The structure of higher education in Flanders ...

Higher education in Flanders is organised at the institutions of tertiary education, namely, at the universities and the hogescholen. Whereas most training programmes at the hoge­scholen prepare students for a specific profession, such as nursing and translation work, university curricula are typically more academic and generic.

All students who have obtained a certificate of secondary education or an equivalent for­eign diploma, are admitted to tertiary education. However, some courses are subject to an entrance exam, e.g., medicine and dentistry at university, and courses that focus on art at the hogescholen.

After signing the Bologna Declaration the Flemish Minister of Education started a process to reform the Flemish system of higher education. The reforms have meant that there is greater focus on objectives and outcomes, and task-based and problem-solving education has become more central.

A student receives a degree after having collected the required number of credits for the subjects that make up the qualification in question,

... and the Antwerp University Association

In 2001, five institutions of higher education in Antwerp (the University of Antwerp, Hogeschool Antwerpen, Plantijnhogeschool, Karel de Grote-Hogeschool and the Hogere Zeevaartschool) decided to initiate a co-operation under the name of the Antwerp University Association (University and Hogescholen - AURA). Fifteen workgroups (ICT, communication, finance, internationalisation, etc.) formed by members of the partner insti­tutions make up the Association. The Association has been formed as a pluralistic organi­sation, consisting of judicial, religious and secular institutions, both private and public, which work together on a basis of trust and mutual respect.

The partner institutions of the Antwerp University Association have bilateral agreements of co-operation with other partner institutions around the world. It is active in a variety of inter­national exchange programmes and receives a large number of foreign students, researchers, and visiting professors.

The Association has the resources and experience to make it an attractive international partner. The 'life long learning' student is provided with a coherent spectrum of education and research. Together with its foreign partner institutions, the Association participates fully in the new educational market and is ready to meet the emerging needs of learners in a goal-oriented way.


Antwerp University Association of University and Hogescholen (AURA)

The House of the Association

Lange Nieuwstraat 55, B-2000 Antwerpen

T +32 3 212 16 75

F +32 3 212 16 81



More about the Bologna process

In 1999, 29 countries in Europe, including Belgium, signed the Bologna Declaration. These countries agreed to reform their systems of higher education. The essence of the declara­tion is the creation of a European area of higher education as a way to stimulate mobility, employability and Europe's overall development.

Within this framework of internationalisation, the Flemish system of higher education was adapted to meet the Bologna Declaration guidelines. Their implementation in Flanders revolves around three essential factors:

More about these three essential factors:

The Antwerp University Association (University and Hogescholen Antwerp)

The process of harmonizing European higher education, as initiated by the Bologna Declaration, has led to broader co-operation within the Antwerp University Association between the university and the hogescholen. In total the Association has more than 25,000 students.

In the autumn of 2001, the University of Antwerp, the Hogere Zeevaartschool, the Hogeschool Antwerpen, the Karel de Grote-Hogeschool, and the Plantijnhogeschool signed a declaration of intent to co-operate, in anticipation of a statutory framework, which was to be drawn up by the Flemish Ministry of Education. This close collaboration is embodied in the Antwerp University Association, a network for regional co-operation to facilitate the implementation of the Bologna Declaration.

The Bologna Declaration is a joint declaration of intent by the European Ministries of Education. In the short-term, the Declaration poses many challenges for Flemish higher education. Internationalization, improving transparency, rationalizing course supply, improv­ing the quality assurance system and promoting life long learning are, and will remain, important issues on the higher education policy agenda.

Bachelor – Master in Flanders (Banta)

Across Europe, universities and hogescholen should have adapted their training pro­grammes to the Bama-structure by 2010 at the latest. Higher education in Flanders is due to launch the new system in the academic year 2004 - 2005. In order to stimulate student exchange as much as possible, all the institutions will use the same credit system, based on the ECTS-principles. Each subject represents a minimum of 3 credits, with a maximum of 12 subjects for every 60 credits. One credit represents 25 to 30 hours of a student's workload.

