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Short-cycle higher education

Belgium - French Community

7.2.First-cycle programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Social Advancement Higher Education has the particularity, among others, of offering diploma courses of 120 ECTS. It is the "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur" (BES), a certificate of higher education at ISCED 5 that attests studies of at least 120 ECTS with a professionalizing character and giving access to a clearly identified work. Later, these studies can be integrated or validated in a short-cycle bachelor degree course.

Branches of study

The branches leading to the Higher education certificates ("Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur" BES), are organized in the following fields of study :

  • Performing arts, and broadcasting and communication technology ;
  • Political and Social Sciences ;
  • Economic and management sciences ;
  • Science ;
  • Psychological and educational sciences.

There are currently 9 certificates in higher education (ISCED 5) :

  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur"of general stage manager (Performing arts, and broadcasting and communication technology) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur" of animator in political, cultural and social collective action (Political and Social Sciences) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur"of administrative and staff management advisor (Economic and management sciences) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur"of socio-professional integration advisor (Political and Social Sciences) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur" of business unit manager (Economic and management sciences) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur" of tourism guide -Regional Guide (Economic and management sciences) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur" of Webdesigner (Science) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur" of Webdeveloper (Science) ;
  • "Brevet d'Enseignement supérieur"of Literacy Trainer (Psychological and educational sciences).

Admission requirements

No candidate may be admitted as a regular pupil in social advancement education as long as he is subject to compulsory full-time education.

The admission of the student is done by teaching unit. 

The admission to studies of a learner is decided by the Councils of Studies of the Teaching Units (Conseils des études des unités d'enseignement). The prerequisite skills or the qualifications required are defined in the pedagogical file for each Teaching Unit.

If the learner does not have the prerequisite skills or the qualifications required, the Councils of Studies will check whether the learner masters the prerequisites described in the pedagogical file, on the basis of his/her academic, professional or personal background, or by means of admission tests.

No candidate may simultaneously attend short-term courses of social advancement higher education and those of full-time higher education unless the content of the courses of social advancement does not correspond to that of his program of studies in full-time education.


Each section and teaching unit in social advancement education is subject to a teaching file.  For the professionalization sections, a professional profile is also established.  This profile is a synthesis of the skills generally expected at the threshold of hiring a trade or profession. It describes in a global manner the skills and behaviors expected of the graduate, knowing that a trade or profession corresponds very often to several functions according to the activity developed within a department or a company. In higher education, the curriculum is based on the competency guidelines defined by the full-time higher education. Professional profiles are developed by working groups including experts from the socio-economic world. Each professional profile describes :

  • the scope of activities, which presents the different functions of the profession and the place, sector, level of responsibility and possible elements of competence and behavior ;
  • the tasks, which include the list of the main professional activities at the hiring threshold from which the learning outcomes will be deducted in the program of the teaching file ;
  • the opportunities, which list the types of employers and sectors of activity related to the future trade.

The inter-network teaching files constitute the common pedagogical reference for any institution organized or subsidized by the French Community which wishes to set up the curriculum concerned. The teaching file of a section presents :

  • the general and particular purposes of the section ;
  • the constituent units of the section with identification of the determining teaching units and the modalities of capitalization of the section ;
  • the title issued.

For each teaching unit constituting the section, a teaching file is associated to this section file. This teaching file consists of :

  1. the general purposes (defined in Article 7 of the Decree of 16 April 1991) and specific objectives of the teaching unit ;
  2. the required pre-requisites (the minimum capacities the student must demonstrate to be admitted to the teaching unit) ;
  3. titles that can be taken into account instead of required pre-requisites ;
  4. the minimum schedule of the teaching unit, specifying :
  • the title of the constituent courses of the teaching unit, their classification and the number of minimum periods allocated ;
  • the share of autonomy, the number of periods used by the institution (generally 20% of the sum of course periods of the teaching unit) to meet specific approaches or needs, to temporarily adapt the teaching unit to the immediate evolutions or to contribute to covering the minimum content of the teaching unit ;
  • the program, list of abilities (knowledge, know-how and / or behavioral know-how) to acquire starting from the required pre-requisites and in order to achieve learning outcomes ;
  • the learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and competences that the student must demonstrate in order to reach the success threshold at the end of the teaching unit (the "level of mastery" that appears on the certificate of success of the teaching unit, determines the level of mastery of acquired skills) ;
  • the profile of lecturor(s) : teacher or expert. The first one is subject to the statutory rules specific to the teaching staff, while the second one is engaged as a civil servant because of experience or specific skills ;
  • the formation of groups, practical recommendations (eg number of students per group or workstation, safety rules, etc.) to be followed to ensure the smooth running of the courses.

