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Belgium (French Community) Higher Education System

Structure of the Higher Educational System in Belgium (French Community)
Admissions to Higher Education in Belgium (French Community)
Types of Higher Education Institutions in Belgium (French Community)
Cycles of Higher Education in Belgium (French Community)
 


Types of Higher Education Institutions


Three Types of Institutions

Higher education is provided in universities (with which the architecture colleges were integrated in 2010-2011), hautes écoles and arts colleges. It consists of short-type programmes (three or four years of study) and long-type programmes (four or five years). Both types are found in the hautes écoles and arts colleges, whereas the universities only offer long-type programmes. Long-type education has the character and level of university education.

An important reorganisation of the higher education landscape has been voted by the government on 6 November 2013. All the higher education institutions will be gathered under one "Academy of Research and Higher Education" (Académie de Recherche et d'Enseignement Supérieur – ARES). The ARES will replace the existing structures with the aim of simplifying administration and of researching consistency of the whole system. The institutions will organise themselves in five geographic clusters.

Apart from these structural aspects, the reform focuses on organisation of the curriculum. The guiding thread of the project is the student, his status, the promotion of academic success, the diversity of provision (including proximity for first cycles), and quality of the curriculum. The new curricula will follow a logic of academic success promotion with and individualised management of each student's years of study according to his achievements.


First Cycle Programmes


Bachelor degree courses are provided in both long-type and short-type higher education.

Bachelor

Branches of Study

Courses in the first cycle of higher education take place over three academic years and consist of 180 ECTS.

Each of the full universities (University of Liège, Catholic University of Louvain, Free University of Brussels) has at least five traditional faculties: philosophy and humanities, law, science, medicine and applied science. Additionally, each university has a variable number of faculties, schools, or institutes, which teach other disciplines such as agricultural science, art history, archaeology, oriental studies, business and economics, social and political science, criminology, psychology, educational science, etc.

In the other university institutions, instruction is limited to a certain number of disciplines and, for some of them, to just the first cycle of studies, which leads to a bachelor degree:

• the University of Mons organises bachelor degree courses in most disciplines;

• the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis offer courses in law, economics, social science, political science, philosophy, history, languages, etc.;

• the Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix offer courses in law, philosophy, history, languages and literature, art and archaeology, political science, social science, veterinary science, medicine, and pharmaceutical science;

• the Faculté Universitaire Catholique de Mons offers business management courses.

In the hautes écoles, long-type higher education may be provided in the following categories:

• the agricultural science category (agricultural sciences, landscape architecture);

• the economics category (business management, administrative science, business administration);

• the paramedical category (physiotherapy);

• the social studies category (applied communication);

• the technical studies category (industrial science);

• translation and interpreting category (translation).

The arts colleges provide preparation for all artistic disciplines in four fields of study:

• plastic, visual and spatial arts (drawing, photography, art in public spaces, etc.);

• music (e.g. instrumental training - percussion; voice training - lyrical art; jazz and easy listening music - composition, etc.);

• theatre and the spoken word (oratory, dramatic art);

• performing arts and broadcasting and communication techniques (production for cinema, radio and television, theatre and communication techniques, radio, TV and multimedia, etc.).

The programmes that each higher education institution may provide are defined for each cycle and each site by its accreditation.

Admission Requirements

Access to Higher Education


The first year of higher education is open to students who hold a certificate of upper secondary education (CESS). Pupils who have obtained the CESS following a seventh year of vocational secondary education must also obtain the diploma of aptitude for entry into higher education (DAES) from the Examination Board of the French Community in order to enter university. No candidate may be admitted to examinations for a first-cycle study year without proving sufficient command of the French language. Enrolment in an establishment of tertiary education is also subject to financial conditions (payment of a registration fee, etc.).

Entry to first-cycle studies in applied science is subject not just to the general conditions of entry to higher education, but to the passing of an entrance examination.

Admission to higher education in the arts is subject to specific conditions: candidates must satisfy the general conditions for access to higher education or hold a certificate showing that they have successfully passed one of the entrance examinations organised by the arts colleges, the syllabuses for which are defined by the government; they must also pass an entrance examination to confirm their aptitude for education in the domain under consideration. A sufficient command of the French language is not required.

A student who has obtained two academic degrees in university or non-university higher education in the previous five years may be refused admission, as a third degree is not financed within a five-year period, except for an upper secondary teaching diploma or a doctorate.

Gateways, Entrance Examinations and Customised Admission

A system exists of gateways and certain possibilities for customised admission to courses. Under the general conditions set by the academic authorities, examination boards recognise the credits gained by students in higher education courses or parts thereof that they have already successfully completed. Students benefiting from these credits are exempted from the corresponding parts of the curriculum. The boards may also take into account within this framework the knowledge and skills acquired by students through personal or professional experience.

Students who do not hold any qualifications which authorise access to higher education may still gain admission by passing certain examinations: • the entrance examination organised by a university organised or subsidised by the French Community (a pass in this examination entitles the student to admission to any course, apart from civil engineering, in any university in the French Community); • the special entrance examination in engineering (civil engineering) – full examination (a pass in this examination entitles the student to admission to any course, including civil engineering, in any university and in the hautes écoles of the French Community); • the entrance examination for courses provided at the hautes écoles, consisting of three sections (a portfolio of skills and motivating factors, a test of written and spoken French and an examination in up to four subjects determined by the examination board on the basis of the candidate’s study plan and skills portfolio); a single, inter-network examination board, run by the [Http://www.cghe.cfwb.be/ General Council for Institutes of Higher Education], is authorised to assess candidates and, if they pass, issue them with an attestation enabling them to gain admission to one or more sections taught in the hautes écoles.

Qualifications Gained Abroad

Holders of a foreign diploma or study qualification are also entitled to admission to higher education in the French Community provided they have obtained confirmation of equivalence for their qualification.

The legal and regulatory framework makes it possible to recognise practically all diplomas that have been earned abroad, whatever their level, the discipline concerned, or the country where they were conferred. Equivalence (full or partial) may be granted for periods of study, examinations or diplomas and other certificates gained at a foreign institution. The gateway system (see above) applies both to students who have carried out their studies in the French Community and to those who, having carried out all or part of their studies abroad, benefit from full or partial equivalence issued in the French Community.

An Equivalences Service is responsible for undertaking a single, overall examination of the administrative and educational aspects of applications from pupils from foreign countries; the opinion of the General Inspection Service may be requested. Equivalence requests relating to certificates for the fourth stage of complementary vocational secondary education, nursing care section, must form the subject of an additional examination and a preliminary opinion from the General Department of Health of the Ministry of the French Community.

Choice of Institution

Students freely choose the higher education institution in which they wish to enrol. The circumstances under which a university, an haute école or an arts college may refuse enrolment are defined, and an appeal procedure against enrolment refusals exists.

Admission Restrictions

Generally, the French Community does not apply a restricted admissions system (numerus clausus), but there are a few exceptions to this rule.

The government requires the authorities running the universities and the hautes écoles to limit the number of non-resident students enrolling for certain courses at an haute école or university without having been enrolled in the French Community on the same course during a previous academic year. In long-type higher education, this measure relates to the courses leading to the bachelor degree in physiotherapy and rehabilitation, in veterinary science, in psychology and education with a specialisation in speech therapy (at the universities), and to the bachelor degree in physiotherapy (at the hautes écoles).

Curriculum

Language of Instruction


The language of instruction and of assessment of educational activities is French, but a part of the activities in the first cycle, except for the first year, may be given and assessed in another language, for at most one-fifth of the credits or if these activities, if they are compulsory, are also organised in French.

ECTS

All curricula in full-time higher education are expressed in credits (ECTS). The credits associated with a course within a curriculum are expressed in whole numbers, or exceptionally in half-units, with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 60 credits for one course.

Universities

In the universities, curricula are established by the academic authorities in compliance with other legal provisions, in particular the criteria for access to the associated professional qualifications. The curricula include subjects contributing to the student’s general education as well as those specific to the disciplines and hence contributing to the acquisition of more technical and more in-depth skills in the domain of studies. A curriculum includes compulsory courses and optional courses chosen by the student, according to the academic degree, specialisation and options chosen.

At the latest on the date of the opening of the enrolment period, the academic authorities communicate to the government the list of programmes that they organise and their curricula. In order to guarantee sufficient provision of all the initial programmes in the French Community, the government may lay down, for each university and in accordance with its accreditations, a list of the cycles of studies that it must continue to organise and the site that will host them, under penalty of being deprived of all subsidies and accreditations for the other courses it runs. Notice of this list must be given before 1 February preceding the academic year.

In order to ensure harmonisation of the educational requirements for the pursuit of studies within the French Community and the European Union, and to guarantee the skills and knowledge certified by the academic degrees, the government may establish the minimum contents for the curricula of initial programmes, on the proposal of the Interuniversity Council of the French Community or CIUF. The curricula for bachelor degree courses must consist, for each programme, of at least 60% core courses (corresponding to 108 credits) in the French Community.

The CIUF certifies adherence to these provisions; it may also establish the minimum core content of these programmes.

Hautes écoles

Curricula must comply with the general objectives of higher education, and the specific objectives of the course concerned, in particular the criteria for access to the associated professional qualifications.

Provided that they comply with the curricula and minimum weekly schedule established by legislation, decrees, orders and ordinances, the controlling authorities are free to customise their curricula in accordance with the institutions’ educational plans, local conditions, the current economic situation, and the job market. They must submit them to the Minister for Education for approval.

