Flanders

Formal policy making in higher education in Belgium is in the hands of the three communities: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community. Each Community organises and funds its education system autonomously.

The Autonomy Scorecard questionnaire response was based on the position of the five universities registered as ‘statutory’. These five universities are accredited for offering academic Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral degrees. All institutions registered as ‘statutory’ are recognised by law, receive public funding, have a not-for-profit-status. Together, ‘statutory’ universities and university colleges cater for over 95% of higher education students.

Two of the five ‘statutory’ universities are labelled as ‘free’ universities: KU Leuven and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). With respect to autonomy, the free universities only differ from the other universities in that they have greater freedom to decide on the composition and size of their governing boards.  The differences between the types of universities are mainly due to historical factors linked to their foundation and their stakeholders and these should not be overstated.

It should be noted that Flanders completed the Autonomy Scorecard survey and discussions in 2010/11 but information on the system was received after the Autonomy Scorecard publication had been completed.

Recent developments:

  • Due to budgetary restrictions, the current government has decided to put a temporary hold on the introduction of new degree programmes (2015-2017)
  • From 2015 new approach to quality assurance involving institutional reviews

Organisational autonomy: medium high

Except for the two ‘free’ universities, selection criteria for the executive head are stated in the law. Universities decide on the term of office and dismissal procedure, and the appointment of the executive head does not require external validation. All universities have a government-appointed Commissioner in their governance structure. The government also proposes part of the external members in the university board/council-type body for all but the two ‘free’ universities. The subject fields within which universities can offer degree programmes are specified in law. Universities may decide on their academic structures and create legal entities.

Financial autonomy: medium high

Universities receive public funding via an annual block grant whose internal allocation they control. They can keep any surpluses generated but they have to justify the purpose for which the reserves will be used. Universities can sell their buildings with some restrictions. An external authority sets the level of tuition fees for national/EU students at all levels.

Academic autonomy: low

Student selection at Bachelor level is regulated externally and based on free admission. Admission to Master’s programmes is co-regulated by universities and an external authority. At both levels, all new degree programmes must be submitted for prior accreditation in order to be introduced. The system is evolving towards institutional accreditation. Universities cannot choose the quality assurance provider carrying out accreditation. There is a limit to the university curriculum that can be delivered in languages other than Dutch.

Staffing autonomy: medium high

Decisions on individual staff salaries are restricted by overall limits in payments to staff. The dismissal of staff is subject to regulations specific to the higher education sector.

Organisational weighted 70% unweighted 70%

100

100% Selection procedure for the executive head

The selection of the executive head is not validated by an external authority

50

50% Selection criteria for the executive head

The law states that the executive head must hold an academic position

This applies to 13 other countries: Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden

The law states that the executive head must come from within the university

This applies to 3 other countries: Poland, Serbia, Spain

100

100% Dismissal of the executive head

The procedure for the dismissal of the executive head is not stated in the law

0

0% Term of office of the executive head

The exact length is stated in the law

43

43% External members in university governing bodies

Universities cannot decide as they must include external members

Other appointment process

This applies to 2 other countries: Ireland, North Rhine-Westphalia

100

100% Capacity to decide on academic structures

Universities can decide on their academic structures without constraints

100

100% Capacity to create legal entities

Universities can create legal entities without constraints

Financial weighted 76% unweighted 68%

60

60% Length of public funding cycle

100

100% Type of public funding

Block grant and there are no restrictions on the allocation of funding

100

100% Ability to borrow money

Universities can borrow money without restrictions

This applies to 7 other countries: Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Wallonia, Latvia, The Netherlands

90

90% Ability to keep surplus

Surplus can be kept with other types of restrictions

This applies to one other country: Hungary

100

100% Ability to own buildings

Universities can sell their buildings with other types of restrictions

This applies to 4 other countries: Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Poland

0

0% Tuition fees for national/EU students at Bachelor level

Only an external authority is allowed to set the level of tuition fees

This applies to 6 other countries: Croatia, France, Wallonia, Ireland, The Netherlands, Spain

0

0% Tuition fees for national/EU students at Master's level

Only an external authority is allowed to set the level of tuition fees

This applies to 5 other countries: Croatia, France, Wallonia, The Netherlands, Spain

0

0% Tuition fees for national/EU students at doctoral level

Only an external authority is allowed to set the level of tuition fees

This applies to 3 other countries: France, Wallonia, Spain

100

100% Tuition fees for non-EU students at Bachelor level

Universities are free to set the level of tuition fees

100

100% Tuition fees for non-EU students at Master's level

Universities are free to set the level of tuition fees

100

100% Tuition fees for non-EU students at doctoral level

Universities are free to set the level of tuition fees

Staffing weighted 76% unweighted 75%

100

100% Recruitment procedures for senior academic staff

Recruitments are carried out freely by universities

100

100% Recruitment procedures for senior administrative staff

Recruitments are carried out freely by universities

42

42% Salaries for senior academic staff

The decision on individual staff salaries is restricted due to an overall limit for all staff payments

This applies to 3 other countries: Brandenburg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia

Other restrictions

This applies to 4 other countries: Hungary, Ireland, Norway, Poland

42

42% Salaries for senior administrative staff

The decision on individual staff salaries is restricted due to an overall limit for all staff payments

This does not apply to any other country.

Other restrictions

This applies to 4 other countries: Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Poland

60

60% Dismissal of senior academic staff

Dismissals are subject to other regulations specific to the sector

This applies to 8 other countries: Austria, Croatia, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland

60

60% Dismissal of senior administrative staff

Dismissals are subject to other regulations specific to the sector

This applies to 5 other countries: Austria, Ireland, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland

100

100% Promotion procedures for senior academic staff

Universities can freely decide on promotion procedures

100

100% Promotion procedures for senior administrative staff

Universities can freely decide on promotion procedures

Academic weighted 35% unweighted 34%

0

0% Overall student numbers

Free admission

This applies to 5 other countries: Austria, France, Wallonia, The Netherlands, Switzerland

0

0% Admissions procedures at Bachelor level

Admissions are entirely regulated by an external authority

This applies to 7 other countries: Austria, France, Wallonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Switzerland

60

60% Admissions procedures at Master's level

Admission criteria are co-regulated by an external authority and universities

This applies to 7 other countries: Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden

0

0% Introduction of programmes at Bachelor level

All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced

Other restrictions

This applies to 9 other countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hesse, Iceland, Latvia, Sweden

0

0% Introduction of programmes at Master's level

All new degree programmes/courses must be submitted to prior accreditation to be introduced

Other restrictions

This applies to 9 other countries: Austria, Brandenburg, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hesse, Iceland, Latvia, Sweden

60

60% Introduction of programmes at doctoral level

Universities can open degree programmes without prior accreditation

Other restrictions

This applies to 7 other countries: Austria, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Poland, Sweden

100

100% Termination of degree programmes

Universities can terminate degree programmes independently

83

83% Language of instruction at Bachelor level

The number of degree programmes/courses taught in a foreign language is limited by an external authority

This applies to one other country: Latvia

83

83% Language of instruction at Master's level

The number of degree programmes/courses taught in a foreign language is limited by an external authority

This applies to one other country: Latvia

0

0% Selection of quality assurance mechanisms

Universities cannot select quality assurance mechanisms

0

0% Selection of quality assurance providers

Universities cannot choose the quality assurance agency

100

100% Capacity to design content of degree programmes

Universities can freely design the content of degree programmes and courses (other than for the regulated professions)