The constitution of a section in the form of a set of teaching files common to all networks offers several advantages :

  • the existence of a common references guide for every institution that organizes the curriculum ;
  • the integration of the set of identified competencies in the professional profile ;
  • a structuring of the hierarchical links between the teaching units represented through the section's organizational chart and transcribed into the required pre-requisite of some teaching units ;
  • the opportunity for the school to plan the organization of the teaching units according to the logic of learning which seems the most appropriate one, while respecting the organization chart and therefore the required pre-requisites ;
  • a coherent articulation of courses within a teaching unit, making it possible to achieve transversal learning outcomes ;
  • the mobility of students between institutions.

Teaching methods

Social Advancement Education is organized in a modular way according to a system of Teaching Units. A teaching unit consists of a course or a group of courses which are grouped together because they pursue common objectives and constitute a coherent set of learning outcomes that can be evaluated and validated. Each section organized by Social Advancement Education includes one or more teaching units and, in general, internships and an integrated test (which is a test that is of a global nature and can take the form of a scenario, a project, a synthesis work, a monograph or a commented practical realization The purpose of this test is to check whether the student masters of the capacities covered by the determining units mentioned in a section's teaching file. The articulation between the different teaching units is determined by a capitalization process represented by the organization chart of the section. Each of these teaching units grants a certificate of success (a document which, without conferring an academic degree, can grant ECTS and attests the mastery of the learning outcomes of the teaching unit concerned).

Progression of students

To obtain the title aimed at, the student must capitalize the certificates of success of each teaching unit constituting the section and demonstrate, through the integrated test, that he masters, in a synthesis form, the learning outcomes aimed at throughout the curriculum. Each institution offers a specific organization of the teaching units in accordance with the organization chart of the section. Students have the opportunity to follow the offered curriculum or to personalize their course taking into account personal, professional and family constraints. In this case, they adapt the rhythm of their training by choosing the number of teaching units they want to follow, provided that they respect the organizational chart and the possible limit of the duration of validity of the certificates of success.


Social Advancement Higher education diplomas are inherently professional and give access to a clearly identified job. The professional profile is therefore determined in close collaboration with the workplaces concerned. This is in line with the nature of the Social Advancement Education, one of the aims of which is to meet the needs and demands in training of companies, administrations, education and, in general, socio-economic and cultural circles (needs of society).

Student assessment

The Council of Studies is the educational management body for social advancement education institutions. It is composed of the leadership and teaching units lecturers, and meets to ensure :

  • admission of students ;
  • pedagogical follow-up ;
  • certification of studies ;
  • processing applications for the valorization of outcomes.

Concerning success, the Landscape Decree harmonized the success requirements for all higher education institutions.

The single success threshold for acquiring ECTS in a teaching unit is set at 10/20.


The Social Advancement Higher Education Certificate (‘’Brevet de l’Enseignement Supérieur, BES’’) is granted to students who :

  • acquired theoretical knowledge and diversified practical skills in a given professional field that follows and is based on a upper secondary education. This professional field is based, among other things, on scientific publications or artistic productions as well as on knowledge gained from experience ;
  • are able of independence in the management of projects that require the resolution of problems including many factors, some of which interact and are a cause of unpredictable changes and are able to develop know-how so that they can produce strategic and creative responses in the search for solutions to specific concrete and abstract problems ;
  • are able to collect, analyze and interpret, in a relevant way, data (exclusively in their field of study) in order to formulate opinions, critical judgments or artistic proposals that integrate reflection on technical, artistic or ethical issues ;
  • are able to convey ideas in a structured and coherent way using qualitative and quantitative information ;
  • are able to identify their learning needs necessary to continue their training path.

Social Advancement Higher Education diplomas are positioned at Level 5 of the Higher Education Qualification Framework and correspond to Level 5 of the European Framework of Certifications for Lifelong Learning.

Organisational variation

Social Advancement Education is part of the dynamics of lifelong learning in the French Community.

It offers a wide range of trainings at the secondary or higher level to adults, often with a wide range of pathways, through which it delivers recognized titles (certificates and diplomas). Thanks to the flexibility of its organization (modularity, adapted schedules ...), Social Advancement Education allows to cumulate studies and employment. Provided that they respect the organizational chart of the section and the possible limit of the duration of validity of the teaching units’ certificates of success, students can adapt the rhythm of their training by choosing the number of teaching units they want to follow and thus be able to take into account any possible personal constraints (professional, family ...). Social Advancement Education thus responds to various individual and collective needs : initiation, qualification, refinement, retraining, redevelopment, specialization, personal fulfillment.