The haute école authorities issue study regulations. These regulations establish, in particular:

• the objectives pursued by each curriculum,

• the description of each curriculum including a detailed list of educational activities, of their specific objectives and of their methods of organisation and assessment,

• the organisation of the academic year consistent with the vacation and holiday policy established by the government,

• the disciplinary regulations and all appeal procedures,

• the regulations with regard to spreading years of study and remedial courses,

• the rules concerning dispensation for certain parts of the curriculum, and

• any provisions specifically arising from the teaching methods.

Arts Colleges

For each domain, a framework is established, within which the courses are defined by the government following an opinion from the High Council for Higher Educationin the Arts. The maximum and minimum number of hours of yearly educational activities, the compulsory courses of the common core, and the distribution of hours between art education and artistic practice are also defined.

Teaching Methods

Higher education uses adapted methods and resources, according to the specific discipline, with a view to attaining the general objectives set out in the Bologna Decree and to making higher education accessible to all, in accordance with their aptitudes, without discrimination. The education which is provided is based on the final attainment levels and core knowledge required at the end of secondary education.

Being intended for adults who are participating of their own free will, higher education uses teaching methods adapted to this characteristic. Educational activities comprise:

• courses organised by the institution, in particular lecture courses, monitored exercises, coursework, laboratory work, seminars, creation and research workshops, excursions, visits and internships;

• individual or group activities, including preparation, coursework, documentary research, dissertations and projects;

• personal study, self-training and enrichment activities.

Long-type higher education starts out from basic concepts, experiments and illustrations. Establishments of higher education 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.

Universities

University education is based on a close link between scientific research and the subjects taught. 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.

Each course leader enjoys academic freedom in the exercise of his or her task. This includes the choice of teaching methods, scientific and technical content, assessment, and the various activities undertaken to meet the specific objectives, subject to compliance with certain requirements set out in decrees.

In order to ensure a suitable distribution of the study and assessment 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 offers specialised content. Every curriculum leading to a second-cycle academic degree includes a final dissertation, work or personal project counting for 15 to 29 credits. A curriculum comprises compulsory courses and courses chosen by the student.

University institutions devote a sum to helping first-generation students to succeed, corresponding to at least 10% of the basic allocation they receive for this category of students. This is used, for example, for the creation of a centre for higher education didactics, the arrangement of specific activities aimed at ensuring the acquisition of effective methods and techniques, the provision of self-assessment tools, the organisation of coursework in small groups to ensure that students receive proper guidance, and the development of targeted innovative didactic methods. A decree adopted at the beginning of 2008 allocates the academies additional resources with a view to helping promote student success, and in particular to enable the universities jointly to test and assess pilot experiments aimed at evolving good practices in promoting the success of first-year students in particular.

Hautes écoles

Each haute école must adopt an educational plan: this plan is a framework for teachers and students within an institute and defines the adopted teaching methods, the assessment methods, the educational facilities needed, and the values promoted through the educational relationship.

To meet their objectives, the hautes écoles must ensure 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 cooperation at an international level.

The hautes écoles may apply for financing for the measures they wish to undertake in order to promote the success of first-generation students that they take.

Each haute école is required to devote a sum to helping ensure the success of the first-generation students attending it, corresponding to at least 1% of the total annual grant it receives. This support includes various measures such as:

• the creation of a clearly identified success support service within the haute école or within several hautes écoles and/or in collaboration with a service at a university institution pursuing the same objectives;

• a tutorial programme for students in the first year of their bachelor degree studies who are identified as being in difficulty; the tutorial support is provided by students enrolled in one of the years of higher education, on the basis of an application approved by the success support service;

• the arrangement of specific activities for first-generation students aimed at ensuring that they acquire methods and techniques that will boost their chances of success;

• a charter of engagement offered to first-generation students who are in a situation of failure at the end of the first term, in which the haute école and the student undertake to make every attempt to ensure that the student succeeds;

• the signing of a collaboration agreement for support for the teachers responsible for the students in question with a university academy’s Centre for Higher Education Didactics.

Arts Colleges

The courses are grouped into three principal categories: arts courses, general courses, and technical courses. The 1999 decree provides methodological guidelines for some domains. For instance, higher education for the plastic, graphic and spatial arts must rest on a wide optional base with input from experimentation and interdisciplinary research.

The Council for Arts College Educational Management establishes a single course schedule for each section/option, which must conform to a model determined by the government and is submitted to the government for its approval.

Progression of Students

As a general rule, the examination board automatically declares that a student has qualified for admission to the next year if he/she has scored at least 50% in each examination and 60% in the examinations as a whole (universities and hautes écoles) or 60% in each examination and 60% in the examinations as a whole (arts colleges).

For students who fail to meet the conditions for an automatic pass, the board deliberates jointly on whether such students should be admitted to the next year, have their entry to it deferred or be refused admission. Its decision is final.

Under certain conditions depending on the type of institution (see below), an examination board may declare a year of study to have been successfully completed once the student has acquired at least 48 credits. In this case, the residual credits must be entirely earned during the next year of studies. With a decision to certify the successful completion of a course, study year, or study cycle, an examination board definitively awards the corresponding credits to a student.

In the event of failure, a student need not resit tests and examinations of a course for which he or she has obtained a mark of at least 12/20 during the five preceding academic years.

Universities

An examination board made up of at least five members and formed by the academic authorities is charged with certifying the successful completion of study years. It judges whether a student has successfully completed the study year in which he or she is enrolled, deliberating on all assessments for the activities followed and awarding the credits associated with the courses for which it judges the results to be satisfactory.

Unless a duly justified exception is granted by the academic authorities, a student may only sit twice for examinations or assessments for the same course during the same academic year. For each course, the academic authorities determine during which examination sessions these assessments will take place. Assessments of activities such as coursework, internships, research projects and reports may be organised only once per academic year. A student need not resit tests and examinations of a course for which he or she has obtained a mark equal to at least the pass threshold during the same academic year. Within a study programme, a student need not resit tests and examinations of a course for which he or she has obtained a mark of at least 12/20 during the five preceding academic years (carry-forward).

The final assessment for a course is expressed in the form of a mark between 0 and 20, with the pass mark set at 10/20. The global assessment for a year or for a cycle of studies is expressed in the same way, with the pass mark set at 12/20 on average. For students in the first year of study, the assessments at the end of the first term are subject to special rules: they may count for all or part of the test, but do not count in case of failure.

Under the general conditions determined by the academic authorities, a student may choose to spread the courses of a cycle of studies over a higher number of academic years than the standard number. This spreading out of educational activities and associated assessments is the subject of an agreement with the academic authorities of the university institution, made at the time of enrolment and subject to annual modification. If the student obtains the credits corresponding to the courses making up his or her customised programme, he or she may continue his or her studies without being considered to be repeating a grade.

Hautes écoles

Each year culminates in tests, which must be passed to proceed to the following year. Examination arrangements are subject to a set of administrative and organisational measures, which must be observed:

• two examination sessions per academic year must be organised;

• no one may take the same examination administered by an examination board more than four times in two academic years without a waiver from the competent Minister or designated representative;

• students must sit for examinations during the first session, except in case of force majeure;

• the examination board passes students who score at least 50% of the points for each test and 60% of the points allocated for all examinations;

• a deferred student may take the examination in the second session;

• in certain cases, the examination board may grant an exemption from tests for certain educational activities to students who did not pass and repeat the year in the same institution .

Students enrolled for the first time in the first year may be authorised during the year to spread their first year of study across two consecutive years. Failed first-year examinations may be retaken twice in the following year. This special scheme includes the obligation to attend an additional remedial course. When deciding whether to conditionally promote a student who did not pass, the examination board consults the institution’s educational council, which includes all the administrative and teaching staff.

A 48-credit pass is subject to two conditions:

• for each of the 48 credits, the student has scored at least 50% and has a total score of at least 60% for all these credits;

• none of the remaining 12 credits has been defined as a necessary prerequisite (in the curriculum for that academic year) for the continuation of studies.

Arts Colleges

Each year culminates in tests, which must be passed to proceed to the following year.

At the end of the academic year, the student may be:

• admitted to the next year;

• deferred and requested to retake in a second session the examinations for which he or she failed to meet the examination board’s requirements;

• refused admission and obliged to retake the year.

Under the general conditions determined by the government, a student may choose to spread the courses of a cycle of studies over a higher number of academic years than the number stipulated in the curriculum.

A 48-credit pass is subject to three conditions:

• the student has taken all the art assessments;

• the student has taken all the examinations in the second examination session;

• the credits that the student has failed to obtain do not appear on a list (displayed in the college) of the fundamental courses for the year.

Employability

In long-type higher education, most students who successfully complete the first cycle enter a second cycle.

Student Assessment

Universities


The assessment for a course may consist of an oral or written examination or any other work carried out by the student for this purpose. Oral examinations are public, but the audience may not interact in any way with the examiner or examinee during the test, nor disturb its proper conduct. Corrected copies of other tests and written works may be consulted by students within 60 days of publication of the test results.

For students in the first year of study, the assessments at the end of the first term are subject to special rules: they may count for all or part of the test, but do not count in case of failure. These assessments may lead first-generation students to spread out their studies or to follow during the second term a specific remediation programme, aimed at helping students to overcome the difficulties encountered and preparing them to start the next academic year with better chances of success. The remediation programme is defined by the academic authorities in consultation with the student, after a personalised assessment of his or her situation. This remediation programme can also be partially organised during the third term. Students who successfully complete their customised programme at the end of the first year of study and enrol again in the first year are considered as having enrolled only once in higher education.

