Every student starting higher education receives a learning account of 140 study credits. The learning account is a tool developed by the Government of Flanders which aims to help monitor your study progress. In other words, it is important that you earn back the study credits you used when you enrolled. You lose the right to automatic enrolment if you have insufficient credits in your learning account. So find out more below!
How does the learning account system work?
What is the learning account?
The learning account is a virtual backpack containing study credits. Since academic year 2008-2009, everyone receives 140 study credits when they enrol in Flemish higher education. Study credits are deducted from your learning account for each programme component you enrol in under a diploma or credit contract in a bachelor or master programme. If you pass a programme component, then these study credits are returned to your learning account. If you fail a programme component, the study credits are irrevocably deducted from your balance at the end of the academic year after the second exam period.
Which enrolments and programmes are exempt from the learning account?
Study credits are not deducted from the learning account when enrolling in bridging programmes, preparatory programmes, teacher training programmes, Advanced Masters or PhDs.
Are you having doubts about the courses you chose? Considering changing or stopping your course?
You may find during the academic year that the courses you chose don't quite meet your expectations. Maybe you are considering switching to another programme at the University of Antwerp or even to another educational institution? Make sure you start this process asap!
If this is your first enrolment in higher education (you are a 'first-time student') then a special rule applies if you wish to switch programmes. If you switch before 1 December, all your study credits will be 'refunded' to your learning account. If you change programmes between 1 December and 15 March, half of the study credits will be refunded as long as the exam period for the programme component(s) in question has not yet started. After 15 March, no credits are refunded.
All other students are bound by the dates selected by each institution's enrolment services. These dates also apply if you wish to reduce the number of courses you are taking, or drop out altogether. You can find more information on this subject on the 'Enrolment' page. On the 'Changing or stopping your course' page, you can find out more about the implications of changing or stopping your course for your learning account, family allowance, scholarship and so on. There is also information about who to contact if you have any problems or questions. If you are having doubts about the programme you chose then you should consider talking to a student counsellor from the Study Advice and Student Counselling Service. Don't keep your worries to yourself!
Bonus of 60 study credits
The transition from secondary to higher education is not always as smooth as it could be, and the government has made certain allowances for this. As a result, you get back double the first 60 study credits you earn.
Have you been a student before?
Did you enrol in higher education before 2008-2009? Like all new students, you will receive a learning account of 140 study credits. Your learning account will also be credited with double the first 60 credits you earn. Your studying history up to and including academic year 2007-2008 will not be taken into account.
Completed your programme?
On obtaining your Bachelor degree, you retain your learning account. If you complete a Master degree, the learning account of 140 study credits which you received at the beginning of your programme is deducted from your balance. If you have completed your studies without any problems, you should still have a balance of 60 study credits. If your balance is less than 60 study credits, your learning account will be built up again by 10 study credits per academic year until you are back at 60.
Do you want to know more about the learning account? The publication “Het leerkrediet in het hoger onderwijs: studiepunten als signaal” from the Study Advice and Student Counselling Service will point you in the right direction. You can purchase a copy for €15 from the STIP.
Questions or problems related to your learning account?
If you have any questions about your learning account, contact your faculty's educational administration. If necessary, they will refer you to a study programme counsellor. If you want to discuss your options when changing programmes or dropping out, you can also talk to a student counsellor from the Study Advice and Student Counselling Service.
Why was the learning account developed?
How long has the learning account been in operation?
The new Flemish Parliament Act for the funding of higher education in Flanders came into force in 2008-2009. It aimed to regulate the distribution of financial resources to universities and university colleges in Flanders and also introduced the learning account system for students.
Choose carefully and commit to your studies!
The government wishes to encourage students to choose courses carefully and commit to their studies. They also want university colleges and universities to provide sound education and proper guidance to students so that they can make progress in their studies and obtain their degrees within a reasonable time frame.
