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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for academic staff working in higher education

Belgium - French Community

9.Teachers and education staff

9.5Conditions of service for academic staff working in higher education

Last update: 9 June 2022

Working conditions for teachers in higher education are governed by specific texts. A decree dated 20 December 2001 governs higher arts education. Two fundamental texts were voted concerning the education given in the hautes écoles: the decree of 25 July 1996 relating to the responsibilities and tasks of the hautes écoles organised or subsidised by the French Community and the decree of 24 July 1997 defining the status of administrative, teaching and auxiliary staff in the Hautes écoles organised or subsidised by the French Community. A law adopted on 28 April 1953 (and revised many times since) defines the conditions of service for teachers in universities.

Planning policy

Current legislation does not define any planning policy with regard to higher education.

Entry to the profession


The organisation of university education is governed by a law that dates back to 1953, but which has since been amended on numerous occasions. The positions of professor (ordinary professor, extraordinary professor, professor) are reserved for holders of degrees as a doctor (more precisely, doctors in medicine or veterinary medicine, doctors having defended a doctoral thesis, pharmacists, engineers or holders of an upper secondary teaching diploma); the positions of head of practical education or associate instructor are limited to holders of licence degrees or of the master’s degree under the new regulations in force (more precisely, holders of licence or master’s degree, but also doctors of medicine or veterinary doctors, pharmacists, engineers, architects).

A foreign qualification which is recognised as equivalent, or a professional or scientific reputation related to the position to be conferred, may be considered in lieu of the required credentials. Additionally, in the event of a confirmed shortage of candidates with the required credentials, an individual derogation may be granted by the government.

In the event of a vacancy, the contents of a call for candidates as well as the deadline for applications are defined by the executive board. In university education, nobody can be nominated as a lecturer unless they possess a doctorate with a thesis (except for exemptions agreed in exceptional circumstances). Before any nomination, justified opinions from one or more bodies designated by the executive board are sent to the latter, which then takes a justified decision based in particular on the qualifications of each of the candidates. In certain cases, the executive board must consult four specialists that are independent of the institution. This consultation is obligatory when the executive board disagrees with the opinion of one or more of the designated bodies. Nominations are made within the limits of the budgetary credits.

Hautes écoles

It is the management committee of the Haute école and the Government (in the case of education organised by the French Community) or controlling authority (in the case of subsidised education) that decides which position it wishes to fill and declares a vacancy. A call for candidates must be published in the Official Gazette. The first appointment is made for a fixed period, a maximum of one academic year. When cumulative successive appointments total one academic year, any new appointment must be made for an open-ended period.

The credentials required in short-type tertiary education were laid down in 1969. The law of 7 July 1970 on the general structure of tertiary education provides for a specific credential scheme. Depending upon the case, such credentials may be degrees, certificates, or relevant years of experience. In certain cases, professional or scientific reputation related to the position may be considered in lieu of the required credentials. A foreign credential which is recognised as equivalent, or a professional or scientific reputation related to the position to be conferred, may be considered in lieu of the required credentials. Additionally, in the event of a confirmed shortage of candidates with the required credentials, an individual derogation may be granted by the government.

Teachers at hautes écoles (associate professors of practical training, associate instructors, lecturers) must acquire the CAPAES during the initial years of their career in order to meet the requirements for being formally appointed or hired.

Arts colleges

The Government publishes, in the Official Gazette, a call for candidates for each position to be filled. Applications must include documents relating to qualifications and practical experience, details of scientific publications and proof of any professional experience, as well as the candidate’s educational and artistic plan: this describes in a detailed and individual manner how the candidate sees his or task within the institution for each activity applied for.

On 20 December 2001 a fundamental decree provided lecturers in higher arts education with a status that was adapted to their quality as artists and reasserted the value of their diplomas. The entitling qualifications for higher arts education differ for general courses (university qualification or university level or equivalent), arts courses (diploma issued by an arts college or equivalent) or technical courses (certificate of higher education or equivalent). In addition, on the basis of a council’s opinion, the government can accept that a professional, scientific, or artistic reputation in relation to the position and the courses to be given is equivalent to the required qualification. A decree of 3 February 2004 defines the recruitment procedure for a permanent position in an arts college.