Hautes écoles

General examination regulations, issued by the government, determine the examination periods, conditions for passing, examination organisation and administration arrangements, how the examination boards function, exemption conditions for students who repeat the same year of study, etc.

To be eligible to register for examinations organised by an haute école, students are required to regularly attend the educational activities on the curriculum for the year of study in which they are enrolled (including internships and coursework). They must justify any absences. They must have scored 50% for internships and coursework.

Examination tests are written or oral. They are public (except examinations requiring the presence of patients). Corrected copies of written examinations may be consulted by students within 60 days from the publication of test results. All students may, upon request, receive a breakdown of their examination results. Marks given during the year are considered when determining final marks.

In the course of an academic year, a student may sit twice for examinations or assessments in the same course. However, for properly justified exceptional reasons, the haute école may authorise a student to sit more than twice for assessments of the same course during the same academic year.

For first-year students, the assessments at the end of the first term are subject to special rules: they may count towards all or part of the test, but do not count in case of failure. The examination boards are composed of staff members who are responsible for the student’s educational activities and, when applicable, outside experts. In certain sections, a dossier is examined in which selected examples of coursework and internship work are kept.

Arts Colleges

Only regularly enrolled students are permitted to register for examinations. Participating in more than two examination sessions or more than one art assessment session during the same academic year is not permitted. However, for properly justified exceptional reasons approved by the director, the latter may authorise a student to sit more than twice for examinations of the same course during the same academic year. The examinations are public. Students may consult their corrected work and receive their results. Examination boards for each study year deliberate on the basis of published criteria predefined by the controlling authority. There is no appeal mechanism. Examination boards are composed of staff members who are responsible for the student’s educational activities and, when applicable, outside experts. The government determines the methods for organising examinations and examination boards as well as the automatic pass marks. Certification

Higher education qualifications belong to the qualifications classification system which is being created at European level. From now on, the only qualification that may be awarded at the end of a first cycle of three years in long-type education will be the bachelor’s degree (level 6).

Degrees may only be awarded to students who have satisfied the conditions for access to studies, were regularly enrolled for a number of years corresponding to the minimum duration of studies, and have obtained the minimum number of credits for the corresponding study programme.

Examinations are organised and degrees awarded by examination boards formed by the authorities of the education institution; in addition, there is a system of external examinations and degree awards organised by the French Community’s examination boards. The degrees awarded by a higher education examination board of the French Community are signed by the president and the members of the board and countersigned by the government or its representative. Degrees awarded have the same value as those awarded by hautes écoles. Diplomas awarded at the end of education cycles comprising a system of gateways have the same legal value as those awarded on the basis of ordinary studies.

The form of degree diplomas has been laid down by the government. The basic required information appears in French on the diploma. It refers explicitly to an accompanying supplement. This supplement, in French and English, includes in particular the list of courses taken by the student, the conditions for admission to the programme and the assessments certified by the awarded academic degree. The personal elements of this supplement, relating to the individual student, may be collected in an annex to the supplement. In this case, only the annex must be signed by the secretary of the board, whereas the common part of the supplement is certified by the institute.

The French Community alone accredits higher education: the diplomas are countersigned by the government or its representative.

Universities

Diplomas are signed by at least one academic authority or its delegate, and by the president and secretary of the board.

The academic degree title consists of its generic name (bachelier – bachelor) and its description, consisting of the following elements: 1. the title of the programme, preceded by a colon or the word en (‘in’) or ès (‘of’); 2. any field of specialisation, preceded by the word orientat

ion (‘specialisation’). The specialisation and any options specify the contents of the curriculum certified by the academic degree, giving the course of study its particular end purpose. A specialisation indicates a specific characteristic of the study cycle’s curriculum that leads to it, corresponding to a set of educational activities. This set must comprise more than 30 credits (in the case of an academic degree certifying a 60-credit programme), or at least 60 credits (in the case of an academic degree certifying a programme of more than 60 credits). However, it cannot represent more than two-thirds of the credits for the cycle of studies. An option indicates the choice, by the student, of a coherent set of particular educational activities counting for 15 to 30 credits, which characterises all or part of his or her programme within the study cycle. In total, options cannot exceed one half of the credits for the study cycle.

The list of titles and specialisations of initial programmes in the university sector appears in an annex to the decree of 31 March 2004, and forms an integral part of that decree.

Hautes écoles

Certification is based on end-of-year examinations. The final examination includes tests and assessments related to all of the educational activities included in the curriculum for the last year of study.

Long-type higher studies of the first cycle qualify for one of the academic degrees referred to in the decree of 2 June 2006 establishing the academic degrees issued by the hautes écoles organised or subsidised by the French Community and setting the minimum timetables.

Arts Colleges

General study regulations were issued by the government on 17 July 2002: in particular, they set the rules concerning assessment (exemptions, examination periods, pass requirements, methods of constitution and operation of examination boards, weighting of the different assessment methods, complaints and appeals, conditions and procedures for an extension of the second session for students enrolled in the final year, etc.). A set of study regulations specific to each arts college defines the procedure for applying the general study regulations (disciplinary rules, procedures for organising examinations and examination boards, etc.).

Degrees are awarded either by the deliberation board of the arts college or the French Community’s higher education examination boards. The diplomas awarded by the boards of arts colleges are signed by the head of college and the members of the deliberation board. The diploma awarded mentions the domain, the section (if applicable), the option, the special subject (if applicable) as well as the subject of the end-of-studies dissertation (if applicable).


Short-Cycle Higher Education


Branches of Study

In the hautes écoles, short-type higher studies (bachelor degree, level 6 of the European Qualifications Framework) may be provided in the following categories:

• agricultural science (garden design and landscape architecture, urban environmental management, etc.);

• applied arts (textile arts, advertising, etc.);

• business (insurance, e-business, etc.);

• paramedical studies (nutritional science, speech therapy, midwifery, etc.);

• education (education specialising in psychological and emotional support, normal preschool education, normal primary education, normal secondary education, normal technical education – the last two being organised in several subsections);

• social sciences (assistant in psychology, communication, etc.);

• technical studies (aeronautics, imaging techniques, etc.).

At the end of this single cycle, specialised studies (60 ECTS credits) are offered in certain branches, in particular in the paramedical category. After one year, these lead to the specialised diploma (level 6 of the European Qualifications Framework).

The arts colleges can organise short-type bachelor degrees in three fields:

• plastic, visual and spatial arts (fashion design, interior design, photography, etc.);

• music (lower secondary teaching qualification in music);

• performing arts and broadcasting and communication techniques (sound, circus arts, multimedia, etc.).

The programmes that each haute école or arts college may provide are defined for each cycle and each site by its accreditation.

Virtually all programmes in short-type higher education take place over three academic years and total 180 ECTS.

Admission Requirements

Access to Higher Education


The first year of higher education is open to students who hold a certificate of upper secondary education (CESS). Pupils who have obtained the CESS following a seventh year of vocational secondary education must also obtain the diploma of aptitude for entry into higher education (DAES) from the Examination Board of the French Community in order to enter university. No candidate may be admitted to examinations for a first-cycle study year without proving sufficient command of the French language. Enrolment in an establishment of tertiary education is also subject to financial conditions (payment of a registration fee, etc.).

Higher paramedical and social education provided in hautes écoles is subject to specific entry conditions. An entrance examination, specific to short-type higher paramedical education (nursing, speech therapy) is held before an Examination Board of the French Community. Courses to train as a social worker or social counsellor are open to students who have passed an entrance examination held in the hautes écoles which run these courses.

Admission to higher education in the arts is subject to specific conditions: candidates must satisfy the general conditions for access to higher education or hold a certificate showing that they have successfully passed an entrance examination organised by the arts colleges, the syllabuses for which are defined by the government for the studies that it prescribes; they must also pass an entrance examination on their aptitude for education in the domain under consideration. A sufficient command of the French language is not required.

A student who has obtained two academic degrees in university or non-university higher education in the previous five years may be refused admission, as a third degree is not financed within a five-year period, except for an upper secondary teaching diploma or a doctorate.

Gateways, Entrance Examinations and Customised Admission

A system exists of gateways and certain possibilities for customised admission to courses. Under the general conditions set by the academic authorities, examination boards recognise the credits gained by students in higher education courses or parts thereof that they have already successfully completed. Students benefiting from these credits are exempted from the corresponding parts of the curriculum. The boards may also take into account within this framework the knowledge and skills acquired by students through personal or professional experience.

Students who do not hold any qualifications which authorise access to higher education may still gain admission by passing certain examinations: • the special entrance examination in engineering (civil engineering) – full examination (a pass in this examination entitles the student to admission to any course, including civil engineering, in any university and in the hautes écoles of the French Community); • the entrance examination for courses provided at the hautes écoles, consisting of three sections (a portfolio of skills and motivating factors, a test of written and spoken French and an examination in up to four subjects determined by the examination board on the basis of the candidate’s study plan and skills portfolio); a single, inter-network examination board, run by the General Council for hautes écoles, is authorised to assess candidates and, if they pass, issue them with an attestation enabling them to gain admission to one or more sections taught in the hautes écoles.

Qualifications Gained Abroad

Holders of a foreign diploma or study qualification are also entitled to admission to higher education in the French Community provided they have obtained confirmation of equivalence for their qualification.

