Luxembourg

Luxembourg is a landlocked country in Western Europe. The main policy objectives are set out in the explanatory statement (exposé des motifs) for the relevant laws as well as in the annual National reform programmes relating to the Europe 2020 strategy. Important elements are also to be found in the guiding principles of the University of Luxembourg.

  • Europe 2020: in its national reform programme, Luxembourg’s government is committed to striving towards a share of 66 % of the 30-to-34 year-olds having completed higher education. Luxembourg therefore undertakes particular efforts to increase educational attainment among its local population
  • Policy objectives relating to the legislation covering higher education and training: the University of Luxembourg was founded in the year 2003 with a view to contributing to the development of the country’s society and national identity, to its economic development and regional development and planning. The University is expected to play a role in the European innovation process while taking into account the national particularities, such as the importance attributed to mobility and multilingualism.
    • In 2009, the organisation of higher education in Luxembourg was reformed in order to create a framework for vocational short-cycle programmes leading to an Advanced technician diploma (BTS; brevet de technicien supérieur), which thus completes the provision of higher education programmes provided by the University. Based on a strong implication of the economic sector concerned, BTS programmes are clearly oriented towards working life, allowing students to develop higher professional, technological and general skills.
  • Fundamental principles of the University of Luxembourg: the principles set out in article 3 of the University’s founding law show the political importance given to following aspects of higher education:
    • From an ethical and methodological point of view, the University has to ensure:
      • Scientific description and research on natural, social and human phenomena
      • Objective account of the main schools of thought
      • Use of rigorous and critical methods in the statement of scientific, social, political, philosophical or religious knowledge
      • Respect for other people’s thinking.
    • From an organisational point of view, the University is based on:
      • Interdisciplinarity
      • Symbiosis of education and research
      • International character, and cooperation with other universities
      • Mobility of students, teachers and researchers
      • Multilingual teaching and learning
      • Support of students through tutorship.
RegionCentral Europe
CapitalLuxembourg City
LanguageLuxembourgish
Population626,108
Expenditure on higher education3,4 %
Unemployment4,8 %
EuroUniversities in top 1000
EuroUniversities in top 2500
EuroUniversities in top 5000
EuroUniversities in top 10000
Students28,000
Foreigner students3,1 %
Enrollment rate in higher education72,5 %

Bachelor

Branches of study

In order to obtain the grade of Bachelor, students have to accomplish a programme of 180 to 240 ECTS credits. Bachelor programmes are organised in modules of at least 30 credits. Modules are composed of one or several course units, which represent at least one credit, that is 25 to 30 hours of work.

Full time students have to complete their studies within a maximum duration of 10 semesters for programmes involving 180 ECTS credits and 12 semesters for programmes involving more than 180 ECTS credits.

The following table shows the different programmes proposed by the three faculties of the University of Luxembourg.

7 1 Branches Bachelor.jpg

(Source: uni.lu)

Admission requirements

Requirements

To be admitted to the first year of university, candidates have to hold a secondary school leaving diploma (diplôme de fin d’études secondaires) or a technician’s diploma (diplôme de technicien) corresponding to the chosen field of studies. Foreign diplomas or certificates have to be recognised as equivalent by the ministry of Education.

Candidates who do not hold any of the above-mentioned qualifications may opt for one of the following alternatives:

The university may define additional submission criteria corresponding to the contents and objectives of the different study programmes.

Procedures

If the number of candidates exceeds the number of study places, the university proceeds either to an entry examination or to a ranking based on the students’ applications.

The admission procedures for the different study programmes are described on the university’s website.

Curriculum

General standards for bachelor programmes, as well as their duration, are fixed by the law. For example:

  • All recipients of bachelor’s degrees have to be bilingual; the minor language must represent at least 25 % of the programme, unless it determines the content of the field
  • Each official language (i.e. French, German and Luxembourgish) has to be represented in at least 20 % of the degree programs
  • Programmes have to lead to 180-240 ECTS
  • All programmes leading to bachelor’s degrees have to comprise a compulsory mobility period, where the student has to study for at least one semester at a foreign partner university.

Within this framework, the university enjoys pedagogical, scientific, administrative and financial autonomy. Each faculty defines study programmes, based on modules. For each module, the faculty defines objectives, contents, admission criteria, duration and terms of evaluation.

Teaching methods

The university’s academic staff members enjoy pedagogic and academic freedom. Teachers are free to choose their own teaching methods and materials.

