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 short cycle program or a bachelor program. In the academic year 2019-2020, there were 53.884 new entrants in the Flemish higher education system. 12,5% of these students were enrolled in a short cycle program, 46,7% in a professional oriented bachelor program and 40,8% in an academic oriented bachelor program. Most popular fields of study for the new entrants are for the professional oriented bachelor: Business and administration, Health care and Education. 27,9% of these new students in a professional oriented bachelor are enrolled in a STEM-program. For the academic oriented bachelors, the most popular fields of study for new entrants are Laws, Economics and Industrial sciences. 34,7% of the new entrants in an academic oriented bachelor program made a choose for a STEM-program. For the short cycle programs the most popular study fields are Business of administration and Social work.  

During the last 10 years, the number of new entrants has been growing (+3%). This is the case both for the number of new students enrolled in the professional oriented bachelors (+ 2,6%) and in the academic oriented bachelors (+3,5%).

Female students represent more than half of the population of new entrants (55%). The breakdown by gender varies considerably by field of study. The fields of study Health care, Education and Social work (professional oriented bachelor programs) and Psychology and Pedagogic Sciences (academic oriented bachelor programs) are noteworthy for a very strong representation of female students. On the other hand the study fields Industrial sciences and technology and Applied Sciences attract a small number of female entrants.   

In the Flemish Community higher education is characterized by a rather high level of participation of young people. Looking at the relation between the new entrants and the number of persons of 18 years old in het Flemish Community, which gives an indication of the participation in the higher education system, we see that more than 65% of the youngsters of 18 years old, start a bachelor program at a university of university college.

In the academic year 2017-2018 there were 24.533 graduates in the professional bachelor programs, 14.515 graduates in the academic bachelor programs and 20.045 graduates in an initial master program. 27,5% of the qualifications obtained are in a STEM-program. In the same academic year the universities awarded also 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.