Academy for Political and Social Sciences (APSS)


The Faculty Council of April 14 confirmed the name for the new Academy of Lifelong Learning of the Faculty: Academy for Political and Social Sciences (APSS)

Lifelong learning academies are (inter-) faculty institutes responsible for the organisation and implementation of the ‘lifelong learning’ project of our university. Each academy has its own steering committee and a director. The director of the APSS is Carl Devos. The chair of the steering group and the director of the academy are appointed by the faculty council(s). The steering group consists of at least the following members: the dean(s) and the education director(s) of the faculty or faculties, the director of the academy, and external experts from the professional field.

Each academy is provided with an online data platform to manage the training offer and the registrations, maintain the participant database, collect the registration fees, and produce certificates.

The establishment of the APSS is part of the "Strategic policy plan of Ghent University for Lifelong Learning". The policy plan advances the coalition agreement of the Flemish Government for 2019-2024, which strongly emphasises lifelong learning. The Flemish Government aims to work towards a learning culture of training and  retraining throughout the career. Learning does not stop when the diploma has been obtained; in a technologically fast-changing and developing society, it is important to renew competences. This cultural change has not yet occurred today, on the contrary, Flanders is lagging behind in terms of participation in lifelong learning initiatives.

Ghent University is picking up on this demand for a new learning culture by offering lifelong learning courses that allow for an update and renewal of competences. As the existing regulations dated from 2010, a new vision and policy plan had to be developed.

Lifelong learning is defined at UGent as follows: the whole of retraining and continued education programmes that UGent organises outside of the bachelor's and master's programmes, the advanced master's programmes, and the doctoral programme.

Following this definition, the current postgraduate studies, permanent training programmes, scientific refresh courses and the University Language Centre (UCT) constitute lifelong learning. Other forms of lifelong learning include credit contracts for specific courses and distance learning through the Open University.

Advanced master’s programmes, on the other hand, are not included, as these programmes have a different purpose and are usually followed as a specialisation after the regular master's programme. Moreover, they are recognised programmes that must meet the requirements for master's programmes as set out in the Codex Higher Education. They are therefore less equipped to respond quickly and flexibly to demands from society.

The lifelong learning project therefore entails non-initial education at Ghent University. Importantly, these are unfunded courses. The lifelong learning business model, to be developed in the strategic memorandum on the lifelong learning policy plan, will depart from the premise that the design of all courses must be sustainably self-sufficient, i.e., that both direct and indirect costs are to be fully reimbursed from the collected registration fees. Under no circumstances should the lifelong learning course offer put the regular courses under pressure.

Various forms of lifelong learning are possible, and not every form must lead to a formal learning certificate. Think, for instance, of a lecture series, of summer schools, etc. A well-known example of lifelong learning are the so-called postgraduate courses (PGOPs). These are specific and regulated courses that, in light of continued professional training, aim to broaden or deepen the competences acquired through a bachelor's or master's degree. PGOPs have a study load of at least 20 credits and can be concluded with a postgraduate certificate or with a diploma with a legally recognised professional title.

See also Regulations (Dutch) and Lifelong Learning Courses (Dutch) at UGhent.