12 - Belgium - Teaching methods

Higher education implements methods and means that are adapted according to the disciplines, in order to meet the general objectives laid down in the ‘Bologna Decree’ and to make this education accessible to all, depending on their aptitudes, without discrimination. The methodology is based on the final skills and common knowledge requirements at the end of secondary education.

Short-type higher education combines theory and practice and internships in a professional environment or laboratory; long-type higher education starts out from basic concepts, experiments and illustrations.

University education is based on a close link between scientific research and the subjects taught. The other higher education institutions fulfil a mission of applied research linked to the subjects they teach, in close relation to professional or artistic spheres or in collaboration with university institutions.

As it addresses a public of adults participating of their own free will, higher education uses teaching methods adapted to this characteristic.
Educational activities comprise:

  • courses organised by the institutions, in particular ex cathedra courses, monitored exercises, coursework, laboratory work, seminars, creation and research workshops, excursions, visits and internships;
  • individual or group activities, including preparations, coursework, documentary research, dissertations and projects;
  • personal study, self-training and enrichment activities.

Partnerships between the private sector and higher education have been developing since 1980. Independent centres for industrial and technological research have been created by the universities in order to promote scientific collaboration with the business sector.


Every person responsible for a course enjoys academic freedom in the exercise of his task. This includes the choice of pedagogic methods, scientific and technical contents, evaluation, and the various activities undertaken to meet the specific objectives, within the respect of certain law provisions.

In order to ensure a correct distribution of the study and evaluation load within each study year, the academic authorities distribute the courses making up the programme evenly between the two first terms of the academic year.

At the different levels, teaching encompasses lectures, coursework, internships, and supervised exercises. In the first years, university education offers basic instruction in the selected discipline together with a broad, general scientific education. Later on, it intensifies the scientific research approach and proposes specialised content. Every study programme leading to a second cycle academic degree includes a final dissertation, work or personal project counting for 15 to 29 credits. A study programme comprises compulsory courses and courses chosen by each student.

University education is characterized by its integration with scientific research. University institutions devolve a sum to aid first generation students in succeeding, corresponding to at least 10% of the basic allocation they receive for this category of students (creation of a centre of higher didactics, offer of specific activities aiming at the acquisition of effective methods and techniques, offer of self-assessment instruments, organisation of coursework in small groups to ensure a good orientation of students, development of targeted innovative didactic methods, etc.).

Hautes Écoles

Each haute école must adopt a pedagogic project: this project is a framework for teachers and students within an institute and defines the adopted teaching methods, the evaluation methods, the necessary didactic equipment, and the values fostered through the educational relation.

To meet their objectives, the hautes écoles must see to it that they develop and implement appropriate methods: high-quality initial training, teacher supervision, production and provision of information media, management of a documentation centre, applied research, continuing education, collaboration with the socio-economic environment, and co-operation at an international level.

Art colleges

The courses are grouped into three principle categories: artistic courses, general courses, and technical courses.

Depending on the domain, the 1999 decree provides or not methodological guidelines. For instance, artistic higher education for the plastic, graphic and spatial arts must rest on a wide optional base nourished by experimentation and interdisciplinary research.

Architecture colleges

Of the 24 hours of educational activities corresponding to a credit, at least 12 are directly organized by the architecture college.

The curriculum must include an architecture project (75 credits out of 300), internships (4 credits) and an end-of-studies dissertation (15 credits).

In both the 1st and 2nd cycle, language courses are included in a set of possible study credits, from which the pouvoir organisateur chooses to complete the timetables.

Eurydice - the information network on education in Europe

Date: 2009
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