1. Studying in Belgium
In Belgium, the Communities are responsible for education: the Flemish Community is responsible for education in the Dutch-speaking part of the country whilst the French Community is the competent authority for the French-speaking part of Belgium, and the German-speaking Community for education in German.
1.1 The academic year
The university academic year begins on 1 October and finishes on 30 September of the following calendar year. Most universities apply a system of semesters, which means that the academic year is divided into two separate teaching periods. The first semester comprises first 13 weeks of educational and study activities, concluded with 2 weeks of Christmas vacation. Then there is 1 week of individual study and 3 weeks of examinations, followed by 1 week of vacation. The second semester comprises also 13 weeks of educational and study activities, but is interrupted by 2 weeks of Easter holiday. The 13 weeks are followed by 2 weeks of individual study, 3 weeks of examinations and 1 week of deliberations. The summer break of 6 weeks is followed by the second examination period, which consists of 3 weeks of examinations.
1.2 The academic degrees
The Belgian higher education system follows the Bologna declaration.
Due to the structure of the Bologna system, higher education in Belgium is organized according to the Bachelor/Master system:
Bachelor's degree: 3 years towards a professional bachelor or an academic bachelor, offers students core teaching in the chosen discipline, as well as a broad general education. The academic bachelor gives access to master's studies.
Master's degree: 1 or 2 years provides specialized content whilst allowing for further development of the scientific research process.
After obtaining a Master's degree, students can choose to pursue research projects leading to a
Doctorate degree (PhD). PhD's are only awarded by universities.
The university institutions in Belgium have as their specific purpose fundamental and applied scientific research. University education is founded on a close link between scientific research and teaching.
In Belgium, as far as nuclear education is concerned, a unique collaboration exists between 6 universities and the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK•CEN. The Belgian Nuclear higher Education Network, BNEN is a one-year (60 ECTS) master-after-master programme in nuclear engineering.
Other institutes of higher education
Higher education organized outside of university institutions aims at obtaining professional or artistic higher qualifications. Among these are:
Professional training courses
Complementary to the academic programmes, training courses are available for professionals in the nuclear sector. For example, the SCK•CEN Academy for Nuclear Science and Technology offers customised training courses on various topics, such as
Safety and safety culture
Nuclear materials issues
Emergency preparedness and response
Dismantling and decommissioning
Waste and disposal issues
Radiation biology, -ecology, -chemistry
Exploring the science, ethics and politics of nuclear technology assessment