The legal and regulatory framework makes it possible to recognise practically all diplomas that have been earned abroad, whatever their level, the discipline concerned, or the country where they were conferred. Equivalence (full or partial) may be granted for periods of study, examinations or diplomas and other certificates gained at a foreign institution. The gateway system (see above) applies both to students who have carried out their studies in the French Community and to those who, having carried out all or part of their studies abroad, benefit from full or partial equivalence issued in the French Community.

An Equivalences Service is responsible for undertaking a single, overall examination of the administrative and educational aspects of applications from pupils from foreign countries; the opinion of the General Inspection Service may be requested. Equivalence requests relating to certificates for the fourth stage of complementary vocational secondary education, nursing care section, must form the subject of an additional examination and a preliminary opinion from the General Department of Health of the Ministry of the French Community.

Choice of Institution

Students freely choose the higher education institution in which they wish to enrol. The circumstances under which a university, an haute école or an arts college may refuse enrolment are defined, and an appeal procedure against enrolment refusals exists.

Admission Restrictions

Generally, the French Community does not apply a restricted admissions system (numerus clausus), but there are a few exceptions to this rule.

The government requires the authorities running the hautes écoles to limit the number of non-resident students enrolling for certain courses at a haute école without having been enrolled in the French Community on the same course during a previous academic year. In short-type higher education, this measure relates to courses leading to bachelor degrees in midwifery, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody/podiatry and audiology, or to train teachers specialising in psycho-educational support.

Curriculum

Language of Instruction


The language of instruction and of assessment of educational activities is French, but a part of the activities in the first cycle, except for the first year, may be given and assessed in another language, for at most one-fifth of the credits or if these activities, if they are compulsory, are also organised in French.

ECTS

All curricula in full-time higher education are expressed in credits (ECTS). The credits associated with a course within a curriculum are expressed in whole numbers, or exceptionally in half-units, with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 60 credits for one course.

Educational activities comprise:

• courses organised by the institution, in particular lecture courses, monitored exercises, coursework, laboratory work, seminars, creation and research workshops, excursions, visits and internships;

• individual or group activities, including preparation, coursework, documentary research and projects;

• personal study, self-training and enrichment activities.

All these activities may be assessed and assigned a value in terms of credits.

Each course within a curriculum comprises one or more educational activities. It is defined by the following elements:

• its identification, specific title, discipline;

• a description of the objectives, contents, and any sources, references and supports;

• the cycle and study year to which it pertains, as well as the level, if prior knowledge is required;

• whether it is compulsory or optional within the programme or the options;

• the contact details of the department or teacher responsible for its organisation and assessment;

• its organisation, in particular the number of hours, the site and the period of the academic year;

• a description of the activities and the teaching and learning methods implemented;

• the assessment method and relative weight of each activity;

• the language used for instruction and assessment;

• the assignment of associated credits.

Hautes écoles

Curricula must comply with the general objectives of higher education, and the specific objectives of the course concerned, in particular the criteria for access to the associated professional qualifications.

Provided that they comply with the curricula and minimum weekly schedule established by legislation, decrees, orders and ordinances, the controlling authorities are free to customise their curricula in accordance with the institutions’ educational plans, local conditions, the current economic situation, and the job market. They must submit them to the Minister for Education for approval.

The haute école authorities issue study regulations. These regulations establish, in particular:

• the objectives pursued by each curriculum,

• the description of each curriculum, including a detailed list of educational activities, of their specific objectives and of their methods of organisation and assessment,

• the organisation of the academic year consistent with the vacation and holiday policy established by the government,

• the disciplinary regulations and all appeal procedures,

• the regulations with regard to spreading years of study and remedial courses,

• the rules concerning dispensation for certain parts of the curriculum, and

• any provisions specifically arising from the teaching methods.

Arts Colleges

For each domain, a framework is established, within which the courses are defined by the government following an opinion from the [tt_news=3&cHash=d1122119b3 High Council for Higher Education in the Arts]. The maximum and minimum number of hours of yearly educational activities, the compulsory courses of the common core, and the distribution of hours between art education and artistic practice are also defined.

Teaching Methods

Higher education uses adapted methods and resources, according to the specific discipline, with a view to attaining the general objectives set out in the Bologna Decree and to making higher education accessible to all, in accordance with their aptitudes, without discrimination. The education which is provided is based on the final attainment levels and core knowledge required at the end of secondary education.

Being intended for adults who are participating of their own free will, higher education uses teaching methods adapted to this characteristic. Educational activities comprise:

• courses organised by the institution, in particular lecture courses, monitored exercises, coursework, laboratory work, seminars, creation and research workshops, excursions, visits and internships;

• individual or group activities, including preparation, coursework, documentary research, dissertations and projects;

• personal study, self-training and enrichment activities.

Short-type higher education combines theory and practice closely and relies on internships in a professional setting or in a laboratory.

Hautes écoles

Each haute école must adopt an educational plan: this project is a framework for teachers and students within an institute and defines, in particular, the adopted teaching methods, the assessment methods, the educational facilities needed, and the values promoted through the educational relationship.

To meet their objectives, the hautes écoles must ensure 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 cooperation at an international level.

Each haute école is required to devote a sum to helping ensure the success of the first-generation students attending it, corresponding to at least 1% of the total annual grant it receives. This support includes various measures such as:

• the creation of a clearly identified success support service within the haute école or within several hautes écoles and/or in collaboration with a service at a university institution pursuing the same objectives;

• a tutorial programme for students in the first year of their bachelor degree studies who are identified as being in difficulty; the tutorial support is provided by students enrolled in one of the years of higher education, on the basis of an application approved by the success support service;

• the arrangement of specific activities for first-generation students aimed at ensuring that they acquire methods and techniques that will boost their chances of success;

• a charter of engagement offered to first-generation students who are in a situation of failure at the end of the first term, in which the haute école and the student undertake to make every attempt to ensure that the student succeeds;

• the signing of a collaboration agreement for support for the teachers responsible for the students in question with a university academy’s Centre for Higher Education Didactics.

Arts Colleges

The courses are grouped into three principal categories: arts courses, general courses, and technical courses.

The 1999 decree provides methodological guidelines for some domains. For instance, higher education for the plastic, graphic and spatial arts must rest on a wide optional base with input from experimentation and interdisciplinary research.

The Council for Arts College Educational Management establishes a single course schedule for each section/option, which must conform to a model determined by the government and is submitted to the government for its approval.

Progression of Students

As a general rule, the examination board automatically declares that a student has qualified for admission to the next year if he/she has scored at least 50% in each examination and 60% in the examinations as a whole (hautes écoles) or 60% in each examination and 60% in the examinations as a whole (arts colleges).

For students who fail to meet the conditions for an automatic pass, the board deliberates jointly on whether such students should be admitted to the next year, have their entry to it deferred or be refused admission. Its decision is final.

Under certain conditions depending on the type of institution (see below), an examination board may declare a year of study to have been successfully completed once the student has acquired at least 48 credits. In this case, the residual credits must be entirely earned during the next year of studies. With a decision to certify the successful completion of a course, study year, or study cycle, an examination board definitively awards the corresponding credits to a student.

In the event of failure, a student need not resit tests and examinations of a course for which he or she has obtained a mark of at least 12/20 during the five preceding academic years.

Hautes écoles

Each year culminates in tests, which must be passed to proceed to the following year. Examination arrangements are subject to a set of administrative and organisational measures, which must be observed:

• two examination sessions per academic year must be organised;

• no one may take the same examination administered by an examination board more than four times in two academic years without a waiver from the competent Minister or designated representative;

• students must sit for examinations during the first session, except in case of force majeure;

• the examination board passes students who score at least 50% of the points for each test and 60% of the points allocated for all examinations;

• a deferred student may take the examination in the second session;

• in certain cases, the examination board may grant an exemption from tests for certain educational activities to students who did not pass and repeat the year in the same institution.

Students enrolled for the first time in the first year may be authorised during the year to spread their first year of study across two consecutive years. Failed first-year examinations may be retaken twice in the following year. This special scheme includes the obligation to attend an additional remedial course. When deciding whether to conditionally promote a student who did not pass, the examination board consults with the institution’s educational council, which includes all the administrative and teaching staff.

A 48-credit pass is subject to two conditions:

• for each of the 48 credits, the student has scored at least 50% and has a total score of at least 60% for all these credits;

• none of the remaining 12 credits has been defined as a necessary prerequisite (in the curriculum for that academic year) for the continuation of studies.

Arts Colleges

Each year culminates in tests, which must be passed to proceed to the following year.

At the end of the academic year, the student may be:

• admitted to the next year;

• deferred and requested to retake in a second session the examinations for which he or she failed to meet the examination board’s requirements;

• refused admission and obliged to retake the year.

Under the general conditions determined by the government, a student may choose to spread the courses of a cycle of studies over a higher number of academic years than the number stipulated in the curriculum.

A 48-credit pass is subject to three conditions:

• the student has taken all the art assessments;

• the student has taken all the examinations in the second examination session;

• the credits that the student has failed to obtain do not appear on a list (displayed in the college) of the fundamental courses for the year.

Employability

In pedagogical terms, short-type higher education offers a close combination of theory and practice, internships in a professional setting or in a laboratory, and thus meets specific vocational goals.

Student Assessment

Hautes écoles


General examination regulations, issued by the government, determine the examination periods, conditions for passing, examination organisation and administration arrangements, how the examination boards function, exemption conditions for students who repeat the same year of study, etc.

To be eligible to register for examinations organised by a haute école, students are required to regularly attend the educational activities on the curriculum for the year of study in which they are enrolled (including internships and coursework). They must justify any absences. They must have scored 50% for internships and coursework.

