18 - Belgium - Organisational variations, alternative structures

There are several organisational variations and alternative structures.

A. ‘Flexitime’ courses

Certain higher education programmes can be scheduled late in the day. In this case, the curriculum spans an increased number of years and is comparable to ordinary full-day programmes for the same studies. These flexitime programmes are part of full-time education.

The diploma earned upon completion of a flexitime programme has the same value as one earned for the corresponding full-day course. Currently, the principal flexitime programmes are long-type higher education programmes in the economics category, in particular those offered by business schools.

In short-type higher education, flexitime education is still limited (e.g. training for social workers).

In university education, certain second-cycle courses, generally in the political science, administrative science, economics, and social science areas are also offered as flexitime programmes.

B. Social advancement education

Education for social advancement is designed not only for people who wish to complete their education, but also to those who are seeking retraining in another field

Short-type higher education courses (agriculture, economics, paramedical, educational, social, technical) are also provided as social advancement education. Long-type education programmes in industrial chemistry, electricity, electromechanics, and electronics are also offered.

The provisions of the ‘Bologna decree’ apply to the corresponding higher education studies organised by social advancement institutes, which award titles and degrees equivalent to those delivered by full-time higher education institutes.

C. National defence department

Military training, with its specific characteristics, remains under federal jurisdiction and is administered by the Ministry of National Defence. The same applies to the university and post-university military training courses provided by the Institut Royal Supérieur de la Défense, the École des Administrateurs Militaires, and the École Royale Militaire.

All courses are free of charge. However, those students who succeed must serve in the army for a minimum period equal to at least one and a half times the length of the course. All higher-level courses provided in the army or under the army’s authority are limited to career officer candidates. From the first day of the course, students receive a salary according to their rank. In addition to scientific training, each student receives military training, which is scheduled during part of the academic holidays.

The École Royale Militairehas a ‘polytechnic’ division where officer candidates receive a 5 year civil engineering education and a ‘all arms’ division, which trains officers with a master credential in 4 years. An entrance exam is held before admission.

A certain number of applicant officers take full-time courses at industrial higher education schools, the École Supérieure de Navigationin Antwerp, or the universities (medical doctors, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, etc.).

The Institut Royal Supérieur de la Défenseoffers a one-year higher staff course whose purpose is to provide the training required for high-level staff and command functions.

The École des Administrateurs Militaires
is a military higher education institute, which provides a two-year training course for officers who will handle problems of a legal, budgetary, and administrative nature.

Advanced training is offered at all levels, both in armed forces schools and in civilian institutes in Belgium and abroad.

The École Royale Militaireand the École Royale de la Gendarmerieorganise separate training courses for non-commissioned and commissioned state police officers.

D. Distance learning

Distance learning is not authorised to confer diplomas, but may issue attendance certificates. To obtain a diploma, students must sit for an exam administered by a board of examiners of the French Community (see below).

E. Boards of Examiners of the French Community

The system of boards of examiners of the French Community operated by the Ministry of Education, Research and Training is an alternative exam scheme enabling students to obtain a diploma outside the traditional channels provided in schools.

These exams are intended predominantly for self-taught individuals or those who abandoned their studies and do not wish to resume them; or those who are unable to enrol in an institute because they have exhausted the number of failures authorised by the applicable decrees or regulations. Of course, these exams require serious personal preparation since the candidate is left to his or her own devices. Nevertheless, there are preparation options available in public schools, private schools, or via distance learning

In non-university higher education, the following diplomas can be obtained via a board of examiners of the French Community:

  • nurse, psychiatric nurse, midwife, and graduat in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy;
  • Other boards: music teacher, real estate surveyor, and linguistic exams. Teaching accreditation certificate.
  • Long-type: undergraduate industrial engineer, graduate industrial engineer, bachelor and master in business administration, commercial engineer, bachelor in architecture.

A call for candidates is published each year in the Belgian Official Gazette. The registration fee is set at € 99.00.

The degrees of bachelor and master of architecture can be awarded by a specific examination board. The bachelor degree can only be awarded at least 3 years after the applicant has satisfied the admission conditions for the first cycle of university-level education, and the master degree at least 2 years after obtaining the degree of bachelor of architecture.

In university-level higher education, all first and second cycle university course exams for basic studies can be taken under the auspices of the board of examiners of the French Community. The boards of examiners are completely decentralised and are situated at each university institution’s site. The registration fee is set at € 322.26.

Diplomas obtained by taking board exams have the same value as those issued by institutions that teach courses at the same level.

F. Open faculties

The formula known as ‘open faculties’ gave rise to various experiments undertaken by several educational institutions.

The originality of these studies resides essentially their accessibility to people that have not necessarily followed an ‘ordinary’ schooling path and hence do not always have the qualifications required in order to enrol. Moreover, enrolment is essentially on the basis of personal dossiers and interviews.

Their prime objective is to offer adults that are engaged in a professional life, training that is not given in programmes organised in the framework of full-time education.

Several initiatives are worth mentioning:

The Charleroi University Centre ( Centre Universitaire de Charleroi - CUNIC), centred essentially on the Charleroi region, organises several further training activities, with the collaboration of some university faculties or other higher education institutes. Some of the programmes offered are of university level (health sciences, labour sciences …) and post-university level (law, environment …). The Open Faculty of Economic and Social Policy ( Faculté Ouverte de Politique Économique et Sociale - FOPES), which offers a licence in economic and social policy, and the Open Faculty for Adults – Training Institute for Educational Sciences ( Faculté Ouverte Pour Adultes - Institut de formation en Sciences de l'éducation - FOPA), which offers a licence in education science; both are at the Catholic University of Louvain.

Every year, several hautes écoles offer access to postsecondary studies (essentially in the social domain) to some students that do not have an upper secondary education certificate (CESS). This is notably the case for the École Ouvrière Supérieure – EOS, and the social department of the Haute École Libre de Bruxelles Ilya Prigogine.


Ecole Royale Militaire
de la Renaissance, 30 - 1000 BRUXELLES
Tel.:(32) (0)2/742.60.11

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

Service général de l'Enseignement de promotion sociale, de l'enseignement artistique à horaire réduit et de l'Enseignement à distance (AGERS)
Bâtiment Les Ateliers - rue Adolphe Lavallée, 1 - 1080 BRUXELLES
Tel.:(32) (0)2/690.87.31

Eurydice - the information network on education in Europe

Date: 2009
Privacy Policy