09 - Belgium - Organisation of the academic year

The academic year is a one-year period starting September 15. Schedules are very variable (30 weeks/year). Each institution defines its own schedule. Except for preparation of a doctorate thesis, a year of study corresponds to 60 credits which may be followed in one academic year. The credit is a measure related to all work carried out by a student for one or several educational activities within a study programme.

A credit corresponds standardly to 24 hours of educational activities. This volume of hours is only partially covered by activities organized directly by the institution, and comprises other related activities: personal work and practice, preparations, studies, projects, documentary research, tests, etc.

Educational activities and assessments, except for employment integration activities, are not organized on Sundays, legal holidays, and September 27. The academic authorities or the pouvoirs organisateurs of higher education may decide other days when activities may not take place, valid for their own institution.

Students benefit from three holiday periods: two weeks in winter (Christmas), two weeks in spring and at least one month in summer (starting from the July 1or July 5 or the end of courses defined by the authorities, until the start of the following academic year), to which the public holidays have to be added.

All educational activities, including the related assessments and deliberations, take place during the academic year to which they belong. For the purposes of organization of study programmes, the academic year is divided in three four-month terms including assessment periods and holidays. The academic authorities establish yearly the beginning and end of each term.

To encourage the mobility of students and teachers within the French Community, the government may determine supplemental conditions for the determination of the academic schedule.

Educational activities for the courses leading to a first or second cycle academic degree are spread over the first two terms of the academic year, with the exception of certain exams or employment integration activities. The first two terms comprise at least 12 weeks of activities and may not exceed 4 months. An assessment period is organized at the end of each of these terms.

The third term comprises assessment periods as well as employment integration activities or personal work.

The academic authorities may, for duly justified reasons of force majeure, extend the assessment period of a student to the following term or even beyond the end of the academic year, but not beyond November 14 of the following year.

Educational activities of third cycle studies and other programmes may be spread over the three terms of an academic year.

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Date: 2009
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