Examination tests are written or oral. They are public (except examinations requiring the presence of patients). Corrected copies of written examinations may be consulted by students within 60 days from the publication of test results. All students may, upon request, receive a breakdown of their examination results. Marks given during the year are considered when determining final marks.

In the course of an academic year, a student may sit twice for examinations or assessments in the same course. However, for properly justified exceptional reasons, the haute école may authorise a student to sit more than twice for assessments of the same course during the same academic year.

For first-year students, the assessments at the end of the first term are subject to special rules: they may count towards all or part of the test, but do not count in case of failure. The examination boards are composed of staff members who are responsible for the student’s educational activities and, when applicable, outside experts. In certain sections, a dossier is examined in which selected examples of coursework and internship work are kept.

Arts Colleges

Only regularly enrolled students are permitted to register for examinations. Participating in more than two examination sessions or more than one art assessment session during the same academic year is not permitted. However, for properly justified exceptional reasons approved by the director, the latter may authorise a student to sit more than twice for examinations of the same course during the same academic year.

The examinations are public. Students may consult their corrected work and receive their results. Examination boards for each study year deliberate on the basis of published criteria predefined by the controlling authority. There is no appeal mechanism. Examination boards are composed of staff members who are responsible for the student’s educational activities and, when applicable, outside experts. The government determines the methods for organising examinations and examination boards as well as the automatic pass marks.

Certification

Higher education qualifications belong to the qualification classification system which is being created at European level. From now on, the only qualification that may be awarded at the end of a first cycle of three years in long-type education will be the bachelor’s degree (level 6).

Degrees may only be awarded to students who have satisfied the conditions for access to studies, were regularly enrolled for a number of years corresponding to the minimum duration of studies, and who have obtained the minimum number of credits for the corresponding study programme. In principle, students enrolled in the final year of studies who have failed the examinations in the second session may retake certain examinations. In this case, the examination board may rule that that student’s session has been extended, either on the basis of the criteria defined for passing with at least 48 credits or on the basis of criteria defined in the study or examination regulations.

Examinations are organised and degrees awarded by examination boards formed by the authorities of the education institution; in addition, there is a system of external examinations and degree awards organised by the French Community’s examination boards. The degrees awarded by a higher education examination board of the French Community are signed by the president and the members of the board and countersigned by the government or its representative. Degrees awarded have the same value as those awarded by hautes écoles. Diplomas awarded at the end of education cycles comprising a system of gateways have the same legal value as those awarded on the basis of ordinary studies.

The form of degree diplomas has been laid down by the government. The basic required information appears in French on the diploma. It refers explicitly to an accompanying supplement. This supplement, in French and English, includes in particular the list of courses taken by the student, the conditions for admission to the programme and the assessments certified by the awarded academic degree. The personal elements of this supplement, relating to the individual student, may be collected in an annex to the supplement. In this case, only the annex must be signed by the secretary of the board, whereas the common part of the supplement is certified by the institute.

The French Community alone accredits higher education: the diplomas are countersigned by the government or its representative.

Hautes écoles

Certification is based on end-of-year examinations and the final dissertation. The final examination includes tests and assessments related to all of the educational activities included in the curriculum for the last year of study. The presentation and defence of a final dissertation or project, if provided for in the specific regulations, constitutes the last test of the examination session. The subject of the final dissertation or project must be related to the purpose of the section or option and must be approved by the head of the institute. The diplomas are signed by the director-president and by the members of the examination board.

Long-type higher studies of the first cycle qualify for one of the academic degrees referred to in the decree of 2 June 2006 establishing the academic degrees issued by the hautes écoles organised or subsidised by the French Community and setting the minimum timetables.

Arts Colleges

General study regulations were issued by the government on 17 July 2002: in particular, they set the rules concerning assessment (exemptions, examination periods, pass requirements, methods of constitution and operation of examination boards, weighting of the different assessment methods, complaints and appeals, conditions and procedures for an extension of the second session for students enrolled in the final year, etc.). A set of study regulations specific to each arts college defines the procedure for applying the general study regulations (disciplinary rules, procedures for organising examinations and examination boards, etc.). Degrees are awarded either by the deliberation board of the arts college or the French Community’s higher education examination boards. The diplomas awarded by the boards of arts colleges are signed by the head of college and the members of the deliberation board. The diploma awarded mentions the domain, the section (if applicable), the option, the special subject (if applicable) as well as the subject of the end-of-studies dissertation (if applicable).

Organisational Variation

Evening Courses

Certain higher education programmes are scheduled in the evenings. In this case, the curriculum is spread over an increased number of years and is comparable to ordinary programmes for the same studies scheduled during the day. These evening programmes are part of full-time education.

The diploma earned upon completion of an evening programme has the same value as one earned for the corresponding day course. In short-type higher education, the organisation of evening courses is still limited (e.g. training for social workers).

Social Advancement Education

Education for social advancement is designed not only for people who wish to complete their education, but also for 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.

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.

Examination Boards of the French Community

The system of examination boards of the French Community operated by the Ministry of Education, Research and Training is an alternative examination scheme enabling students to obtain a diploma outside the traditional channels provided in schools. These examinations require serious personal preparation, since the candidate must draw on his or her own resources. However, there are preparation options available in public schools, private schools, or via distance learning.

An Examination Board of the French Community is formed at the site of each haute école and university institution. It is divided into as many sections as there are years of study leading to the academic degrees awarded at the haute école in question, or as many years of study or study cycles leading to first- or second-cycle academic degrees awarded at the university institution in question, with the exception of complementary master’s degrees.

Students are assessed on each of the educational activities which, in the haute école or university institution where the board is based, are included in the study year to which the assessments relate. The assessment is subject to the same rules as those of regular students. However, arrangements which are incompatible with the situation of students enrolled with the Examination Board of the French Community must be adapted.

When a course is jointly organised by several hautes écoles, the authorities of the participating institutions form a single joint examination board and determine the study regulations and the examination board’s operating rules for such studies.

Admission to the examinations organised by the examination boards formed at the hautes écoles and universities is reserved for those who, for objective reasons which the board is required to approve (without any possibility of appeal), are unable to attend educational activities on a regular basis. Enrolment is also subject to the same rules as those for regular students (together with extra details relating to re-enrolment deadlines in the case of the universities).

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

In addition, examination boards centralised at the Ministry of the French Community are responsible for awarding teaching diplomas for special courses in stenography, typing and word processing and in music teaching.


Second Cycle Programmes


Branches of Study

The programmes of the second cycle of long-type higher education represent 60 ECTS per year. They take one or two years of study in the hautes écoles and arts colleges. In the universities, the second cycle takes one to two years (teaching master’s, scientific research master’s or specialised master’s), three years (master’s in veterinary medicine) or four years (master’s in medicine) in the universities. Complementary master’s degrees (universities) or specialised master’s degrees (arts colleges) consist of at least 60 ECTS and require at least one year of study.

The course leading to the upper secondary teaching qualification, organised by all three types of institution, consists of 30 ECTS.

Each of the full universities (University of Liège, Catholic University of Louvain, Free University of Bruxelles) has at least five traditional faculties: philosophy and humanities, law, science, medicine and applied science. Additionally, each university has a variable number of faculties, schools, or institutes, which teach other disciplines such as agricultural science, art history, archaeology, oriental studies, business and economics, social and political science, criminology, psychology, educational science, etc.

In the other university institutions organised or subsidised by the French Community, second-cycle education is limited to a certain number of disciplines:

• the University of Mons organises masters in most disciplines, but not in law;

• the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis offer courses in law, economics, social science, political science, philosophy, history, languages etc.;

• the Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix offer courses in economics and science;

• the Faculté Universitaire Catholique de Mons offers the business management course, as well as masters in economics and political science.

Finally, a number of university institutions organised at national level give instruction in both French and Dutch: the Royal Military College (master’s in civil engineering and in social and military sciences), and the University Faculty of Protestant Theology (master’s in Protestant theology).

In the hautes écoles, long-type higher education may be provided in the following categories:

• agricultural science (agricultural sciences, landscape architecture);

• economics (business management, administrative science, business administration);

• paramedical (physiotherapy);

• social studies (applied communication);

• technical studies (industrial science);

• translation and interpreting (translation).

The arts colleges provide preparation for all artistic disciplines in four fields of study:

• plastic, visual and spatial arts (drawing, photography, art in public spaces, etc.);

• music (instrumental training: percussion, voice training: lyrical art, jazz and easy listening music: composition, etc.);

• theatre and the spoken word (oratory, dramatic art);

• performing arts and broadcasting and communication techniques (production for cinema, radio and television, theatre and communication techniques, radio, TV and multimedia, etc.).

The programmes that each establishment of tertiary education may provide are defined for each cycle and each site by its accreditation.

Admission Requirements

As a general rule, access to the first year of the second-cycle studies is open to students who have obtained the corresponding bachelor degree. In all three types of institution, there are possibilities for individual admission on the basis of the applicant’s previous educational record. In addition, gateways have been set up between the hautes écoles and the universities: the gateway is an automatic process in that it authorises the educational institution to enrol a student, as a matter of entitlement, in the corresponding course indicated by legislation once this latter has completed the studies which give rise to such entitlement.

To gain admission to the course preparing for the upper secondary teaching qualification or for a teaching master’s, the student must hold an admission certificate or be enrolled on a master’s course. To take the examinations for a teaching master’s or upper secondary teaching qualification, the student must also provide proof of adequate command of the French language.

