds to a transition from short-type to long-type education or vice versa.

With a view to regulating access to second cycle studies, the haute école authorities may accredit knowledge and skills acquired by students through personal or professional experience.

With the decree of 16 June 2006, the Government obliges the authorities of the hautes écoles to limit the number of non-resident students (as defined in the decree) who enrol for the first time in a haute école of the French Community in courses leading to bachelor degrees in midwifery, occupational therapy, speech therapy, podology/podiatry, physiotherapy, audiology, educator specializing in psycho-educational accompaniment. The hautes écoles Commissioners are charged with monitoring respect of the provisions of this decree.

Art colleges

Candidates for admission into artistic higher education must, on one hand, satisfy the general conditions for access to higher education or hold a certificate that they have successfully passed an entrance examination organised by the art college, for which the programmes are defined by the Government for the studies that it prescribes, and on the other hand, before 15 September, pass an entrance examination on their aptitude to follow artistic education in the domain under consideration (the latest is 30 September, and derogations can exceptionally be granted by the Government).

The pouvoir organisateur may, by formally justified decision, refuse to enrol a student (definitive exclusion from the same institution during the preceding academic year, study programme not funded by the French Community, non conformity to the conditions laid down in the institution’s study regulations). The notification of the refusal indicates the procedure for appealing against the decision.

Architecture colleges

The conditions of admission in architecture colleges are those of higher education in general.

Service des Equivalences
Bâtiment Les Ateliers - rue Adolphe Lavallée, 1 - 1080 BRUXELLES
Tel.:(32) (0)2/690.86.86


Service de la sanction des études, des jurys et de la règlementation
Bâtiment Les Ateliers - rue Adolphe Lavallée, 1 - 1000 BRUXELLES
Tel.:(32) (0)2/690.85.08
Fax:(32) (0)2/690.85.76

Eurydice - the information network on education in Europe

Date: 2009
Privacy Policy