Since 1831, the Belgian constitution has granted freedom of education. It forms the cornerstone on which the Belgian teaching system has been built over the years. But, long before the country's independence, Belgium had cultivated a tradition of recognition and dissemination of knowledge. Thus, since 1425, the university of Leuven has participated in the intellectual emancipation of some of the most brilliant minds of the previous centuries.
From the 19th century, many other universities and higher education institutions were set up on Belgian soil, thus constituting the great treasure of higher education in Belgium, which is the diversity of the education offer available. A large number of internationally famous scientists were produced by these institutes, including four Nobel Prize winners for Medicine, three Nobel Prize winners for Peace, one for Literature, one for Chemistry and, very recently, a Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to François Englert, Professor Emeritus of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Today, Belgian schools are largely focused on international cooperation and are open to the world. Many classes are organised in English and student exchanges have become widespread.
In Belgium, higher education is divided up between universities and higher education institutions (university colleges).
University Colleges are higher education bodies that offer cutting-edge artistic, scientific and technological training that prepares for professions that require high qualifications. They are active in applied research in close contact with the professional world and academia.
- List of university colleges in Dutch-speaking Belgium, French-speaking Belgium and in German-speaking Belgium.
- List of colleges of Arts in French-speaking Belgium.
11 universities offer good quality academic teaching. Most of these universities are regularly well referenced in various international rankings, such as the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, the World University Ranking published by the Times Higher Education and the American Best Global Universities.