3.1Students in the Flemish higher education system

By Linda De Kock (Department of Education, Flanders)

This chapter gives an overview of the new (first time) entrants in the universities and university colleges in the Flemish Community and of the number of graduates.

New entrants are students who enroll for the first time in a bachelor programme. 47,965 new entrants enrolled in the Flemish higher education system in the academic year 2017-2018. 55.3% of these students enrolled in a professional oriented bachelor programme and 44.7% in an academic oriented bachelor programme. Most popular fields of study for the new entrants are the professional oriented bachelors: business & administration, health care and aducation. 26.6% of these new students in a professional oriented bachelor are enrolled in a STEM-programme. The most popular fields of study for new entrants of the academic oriented bachelors, arelLaw, and economic & industrial sciences. 34.5% of the new entrants in an academic oriented bachelor programme chose a STEM-programme.  

During the last 10 years, the number of new entrants has been growing (+10.4%). This is the case both for the number of new students enrolled in the professional oriented bachelors (+ 14.9%) as for the academic oriented bachelors (+5.2%).

Female students represent more than half of the new entrants (55%). The breakdown by gender varies considerably per field of study. Health care, education and social work (professional oriented bachelor programmes) and psychology and pedagogic sciences (academic oriented bachelor programmes) are very strongly represented by female students. On the other hand the study fields of industrial sciences and technology and applied sciences attract only a small number of female entrants.   

Higher education is characterized by a rather high level of participation of young people in the Flemish Community. Comparing the new entrants and the number of persons of 18 years old in het Flemish Community, which provides us with an indication of the participation in the higher education system, we see that more than 65% of 18 years olds, initiate a bachelor programme at a university.

In the academic year 2017-2018 24,533 graduates enrolled in professional bachelor programmes, 14,515 graduates in academic bachelor programmes and 20,045 graduates in an initial master's programme. 27.5% of the qualifications obtained are in a STEM-programme. In the same academic year the universities also awarded 2,155 PhD degrees. During the last 10 years, the number of graduates has been growing: + 34.13% more graduates in the professional oriented bachelors, + 25.60% more graduates for the initial masters, + 75.49% for the number of doctorates.