Education

Education

The educational system in Flanders prepares young people to perform optimally in a rapidly changing and increasingly internationally oriented society. The system’s excellence is confirmed by the results of the PISA project – the Program for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD – which measures the scholastic performance of 15-year-olds in 57 countries in reading proficiency, problem-solving skills, and mathematic and scientific knowledge. Belgium’s higher education system ranks fifth in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018, while its management schools ranked third. When it comes to mathematics and science education, Belgium is third in the world.

Flanders has numerous international schools, for example, the Antwerp British School and the Antwerp International School, the International School of Brussels and the British School of Brussels and the College of Europe in Bruges, which provides university-level courses and houses the international research and training center of the United Nations University. Ghent opened an international school in 2012, and the city of Leuven, KU Leuven and IMEC research center recently established an international private primary school that offers courses in English.

Flanders has five public universities: Leuven, Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt and Brussels. KU Leuven, with more than 32,000 students, is the largest and the oldest in the Low Countries, followed by Ghent University, which has nearly 30,000 students. Three of these universities feature in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016: KU Leuven, Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. Academic excellence is also a core value of Flanders’ business schools and university colleges.

The standard of education in Flanders today is one of the highest in Europe, and it is steadily improving. In recent years, there have been rapid developments and structural changes in higher education. Universities and university colleges are grouped in associations. As from 2004-2005 they operate within the so-called European Higher Education Area (EHEA), formed by the Bologna process, which has initiated a uniform European framework of studies, offering Bachelor and Master degrees.

Bachelor

Bachelor programs in Flanders may be either professionally or academically oriented. Professionally oriented bachelor programs are primarily aimed at practicing a profession and offer direct access to the labor market. Academically oriented bachelor programs focus on a broad academic education or an education in the arts. They aim at offering access to a master program or to the labor market. Both professionally and academically oriented bachelor programs consist of at least 180 credits. In theory, a student takes 60 credits a year, but variations are possible.

Master

Master programs focus on advanced scientific, artistic knowledge, competences which are needed for the independent practice of science or arts, or for practicing a profession. A master program consists of at least 180 credits, including a master thesis. An institution of higher education can, in addition to a general master, also offer a research master, which consists of 120 credits.

Ph.D.

Doctor is the highest level of specialization in scientific research. It is based on an original research project that takes at least two years, resulting in the public presentation of a doctoral thesis. This degree can only be awarded by universities.

Foreign Diploma Recognition 

If you have a foreign diploma and wish to continue your studies or work in Flanders, NARIC Flanders can provide assistance for the recognition of foreign diplomas and certificates. You can also contact NARIC-Flanders for the professional recognition of a foreign teaching diploma that you acquired in the European Economic Area or in Switzerland. 

International Study Programs in Flanders 

Flanders provides excellent study programs and can boast first-rate student facilities. The internationally-oriented educational institutes offer joint degree programs and are known for their strong language courses. More detailed information on programs in English, admission requirements, student visa and tuition fees can be found here

Research

Research

Research & Development

For the Government of Flanders, the growth and flourishing of pioneering scientific research in Flanders is an important policy objective. The Research & Development (R&D) intensity for Flanders evolved from 2.54% in 2013 to 2.60% in 2014 and 2.69% in 2015. With this result, Flanders joins the European innovation leaders and is well on its way to reaching the 3% standard. Moreover, the Flemish knowledge and strong R&D areas and facilities are a powerful argument for attracting direct and expansion investments to Flanders, as well as an opportunity for American companies that are looking for R&D partners. Besides the four leading strategic research centers, Flanders also has many R&D platforms and scientific institutes. Easily accessible for business collaboration, many of these organizations are located at the heart of their respective industry clusters in or around prominent cities such as: Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven, Hasselt and Bruges.

The Research Foundation- Flanders

Science pushes the boundaries of our knowledge and stimulates innovation. The Research Foundation - Flanders (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - FWO) is the agency that supports ground-breaking fundamental and strategic research at the universities of the Flemish Community. The FWO also stimulates cooperation between the Flemish universities and other research institutes.

The continuous evolution of research and development provides numerous opportunities that encompass a policy-supporting role. The work of excellent research groups can also influence decisions in economic or social domain, which is no surprise, as groundbreaking research can lead to solutions to the key challenges facing our society today (environment, mobility, health).

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation, is the financial instrument which is implementing the Innovation Union, aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020, with an €80 billion budget, the EU’s new program for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.

Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 is supported by Europe’s leaders and the members of the European Parliament. As they agreed that research is an investment in our future, they put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.

