Too few Flemish students abroad

1st May 2009, Comments 0 comments

A major international education conference was held in Leuven (Flemish Brabant) this week.

The conference focused on the Bologna Declaration which was signed by EU Governments ten years ago.

Speaking ahead of the start of the conference Flemish education Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Socialist) insisted that more Flemish students should spend some of time in another European country.

The Bologna Declaration introduced root and branch reform of higher education across the European Union and attempted to harmonise education systems.

One of the planks of the reform was a drive to get more students to study abroad.

Dirk Van Damme of Ghent University says that at the moment too few Flemish students are taking advantage of these opportunities.

Van Damme notes that the take-up is currently 10%. He feels that this is not enough and that a proper European exchange could involve up to half of all students. He believes a 20% take-up is the strict minimum.

The lecturer insists that a lot of work still needs to be done. Many EU countries still need to make it easier for students to take part in the exchange programme.

Problems regarding the recognition of foreign diplomas are still being reported.

Leuven traders up in arms

The Bologna conference was held in Leuven, the capital of Flemish Brabant province and the home of Belgium's oldest university, the Catholic University of Leuven.

To ensure security the municipal authorities introduced draconian security measures.

The area around the market square was entirely cordoned off. Local traders and pubs and restaurants are unhappy with this due to a loss of trade.

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