Private Higher Education in Belgium

Introduction

The PrivateHigherEducation.be website is an initiative to list all private higher education institutions in Belgium. Unlike many other countries, Belgium is a country with more public than private institutions for higher education. The main purposes of this website is to increase public awareness of private higher education in Belgium by objectively listing all currently known private higher education institutions, and to share with the public any relevant news articles regarding higher education in Belgium. The choice for private higher education institutions may be based on a multitude of reasons, for example the smaller campus environments, smaller class sizes, more interactive teaching, different study programs and better student services, among others. The choice to enroll at a public or private institution lies with the student and/or their parents. When deciding to enroll in a higher education study program, we strongly recommend to evaluate the differences between public and private institutions, and to visit each institution that is being considered.

Institutions

Private institutions are started by a private initiative and are typically not subsidized by the government. Private institutions offer programs typically because of market demand to fill the gaps left by traditional institutions. These programs are distinctive in a variety of ways from their public counterparts. Private institutions can have the legal form of a non-profit (VZW/ASBL) or of a for-profit entity (BVBA/SPRL/NV/SA), or other form.

Quality

Private institutions operate according to various quality standards, mostly depending on the type of study program they are organizing. These may include, among others, quality labels for academic processes such as Qfor (http://www.qfor.be), program validations through external and typically foreign universities, or accreditation labels such as ACBSP (http://www.acbsp.org) and ECBE (http://www.ecbe.eu), among others. Some institutions are also validated for the so-called “KMO-Portefeuille” in Flanders (http://www.agentschapondernemen.be/themas/kmo-portefeuille), allowing corporate sponsors to reclaim part of the cost of the education from the Flemish government.

Costs

Private institutions are typically not subsidized by the regional governments and are therefore charging relatively high fees to cover the cost of organizing the education. Some schools offer scholarship programs to students meeting certain criteria, and most schools offer some sort of financial support in the form of delayed payment due dates or other. Since private education is subject to VAT, all private institution should be able to provide formal invoices for the education services provided, which may be considered as business or personal expenses that then may have a positive influence on the student’s or paying company’s income or profit tax and/or VAT claims.

Diplomas

Private institutions either award their own diplomas and certificates from their local or foreign branch where applicable, or in cooperation with an external local or foreign institution. Various study programs are offered, each leading to different diplomas and certificates. The public notion that some institutions sell their degrees are considered diploma mills, a business model that is unsustainable and in most cases illegal. Any self-respecting institution will uphold the highest possible quality standards for their students and faculty, and does not deviate from its standards.