Scholarships

Scholarships

Master Mind Scholarschips

The Government of Flanders awards scholarships to outstanding students for Master programs in Flanders and Brussels. The program aims to promote Flanders and Brussels as a top study destination. Applications will be accepted from all Flemish universities, Schools of Arts and the Antwerp Maritime Academy. About 30 to 40 international excellent students can benefit from the Master Mind Scholarships in 2018-2019. Students cannot apply directly. Applications need to be submitted by the Flemish host institution.

Fulbright

The Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States, Belgium, and Luxembourg has administered approximately 4,000 scholarships to Belgian, European, and American citizens to pursue opportunities of international educational and cultural exchange since opening its doors in 1948. These grants generally vary in financial value and cover costs associated with study, research, and/or lecturing at the graduate (Master’s or Ph.D.) or post-doctoral level at accredited universities and think tanks. American citizens apply for these awards through the Institute of International Education or the Council of International Exchange Scholars, while Belgian and European citizens apply directly through the Commission.

The Fulbright-Schuman Program, administered by the Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States and Belgium, is jointly financed by the U.S. State Department and the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. The program funds graduate and post-graduate study, research, and lecture proposals in the field of U.S.-EU relations, EU policy, or EU institutions for interested American and EU citizens.

Belgian American Educational Foundation

The Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF) is the leading independent philanthropic organization in the support of exchanging university students, scientists and scholars between the United States and Belgium. The BAEF offers two types of Fellowships for Belgian and American students looking to further their education in the USA or Belgium: fellowships for Graduate Study and Research.

Fellowships & Funding Research Foundation - Flanders 

The Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) offers various grants. The Ph.D. Fellowship is the most important funding channel to prepare young and promising researchers to complete their Ph.D. For the funding of a limited number of fellowships, the FWO collaborates with: SCK•CEN , L'Oreal-Unesco and VITO. The Ph.D. research must be fundamental in nature.

The Washington Center 

The Washington Center (TWC) provides immersive internships and academic seminars to students from hundreds of colleges and universities and young professionals from across the U.S. and more than twenty-five countries including Belgium. Completing a TWC program will equip you with the skills and confidence to thrive in a competitive global marketplace.

Eramus Mundus Joint Master Degree Program 

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD),is a prestigious, integrated, international study program, jointly delivered by an international consortium of higher education institutions. EMJMD programs award EU-funded scholarships to the best student candidates, who apply under annual selection rounds. The study must take place in at least two of the program countries. Some of the courses can also take place in one of the partner countries including the U.S.

Academic Chairs

Academic Chairs

Every year, the universities of Berkeley, California and Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Flemish Inter-University Council and the Department for Education in Flanders, each grant a chair to a researcher at one of the Flemish universities who works in the field of Dutch studies. The purpose of the chairs is to present the culture, literature, history and arts of Flanders as an integral part of the curriculum at the American host institution.

Peter Paul Rubens Chair - UC Berkeley

Since 1982, the Government of Flanders in Belgium supports UC Berkeley’s Dutch Studies Program with a rotating visiting professor fellowship: the Peter Paul Rubens Chair for the History and Culture of the Low Countries. It was the first Flemish chair endowed in the United States. This enrichment of the Dutch Studies Program allowed a significant expansion of its course offerings by the annual appointment of outstanding faculty from Flemish universities as visiting professor for a semester. Participating universities are Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Hasselt and Leuven.

Antoon Van Dyck Chair - UCLA

The Antoon Van Dyck Chair for the history and the culture of the Low Countries has been created through an agreement between the regents of the University of California at Los Angeles and the Flemish Inter-University Council (VLIR). The chairholder spends one quarter a year at UCLA and teaches both undergraduates and graduate students.

Peter Breughel Chair – University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania hosts the Peter Breughel Chair of Flemish Studies for the History and Culture of the southern Low Countries. Every year an eminent professor from a Flemish university spends a semester teaching and conducting research at Penn.

Queen Beatrix Chair - UC Berkeley

Since 1980 the Nederlandse Taalunie, a Dutch-Flemish institution that governs issues regarding the Dutch language, has supported the Queen Beatrix Chair. This prestigious chair enabled the development of the nation’s broadest Dutch Studies program, the only one in the United States that offers both a Dutch minor and major. UC Berkeley also has one of the biggest Dutch book collections in the United States. Although the title of Queen Beatrix Professor seems to indicate otherwise, the current incumbent is Flemish. Jeroen Dewulf, who graduated in Germanic Philology from Ghent University, became the new program director in 2007. Since the Netherlands and Flanders form an official language union, a so-called Taalunie, the chair is currently co-financed by both the Dutch and the Flemish government.