Progression of students

As bachelor programmes are organised in modules, each faculty autonomously defines the preconditions of admission to certain modules.

Employability

Labour market access of bachelor students is fostered by initiatives such as:

  • The university’s service Campus carrières which provides vocational guidance and supports students to prepare applications and job interviews
  • The annual event meet@uni.lu which allows students to meet potential employers
  • The implication of professionals from the sectors corresponding to the study programmes
  • Entrepreneurship education provided in the frame of some professional programmes
  • The definition of learning outcomes for all study programmes.

Labour market access of university graduates has been examined by a survey conducted by the International University Institute Luxembourg (IUIL; Institut Universitaire International Luxembourg) for the University of Luxembourg.

Student assessment

Each course involves an appraisal of the students’ aptitudes and knowledge. Evaluation is either based on a continuous monitoring, on a terminal examination or on a combination of both.

Marks are established on a scale from 0 to 20. Modules are ratified if a student has passed all evaluations, has acquired all ECTS points foreseen and has obtained an average mark of at least 10 of 20 (weighting of marks is based on ECTS points).

The grade mentioned on the bachelor diploma is determined by the average of all weighted marks:

  • 10 to 11: ‘passable’
  • 12 to 12: ‘assez bien’
  • 14 to 15: ‘bien’
  • 16 to 17: ‘très bien’
  • 18 to 20: ‘excellent’.

All the results achieved by a programme’s candidates are transcribed into the following ECTS grading scale:

  • Grade A – outstanding performance (performance exceptionnelle): 10 %
  • Grade B – above-average standard (performance nettement au-dessus de la moyenne): 25 %
  • Grade C – generally sound work (performance supérieure à la moyenne): 30 %
  • Grade D – fair (performance moyenne): 25 %
  • Grade E – performance meets the minimum criteria (performance suffisante malgré quelques imperfections): 10 %

Certification

Bachelor degrees awarded by the University of Luxembourg are automatically entered into the register of higher education certificates (registre des titres de formation) and deposited at the ministry of Higher education and Research (MESR; ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche).

Second Cycle Programmes

Master programmes allow students to deepen their knowledge and to initiate a related research study.

Programmes are:

  • Either fundamental, and recognised by an academic master certificate
  • Or vocational, and recognised by a professional master certificate.

Branches of study

To obtain a master degree, students have to accomplish a programme of 60 to 120 ECTS credits. Added up with their bachelor/ previous diploma, the minimum number of ECTS credits has to be at least 300.

Just as bachelor programmes, master programmes are organised in modules comprising at least 30 ECTS credits. Modules are composed by one or several course units representing at least one credit, i.e. 25 to 30 hours of work.

Full-time students have to complete their master programme either in four semesters (for programmes totalling 60 ECTS credits) or in six semesters (programmes totalling more than 60 ECTS points).

The following table shows the different programmes provided by Luxembourg University’s three faculties:

Tableau Masters 2013 14.jpg

(source: uni.lu)

Admission requirements

To be admitted to a master programme, students need:

  • Either to hold a diploma or degree corresponding to the preceding educational level and registered in the Register of Higher education certificates,
  • Or to hold an equivalent diploma recognised by the ministry of Higher education and Research.

Alternatively, students may take an entrance examination organised by the University of Luxembourg or request validation of prior and experiential learning.

For certain programmes, and for students with a technical diploma (diplôme de technicien), entrance examinations may be organised.

Further information on application and re-registration is provided on the website of the University.

Curriculum

General standards and duration of master programmes are fixed by the law. For example:

  • The majority of recipients of master’s degrees must be bilingual; the minor language must represent at least 25 % of the programmes
  • A minimum of 20 % has to be taught in English, unless the language determines the content of the field.
  • Each of the three languages must be represented in at least 20 % of the degree programs.
  • Programmes have to comprise 60 to 120 ECTS credits.

Within this framework, the University enjoys pedagogical, scientific, administrative and financial autonomy. Each faculty defines programmes, which are based on modules. For each module, the faculty defines the objectives, contents, admission criteria, modalities, duration and terms of evaluation.

Teaching methods

Academic staff enjoys pedagogic and academic freedom. Teachers are free to choose their own teaching methods and materials.

Progression of students

Master programmes are subdivided into modules. The faculty may define the access preconditions to certain modules.

