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Higher education in Flanders

Higher education in Flanders is internationally oriented and Flemish higher education offers a wide range of programmes in English and other languages. The reputation of Flemish higher education is ensured by its exemplary regulatory framework and its obligatory accreditation. The quality of Flemish higher education is reflected in the fact that its universities (offering doctoral studies) are listed in the well-known university rankings.

Higher education is mainly offered by universities and university colleges. Universities offer programmes with an academic orientation. University colleges offer programmes with a professional orientation. However, they can also offer programmes with an academic orientation if they do so in an ‘Association' with a university. Such an association is an official body in which the cooperation between a university and one or more university colleges is officially established. They are for example responsible for the link with research in academic programmes offered by university colleges. The degrees are awarded by the universities and university colleges themselves.

There are two main categories of higher education institutions in Flanders: the statutory registered institutions and the registered institutions. Only these institutions are allowed to offer Bachelor and Master's degrees:  

  1. Statutory registered institutions
    These institutions are the traditional higher education institutions and were already recognised by the Flemish education authority before the higher education reforms of 2003. All these institutions receive public funding for their education and scientific research. There are three main types of statutory registered institutions: universities; university colleges and postgraduate institutions;
  2. Registered institutions
    These are institutions that have gone through a formal registration procedure and are officially registered by the Flemish government. The registration procedure includes proving financial solvency and setting up cooperation agreements with a recognised institution (national/international) to guarantee students finishing their studies in cases where an institution halts its activities (e.g. bankruptcy).

Flanders has a three cycle degree structure:

  • Bachelor's degrees
    Bachelor's programme (professional orientation)
    Bachelor of Advanced Studies (professional orientation) 
    Bachelor's programme (academic orientation)
  • Master's degrees
    Master's programme
    Master of Advanced Studies
  • PhD degrees
    Doctorate programme