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Guidance and counselling in higher education

Belgium - French Community

12.Educational support and guidance

12.6Guidance and counselling in higher education

Last update: 10 June 2022

Whereas in pre-secondary and secondary education the Centres for Psychological, Medical and Social Services are independent of the schools that they serve, in higher education it is the responsibility of each institution to take measures of reception, information provision, assessment, guidance, remediation and reorientation and to report on these in its annual activity report.

Academic guidance

There are also cross-cutting initiatives. Thus the Study and Career Information Service or SIEP is a pluralist non-profit organisation recognised as a youth organisation and information centre federation by the French Community. Youth Service and supported by the Walloon and Brussels-Capital Regions. SIEP has six regional information centres and three decentralised information points. It offers a variety of services for everyone (individual or collective interviews, guidance sessions, publications, multimedia tools, websites, fairs, information campaigns, etc.). Information is provided individually and documentation may be consulted free of charge.

In addition to the mission of information of academic centers and institutions, the Commission on Information Studies (CIE) coordinated by the ARES (Academy of Research and Higher Education) is responsible for setting the rules of advertising in a "statement of principles" which contributes to an exchange of information between higher education institutions as regards their information actions on studies.
It also defined a method of presentation of the institutions during the Belgian promotion fairs and developed a partnership with the SIEP, in particular to carry out support activities such as the analysis of satisfaction surveys carried out by the SIEP.

At the level of information and arrangements put in place to ensure access to higher education for all types of students :
- the Directorate for Equal Opportunities of the Ministry of the French Community is responsible for implementing the equal opportunities policy (gender equality) in several sectors, including the different levels and types of education ;
- The Decree on Inclusive Higher Education (2014) provides for special devices for students with a proven disability, a specific learning disability or a disabling illness. The decree set up the Commission for Inclusive Higher Education (CESI), which is hosted by ARES. Its mission is to promote inclusive higher education, to evaluate the mechanisms put in place within higher education institutions and to deliver opinions within its field of competence to the Government of the French Community or to the ARES.

In this frame, these students receive the same services as those without any disability, in certain cases with specific support from a service of AVIQ (Agence pour une Vie de Qualité = Agency for a Quality Life) or PHARE (Personne Handicapée Autonomie Recherchée = Disabled Person Autonomy Sought), such as a meeting with a vocational integration adviser or a psychologist, an internship enabling the student to discover a particular job or vocational sector, the opportunity to consult career guidance services specialised in disabled people, requests for the collaboration of a support service, and so on.

Different websites may also be indicated to inform students :







Psychological counselling

In terms of social assistance, higher education institutions have social services within their institutions with the aim of contributing to the global well-being of the student during his studies, be it social, mental or physical. These social services can provide information on the administrative procedures to follow, an orientation in terms of financial aid (study grants), and sometimes psychological support.

ARES (Academy of Research and Higher Education) also coordinates a commission bringing together the people in charge of the social services and the representatives of students and staff of higher education institutions (COVEDAS). It has a wide field of investigation and deals with a multitude of topics related to the living conditions of students and social policies conducted by the institutions (study grants, devices implemented by the social services of higher education institutions, measures related to students of modest condition, student housing, student health, ...).

COVEDAS works in order to enable higher education institutions to exchange advice, good practices and feedback on social assistance so that they can respond to the specific needs of the higher education institutions in a suitable way.

As a forum for dialogue between higher education institutions, COVEDAS can advise on the various subjects within its field of competence with a view to promoting greater equity between higher education students in the French Community.

Career guidance

Higher education institutions organize support for student success, either within their institution or in collaboration with other institutions (see Landscape Decree, 2013). These activities are primarily intended to promote success of the first year of first cycle’s students they host (center of didactics of higher education for teachers mainly in charge of first year students, specific activities aiming at increasing students' chances of success, self-assessment tools, remediation, guidance in terms of curriculum, etc.).

ARES also coordinates the Commission for Assistance to Success (CAR) which ensures :
- the operationalization of success indicators, in collaboration with the Observatory and Statistics Commission (COS) ;
- research on students' success pathways ;
- the exchange of good practices between the actors of assistance to success.