The Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education
Facts: Belgium and education
Find background information about Belgium and education in the Flemish-language region and French-language region.
Country: Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state with 3 official languages (Dutch, French and German) and 3 autonomous communities: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German Community. The communities are independent for a number of powers. This gives them the right to create their own legislation for certain policy areas, such as education.While each community has its own Ministry of Education, certain matters remain the responsibility of the federal government. These include compulsory education and the educational level structure for primary, secondary and higher education.
Responsible for education:
Flemish-language region: the Flemish Ministry of Education.
French-language region: the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.
German-language region: for information about the German-speaking Community (East Belgium), please contact Nuffic or visit the website Ostbelgien Bildung which is provided by the Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Belgiens, also the area's ENIC-NARIC.
We discuss only the 2 largest regions, the Flemish-language region and the French-language region.
Membership European Union: since 1958.
Bologna process: the Belgian federal government signed the Bologna Declaration in 1999.
Flemish-language region: the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO: Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie) was founded in 2005 pursuant to a bilateral treaty between the Netherlands and the Flemish-language region. This treaty between the Netherlands and the Flemish-language region about the accreditation of degree programmes in Dutch and Flemish higher education was signed in 2003. The NVAO is responsible for the accreditation of higher education degree programmes. The accredited degree programmes are listed in the Hogeronderwijsregister (Higher education register). This means that the registered degree is recognised by the national government, in this case the Flemish Community.
Benelux decision: on 18 May 2015, the ministers of Education of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg approved the decision to mutually recognise bachelor’s and master’s diplomas obtained in Benelux countries at the systemic level. This means that a bachelor/master in one country is equal to a bachelor/master in another country. This gives holders of diplomas the legal certainty that their diploma will be recognised at the correct level. See also: Beschikking van Benelux Comité van Ministers (PDF).
In principle, this renders the recognition of bachelor’s and master’s diplomas from Belgium superfluous, since they have been made the equivalent in terms of level of Dutch (and Luxembourgian) bachelor’s and master’s diplomas. However, diploma recognition may still be required in the case of study programmes or programme variants (such as ‘Bachelor na bachelor’, ‘Bachelor after bachelor’) that do not exist in the Netherlands. As of 25 January 2018, associate degrees (or diplomas of equivalent level) and doctorate degrees (PhDs) are automatically recognised by all participating countries.
Compulsory education: ages 5-18 years.
Language of instruction:Dutch (Flemish-language region), French (French-language region), German (German-language region).
School year: from 1 September until 30 June.
Academic year: starts on 1 September at the earliest and 1 October at the latest, and ends on the day immediately preceding the start of the next academic year.