After successfully completing at least 180 ECTS-credits (a study period of at least three years) students obtain a bachelor's degree, There is a difference between a profession-ori­ented bachelor's degree and an academic bachelor's degree, Professional bachelor's degrees prepare students for specific professions. Courses are therefore practice-oriented and include periods of work placement. These degrees are only awarded by the hoge­scholen. Academic bachelor's degrees prepare students for advanced studies at master's level. These degrees are awarded by universities and hogescholen within a common framework.

Master's programmes are characterised by the integration of education and research and a master's dissertation. They cover at least 60 ECTS credits (at least one year of study), although some programmes last longer depending on the field of study. Master's pro­grammes are organised at universities and hogescholen in the framework of an association. Academic bachelor's degrees give direct access to master's programmes. Professional bachelor's degrees give access to some master's programmes after abridging' course.

This new system will be introduced gradually, The first bachelor's programmes started in the academic year 2004-2005 and the first master's programmes are introduced in the academic year 2008-2009.

 The accreditation

The main goal of the Bologna Declaration is to create a system of higher education with comparable, compatible and readable degrees across the European continent. This accred­itation will enable comparisons of quality to be made for different degree programmes across borders.

Its aim is to guarantee a certain level of quality in higher education across the European Union. Flanders has had considerable experience of this, as both universities and hoge­scholen have been subject to external inspections for quite a number of years already.

About the University of Antwerp

On 1st October 2003 the three institutions that now comprise the University of Antwerp (UA) merged: the Universitair Centrum Antwerpen (RUCA, now Campus Middelheim), the Universitaire Faculteiten Sint-Ignatius Antwerpen (UFSIA, now Stadscampus), and the Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen (UIA, now Campus Drie Eiken),

The campuses are situated in the historic city centre and in the green surroundings to the south of the city (Campus Middelheim and Campus Drie Eiken).

The University of Antwerp is the third largest university in Flanders, with a student popula­tion of almost 10,000. It offers education in the arts, political and social sciences, law, applied economics, commercial engineering, natural and medical sciences, pharmacy, bio­medical and veterinary sciences, pedagogics and information sciences. Furthermore, a uni­versity hospital is linked to the UA.

The University of Antwerp is an entrepreneurial university which focuses largely on scien­tific research, and as such competes for grants in an international context.

In 1995, the University of Antwerp was the first to start intensive collaboration with the hogescholen of the province of Antwerp.

About the Hogescholen of Antwerp

The Hogescholen, with their different campuses, have a long tradition of their own and are situated at different locations in the city centre and its surroundings.
They are active part­ners in various European exchange programmes. The international structure is fully inte
grated within the hogescholen and operates both at department and central level.

The Institute of Tropical Medicine (Prins Leopold Instituut voor Tropische Geneeskunde) is not a partner within the Association, but the excellent relationship with this institution makes it possible to take common decisions. Contact one of the other institutions for detailed infor­mation.

More detailed information about the Antwerp University Association can be found in the next section. Addresses of the various institutions that make up the Antwerp University Association are listed in part 4 'Arrival & Accommodation' (p. 35) and under part 8'Contacts' (p. 71).

Education at the Antwerp Association

The Antwerp Association will start implementing the Ba-structure in the academic year 2004-2005. Students choose a three-year undergraduate cycle (bachelor's), irrespective of whether or not this is followed by a graduate cycle of at least one year (masters).

For undergraduate programmes at tertiary level in Flanders, the main language of instruc­tion is Dutch, although for some disciplines there are also some courses offered in English. A considerable number of master's programmes are offered in English and a few in other languages. For further information, please contact the individual higher education institu­tions.

The academic year at the UA officially starts in October, but the one-cycle studies start in mid-September. The year is divided into two semesters, except for some specific pro­grammes where a trimester system exists. Trimesters/semesters are normally followed by a revision period and examinations as well as a short holiday.
Summer recess/holidays start(s) in June/July. Resits take place in August/September.

Curricula available at the Antwerp Association

Every institution is spread over several campuses. Information will be available at your host institution as to which campus you are expected to attend, You can find the name of your international officer under part 4 'Arrival & Accommodation' (p. 35) and under part 7 'Keeping in touch' (p. 67).

For more information about graduate programmes, please contact the international coordi­nator of your host institution.