Queen Wilhelmina Chair & Studies of the Dutch-Speaking World - Columbia University

Columbia University hosts a visiting Queen Wilhelmina professor who teaches one semester a year, sponsored by the Nederlandse Taalunie. The visiting professor, along with a committee of resident faculty, also organizes a series of lectures and workshops focusing on the history and culture of the Dutch-speaking world.

Johannes Van Tilburg Chair - UCLA

In 2005, Johannes Van Tilburg and his wife, Jo Anne, gave the Dutch Studies Program at UCLA an extraordinarily generous gift in order to establish the Johannes Van Tilburg Lecture in Dutch Studies in perpetuity. Mr. Van Tilburg came to the USA from The Netherlands in 1965. In 1971, he became the founding principal of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, AIA and has led this successful firm to the forefront of planning and design.

Learn Dutch

Learn Dutch

Dutch is an official language in six countries: Belgium, The Netherlands, Suriname, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Dutch is also spoken in parts of Germany and the north of France. In total there are over 24 million Dutch native speakers worldwide. Furthermore, Dutch has the 8th most native speakers in Europe. In Belgium, Dutch is the official language of Flanders, the northern region of the country.

There are many similarities between Dutch and English as both languages are part of the West Germanic family tree. Dutch settlers in the 17th century also managed to influence the English vocabulary with words like 'cookie' and 'coleslaw' which come from the Dutch words ‘koekje’ and ‘koolsla’. Given the various similarities and shared Germanic roots Dutch is one of the easiest language to learn for English speakers. 

Nederlandse Taalunie

The Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union) is the international organization in which the Netherlands, Flanders and Suriname combine their strengths to support the Dutch language at home and around the world, in order to keep the language as dynamic and vigorous as it is today. The Taalunie has 3 main focus areas concerning the Dutch language: language policy, language infrastructure and language use. They connect different organizations with a passion for languages and ensure coherence in language policy. In addition, they give language users tailored advice and encourage innovative companies to bring new products and applications to the market for the Dutch language. The Taalunie also acts as a think tank for Dutch-speaking education, in which they support teachers abroad and encourage people to study Dutch. One of their goals is to put the language area on the international map.

Dutch Language Studies at American Universities

Every year, 15,000 students outside the Dutch language area study Dutch at 180 universities in 40 countries worldwide. In the U.S. about 900 American students study Dutch at their home universities each year. Their reasons for choosing Dutch are as diverse as the students themselves: origin and family ties, interest in the shared history with and the art and cultural history of the Low Countries, as well as a wide range of other academic interests. The Dutch language and its rich history is part of various curricula throughout American Universities including: 

NOB: Network For Dutch Education 

The Network for Dutch Education (Stichting Nederlands Onderwijs in het Buitenland - NOB) unites all the diffrent schools that provide Dutch education worldwide. The NOB provides an overview of all U.S. based schools where Dutch is taught. From simple Dutch classes to full-fledged primary schools and advanced schools, the Network for Dutch Education endeavors to include all possible options to learn Dutch abroad. 

Other recommendations 

There are many ways to learn Dutch whether for academic, professional or leisure purposes. We recommend the following platforms that center around learning Dutch in a interactive manner. 

D-Teach is an online learning platform that offers a variety of services. They prepare you for the language, culture and educational system of your new country and make sure that you are ready for a smooth adjustment to foreign languages and education. D-Teach offers support to the Flemish education curriculum by providing online Dutch classes, Flemish culture classes and export camps.  

Hotel Hallo is a vocabulary package that brings foreign speakers between 5 and 11 years in contact with the Dutch language in a pleasant way. Through stories, songs, dialogues, puzzles, games and fun exercises, about 1000 frequent words are discussed. The most important speech acts, such as introducing yourself, asking how someone is doing, or saying that you like something, all get attention in this package.

Flanders Alumni USA

Flanders Alumni USA

As a graduate from a Flemish University living in the U.S., there are several Alumni Associations that provide great opportunities to connect with fellow alumni locally. These associations often organize events and gatherings to foster new relationships among alumni or reconnect with fellow classmates. In this way, Alumni Associations also contribute to the image of Flanders as a knowledge region. Access to alumni networks of Flemish knowledge institutions in the U.S. is extremely important, since many graduates go on to hold key positions in the economic and academic world in the U.S. 

Creating an engaged, supportive alumni network in the U.S. is crucial to the success of our institutions. Good alumni relationships can prove to be beneficial for both the institution and the alumni on a social, academic and professional level. In many instances, well-informed alumni can become powerful ambassadors for their alma maters. By sharing their experiences and secrets to success, these alumni become role models for future graduates.