The legislation also sets time limits for students in Flemish higher education. Once you have obtained a Master degree, then 140 study credits will be deducted from your learning account. If you don't have any credits left, you will no longer be permitted to enrol or the institution may request a higher enrolment fee. The government enacted this legislation in order to prevent students from carrying on studying without getting any results, i.e. "without ever getting a degree".
What happens if there are insufficient credits?
Still got 60 study credits left? You can still enrol.
As long as you have at least 60 study credits left, you don't need to worry about this when enrolling on a Bachelor or initial Master programme. As long as you meet all the other admission requirements, you can enrol. You have to pass these programme components, however, to ensure that the study credits are recredited to your learning account so you can continue your studies.
Less than 60 study credits or even a negative balance?
If you don't have enough credits for a full programme, you can still enrol using the remaining study credits. The faculty will limit your study programme. If you have no study credits left, you cannot enrol at the University of Antwerp. Make sure that it does not come to this and check your balance regularly.
Exceptions to this rule are only granted in special circumstances such as starting a second initial Master programme. If an exception is granted, an additional tuition fee has to be paid.
The following exception always applies: if you have already obtained a Bachelor degree but have insufficient credits left, the university cannot refuse your enrolment in the corresponding Master programme. It may limit your enrolment, for example to the remaining credits in your learning account. In this situation, there is no additional tuition fee.
Does this mean it's really the end of your university career?
If you had problems during your university career and are left the university for at least one academic year with a balance of less than 60 study credits, the Government of Flanders grants ten additional study credits for a number of academic years. The idea is to save up 60 study credits again. Please note, this automatic accrual only begins after the academic year in which you do not enrol in Flemish higher education using a degree or credit contract. There are other ways of obtaining a degree, for example through the HBO-5 programmes. You can always enquire about the options with a student counsellor from the Study Advice and Student Counselling Service.
Continuing your studies after a Master?
If you have a balance of less than 60 study credits after successfully completing your programme and obtaining your first Master degree, the Government of Flanders will grant 10 additional study credits until you have saved up 60 study credits. The automatic accrual begins the academic year following the one in which you obtained your Master degree.
What to do in case of illness or 'force majeure'?
The university cannot reimburse your study credits.
The central educational administration and the faculties record your enrolments and your study results with the SisA system, which automatically forwards them to the Government of Flanders' Higher Education Database. Consequently, the university cannot reimburse your study credits. Only the Council for Disputes over Study Progress Decisions ('Raad voor Betwistingen inzake Studievoortgangsbeslissingen') can do this.
What can I do?
- If you cannot sit an exam because of a force majeure (e.g. a strike, riot, act of God, etc.) then you should check the Study and Examination Rules to see which institution to contact. You will need to submit a valid certificate or other evidence within a certain time frame. For more information, see the University of Antwerp's Study and Examination Rules (Article 14.2).
- In case of force majeure, students should ask the faculty for an adapted examination schedule.
- The faculty also has to decide whether the force majeure can be overcome and whether an adapted examination schedule is an option.
- If it is impossible to change the examination schedule, the institution will usually justify and confirm this in writing.
- If the exam schedule cannot be adapted, students will be referred to the Council for Disputes over Study Progress Decisions, which will make a decision about whether it is truly a case of force majeure.
- If the Council rules that this is indeed the case, the government will reimburse the deducted study credits to the student.
www.studentenportaal.be (see FAQs è about the learning account and force majeure)
Checking the balance of your learning account
The central educational administration and the faculties record your enrolments and your study results with the SisA system, which automatically forwards them to the Government of Flanders' Higher Education Database. The university can only see the balance, not how it was accrued. It is very important that you maintain your administration correctly (enrolments and cancellations). Failing to do this may have grave consequences for your university career.
For more information about the learning account and checking the balance of your study credits online, please consult the Government of Flanders student portal. The University of Antwerp has several computers with card readers which you can use for this purpose.