Levels within higher education in Flanders
Higher education in Flanders is becoming more and more accessible to more and more people due to the different levels at which they can enroll. Nowadays there is also less talk of the waterfall effect, in which students from university to college weaken or drop out of their education. Education wants to respond more to the upward flow of students, for example from a professional bachelor’s program to a master’s program. It is therefore important to find out which level is suitable for you to join or to start a new course.
In Belgium, higher education can be followed at three levels:
HBO5 (higher vocational education)
Higher education, bachelor’s level (professional and academic)
- Higher education, master’s level
HBO5 is the level between secondary education (level 4 in the education system) and the bachelor’s program (level 6). These courses are often called inferior. Nothing could be further from the truth. The HBO5 programs are always given in collaboration with a university of applied sciences, which means that they are of very high quality and much more practical than bachelor’s or master’s programs. HBO5 courses are often provided in full-time daytime classes as well as in evening classes. Normal duration of the training is 2 years. It is possible to transfer to a bachelor’s degree. Popular areas of study within this level are Nursing and Commercial Science and Business Administration.
A HBO5 course is best suited for those who prefer a short, practice-oriented course.
Professional bachelor’s level
Professional bachelor’s degrees are taught at colleges. In these courses there is a balance between theory and practice. A broad basis is formed with enough practice on top so that the student can already show some experience when applying for jobs afterwards. Lessons and assignments are less without obligation at university of applied sciences than at university. There is also more personal contact with lecturers. Normal duration of the training is 3 years.
Choose a professional bachelor if you want to be ready for the labor market after your education.
Academic bachelor level
This form of bachelor’s degree program is only aimed at providing a basis for further education at master’s level. Each academic bachelor gives direct access to at least one master. With only an academic bachelor’s degree, you are not much on the labor market. The focus is mainly on theory and scientific research. These studies are followed at a university. Normal duration of the training is 3 years.
Would you like to obtain a master’s degree? Then choose an academic bachelor’s degree at a university.
A course of normally one year that follows an academic bachelor (or professional bachelor if bridging program) in which more depth is gained in knowledge and scientific research. After the master year, you will have a full university degree that will make you ready for the job market.
This training is necessary to obtain a full diploma after an academic bachelor.
Different terminology within higher education in Flanders
A bridging program must be followed in order to progress from a professional bachelor’s to a master’s program. The duration is usually one year.
This program prepares you to enter a master’s degree program of another direction after an academic bachelor’s or master’s degree.
In some cases you can follow another short-track program after obtaining your diploma.
Stands for ‘advanced bachelor’. This is a one-year course aimed at further specialization of professional bachelor’s degrees.
Stand for ‘master after master’. This is a one-year course aimed at further specialization after obtaining a master’s degree.