Universities

Under the general conditions set by the academic authorities, examination boards assess the credits gained by students in higher education courses or parts thereof that they have already successfully completed. Students benefiting from these credits are dispensed from the corresponding parts of the curriculum. The boards may also take into account in this context the knowledge and skills acquired by students through personal or professional experience.

The diplomas of 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 the studies completed in non-university higher education, additional admission requirements to second-cycle university studies may be imposed: one or more additional courses (master’s), one or more additional courses possibly leading to a preparatory year (bachelor in long-type education), or a preparatory year (bachelor in short-type education).

Hautes écoles

To gain admission to the course preparing for the upper secondary teaching qualification, the student must hold a second-cycle degree in long-type higher education in the economics category, or be enrolled on a programme for such a degree.

Regarding admission to second-cycle studies in the hautes écoles, there are lists to establish correspondences between one or two first years of study successfully completed in a university and the second cycle of a long-type programme in a haute école. The haute école authorities may impose additional courses corresponding to students’ particular situations. Limitations. 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.

The hautes écoles themselves examine the closeness of fit between different courses in connection with access to specialised studies for students with qualifications from the Flemish Community or the German-Speaking Community.

Arts Colleges

Students holding a long-type bachelor degree issued in the French Community in the same option by an arts college have unconditional access to the corresponding master’s programmes; if the student changes arts college with residual credits, these credits must not correspond to core courses in the new college.

In certain cases, admission to the master’s course may be gained by the provision of documentation proving at least five years of artistic experience: the decision is taken by the arts college’s controlling authority, on the director’s proposal, after taking advice from the board of management and on the basis of an assessment report compiled by an internal panel. An assessment test is mandatory in cases where personal artistic experience is being cited, and strongly recommended in the case of professional artistic experience.

Other admission possibilities require a positive decision by the director, on the advice of the educational management board of the ESA to which the student is applying:

• In the same field of higher education in the arts, a student who has obtained a long-type bachelor or master’s degree in one given option may enrol in the first preparatory year for the master’s degree in another option, and a student who has obtained a short-type bachelor degree may enrol in the first preparatory year for the master’s degree of the same title or in a course which is deemed to be similar. The institution may impose additional admission conditions representing up to 60 credits (if the number of credits is more than 15, the additional amount represents a preparatory year of study).

• More generally, under certain conditions, the director has the possibility of dispensing the student from one or more years of study on the basis of credits (successfully completed courses or sections of courses) or of at least five years’ artistic experience.

Curriculum

Language of Instruction


The language of instruction and of assessment of educational activities is French, but a part of the activities may be given and assessed in another language:

• in studies leading to the academic master’s degree, excluding credits specifically relating to the teaching master’s, for one half of the credits;

• in studies leading to the academic complementary master’s degree;

• when these activities, if they are compulsory, are also organised in French.

Exemptions may also be granted by the government for second-cycle programmes.

In the universities, with the consent of the examination board and the academic authorities, all or part of the final dissertation may be written in a foreign language; in this case, it must include a synopsis in French.

ECTS

All curricula in full-time higher education are expressed in credits (ECTS). The credits associated with a course within a curriculum are expressed in whole numbers, or exceptionally in half-units, with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 60 credits for one course.

Universities

In the universities, curricula are established by the academic authorities in compliance with other legal provisions, in particular the criteria for access to the associated professional qualifications. The curricula include subjects contributing to the student’s general education as well as those specific to the disciplines and hence contributing to the acquisition of more technical and more in-depth skills in the domain of studies. A curriculum includes compulsory courses and optional courses chosen by the student, according to the academic degree, specialisation and options chosen.

A specialisation indicates a specific characteristic of the study cycle’s curriculum that leads to it, corresponding to a set of educational activities. This set must comprise more than 30 credits (in the case of an academic degree certifying a 60-credit programme), or at least 60 credits (in the case of an academic degree certifying a programme of more than 60 credits). However, it cannot represent more than two-thirds of the credits for the cycle of studies. An option indicates the choice, by the student, of a coherent set of particular educational activities counting for 15 to 30 credits, which characterises all or part of his or her programme within the study cycle. In total, options cannot exceed one half of the credits for the study cycle.

On the date of the opening of the enrolment period at the latest, the academic authorities communicate to the government the list of programmes that they organise and their curricula. In order to guarantee sufficient provision of all the initial programmes in the French Community, the government may lay down, for each university and in accordance with its accreditations, a list of the cycles of studies that it must continue to organise and the site that will host them, under penalty of being deprived of all subsidies and accreditations for the other courses it runs. Notice of this list must be given before 1 February preceding the academic year.

In order to ensure harmonisation of the educational requirements for the pursuit of studies within the French Community and the European Union, and to guarantee the skills and knowledge certified by the academic degrees, the government may establish the minimum contents for the curricula of initial programmes, on the proposal of the Interuniversity Council of the French Community or CIUF. The CIUF certifies adherence to these provisions; it may also establish the minimum core content of these programmes.

Second-cycle master’s courses of 120 credits or more include at least one choice of 30 specific credits giving the course one of the following purposes:

• The teaching master’s, corresponding to specific teacher training for upper secondary school teachers. This is only organised for the academic degrees that correspond to the qualifications required for this profession.

• The scientific research master’s: this includes both advanced instruction in a specific discipline and general training in work as a researcher.

• The specialised master’s in a specific discipline in the field to which the course relates, focusing on specific professional or artistic skills.

Hautes écoles

Curricula must comply with the general objectives of higher education, and the specific objectives of the course concerned, in particular the criteria for access to the associated professional qualifications.

Provided that they comply with the curricula and minimum weekly schedule established by legislation, decrees, orders and ordinances, the controlling authorities are free to customise their curricula in accordance with the institutions’ educational plans, local conditions, the current economic situation, and the job market. They must submit them to the Minister of Education for approval.

The haute école authorities issue study regulations. These regulations establish, in particular:

• the objectives pursued by each curriculum,

• the description of each curriculum including a detailed list of educational activities, of their specific objectives and of their methods of organisation and assessment,

• the organisation of the academic year consistent with the vacation and holiday policy established by the government,

• the disciplinary regulations and all appeal procedures,

• the regulations with regard to spreading years of study and remedial courses,

• the rules concerning dispensation for certain parts of the curriculum,

• and any provisions specifically arising from the teaching methods.

Arts Colleges

For each domain, a framework is established, within which the courses are defined by the government following an opinion from the [tt_news=3&cHash=d1122119b3 High Council for Higher Education in the Arts]. The maximum and minimum number of hours of yearly educational activities, the compulsory courses of the common core, and the distribution of hours between art education and artistic practice are also defined.

Teaching Methods

Higher education uses adapted methods and resources, according to the specific discipline, with a view to attaining the general objectives set out in the Bologna Decree and to making higher education accessible to all, in accordance with their aptitudes, without discrimination.

Being intended for adults who are participating of their own free will, higher education uses teaching methods adapted to this characteristic. Educational activities comprise:

• courses organised by the institution, in particular lecture courses, monitored exercises, coursework, laboratory work, seminars, creation and research workshops, excursions, visits and internships;

• individual or group activities, including preparation, coursework, documentary research, dissertations and projects;

• personal study, self-training and enrichment activities.

Long-type higher education starts out from basic concepts, experiments and illustrations. Establishments of higher education 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.

Universities

University education is based on a close link between scientific research and the subjects taught. 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.

Each course leader enjoys academic freedom in the exercise of his or her task. This includes the choice of teaching methods, scientific and technical content, assessment, and the various activities undertaken to meet the specific objectives, subject to compliance with certain requirements set out in decrees.

In order to ensure a suitable distribution of the study and assessment 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 offers specialised content. Every curriculum leading to a second-cycle academic degree includes a final dissertation, work or personal project counting for 15 to 29 credits. A curriculum comprises compulsory courses and courses chosen by the student.

A decree adopted at the beginning of 2008 allocates the academies additional resources with a view to helping promote student success, and in particular in order to enable the universities jointly to test and assess pilot experiments aimed at evolving good practices in promoting the success of first-year students in particular.

Hautes écoles

Each haute école must adopt an educational plan: this project is a framework for teachers and students within an institute and defines the adopted teaching methods, the assessment methods, the educational facilities needed, and the values promoted through the educational relationship.

To meet their objectives, the hautes écoles must ensure 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.

Arts Colleges

The courses are grouped into three principal categories: arts courses, general courses, and technical courses. The 1999 decree provides methodological guidelines for some domains. For instance, higher education for the plastic, graphic and spatial arts must rest on a wide optional base with input from experimentation and interdisciplinary research.

The Council for Arts College Educational Management establishes a single course schedule for each section/option, which must conform to a model determined by the government and is submitted to the government for its approval.

Progression of Students

As a general rule, the examination board automatically declares that a student has qualified for admission to the next year if he/she has scored at least 50% in each examination and 60% in the examinations as a whole (universities and hautes écoles) or 60% in each examination and 60% in the examinations as a whole (arts colleges).

For students who fail to meet the conditions for an automatic pass, the board deliberates jointly on whether such students should be admitted to the next year, have their entry to it deferred or be refused admission. Its decision is final.

Under certain conditions, an examination board may declare a year of study to have been successfully completed once the student has acquired at least 48 credits. In this case, the residual credits must be entirely earned during the next year of studies. With a decision to certify the successful completion of a course, study year, or study cycle, an examination board definitively awards the corresponding credits to a student.