Employability

Labour market access of master students is fostered by initiatives such as:

  • The service Campus carrières, which provides vocational guidance and supports students who prepare applications and job interviews
  • The annual event meet@uni.lu, which allows students to meet potential employers
  • The implication of professionals from the sectors corresponding to the study programmes
  • Entrepreneurship education provided in the framework of some vocational programmes
  • The definition of learning outcomes for all study programmes.

The labour market access of graduates from the University of Luxembourg was examined in 2013 by a survey conducted by the International University Institute Luxembourg (IUIL; Institut Universitaire International Luxembourg) for the University of Luxembourg. The findings can be consulted on the IUIL website.

Student assessment

Each course comprises an appraisal of the students’ aptitudes and knowledge. Evaluation is either based on a continuous monitoring, on a summative examination or on a combination of both.

Marks are established on a scale from 0 to 20. Modules are ratified if a student has passed all the evaluations, has acquired all ECTS points foreseen and has obtained an average mark of at least 10 of 20 (weighting is based on ECTS points).

Grades are awarded when all ECTS credits foreseen have been acquired and validated.

The grade figuring on the master’s diploma is determined by the average of all weighted marks.

  • 10 to 11: ‘passable’
  • 12 to 12: ‘assez bien’
  • 14 to 15: ‘bien’
  • 16 to 17: ‘très bien’
  • 18 to 20: ‘excellent’.

Furthermore, all the results achieved by the candidates of a programme are transcribed into the following ECTS Grading scale:

  • Grade A – outstanding performance (performance exceptionnelle): 10 %
  • Grade B – above the average standard (performance nettement au-dessus de la moyenne): 25 %
  • Grade C – generally sound work (performance supérieure à la moyenne): 30 %
  • Grade D – fair (performance moyenne): 25 %
  • Grade E – performance meets the minimum criteria (performance suffisante malgré quelques imperfections): 10 %.

Master theses are assessed by a jury composed of one professor and an assistant-professor, with the possibility of an invited third jury member from the sector concerned.

Certification

The master’s degrees granted by the University of Luxembourg are automatically included in the register of higher education certificates (registre des titres) and deposited at the ministry of Higher education and Research.

Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

PhD programmes are conceived as the first step towards a research career in the industry or the academic world. They allow students to acquire advanced academic knowledge and skills.

Organisation of doctoral studies

Doctoral studies at the University of Luxembourg combine research work and customised courses and lead to an oral defence of the dissertation. They generally comprise a period of three years. An additional fourth year may be granted by the Rector. Research work is undertaken under the guidance of a professor. Doctoral candidates may also request joint supervision or take part in a doctoral school.

Joint supervision

PhD students who register for the first year at a doctoral programme may apply for joint supervision. In this case, a supervision agreement between the two concerned institutions has to be signed. The students then conduct their research work under the guidance of two supervisors. Successful candidates are awarded either two diplomas or a joint diploma.

Doctoral schools

The University offers doctoral schools in the following domains:

Fields of study

The University of Luxembourg supervises PhD thesis in following study fields:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • Enginierering
  • Financial science
  • Geography
  • History
  • Informatics
  • Law
  • Management
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Science of languages
  • Social science
  • Science of education.

Admission requirements

To take part in a doctoral programme students have to:

  • Hold a master’s degree
  • Find a thesis supervisor (directeur de thèse)
  • Present an eligible project for a doctoral thesis.

Students may register throughout the year. Depending on their choice of funding (self funding, third party funding or research training grant), they either apply for a doctoral offer at the University, or look for a dissertation supervisor for their chosen topic. In the second case, students then apply for admission to the university. Their demand for supervision is evaluated by a committee (comité d’encadrement de thèse), which establishes a report. This report constitutes the basis on which the rector (recteur) will approve or refuse the student’s dissertation project.

The admission of students to doctoral schools is subject to a selection process.

Status of doctoral students/ candidates

Regardless of their way of funding, all Ph.D. candidates at the University of Luxembourg are enrolled as students. Moreover, students who are hired as doctoral candidates by the University of Luxembourg also hold working contracts for 40 hours per week and thus have the status of employees.

Further information is provided on the University’s website.

Supervision arrangements

Dissertation supervisors are professors or assistant-professors of the University of Luxembourg or persons who are associated with the university and hold an authorisation to conduct research.

A thesis supervisory committee (comité d’encadrement de thèse) is appointed by the Dean (doyen). The members of the committee have to hold at least doctor diplomas. They meet the candidate at least once a year in order to evaluate the progress of the research on the basis of a manuscript provided by the candidate.

