Higher education comprises the following programmes:
- Associate degree programmes (NQF Flanders 5)
- Bachelor programmes (NQF Flanders 6)
- Master programmes (NQF Flanders 7)
- Doctoral programmes (NQF Flanders 8)
- Programmes which lead to a post graduate certificate
- Continuous education, shorter programmes in view of continuous professional development
- Integrated teacher training programmes (Bachelor in education: pre-primary education, Bachelor in education: primary education and Bachelor in education: secondary education) and the specific teacher training programmes, organised by university colleges and research universities which lead to the qualification of teacher (see chapter 9).
The basic programmes comprise the professional bachelor programmes, the academic programmes and the master programmes. Their study load is expressed in credits, conform with the ECTS credit system.
Professional bachelor programmes aim at impairing the students with general and specific knowledge of the competences needed for the independent execution of a profession or a group of professions. A professional bachelor programme thus offers the possibility of proceeding directly onto the labour market.
The main goal of the academic bachelor programmes is to proceed to a master programme. They thus aim at impairing students a level of knowledge and competences required for autonomous scientific or artistic work in general and for a specific field of science or arts in particular.
The master programmes aim at brining students to an advanced level of knowledge and competences needed for autonomous scientific or artistic work in general and for a specific field of science or arts in particular, and which is required for the independent practice of scince or arts or for the use of this scientific or artistic knowledge in the independent practice of a professional or group of professions. Master programmes are academic but can on top of that be professional.
Advanced bachelor programmes (bachelor-na-bacheloropleidingen) succeed another professional bachelor programme. This follow-up programme is aimed at broadening or specialising the competences acquired during the initial bachelor programme.
Advanced master programmes (master-na-masteropleidingen) succeed another master programme. This follow-up programme is aimed at a further deepening of the knowledge and/or competence acquired within a specific domain of study.
A doctoral degree can be obtained after scientific research and a public presentation and defence of a doctoral thesis.
Post-graduate certificates can be granted by university colleges and research universities after a successful completion of programme with a study load of at least 20 credits. These programmes are organised in the framework of continuous professional development and aim at a broadening or deepening of the competences acquired after completing a bachelor or master programme.
The research universities and university colleges also organise, within the framework of continuous education, shorter training pathways aimed at continuous professional development.
As a result of the Bologna process higher education in Flanders has been reformed to a ‘Three Tier” system of higher education with the following basic characteristics:
- flexible learning pathways
- a reinforcement of the system of quality assurance by means of accreditation, which provides both students and employers with the guarantee that graduate have reached an internationally recognised minimal level of competences
- cooperation between university colleges and research universities in associations