Universities

An examination board made up of at least five members and formed by the academic authorities is charged with certifying the successful completion of study years. It judges whether a student has successfully completed the study year in which he or she is enrolled, deliberating on all assessments for the activities followed and awarding the credits associated with the courses for which it judges the results to be satisfactory.

Unless a duly justified exception is granted by the academic authorities, a student may only sit twice for examinations or assessments for the same course during the same academic year. For each course, the academic authorities determine during which examination sessions these assessments will take place. Assessments of activities such as coursework, internships, research projects and reports may be organised only once per academic year. A student need not resit tests and examinations of a course for which he or she has obtained a mark equal to at least the pass threshold during the same academic year. Within a study programme, a student need not resit tests and examinations of a course for which he or she has obtained a mark of at least 12/20 during the five preceding academic years (carry-forward).

The final assessment for a course is expressed in the form of a mark between 0 and 20, with the pass mark set at 10/20. The global assessment for a year or for a cycle of studies is expressed in the same way, with the pass mark set at 12/20 on average. With a decision to certify the successful completion of a course, study year, or study cycle, an examination board definitively awards the corresponding credits to a student.

Under the general conditions determined by the academic authorities, a student may choose to spread the courses of a cycle of studies over a higher number of academic years than the standard number. This spreading out of educational activities and associated assessments is the subject of an agreement with the academic authorities of the university institution, made at the time of enrolment and subject to annual modification. If the student obtains the credits corresponding to the courses making up his or her customised programme, he or she may continue his or her studies without being considered to be repeating a grade.

Hautes écoles

Each year culminates in tests, which must be passed to proceed to the following year. Examination arrangements are subject to a set of administrative and organisational measures, which must be observed:

• two examination sessions per academic year must be organised;

• no one may take the same examination administered by an examination board more than four times in two academic years without a waiver from the competent Minister or designated representative;

• students must sit for examinations during the first session, except in case of force majeure;

• the examination board passes students who score at least 50% of the points for each test and 60% of the points allocated for all examinations;

• a deferred student may take the examination in the second session;

• in certain cases, the examination board may grant an exemption from tests for certain educational activities to students who did not pass and repeat the year in the same institution.

A 48-credit pass is subject to two conditions:

• for each of the 48 credits, the student has scored at least 50% and has a total score of at least 60% for all these credits; • none of the remaining 12 credits has been defined as a necessary prerequisite (in the curriculum for that academic year) for the continuation of studies.

Arts Colleges

Each year culminates in tests, which must be passed to proceed to the following year.

At the end of the academic year, the student may be:

• admitted to the next year;

• deferred and requested to retake in a second session the examinations for which he or she failed to meet the examination board’s requirements;

• refused admission and obliged to retake the year.

Under the general conditions determined by the government, a student may choose to spread the courses of a cycle of studies over a higher number of academic years than the number stipulated in the curriculum.

A 48-credit pass is subject to three conditions:

• the student has taken all the art assessments;

• the student has taken all the examinations in the second examination session;

• the credits that the student has failed to obtain do not appear on a list (displayed in the college) of the fundamental courses for the year.

Employability

Numerous master’s degrees include internships in a professional or laboratory setting, thus familiarising young people with the world of work. The theme of the final dissertation very often involves contacts with a professional environment. In certain cases (arts colleges in particular), the deliberation boards may include external experts.

The university institutions have progressively implemented various initiatives with a view to publicising employment opportunities and assisting graduates in finding a job.

The website dedicated to doctoral studies in Belgium provides the latest information about collaboration between universities and businesses: Enterprise-University interface units have been created by each of the universities under their own individual arrangements.

According to the site, the interface units have the following roles:

• to create dialogue between companies and universities in order to encourage partnerships between them;

• to develop the universities’ scientific and technical potential;

• to use the skills of universities and research bodies to increase companies’ technical capabilities;

• to orient the universities’ scientific skills towards the needs of the economy;

• to make the research activities, skills and equipment of the university’s scientific services better known to local and international companies;

• to make universities more accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Council of French-Speaking Rectors has published a guide to facilitate such partnerships, and public grants are available to finance cooperation projects.

The LIEU network brings together interface services and services for the commercialisation of research performed in universities and hautes écoles in the French Community.

Student Assessment

Universities


The assessment for a course may consist of an oral or written examination or any other work carried out by the student for this purpose. Oral examinations are public, but the audience may not interact in any way with the examiner or examinee during the test, nor disturb its proper conduct. Corrected copies of other tests and written works may be consulted by students within 60 days of publication of the test results.

Hautes écoles

General examination regulations, issued by the government, determine the examination periods, conditions for passing, examination organisation and administration arrangements, how the examination boards function, exemption conditions for students who repeat the same year of study, etc.

To be eligible to register for examinations organised by a haute école, students are required to regularly attend the educational activities on the curriculum for the year of study in which they are enrolled (including internships and coursework). They must justify any absences. They must have scored 50% for internships and coursework.

Examination tests are written or oral. They are public (except examinations requiring the presence of patients). Corrected copies of written examinations may be consulted by students within 60 days from the publication of test results. All students may, upon request, receive a breakdown of their examination results. Marks given during the year are considered when determining final marks.

In the course of an academic year, a student may sit twice for examinations or assessments in the same course. However, for properly justified exceptional reasons, the haute école may authorise a student to sit more than twice for assessments of the same course during the same academic year.

The examination boards are composed of staff members who are responsible for the student’s educational activities and, when applicable, outside experts. In certain sections, a dossier is examined in which selected examples of coursework and internship work are kept.

Arts Colleges

General study regulations were issued by the government on 17 July 2002: in particular, they set the rules concerning assessment (exemptions, examination periods, pass requirements, methods of constitution and operation of examination boards, weighting of the different assessment methods, complaints and appeals, conditions and procedures for an extension of the second session for students enrolled in the final year, etc.). A set of study regulations which is specific to each arts college defines the procedure for applying the general study regulations (disciplinary rules, procedures for organising examinations and examination boards, etc.).

Only regularly enrolled students are permitted to register for examinations. Participating in more than two examination sessions or more than one art assessment session during the same academic year is not permitted. However, for properly justified exceptional reasons approved by the director, the latter may authorise a student to sit more than twice for examinations of the same course during the same academic year.

The examinations are public. Students may consult their corrected work and receive their results. Examination boards for each study year deliberate on the basis of published criteria predefined by the controlling authority. There is no appeal mechanism. Examination boards are composed of staff members who are responsible for the student’s educational activities and, when applicable, outside experts. The government determines the methods for organising examinations and examination boards as well as the automatic pass marks.

Certification

Higher education qualifications belong to the qualification classification system which is being created at European level. From now on, the only qualification that may be awarded at the end of a second cycle are the master’s (60 or 120 credits), the complementary master’s and the upper secondary teaching qualification (level 7).

Degrees may only be awarded to students who have satisfied the conditions for access to studies, were regularly enrolled for a number of years corresponding to the minimum duration of studies, and who have obtained the minimum number of credits for the corresponding study programme.

Examinations are organised and degrees awarded by examination boards formed by the authorities of the education institution; in addition, there is a system of external examinations and degree awards organised by the French Community’s examination boards. The degrees awarded by a higher education examination board of the French Community are signed by the president and the members of the board and countersigned by the government or its representative. Degrees awarded have the same value as those awarded by higher education institutions. Diplomas awarded at the end of education cycles comprising a system of gateways have the same legal value as those awarded on basis of ordinary studies.

The form of degree diplomas has been laid down by the government. The basic required information appears in French on the diploma. It refers explicitly to an accompanying supplement. This supplement, in French and English, includes in particular the list of courses taken by the student, the conditions for admission to the programme and the assessments certified by the awarded academic degree. The personal elements of this supplement, relating to the individual student, may be collected in an annex to the supplement. In this case, only the annex must be signed by the secretary of the board, whereas the common part of the supplement is certified by the institute.

The French Community alone accredits higher education: the diplomas are countersigned by the government or its representative.

Universities

The academic degree title consists of its generic name (‘master’) and its description, consisting of the following elements: 1. the title of the programme, preceded by a colon or the word en (‘in’) or ès (‘of’); 2. any field of specialisation, preceded by the word orientation (‘specialisation’). The specialisation and any options specify the contents of the curriculum certified by the academic degree, giving the course of study its particular end purpose. The titles and specialisations of initial programmes in the university sector are determined by the decree of 31 March 2004..

Diplomas are signed by at least one academic authority or its delegate, and by the president and secretary of the board.

Hautes écoles

Certification is based on end-of-year examinations. The final examination includes tests and assessments related to all of the educational activities included in the curriculum for the last year of study.

Long-type higher studies of the second cycle qualify for one of the academic degrees referred to in the decree of 2 June 2006 establishing the academic degrees issued by the hautes écoles organised or subsidised by the French Community and setting the minimum timetables. Diplomas are signed by the president and the members of the board.

Arts Colleges The diploma awarded mentions the domain, the section (if applicable), the option, the special subject (if applicable) as well as the subject of the end-of-studies dissertation (if applicable).

Degrees are awarded either by the deliberation board of the arts college or the French Community’s higher education examination boards. The diplomas awarded by the boards of arts colleges are signed by the head of college and the members of the deliberation board.


Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure


Certain programmes, while conforming to the same general rules, differ from the usual length of bachelor or master’s degrees.

Whereas virtually all short-type higher education programmes are held over three academic years and total 180 ECTS, the midwifery course (haute école, paramedical category) consists of four years and 240 ECTS.

