Credit: Chambre de Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Trades and the Chamber of Agriculture have issued their joint opinion on the bill aimed at reforming the governance and organisation of higher education, and overhauling the programmes of studies leading to the higher technician certificate (BTS) and accredited study programmes provided by specialised higher education establishments (EES). 

According to their statement, given the paramount importance of training and education for current and future generations, and in view of the missions of promotion and development of training entrusted to the Chambers, the latter stated that they would have liked to be involved in the process of development of this reform. Furthermore, the Professional Chambers have several fundamental criticisms of the bill, namely the excessively long and restrictive accreditation procedure, the overprotective legal framework which goes against the establishment of private initiatives, as well as than the absence of a real concept of dual (or work-study) training. 

In view of the criticisms made, the Professional Chambers oppose the bill and ask that it be withdrawn.

An accreditation procedure that is too long with ever more restrictive criteria

The Professional Chambers believe that the proposed procedures are too long and restrictive and hamper the ability of HEIs to react quickly to market demand for skills. However, it is essential for companies to have recourse to a diversified higher education offer that takes into account the demands from economic sectors to develop talent in the face of a persistent shortage of qualified labour.

An overprotective legal framework that goes against the implementation of private initiatives

The Chambers foresee in the provisions concerning the protection of designations and titles a certain tendency to want to control the market in favour of the positioning of the predominantly academic offer of the University of Luxembourg. They firmly oppose any steps that could discredit holders of a diploma obtained in Luxembourg with the help of internationally renowned partners. According to their statement, these provisions can have negative consequences for students enrolled in these courses, whose relevance and added value are nevertheless recognised by companies.

The absence of a real concept of dual (or work-study) training

According to the statement, the bill does not bring any innovation to modernise and develop the legal framework in order to facilitate the acquisition of additional qualifications for employees in office. While the organisation of work-study higher education programmes is a proven reality in many countries and the concept of training under an apprenticeship contract is favoured by companies, the reform of higher education limits training in professional environments for “internships”. The latter do not offer any opening to people integrated into working life, who plan to train in a lifelong learning approach in order to obtain a BTS, a Bachelor's degree or even a Master's degree while continuing to work. Furthermore, the Chambers criticised the new principles of compensation for internships provided for by the reform and have asked that the current principle of optional compensation be maintained.

With reference to the letter from the professional chambers (Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Trades, Chamber of Agriculture and Chamber of Employees) of November 2022, addressed to the Minister of Higher Education and Research, and in view of the criticisms formulated below above, the Professional Chambers oppose the bill and ask that it be withdrawn.