Employability

Labour market access of students is fostered by initiatives such as:

•    Career Centre, a university service providing vocational guidance and support to students preparing applications and job interviews

•    ‘meet@uni.lu‘, an annual event that brings students into contact with potential employers

•    The definition of learning outcomes for all study programmes.

Assessment

The doctoral examination comprises:

  • An original work in the discipline or the interdisciplinary field chosen
  • An oral defence of the dissertation (soutenance de thèse), held before a jury and followed by a discussion.

The dissertation and the defence are evaluated by a jury (jury de thèse) of at least five members, comprising at least one professor or assistant professor and two external members. The jury deliberates behind closed doors. A report on the session is established and communicated to the rector and the candidate.

Certification

Successful candidates are awarded the title of Doctor of the University of Luxembourg (Docteur de l’Université du Luxembourg). The diploma states the discipline or the specialisation of the candidate, the name of the jury members, the date of the defence and the signature of the rector.

Mobility in Higher Education

Student mobility

Two types of mobility have to be distinguished with regard to student mobility in Luxembourg:

  1. Degree mobility, i.e. long-term mobility aimed at acquiring a degree or certificate in the country of destination
  2. Short-term mobility, such as mobility periods from one semester to one year carried out in the framework of studies undertaken in Luxembourg.

Degree mobility

The University of Luxembourg was founded rather recently (in 2003). For a small country such as Luxembourg, it is still impossible to provide a complete offer of study programmes in all possible fields of education. Therefore, studying abroad has been very popular among Luxembourg’s students and it is still an option chosen by a large share of students.

This form of mobility is supported by the financial aid for higher education (aide financière pour études supérieures), which is available for studies in Luxembourg and studies abroad alike.

The Centre for Documentation and Information on Higher Education (CEDIES; Centre de documentation et d’information sur l’enseignement supérieur) provides information on studying abroad and coordinates the financial aid for Higher Education.

The graph below shows the repartition of the most popular countries of destination of students who have received financial aid in 2014/15.

2014/2015: Countries of destination

Mobilite etudiante 2014-15.jpg



Source: Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR; ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche) 2015, Aides financières 2014-2015.

Short-term mobility

The law on the creation of the University of Luxembourg stipulates that ‘a bachelor degree may be conferred only if a student enrolled in the University has attended, for a required period, another university or any other institution of higher education abroad.’

However, there are no national programmes on student mobility: mobility is mainly funded via the European Erasmus+ programme.

Moreover, in the framework of the bilateral arrangements concluded within the University’s global exchange programme, students have the possibility to enrol at a partner university without paying any registration fees. These ‘free movers’ may demand an adaptation of their financial aid for higher education.

As for doctoral students, the University further offers the possibility to establish a dissertation under joint supervision at the University of Luxembourg and a foreign institution.

The authority responsible for organising and coordinating students’ mobility periods is the University of Luxembourg.

Recognition

Due to the important numbers of Luxembourg nationals and residents who have completed their studies abroad, the recognition and validation of foreign higher education degrees is well established.

Academic staff mobility

As with student mobility, two types of staff mobility should be considered:

  1. Short-term staff mobility of staff employed by the University of Luxembourg who goes abroad for a learning experience of a few days, weeks or months within the frame of his/her working contract
  2. Long-term staff mobility of residents working at foreign universities, respectively foreign higher education staff employed by the University of Luxembourg.

Short-term staff mobility

There are no national policy goals with regard to short-term staff mobility in higher education nor are there any national mobility programmes. Participation in staff mobility and its impact are not monitored at public level.

Staff mobility of the University of Luxembourg is coordinated by the university itself. Staff members who have been working for the university for at least seven years or who have been serving as Rector or as Dean, may demand a scientific leave which is described in article 9.6 Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education. This scheme allows them to be detached from their duties at the university for six months in order to conduct research abroad, while continuing to draw their salary and being covered by Luxembourg’s social security system.

There are no recompensation schemes for participants in staff mobility.

Long-term staff mobility

This relatively low number of measures for short-term mobility is explained by the importance of long-term mobility at the University of Luxembourg: the University has a high percentage of foreign teachers and researchers (about 75 % of the academic staff) and it actively seeks to attract outstanding personalities in its fields of research. For a lot of teachers, a research and teaching period in Luxembourg thus constitutes an experience of mobility in itself.

European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.