The academisation of the former two-cycle courses at the colleges is the result of the Bologna Declaration at the European level and the ‘Education Reform Act’ in Flanders.
One of the objectives of the Bologna Declaration was the establishment of a higher education area in Europe to increase international comparability. Therefore, the bachelor-master structure was introduced throughout Europe.
Moreover, the Flemish educational system had a three-tier structure (higher education at universities, one-cycle courses at colleges and two-cycle courses at colleges), which in comparison with other European countries was unique. This structure made the pursuit of one higher education area in Europe and international comparability impossible. The ‘Education Reform Act‘ therefore proposed an end to this three-tier structure and imposed a two-tier higher education structure with professional bachelors (the former one-cycle courses at colleges) on the one hand and academic bachelors and masters (the former two-cycle programs at colleges and training in universities) on the other hand.
The former two-cycle courses at the colleges were transformed into academic bachelors and masters. Since the 2-cycle higher education courses didn’t have such a strong tradition in conducting scientific research, it was the task of the university to support these courses and to guide them. This is done within the Association framework. Academising of the 2-cycles courses does not mean that the differences between college courses and university courses is eliminated. The college courses with 2-cycles maintain their own profile and their own particular emphases, except for the fact that they will carry out more scientific research and their align their teaching to this.