Further education

Other learning opportunities in Belgium

Further education

Further education generally embraces everything except first degree courses taken at universities, technical institutes and other institutions of higher education, although the distinction between further and higher education is often blurred.

Each year many thousands of students attend further education courses at universities alone. These are often short and job-related, although courses may be full or part-time and include summer terms. Belgium has many private schools, institutes and other forms of training organisations, including some affiliated to foreign (mostly American) universities.

Many educational institutions offer American MBA degree courses, including the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Tuition fees are high and study periods strictly organised. Although most courses are taught in English, some schools require students to be fluent in one or more foreign languages for internship or research purposes.

The Belgian ministry of education has developed its own version of the UK’s Open University (OU), providing distance learning programmes for adults. The Belgian OU is designed to allow adults to obtain secondary or higher education certificates or degrees they were unable to obtain while in the state educational system. Most teaching is done on a flexible timetable and makes use of distance learning tools such as video tapes, CD-ROMs and Internet-related tools.

The Belgian OU programmes are operated by the various universities and higher education institutes. Flemish-language OU courses are co-ordinated with the Dutch OU through an organisation called the Stuurgroep Open Hoger Onderwijs. Belgian OU courses are normally conducted in French and all examinations are conducted in French, usually at a local or regional centre. In French-speaking Belgium, information on OU courses is available from the relevant institutions. Information about Dutch OU courses is available via the Internet (www.ouh.nl  – some information is in English).

UK Open University courses (in English) are also available throughout mainland Europe and the OU has offices in Brussels where students can meet tutors and obtain information about courses and degree programmes. Most OU offices hold open houses or information sessions in June or September and information can be found on the OU website (www.open.ac.uk ).

General information about local adult education and training is available in most towns and cities from town halls and libraries.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in in Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg from Survival Books.

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