In the second cycle, the degrees for doctors and veterinarians consist of at least four years (240 credits) or at least three years (180 credits) respectively, but in all other respects are the same as master’s degrees.

Higher education is also organised in social advancement institutions, which issue qualifications and degrees equivalent to those issued by full-time higher education.

Finally, a number of university institutions organised at national level give instruction in both French and Dutch: the Royal Military College offers bachelor and master’s degrees in civil engineering and in social and military sciences, and the University Faculty of Protestant Theology offers bachelor and master’s degrees in Protestant theology.


Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes


Organisation of Doctoral Studies

Third-cycle courses consist of doctoral training courses leading to the award of a certificate in research training (up to 60 credits) and preparatory work for a doctoral thesis leading to the award of a doctoral degree following the defence of the thesis (at least 180 credits).

Doctoral courses are overseen by the three university academies (associations of universities) present in the French Community: the Louvain Academy (UCL, FUNDP, FUCaM, FUSL), the Wallonia-Brussels Academy (ULB, UMH, FPMs) and the Wallonia-Europe Academy (ULg and FUSAGx). Each of these academies has adopted common doctoral regulations for the various domains. Certain doctoral courses are organised in conjunction with the arts colleges (art and art-related sciences). The graduate colleges (structures for research and teaching organised by individual academies or by a number of academies jointly) are responsible for providing doctoral training in one or more fields of study: they organise advanced courses and seminars which form part of the doctoral training.

The universities are responsible for the administrative enrolment of doctoral students, for overseeing doctoral research and for the assessment leading to the award of the doctoral degree.

The French Community only recognises a single graduate college for each of the 21 recognised fields of study: philosophy; theology; languages and literature; history, art and archaeology; construction science and urban planning; information and communication; political and social sciences; law; criminology; economics and management; translation and interpreting; psychology and education science; medicine; veterinary science; dentistry; biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences; motricity sciences; agricultural sciences and biological engineering; engineering sciences; arts and art-related science. The titles of options are determined by the institution. The accreditation of the graduate colleges is the responsibility of the committees of the FNRS. Work in preparation for a doctoral thesis is classified, depending on the graduate college providing the training, in one or more fields of study.

Admission Requirements

Under the general conditions fixed by the academic authorities, students with a scientific research master’s degree in the same field have access to third-cycle studies with a view to obtaining the related degree.

Other qualifications awarded in Belgium provide access to third-cycle studies by decision of the academic authorities, under whatever additional conditions they may set and after receiving a detailed opinion from the examination board: another academic master’s degree awarded after second-cycle studies for at least 120 credits or a complementary master’s degree, an academic degree similar to the above-mentioned degrees awarded in the Flemish Community, the German-speaking Community or the Royal Military College.

With regard to degrees awarded abroad, access to third-cycle studies is open to students with a foreign academic degree recognised as equivalent to the degrees issued in Belgium or, under the same conditions, with one or more foreign qualifications or degrees awarded for the following studies:

• second-cycle studies assessed as equivalent to at least 300 credits by the examination board, • or second-cycle studies for 240 credits supplemented under certain conditions with 60 additional credits, with the whole arrangement to be assessed by the board.

The credits which are assessed in this way to permit access to courses may not give rise to any dispensations or to a reduction in the length of the course.

When the admission requirements consist of one or more additional courses representing more than 15 credits, the student’s study programme includes an additional year of study, in accordance with the arrangements determined by the board.

Status of Doctoral Students

All doctoral students are students. As members of the academic community, they are represented on the different bodies of their university at which decisions about programmes and regulations are taken.

There are three possibilities for the financing of a doctoral thesis, and the status of the doctoral student depends on which option is used:

• A student wishing to prepare a doctorate may obtain a post as an assistant at one of the universities. The contract has a maximum term of six years full-time equivalent (contract renewable every two years).

• Doctoral grants (from the FNRS and FRIA) are awarded by the research grant funds. These fixed-term grants have a maximum term of 48 months (two times two years). They may be obtained following the favourable classification of a research project examined by a committee. These grants are subject to social security, but exempt from tax. The universities may also award grants (training grants, doctoral grants or post-doctoral grants).

• The doctorate may also be financed by means of an employment contract as researcher within the framework of either an agreement between the university and a public body, or a university-private sector research partnership.

The position of assistant involves participation in the work of supervising students (supervision of practicals, seminars, invigilating at examinations, etc.) for up to 50% of the time, whereas doctoral students with a grant or under an employment contract are not subject to such an obligation.

Since 1996, the universities have been authorised to award doctoral grants which are not subject to withholding tax on professional income, but are subject to social security. In principle, therefore, the doctoral student receiving a grant from a university should benefit from the same social status (in terms of sickness and invalidity cover, family allowance, unemployment benefit, pension, pension etc.) whether he or she is a scholarship holder or under an employment contract. However, the social cover (entitlement to unemployment benefit, maternity leave and holiday pay in particular) may vary depending on the type of grant.

Current expenses associated with doctoral research (operating costs, use of equipment) are normally payable by the unit to which the student is attached. Additional resources are available for certain occasional expenses, such as participation in conferences, seminars and meetings and research trips abroad.

Supervision Arrangements

There are two types of graduate college: graduate colleges overseen by the Scientific Research Fund - FNRS and thematic graduate schools.

The decree stipulates that a single graduate college overseen by the F.R.S.-FNRS should be recognised per field of study or group of fields of study in the French Community. There are 21 of these graduate colleges, which are organised on an inter-university, inter-academy basis. Their role is to host, coordinate and promote thematic graduate schools and encourage their formation. Within the graduate colleges overseen by the F.R.S.-FNRS, one or more thematic graduate schools may be created.

The development of interuniversity, interdisciplinary and international graduate colleges is encouraged. A thematic graduate school may fall within the scope of one or more graduate colleges overseen by the F.R.S.-FNRS. A graduate college overseen by the F.R.S.-FNRS and a thematic graduate school may coincide. A scientific committee is responsible for each thematic graduate school.

The role of the thematic graduate schools is to offer doctoral students research training activities (participation in colloquia, conferences, seminars, etc).

With regard to the supervision of the preparation of the thesis as such, the faculty boards are responsible for determining the arrangements for managing and monitoring candidates by the faculty and the supervisory committee, if any, as well as their operating procedures.

Employability

The university institutions have progressively implemented various initiatives with a view to publicising employment opportunities and assisting graduates in finding a job.

The universities have close links with the socio-economic world through research work conducted in collaboration with industry, a research commercialisation policy, the creation of numerous spin-offs and the development of science parks.

The website dedicated to doctoral studies in Belgium provides the latest information about collaboration between universities and businesses:

Enterprise-University interface units have been created by each of the universities under their own individual arrangements.

According to the site, the interface units have the following roles:

• to create dialogue between companies and universities in order to encourage partnerships between them;

• to develop the universities’ scientific and technical potential;

• to use the skills of universities and research bodies to increase companies’ technical capabilities;

• to orient the universities’ scientific skills towards the needs of the economy;

• to make the research activities, skills and equipment of the university’s scientific services better known to local and international companies;

• to make universities more accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Council of French-Speaking Rectors has published a guide to facilitate such partnerships, and public grants are available to finance cooperation projects.

The LIEU network brings together interface services and services for the commercialisation of research performed in universities and hautes écoles in the French Community.

Assessment

The assessment for a course may consist of an oral or written examination or any other work carried out by the student for this purpose. Oral examinations are public, but the audience may not interact in any way with the examiner or examinee during the test, nor disturb its proper conduct. Corrected copies of other tests and written works may be consulted by students within 60 days of publication of the test results.

The academic degree of doctor is awarded after defending a thesis demonstrating the doctorand’s creativity and ability to carry out scientific research and disseminate its results. The doctoral examination consists of:

• the production of an original dissertation in the discipline, in the form of either a thesis of personal character, or an essay by the candidate showing the value of a coherent set of publications and achievements for which the candidate is author or co-author;

• the public presentation of this work highlighting its qualities and originality, as well as the candidate’s ability for scientific popularisation.

The faculty boards in particular are authorised to specify the prerequisites for admission to the preparatory work for a thesis or prior to the submission of a thesis, additional practical procedures relating to submission, the organisation of the private examination and the public defence, and the deliberation procedures and operational arrangements of the specific examination boards.

Certification

Third-cycle programmes in higher education comprise research training, leading to a research training certificate, and the preparation of a doctoral thesis, leading to the academic degree of doctor. These qualifications are at level 8 of the higher education qualifications framework.

Diplomas certifying the academic degrees and certificates attesting successful completion of studies are awarded by boards made up of academic authorities or Community boards. They may only be awarded to students who have satisfied the conditions for access to studies, were regularly enrolled for a number of years corresponding to the minimum duration of studies, and have obtained the minimum number of credits for the corresponding study programme. They are delivered within three months of the announcement of awarding of the academic degree. Diplomas are signed by at least one academic authority or its delegate, and by the president and secretary of the board. Diplomas respect the form determined by the government. They refer explicitly to the accompanying supplement to the diploma. The minimum information specified by the Government appears in French on the diploma. The supplement to the diploma includes the list of courses taken by the student, the conditions of access to studies, and the assessments certified by the awarded academic degree. The personal elements of this supplement, relating to the individual student, may be collected in an annex to the supplement. In this case, only the annex must be signed by the secretary of the board, whereas the common part of the supplement is certified by the institute.

For third-cycle university studies, the title is the name of the accredited graduate college or the research domain(s). The degree of doctor is mentioned in the title of the defended thesis.


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