Features of school and university education in Belgium: rules for applying



Features of school and university education in Belgium: rules for applying

Let's talk about the different forms of education in Belgium. And let's start with the education system of local schools. In French-speaking Belgium, you can choose for your child an official school, i.e. a school organized by public authorities, a free school, or a public school. Free schools offer religious education and are free of charge.

Depending on the age or the specific situation of the pupil/student, there are 7 types of education:

  • regular basic education (nursery and elementary school) 
  • ordinary secondary education,
  • higher education,
  • social education,
  • special education,
  • art education with an abbreviated schedule,
  • distance education (EAD).
  • Kindergarten lasts 3 years and is not compulsory. At the age of 6, children enter elementary school, which lasts 6 years:
  • Elementary School 1 (ages 6 - 7)
  • Elementary school 2 (ages 7 - 8)
  • Primary 3 (ages 8 - 9 years)
  • Elementary school 4 (9 - 10 years old)
  • Elementary school 5 (10 - 11 years old)
  • Primary School 6 (11 - 12 years old). In this last grade, children take the exam for the basic education certificate, which is required for admission to the next grade.

At the age of 12, Belgian children enter secondary school, which consists of two cycles:

The lower cycle: the first high school (12 - 13 years), the second high school (13 - 14 years), and the third high school (14 - 15 years).

Higher cycle: fourth high school (15 - 16 years), fifth high school (16 - 17 years), sixth high school (17 - 18 years).

As in France, it is possible to get technical, artistic, or vocational education here. At the end of secondary school students receive a certificate of second higher education (Certificat d'Enseignement Secondaire Supérieur), the equivalent of the French baccalaureate.

Higher education

Belgian universities have adopted the LMD (Licence, Master, Doctorate) system, which facilitates the equivalence of degrees in Europe. However, whichever education you wish to pursue in Belgium, you must obtain a diploma equivalent before applying. Tuition fees are on average €830 per year, which is higher than in France.

There are about thirty institutions of higher education in Belgium, where the teaching is less theoretical and more professional. The fields of study are broad: agronomy, applied arts, economics, paramedicine, pedagogy, social, technical, and translation-translation. The cost depends on the type of course, short or long-term, and averages 350 euros per year.

Finally, art schools in Belgium are popular with the French, who account for about 32% of applicants. Several areas are taught here: performing arts, comics, interior design, plastic arts, etc.

The different levels of study possible in Belgium

Bachelor's degree (180 credits / 3 years). The Bachelier complies with the license and represents the first university degree in Belgian higher education. The prerequisite for admission is a Bachelor's degree or its equivalent, while some courses require a competitive examination or numerus clausus for international students.

Master's degree (60 to 120 credits / 1 to 2 years). The master's degree is awarded one to two years after the Bachelier degree and offers specialization in a more precise field than the first three years of study while beginning research and fewer theoretical courses.

Equivalence with French degrees is usually automatic, and the master's degree is quite affordable.

Additional Master's degree (60 credits / 1 year). The supplementary master's degree is the equivalent of a specialized master's, which consists of training in a very specific field or profession to specialize in it before entering the job market after 5 years of prior study.

Doctoral degree: (180 credits / 3 years). Available after a master's degree or 300 ECTS credits after jury approval, the doctoral degree allows you to continue working on your thesis for 3 years of research under the supervision of your thesis advisor. To apply, you must have a sufficiently precise dissertation topic and written consent from your sponsor.

To find a sponsor, you need to find a professor who is active in your field of research in Belgium and offer your offer of support. You can search online and on the various websites of Belgian universities.