Higher education has a separate structure and its own system. The rules below apply to all higher education institutions in Flanders. This will help you navigate the ins and outs of higher education.
The Bachelor-Master structure
Higher education, like secondary education, is subdivided into two programmes. Every student starts with a Bachelor programme. There are two different types of Bachelor programmes.
Professional Bachelor programmes
You can only follow professional Bachelor programmes at a university college. Here the emphasis is placed on a specific profession. These programmes prepare you for the labour market. Of course you can always follow a Master programme after obtaining your Bachelor's degree.
Academic Bachelor programmes
Universities organise academic Bachelor programmes. These academic programmes provide general training with a lot of theory. This study programme prepares you for scientific research and a Master's degree.
After successfully completing your Bachelor programme, you can choose a Master programme. You can only follow Master programmes at a university. You will develop your scientific knowledge and delve deeper into a given subject. Once you have obtained your Master’s, you are ready to start your professional life. You can choose from a wide range of career options.
Every Master programme has specific admission criteria. Check which admission requirements you need to fulfil for the programme of your choice. You can follow a Master programme:
- after an academic Bachelor programme
- after an academic Bachelor or Master programme, supplemented with a preparatory programme
- after a professional Bachelor programme, supplemented with a bridging programme
Credits are part and parcel of your student life. Flemish higher education is based on the concept of credits.
A credit represents the workload of a study programme or a programme component. Every study programme consists of various courses, which are linked to a number of credits. The total of all these credits is the maximum number of credits for the complete programme.
- 180 credits for a Bachelor programme
- 60 or 120 credits for a Master programme
A credit stands for about 30 hours of work. Don’t panic, this includes time in class. It is all the time you might possibly need to understand the subject and put it into practice.
60 credits per academic year
Higher education compiles study packages for every study programme. The aim is to obtain 60 credits per academic year. This means you can obtain a Bachelor's degree in three years and a Master's degree in one or two years.
A quieter and a busier year
Did you fail some courses? Then carry over one or more courses to the next academic year. You will, however, lose the study credits you used when you enrolled.
Are you a member of your student society’s presidium and do you prefer to divvy up your time a bit? Then transfer a programme component to another academic year. Bear in mind, however, that the next academic year will have a heavier course load.
Naturally, you can also choose to extend your programme with additional courses. You will have to use additional credits though, and receive a credit contract for all study credits above 180.
The learning account is a complicated matter and was created to encourage students to commit to their studies. In essence it basically comes down to this: when you enrol you receive 140 study credits which you are free to use for the various programme components. You can continue to study until you no longer have any credits left. Usually you will have completed your study programme by then. The process is as follows:
- The number of study credits of every programme you enrol in is deducted from your learning account.
- You can earn back the number of study credits you used. All you have to do is pass the programme component. You receive a bonus of 60 study credits for the first 60 study credits you earned (passed).
- If you fail a programme component, you will not be able to earn back these study credits.
Do you have a balance on your learning account?
- Did you complete your Bachelor programme? Then use the balance for a Master programme or a new Bachelor.
- Once you have completed your Master programme, 140 study credits will be deducted from your learning account.
- Are you a great student and do you still have study credits left? You can enrol in a new programme if you like.
- Do you not have sufficient credits for a new programme? Then work or travel and save for new study credits. For every year that you are not studying, you will receive 10 study credits until you have reached the maximum balance of 60 study credits - enough to enrol in the first year of any programme.
No study credits left?
Then you cannot enrol in higher education. Unless:
- you are enrolling in your first Master programme (after paying additional tuition);
- you are enrolled in a bridging programme or a preparatory programme, an advanced Bachelor programme, an advanced Master programme or an exam contract;
- you exceptionally receive permission from your university college or university to complete your programme (after paying additional tuition).
Check the balance of your learning account and results at www.studentenportaal.be. Make sure you have your e-ID and card reader or federal token at hand.