Recruitment committees for temporary positions are responsible for examining applications for the mandates and jobs to be assigned and to provide a justified opinion on them to the institute’s educational management council.

Professional status


The teaching staff includes ordinary professors, extraordinary professors, professors, and lecturers. Each member of the teaching staff can exercise a full-time or part-time function, according to a decision taken by the executive board. The function of a member of the teaching staff who exercises a paid activity that takes up most of his/her time is automatically classified as part-time. The function of a member of the teaching staff can be modified by the executive board, on the advice of the body responsible for his/her workload, after asking the views of the staff member in question, and with due consideration of the latter’s qualifications and rights.

The Government decides on the holiday regime for teaching staff. Disciplinary action (a warning, salary reduction, suspension, dismissal) can be proposed by the rector and endorsed by the executive board, subject to compliance with the procedure defined by the Government which ensures the rights of the defendant.

Hautes écoles

The positions and duties in the Hautes écoles were defined by a decree passed on 27 July 1996.
Grade 1 positions (recruitment grade) which may be filled by members of the teaching staff of hautes écoles are as follows :

  • associate instructor of practical training (formerly vocational practice teachers and certain technical course teachers, etc.) ;
  • associate instructor (formerly assistant, teacher of general courses, certain teachers of special subjects, etc.) ;
  • lecturer.

Associate instructors participate in applied research within their unit in addition to classroom hours and laboratory or other work. In addition to their teaching hours, lecturers participate in the different projects assigned to their unit. The function of technical assistant replaces all teaching functions exercised by staff members who do not have a second-stage (orientation) or third-stage (determination) secondary education certificate. Technical assistants’ duties are mainly of a practical nature.

As regards temporary staff members designated for a fixed period, the executive board prepares a report, at the latest by the end of the examination sessions in June, on how well the staff member has performed his/her job. The next career step depends on the grading obtained: if a staff member graded as ‘satisfactory’ is re-engaged, this must be for an open-ended period; in other cases (graded as ‘partially satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’), the executive board must interview the member of staff (who can possibly be assisted or defended) before sending the report to the government. If the report includes the grading ‘unsatisfactory’, the Government may not renew the designation. If the grading is ‘partially satisfactory’, and the member of staff is re-engaged, then this must be on a temporary basis for a fixed duration, but at the end of this period, which is a maximum of one academic year, the report can only use the grading ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’.

If no report is prepared, the member of staff is deemed to have received the grading ‘satisfactory’.


The salary scales used by the French Community do not belong to a matrix or linear system. In fact, the salary is determined by function, in relation to a job title. In the scale defined in this manner, the salary evolves, on the basis of pay seniority and work regarded as constituting relevant experience, by predefined increases (annual and bi-annual increases of variable amounts).

Salary supplements depend in particular on :

  • the possession of special diplomas ;
  • social programming (end-of-year bonus) ;
  • exercising a selection-grade, promotion-grade or better paid function.

Members of staff in higher non-university education are eligible for the reimbursement of the cost of public transport used for getting to work and for a contribution when they cycle to work.

Working time and holidays

In higher education, holidays for tenured teachers correspond to the academic holidays. Members of staff have the right to at least 9 weeks’ holiday per academic year.


The executive board of each university defines how the academic year (which includes thirty weeks of courses, coursework and exercises) is organised, as well as the days on which these activities are suspended.

A full-time workload includes teaching and research activities. It can also include community service activities. The teaching activity can include lessons, practical work, exercises, managing end-of-study work, as well as participating in examinations, examination boards and deliberations.

The executive board defines the workload for each member of the teaching staff as full-time or part-time. The part-time nature of a workload is decided by the executive board, either when there is a vacancy, or when a tenured member of the teaching staff with a full-time workload requests a part-time workload. Each weekly half-day worked for the institution corresponds to 10% of a full-time workload. The parties concerned receive the same percentage of salary as they would benefit from as full-time members of the teaching staff.

Hautes écoles

There are 30 school weeks in a school year.