Admission of exchange students

Exchange students who wish to attend a particular course or program, carry out a proj­ect, or write a thesis (paper), have to be accepted by the institution and the faculty con­cerned. First, it is necessary to contact the international co-ordinator at the relevant host institution (for addresses, see part 4 (p, 35) and part 8 (p. 71)).

Terms of admission for exchange students in the framework of European exchange pro­grammes or bilateral agreements.

Students participating in a European exchange program, or students from a university that has a bilateral co-operation agreement with an institute in the province of Antwerp, do not have to pay a tuition fee at the host university. They will have to meet the following requirements:

Terms of admission for other foreign students

Students who make their own arrangements and are not involved in a European program or in a bilateral co-operation agreement, have to pay the full tuition fee. They have to be accepted in advance by the host institution. For information on the course program (courses, projects, thesis work, and time-tables) and admittance, they should contact the international coordinator who will advise students whom to contact for further information.

Language courses

The ability to master the language of instruction is crucial to exchange programmes, With this in mind, the institutions of tertiary education of the Association organize courses in Dutch which are specifically tailored to the needs of participants. Students wishing to register as regular full-time students (i.e. not as exchange students) with one of the institutions of the Antwerp University Association may first have to fulfill some language requirements in accordance with Flemish law. Some of the Association's institutions may require students to submit proof of sufficient knowledge of Dutch before admission is allowed. The Hogere Zeevaartschool is the only institution with full courses in both Dutch and French.

The Dutch language

Dutch is one of the less widely spoken and taught languages of the EU. 21 million people speak Dutch (15 million in the Netherlands and 6 million in the northern part of Belgium). As the language of instruction in Flanders is Dutch, a basic knowledge of the language is required. Students wishing to register as a regular student must acquire more than just basic skills. So far, the Antwerp University Association's partner institutes only offer a limit­ed (but growing) number of courses in English. For further information, please consult the host institute's course prospectus ("studiegids"). In Antwerp, the university and some hogescholen offer intensive courses in 'Dutch as a foreign language'. Students practice basic skills like reading, speaking, listening and writing. Grammar and vocabulary are introduced in a communicative way. The level is tailored to suit international students.

Academic language use

Students who want to improve their academic skills can select one or more of the follow­ing modules:

Academic Interaction in Dutch (15 contact hours - 2 ECTS-credits)


This course is aimed at students who have little or no experience of academic interaction in Dutch or who want to improve their spoken academic Dutch,

Date: 27 September-1 October every day from 17.00 to 20.00.


Academic Skills in Dutch: Reading, Writing and Presentation skills (30 contact hours - 4 ECTS-credits)

This course aims at improving participants' academic skills in Dutch. Focus is on writing through reading, and on giving short presentations. Course materials are supplemented by extensive online practice materials.

Date: 10 weeks from 8 October to 10 December, Fridays from 13.00 to 16.00.

Academic Interaction in English (15 contact hours - 2 ECTS-credits)

This course is aimed at students who have little or no experience of academic interaction in English or who want to improve their spoken academic English.

Date: 27 September- I October every day from 17.00 to 20.00.

Academic Skills in English: Reading, Writing and Presentation skills (30 contact hours -
4 ECTS-credits)

This course aims at improving participants' academic skills in English. Focus will be on writing through reading and on giving short presentations.
Course materials are supple­
mented by extensive online practice materials.
Date: 10 weeks from 8 October to 10 December, Fridays from 13.00 to 16.00.






Other languages

There are plenty of opportunities in Antwerp to acquire or improve foreign language skills by taking evening classes organized by the language centers of the UA or other public or private language schools in the city. If you are interested in taking other language courses, please contact the international coordinator for further information. You can request your home university to allocate credits for language training.


Distance learning

LINO (an Interactive Approach to Language and Culture) consists of a series of language learning materials on CD-ROM. There are CD-ROMs for 18 languages, including Dutch. For every language there are 3 levels. Each CD-ROM contains ten video recordings, together with transcripts and explanations of relevant social and cultural issues. In addition, various exercises are available on reading, writing, listening, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar complete with feedback and pedagogical help screens.

For more information: >