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Education and training

Nuclear Engineering taught by Xios Hogeschool Limburg, offers the possibility to coordinate an Engineering Bachelor with with a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering which is offered by several universities. The most relevant of these Master Courses is the interuniversity Master of Nuclear Engineering offered by the BNEN: the Ghent University/Universiteit Ghent, the Khatolieke Universiteit Leuven/Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, University Catholic of Louvain/Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), the Free University of Brussels/ Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), the University of Liege/Université de Liège and the Free University of Brussels/Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VRIJ).

The Ghent University/Universiteit Ghent offers a European Master in Nuclear Fusion Science and Engineering Physics and a Postgraduate Studies in Radiation Protection; the Free University of Brussels/ Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) teaches a Master Complémentaire en Médecine Nucléaire; the University of Liege/Université de Liège offers a Master Course in the same field as the ULB: the Advanced Master in Nuclear Medecine.

Regarding the PhD Degree there is one university specialized in the nuclear field, the Ghent University/Universiteit Ghent which offers a PhD under the supervision of the Nuclear Structure and Correlations in the Nuclear Many Body System Division and the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre/Studencentrum Voor Kerkenergie/Centre d’Etude de l’Energie Nucleaire (SCK CEN) which offers the possibility of a PhD within the nuclear scope.

Human resources and knowledge management

There are 7 nuclear reactors operating in Belgium: DOEL 1-4 (PWR) and TIHANGE 1-3 (PWR). These reactors are generating more than half of electricity in the country.

There are also research reactors operated by SCK-CEN in the country and one more research reactor is planned as a partnership of Belgium, the European Union, the European Investment Bank and other partners - the Multipurpose Hybrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications or Myrrha research reactor.

The Act of January 31, 2003, published in the Official Bulletin of February 28, 2003, regulated the phase-out of nuclear energy in Belgium by stipulating that all 7 Belgian nuclear power plants must be shut down no later than 40 years from the date on which they entered operation.

In 2007, though, the Belgium’ s Energy Challenges Towards 2030 report commissioned by the then federal minister of energy, Marc Verwilghen, stressed that a fundamental review of Belgian energy policy was required and in particular that nuclear power should be utilized long-term in order to meet carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction commitments, enhance energy security, and maintain economic stability. The report also said that the 2003 phase-out decision should be reconsidered as it would double the price of electricity, deny Belgium a cheap way of meeting the country's CO2 emission reduction targets, and increase import dependency. Instead, the operating lives of the seven nuclear units should be extended.

On 4 July 2012 the Belgium's cabinet voted for a revised nuclear phase-out plan that will mean closing the Doel-1 and -2 nuclear recators in 2012, but prolonging the lifespan of Tihange -1 for extra 10 years, until 2025. The new proposals , which still need to be voted on by parliament, mean the country' s seven nuclear units will end operation by 2025: Doel-1 and -2 will shut in April 2015, and Doel-3 and -4 in 2025; Tihange-1 and -3 will shut down in 2025 and Tihange-2 in 2023.

Human resources in the Belgian nuclear sector

The Belgian nuclear sector employs some 20 300 people. For more details on the way the Belgian nuclear sector is organised, please read this press release describing the report called Cartographie de l'emploi dans le secteur nucleaire en Belgique based on a study on nuclear human resources in Belgium carried out by PWC.