Traditionally, a distinction is made between three groups of higher education programme:
- Short-term higher education programmes
- Medium-term higher education programmes
- Long-term higher education programmes
The qualification framework for higher education programmes describes the knowledge, skills and competences students must acquire in the three programme groups.
A short-term higher education programme usually take two years. Short-term higher education programmes include academy profession programmes that address various professions such as that of computer scientist, commerce manager, laboratory technician and building technician. Short-term higher education programmes entitle students to take diploma programmes.
Medium-term higher education programmes take between 3-4½ years. These programmes usually address a given profession and include periods of work placement. Medium-term higher education programmes cover professional bachelor programmes, for instance. There are more than 30 such programmes in the fields such as healthcare, educational theory and practice, technology and social studies. Professional bachelor programmes entitle students to take certain relevant graduate and masters programmes.
Long-term higher education programmes include three-year bachelor programmes at universities, graduate programmes and PhD programmes. Bachelor and graduate programmes are highly theoretical and PhD programmes are research programmes.