The government defines the weekly full-time schedule for practical training associate instructors, associate instructors, lecturers, practical training instructors, coursework supervisors, and professors. The minimum workload is 24 hours per week and the maximum is 35 hours a week. The class schedule for a practical training associate instructor and for a practical training instructor does not exceed 750 hours per year. Associate instructors give a maximum of 480 hours of courses per year. Lecturers give a maximum of 420 hours of courses per year. The maximum class schedule for coursework supervisors and professors is 360 hours per year.

Work is performed for the benefit of the Haute école, but not necessarily on its premises. In particular, it may include classroom teaching hours, preparation, correction, workshops, laboratory or other work, teaching activities, internship supervision, exams, continuing education, applied research, participation in various meetings, tutoring activities, dissertation supervision, etc.

As regards setting the working time slots, each haute école has its own set of internal regulations.

Arts colleges

The services provided by members of staff are expressed in hours of 60 minutes. The weekly workload for full-time staff, and how it may be broken down, differs according to the position and for long or short type education :

  • assistant: 20 hours per week (divisible into tenths) ;
  • lecturer: 20 hours per week (divisible into twentieths) ;
  • accompanist (music and dance): 16 hours per week (divisible into sixteenths) ;
  • professor: 16 hours per week in short-type (divisible into sixteenths) and 12 hours per week in long-type (divisible into twelfths) ;
  • director and assistant director: 36 hours per week (indivisible).

Members of teaching staff that exercise a function that corresponds to at least half of a full-time service work on average over the academic year two supplementary hours per week to provide activities linked to teaching (one hour for those whose workload is less than half-time).

Teachers’ holidays correspond to the academic holidays. Members of staff have the right to a minimum of twelve weeks’ holiday per academic year.

Moreover, in higher arts education, the director (absence not to exceed two weeks) or the Government (following a justified opinion from the controlling authority, absence for a duration of more than two weeks) can authorise a member of staff to be absent for reasons linked to his/her professional activity. The member of the teaching staff must propose a plan to catch up on the hours that were not worked during the period of absence. During the period of absence, the member of staff is considered to be in active service.

Promotion, advancement


Anyone who has held a doctor’s, pharmacist’s or engineer’s degree or upper secondary teaching diploma for at least eight years can have access to positions as an ordinary professor, extraordinary professor, professor, or associate professor.

The evaluation of teachers is based on initiatives by the institutions.

Hautes écoles

In the Hautes écoles, the positions that can be filled by members of management and teaching staff are classified into grade 1 positions (associate professor of practical training, associate instructor and lecturer); grade 2 positions (head of practical education, coursework supervisor, professor, and head of research); and elective positions (head of category and director-president).

To be designated or appointed to a grade 2 position, the member of staff must be appointed or permanently hired in a grade 1 position defined according to the grade 2 position concerned and occupy this position as a principal employment, as well as having at least four years’ seniority from the date of nomination or employment on a permanent basis.

To be designated or appointed to an elective position, the member of staff must be appointed or permanently employed as associate instructor, lecturer, coursework supervisor, professor, or head of a research office, and have filled this position for ten years, the last two in the service of the controlling authority with which the employment is sought, and be included in a list of three candidates proposed by the responsible authority in the haute école.

Professors, in addition to assigned lecturing (largely theoretical), are also responsible for supervising and monitoring students. They may be responsible for a unit. The head of research plays an active role in co-ordinating theoretical and practical teaching, as well as in managing research activities.

Each higher education category is administered by a head of category. In the hautes écoles organised by the French Community, the head of category is appointed by the government, who chooses him or her from a list of three candidates proposed by the entire teaching staff of that category of studies. In the hautes écoles that receive grants from the French Community, the head of category is appointed by the controlling authority following an identical procedure. The head of category's mandate is for a period of five years, and is renewable. The head of category may also have teaching duties. The head of category is a member by right of the board of trustees and of the executive board.

Arts colleges

As regards the designation of professors and accompanists for a fixed duration, the procedure is similar to that applied in the hautes écoles (see above), except that the author of the evaluation report is the director of the arts college and the body that can interview the member of staff is the educational management committee (for education organised by the French Community) or the controlling authority (for subsidised education).

Retirement and pensions

The pension regime remains a federal competence. The general rule is retirement at 65. A person retiring at age 65 receives 75% of the average salary during the last five years of service.