Separate ministries of education exist for Belgium's Dutch-speaking, French-speaking, and German-speaking communities.
Belgium is only some 30,000 square kilometers, but through the centuries, it has been a major European battleground, from the dunes in the north through the Flemish lowlands, to the southern forests of the Ardennes hills. Since it gained independence from the Netherlands in 1830, it has managed, remarkably, to reconcile the regional and cultural identities of three areas that each speaks a different language, Dutch, French, and German. Belgium was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. Since then, Belgium has experienced strong economic growth; it is known worldwide for its beers and fine chocolate. Today its capital, Brussels, is the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), along with many European academic associations.
The climate is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb; the average temperature is 3 °C (37.4 °F) in January, and 18 °C (64.4 °F) in July; the average precipitation is 65 mm (2.6 in) in January, and 78 mm (3.1 in) in July). Belgium has mild winters and cool summers and is rainy, humid and cloudy.
Monthly average rainfall: January 82 mm (3 inches); April 53 mm (2 inches); July 58 mm (2.2 inches); October 85 mm (3 inches).
Overview of Higher Education
Education in Brussels is officially bilingual (Dutch and French). Elsewhere, separate ministries of education exist for the country’s Flemish (Dutch-speaking), Walloon (French-speaking) and German-speaking communities. The Flemish community oversees seven institutions of higher learning, while the Walloon community oversees nine. All the same, some 60 percent of postsecondary students attend Roman Catholic universities.
In 2004-05 all three communities began to implement systemic reforms in accordance with the Bologna Process, the effort at coordinating higher education within Europe. The bachelor’s degree replaces a number of different degrees, yet courses largely continue to be defined by periods of general introduction followed by specialization, with each period lasting two to three years. The master’s degree largely resembles pre-existing degrees. Anyone with a bachelor's degree must wait at least two years before pursuing a doctorate.
Some 65,000 students were enrolled in universities in 2008. About 20 percent of students receive scholarships; others commonly receive grants through a national fund.
(Sources: European Union, BBC, The Europa World of Learning)
Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes
Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (total): 98
Number of Higher Education Students
Number of students enrolled: 394,000
Number of international students enrolled: 24,854
Flemish Ministry of Education and Training
Hendrik Conscience Building, 5 King Albert II-laan 15, 1210 Brussels
Web site: http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/english
Phone: 32 2 553 50 70
Contact: Theo Mardulier, Representative Board Member