About the faculty

From Institute to Faculty

The basis for what is today's Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences was laid in a 1927 Royal Decree adding to the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy a Higher Institute for Education, in which a three-year study programme was set up (a two-year candidature and one-year licentiate). When the Institute officially opened in October 1928, it proved to mainly attract graduates of Teachers' (Training) Colleges. In 1937, the number of years of study was increased from three to four (a two-year candidature and two-year licentiate).

But it wasn’t until 1947 that a first important structural change would be implemented. From then on and under the new name of Higher Institute for Educational Sciences, two courses could be chosen from after the common candidature: the Licentiate in Educational Sciences on the one hand, and the Licentiate in Vocational Guidance and Selection on the other. Further expansion followed in 1964, when the first year of the candidature remained a common one, but the second was split up into three courses (Pedagogy, Developmental Psychology and Industrial Psychology). An extra course (Orthopedagogy) was added to the licentiates as well. The Institute was from then on competent for Psychological and Educational sciences.

A long-held aspiration for further autonomy was achieved in 1969, when the Institute was given the status of fully-fledged Faculty. The training programme was thoroughly revised immediately after, and in 1973, the study duration was increased to five years (a two-year candidature and three-year licentiate). With the introduction of the Social Agogics main subject, students were given a choice between six main subjects. The final degree, however, remained the same for all programmes: Licentiate in Psychology and Educational Sciences.

After implementation of the 1991 university decree, a decision was made to, from the academic year 1994-1995 onwards, award two distinct degrees: Licentiate in Psychology and Licentiate in Educational Sciences – which implied a thorough revision of the programmes.

In the academic year 2004-2005, the university landscape changed due to the implementation of the BaMa (Bachelor-Master) structure as stipulated in the decree of 2 April 2003. Students at the FPPW have ever since been trained for the degree of Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Psychology and Educational Sciences respectively. The FPPW now also jointly organises a Master's programme in Social Work and Social Welfare Studies, into which the prior Master’s programme in Social Agogics has been merged. Obtaining a doctorate is now a possibility as well. One of the reasons for the reform was the greater recognition and harmonisation of the programmes and diplomas in the European area. The study duration was left unchanged: in both the old and the new structure, both study programmes last five years. What has been introduced, however, is a lot of new terminology: the term options has now been replaced by main subjects, the thesis is now called a Master’s dissertation, and so on.

Teacher Training Programme

On 1 October 1998, the coordination of the Academic Initial Teacher Training was introduced into the FPPW. From 1929 to 1996, teacher training at universities had been regulated by the 1929 Act providing for a minimum pedagogical-didactic training. But after many decades of hard work for a new teacher training programme – a debate in which Ghent University had always intensively participated – the decree on teacher education and training of 16 April 1996 heralded a first renewal. The Academic Teacher Training Programme at the universities, as described in this decree, was open to all holders of a diploma of the second cycle obtained at the university. Through this programme, a Qualified Teacher's Degree for Secondary Education - Section 2 could be obtained, with a teaching qualification in the second, third and fourth grades of secondary education. The programme had a study load of 34 ECTS credits, which amounts to approximately half of a full academic year. The decree stipulated that the teacher training programme could be followed simultaneously with the study programme of the second cycle – either in one year or spread over several years – but the diploma could only be awarded after the diploma of the second cycle had been obtained. In addition, the decree also stipulated that the universities needed the curriculum of the basic study programme of the second cycle to allow for at least 9 ECTS credits worth of elective course units, with the aim of better integrating the teacher training programme into the basic study programme². The Academic Teacher Training Programme at Ghent University included a number of general course units (accounting for 21 ECTS credits) and a module on Teaching Methodology of 13 ECTS credits, of which 10 were reserved for practice-based exercises and seminars (6 for Practice-Based Exercises and 4 for Practice-Based Seminars). Many students made use of the possibility to take up elective course units from the Academic Teacher Training Programme in their second-cycle study programme. The number of students following the Academic Teacher Training Programme at Ghent University steadily grew from 498 in 1995, to 1882 in March 2007. This high number in the final years of the Academic Teacher Training Programme could naturally be attributed to the fact that a more difficult teacher training programme was envisaged by a new decree, and many still wanted to quickly obtain a degree through the shorter programme before it would be reformed.

When the Flemish Parliament took the decision to restructure higher education and to introduce the Bachelor-Master structure in 2003, a decision was made to partially exclude teacher training from this; the Academic Teacher Training Programme was separated from the file. The universities, however, continued to call attention to the impact of the far too limited study time for the Academic Teacher Training Programme. The excessively compact programme offered too few opportunities for practice in real teaching situations, for which an expansion of the study load could no longer be avoided. Another bottleneck was its simultaneousness with the study programme of the second cycle, resulting in the teacher training too often being merely ‘additionally’ taken up and considered a less important part of the study.

Ghent University was (and still is) permanently represented in the VLIR working group for Teacher Education, by two members of the professorial staff, through which the university also actively took part in the discussion leading to the teacher education reform and the genesis of the decree of 12 December 2006 on the Specific Teacher Training Programme (SLO).


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