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Changes ahead for Belgium French-speaking higher education

The government of the French-speaking community of Belgium has began a project aimed at reorganising higher education, reports Véronique Eloy.

The plans have been examined by the State Council and are expected to get parliamentary approval at the end of September. The hope is that they will be implemented by all institutions of higher education in Brussels and Wallonia for the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year.

The reforms aim to make the higher education system more coherent by creating more collaborative opportunities between different higher education institutions and sweep away the traditional philosophical and historical divisions between HE institutions.

Since 2004, Belgium’s French-speaking institutions have been gathered around the three biggest universities, called ‘complete universities’, forming three ‘academies’.
The planned changes will mean that all institutions, whether universities or university colleges, will sit together in a unique academy, called ARES (Research and Teaching Higher Education Academy).

Among the key goals of this new academy will be the general coordination of higher education and increased international visibility for higher education in Brussels and Wallonia.

All institutions, whether universities or university colleges, will sit together in a unique academy, called ARES (Research and Teaching Higher Education Academy). The hope is that this new academy will improve the general coordination of higher and increase international visibility for higher education in Brussels and Wallonia.

Beside this unique academy, five geographical poles will be created. All the institutions in a particular area will be represented in the pole and encouraged to share infrastructures and offer students better services. For instance, the sports facilities of all the institutions in the Brussels or the Namur pole could be opened to all students of the area, no matter in which institution they are registered.

Other important changes will also occur regarding the organisation of the studies, the quality of the offer, promoting academic success and the status of students.

+ Education in Belgium is managed by the two regions (Flanders and Brussels-Wallonia) and the Brussels-Wallonia Federation is also called the French community of Belgium.

Véronique Eloy, senior Belgium representative on the EUPRIO Steering Committee.

Véronique Eloy, senior Belgium representative on the EUPRIO Steering Committee.

* Report by Véronique Eloy, Head of the Communications department at Saint-Louis University, Brussels, and senior Belgium representative on the EUPRIO Steering Committee. She promises to keep EUPRIO members up to date with developments.

* Main photograph by Benjamin Brolet.

* Edited by Nic Mitchell.