More students in higher education than ever before


A record number of students are enrolled in universities and colleges in Flanders and Dutch-speaking Brussels

Art schools booming

More than 239,000 students are enrolled in a Flemish institution of higher education, the highest number ever recorded. The figure includes students at Dutch-languages universities and colleges in Flanders and Brussels.

The number is a 1% increase on the previous academic year, with the largest increase seen in first-year students. The arts schools and programmes saw the largest growth, with 3.6% more students than last year.

The information is compiled in the new report Hoger Onderwijs in Cijfers: Academiejaar 2017-2018 (Higher Education in Figures: Academic Year 2017-2018) by the Flemish government’s higher education agency. It also shows that the top three institutions in terms of size remain the same: the University of Leuven with 45,300 students, Ghent University with 37,300 and Antwerp University with 16,900.

Education minister Hilde Crevits gave a nuanced response to the announcement, telling De Morgen that “the graduation figures are more important than the enrolment figures”. Her ministry has addressed that with the Columbus orientation test, which pupils in the final year of secondary education can take to help them choose the right study programme. Columbus launched in early 2017.

Photo: KU Leuven’s economics and business library
©Rob Stevens/KU Leuven

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