The 1999 Bologna Declaration reformed European higher education in at least two fundamental ways: the introduction of Bachelor-Master curricula and the promotion of teacher and student mobility. Flanders responded by implementing a two-tier system of higher education with professional and academic degree programs governed by 5 awarding bodies, i.e. inter-institutional associations between universities and university colleges.
At present, there are five such associations in Flanders (.pdf, p19):
• the K.U. Leuven Association
• the Ghent University Association
• the Antwerp University Association
• Brussels University Association
• the Universiteit – Hogescholen Limburg Association.
All associations are secular, bar Leuven, which honors a Roman Catholic denomination. The K.U. Leuven Association is also the largest, with 13 institutions of higher learning. As of 2012, the K.U. Leuven Association will adopt a ‘multicampus’ model (in Dutch); spread over 13 cities, no fewer than 21 campuses will be able to award KU Leuven university degrees. Send me an email if you want one, too.
In a response to an opinion piece (both in Dutch), K.U. Leuven Association Dean André Oosterlinck argues that this move will benefit the research quality (and thus output) of university colleges. In the words of the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard: nigga, please. University college personnel is understaffed and overworked. When are they supposed to conduct research? Apply for research grants? Publish?