Fewer students enrolling in Flanders’ top sport schools


A tougher selection criteria has seen dwindling numbers in Flanders’ specialised sport schools, leading some experts to question if there are too many institutions

Nine students in Hasselt

The Flemish top sports schools have in the past five years lost more than one-third of their student numbers over the last five years, according to figures published by Gazet van Antwerpen. At the same time, the paper reported, the number of students with top sport statutes in regular education has been cut in half.

There are six top sports schools in Flanders: in Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven, Vilvoorde, Hasselt/Genk and Bruges. Each of them has seen student numbers decrease since 2010, except for the one in Vilvoorde, where the number remained stable.

Since 2010, the number of students in Antwerp has decreased from 150 to 127 and from 182 to 111 in Ghent. The school in Leuven has 12% fewer students and the one in Bruges 26% fewer.  In Hasselt/Genk, the number of students has dropped from 120 to a mere nine.

Some education experts are asking that the number of specialised sport schools be reduced. Education minister Hilde Crevits does not agree. “It’s important that we keep giving talented youngsters the chance to prepare for a national and international sports career,” she said.

The reason for the decrease, said Crevits, is a more ambitious policy. “The selection criteria for a number of sports, like football, have been made stricter. That’s why the number of students for these sports has strongly decreased.”

Photo courtesy Bloso.be

Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.

million school-going children in 2013


million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013


percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma