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Higher Education System in Benelux


How Does the Higher Education System in Benelux Differ from that in Brazil?

The higher education systems in Belgium and the Netherlands are similar to but differ slightly from the Brazilian Higher Education system. While Brazilian undergraduate degrees are broken down into Bachelor’s, Licentiate, and Technological degrees lasting between 2 and 6 years, Holland and Belgium focus on a 3-4 year track in either research or professional training at the undergraduate level.

The majority of Europe now follows the Bolonga Process which was designed to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher education in Europe. Under this process, universities in Belgium and the Netherlands follow a 3-cycle system including bachelor’s, masters and PhD degrees and use the European Credit Transfer and accumulation System – ECTS.

Credit system:

In Brazil:

While there is no unified credit system in Brazil, a full year of higher education in Brazil (between 800 and 1200 instruction hours) would be equivalent to 60 European credits.

In Europe:

  • A Bachelor's degree is earned in three years (180 ECTS credits) toward a professional or academic bachelor's degree. For example, an academic bachelor provides access to earning a Master's.
  • A Master's degree is earned in one to two years (60 or 120 ECTS credits).
  • PhD studies (third cycle) have no ECTS range

Benelux Broken Down

Netherlands: Two types of Universities:

  • Research University – Offers research-oriented programs in an academic setting. Research universities include general universities, universities specializing in engineering and agriculture, and the Open University.
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  • University of Applied Science – Characterized by practical and professional learning, preparing students for specific careers. Universities of applied sciences include general institutions as well as schools specializing in a specific field such as agriculture, performing and fine arts or teacher training.
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Belgium: Belgium’s education system is governed by the Northern, Dutch-speaking Flanders region and the Southern, French-speaking Wallonia region.

  • Flanders – The Northern, Dutch community groups higher education by universities and university colleges. Six Flemish universities issue academic bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. Similar to the Dutch “University of Applied Science,” the University colleges issue technical or professional degrees.
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  • Wallonia – The Southern, French Community distinguishes between universities, colleges (Hautes Ecoles), arts colleges, and institutes of architecture.
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