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The Higher education in Luxembourg and the academic and scientific cooperation between France and Luxembourg: context and perspectives

Clarisse Faria-Fortecoëf

With the EU's development and under the leadership of the government action, the Higher Education landscape in Luxembourg, has undergone great changes during these recent years. It is in this changing context, that was born the University of Luxembourg: a mulitilingual, international university, strongly focused on research, developing partnership agreements with institutions abroad, including France, in terms of student and researcher exchanges, and research projects.

Founded in 2003, first and only university of the Grand Duchy, the University of Luxembourg has a large budget which most comes from the State funding (82.4% in 2011). The institution is also fostered to develop a policy that would raise private funds according to the American model.
Based on the figures presented at the annual conference by the Minister of Higher Education and Research, François Biltgen in september 10, 2012, 5686 students from 98 different nationalities were enrolled at the University of Luxembourg in 2011-2012, 46.88% of Luxembourgish students and 42.30% of students from a country member of the EU. To encourage studies in higher education, the Luxembourg government offers financial aids to Luxembourg students as well as students from the EU and other countries. This support may consist of a grant and/or a loan. In 2011-2012, 14,382 grants have been awarded (96.13% of requests) for a total amount of grants of 90,818,395€ and 94,079,165€ of loans. For more information, please refer to the document, 2012-2013 edition, available on the website of the CEDIES (Centre for Documentation and Information on Higher Education).



The Higher education system in Luxembourg

The education scheme is structured along the criteria defined by the Bologna process and consists of three levels - Bachelor (3 years), Master (2 years) and PhD (3 years). 
The University of Luxembourg offers thus 11 academic and professional Bachelors, 28 Masters, as well as continuing education or additional training.
It is composed of three faculties: Science, Technology and Communication ; Law, Economics and Finance ; Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education.
It currently has four doctoral schools: Systems and Molecular Biomedecine ; Economics and Finance ; Educational Science ; Computer Science and Computer Engenineering.
These schools provide PhD students with personalized training programs, organized in small groups and focused on the research subject of each participant.

Priority areas of research
  include: Finance ; secure, reliable and trustworthy information and communication technology (ICT) systems and services ; systems biomedicine ; European and business law ; learning and development in multilingual and multicultural contexts.

This research work is carried out within the three faculties' research units and within two research centers:
  • The Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) ;
  • the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biology (LCSB) whose research is primarily focused on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.

Main Luxembourg system advantages


The mobility of students and researchers (outgoing and ingoing) is one of the main assets of the system. In this perspective, which is one of the strengths of the University of Luxembourg, multilingualism is one of the founding principles of the establishment. Teaching languages are French, German and English. Finally, special attention is given by the Luxembourg authorities to Research and the development of an academic and scientific center. The City of Sciences, Research and Innovation in Belval (in the south of Luxembourg and close to the French border), will thus host the University, public research centers and from the National Research Fund (FNR), Luxinnovation (National Agency for the Promotion of Innovation and Research) and innovative companies. A first building, the new biomedicine House was officially inaugurated in September 2011 and now hosts the LCSB and its multidisciplinary team of fifty biologists, computer scientists and physicians.

The Franco-Luxembourgish cooperation

The University of Luxembourg has signed many agreements with partner universities in Europe and in the world, and has also developed many partnerships with companies in Luxembourg and abroad.
More particularly with France, there are many collaborations especially regarding joint degrees (Bachelor and Master), with various French Higher Education institutions such as the agreement signed with the University of Lorraine, on December 12, 2012.

Among the cooperation perspectives between both countries:

  • Support and promotion of bilateral academic and scientific partnerships. The many existing collaborations between Luxembourgish and French researchers being for most, informal, partnership agreements should be established between both countries in the research field. Researchers' mobility is also fostered.
  • Strengthening cross-border academic and scientific cooperation. Between Luxembourg and Lorraine, this cooperation is a reality. A framework agreement was signed on May 6, 2004 between both countries establishing the cooperation regarding the cross-border development linked to the Esch-Belval project.
  • The University of the Greater Region. The Greater Region is a border area including: Lorraine, Saarland, Rheinland-Palatinate, Luxembourg and Wallonia.The University of Luxembourg, with five partner universities (University of Lorraine, Saarland University, University of Kaiserslautern, University of Trier, University of Liège) is engaged in the Greater Region University project which began in 2008 for a period of five years, with the aim to establish a cross-border network of universities in the logic of the Bologna process, visible in Europe.  Since February 2013, the project continues as an academic organization, which is headquartered in Saarbrücken at the Villa Europa, bringing together nearly 123,000 students and 6,500 researchers. This new structure aims to develop cross-border joint training and joint research projects in areas identified as priorities such as materials science, biomedicine and the study of border areas. It also fosters students' and researchers' mobility.
  • The creation of a "Club France" Luxembourg. This "Club" aims to be a network that brings together alumni from French Higher education and is also open to French government scholarship holders. It will provide its members with an online electronic directory available on the website of the French Institute of Luxembourg. Its vocation is to be a dynamic and active network in the field of academic cooperation and university-business dialogue.
For more information on the Luxembourg Higher Education, you can download on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (please see link here-below), the following documents (only available in French) :
  • Fiche Curie Luxembourg (last update : June 20, 2013) ;
  • les dates-clés de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche au Luxembourg (Key dates of the Higher Education and Research in Luxembourg) ;
  • l'Université du Luxembourg ;
  • liste des formations à l'Université du Luxembourg et conditions d'accès (programmes at the University of Luxembourg and access conditions).

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