About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1601-1608
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain


A. Descheemaeker

K.U. Leuven Association (BELGIUM)
The Bologna Process in higher education in Europe entered its second decade. Designing the European Higher Education Area is an incremental process. Countries take part in it at different speed and in a variety of ways. This paper describes how Flanders is forcing the pace towards an integrated higher education system.

Flanders gradually introduced a bachelor-master degree structure since the academic year 2004/2005. The goal is a genuine binary system with profession-oriented programs on the one hand and academic-oriented programs on the other hand. Of course, in a global world, where cost efficiency, flexibility, interdisciplinarity and quality are crucial success factors for high performing organizations, links between the two types of programs have to be guaranteed. That’s why the concept of an association, a network of in-depth cooperation between a university and one or more university colleges, was introduced in the legislation. Its main tasks are to guide the educational reforms, to increase the research potential, to provide bridging programs and to optimize the range of study programs.

The reform had the most far-reaching consequences for the former two cycle programs at the university colleges. These programs have to turn into academic-oriented programs by undergoing an ‘academisation’ process. In order to become truly research-based and research-oriented programs, these programs need to strenghten the link between education and research. The academisation process should be accomplished by 2012-2013 when the Accreditation Organization will take a formal decision on the accreditation of the concerned programs. Since university colleges are only allowed to offer academic-oriented programs in the context of an association with a university, one could say that guiding the academisation process is the most important reason for existence of the associations.

Very recently, in July 2010, the Flemish Government decided that the binarity in content of programs should be reflected in the organizing institutions. More concrete, it decided that by 2013-2014 the academic-oriented programs offered by the university colleges should be integrated in their associated university.
This decision will have enormous impact on the governance models of the institutions, the funding system, the education policy, the research policy, the student policy the statutory framework of staff, and will require intense change management. Obviously also the role of the associations will alter. Covering the whole range from fundamental research to practise-based research, the assocations will play an important role in the innovation chain. They will focus on strengthening the interaction between the academic and profession-oriented programs, the coordination of the logistics and the cooperation between education, research and society at large. They will also be the forum where the evolution towards an integrated higher education system with associate degree programs, bachelor programs, master programs and PhD programs will be prepared.

Next to a general description of the transformation process in Flanders, the paper gives you an insider’s view. It describes how the K.U.Leuven Association (the largest of the 5 associations with 44% of the student population in higher education in Flanders) deals with the changes and how its institutions adapt their strategies.
author = {Descheemaeker, A.},
series = {5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-7423-3},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {1601-1608}}
AU - A. Descheemaeker
SN - 978-84-614-7423-3/2340-1079
PY - 2011
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2011
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2011 Proceedings
SP - 1601
EP - 1608
ER -
A. Descheemaeker (2011) TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM IN FLANDERS, INTED2011 Proceedings, pp. 1601-1608.