The Royal Military Academy (French: École royale militaire, Dutch: Koninklijke Militaire School) is the military university of Belgium. The school is responsible for the education of the officers of the four components of the Belgian defence (Army, Air Force, Navy, Medical). The school is located in Brussels in a building constructed by the architects Henri Maquet and Henri Van Dievoet. The courses are given in French, Dutch and English.
The Royal Military Academy is a military institution of university education responsible for the basic academic, military and physical training of future officers, and for the continuing advanced training of officers during their active career in the Defence department. The officers graduated from the Academy are leaders capable of performing efficiently in diverse, complex and exceptional circumstances, at the service of the national and the international community. The training at the Academy is tailored to the needs of the Belgian Defence (army, air force, navy, medical service). The values of society are integrated into the formation. There are two faculties The Polytechnics faculty: Master of science in mathematical engineering; comparable to the French École Polytechnique (also nicknamed "X" and founded by one of its ex-students, Jean Chapelié) The Social and Military Sciences faculty: Master in Social and Military Sciences The Royal Higher Institute for Defence, the highest military academic institute in Belgium is also located at the RMA campus (cf. Defence College, previously War College).
Admission to the University is only possible through public exams. First, candidates have to pass military test common to all Belgian military categories (Medical, Endurance and physical tests, and a psychologic evaluation). After passing these, applying students have to compete with each other in public exams. These consist of mathematics and French & Dutch written language tests. The University can only accommodate a certain number of student each year (rough estimate: 150/year) (strongly influenced by the need for officers of the Belgian military). Applying students have to compete with each other for these limited places. Since 2003, the Academy made some changes to its faculties to conform with the Bologna Process. Both degrees are now taught within a 5-year span. After the first three years, students receive a Bachelor Degree. The Master's degree can be attained in succeeding the following 2 years. But in contrast to the common Bologna implementation, flexibility in attaining the degrees isn't greatly augmented. Student can only fail for one year within all five.
Re-exams are however possible. Student cannot take courses with them to the next year, they have to pass the re-exams. Before 2003 most courses were fixed, however, students had a limited choice between optional courses. A lot of flexibility regarding course choices was added by implementing course modules. Students can opt for certain modules which each hold specific and related courses. For example: Law module, Psychology module, Weapon systems module (ballistics), Management module, Marine science module, History module. Communication & Information Systems module (Telecom, computer security, electricity). The choice of course module is not always free, but is related with the chosen military speciality of the student (Infantry, Logistics, Transmission, Air traffic control, Artillery, Naval Forces,..) and often mandatory. The majority of the courses remain fixed in the Bachelor years. In the Masters years, the student follows more modules than fixed courses. The grand majority of the students have the Belgian nationality, but cooperation with other countries has opened up the University to other nationalities. A lot of Luxemburgish officers receive their education in the University and have a long history in it. More recently the University received military students from Canada, the Congo, Morocco, Tunisia and Rwanda, thanks to military cooperation, training and development programs. However, these student often belong to the social elite of their home country. The foreign students have, in contrast to the Belgian students, no obligation to follow the Flemish (or Dutch) language courses. Scientific Researcher at the RMA provides education on a university level. Research is mandatory to guarantee this university level and to assure its continuity. The requirement for high level research, and its direct link with education, is explicitly mentioned both in the Bologna declaration and in the accreditation guidelines. As a corollary, it is impossible to initiate and follow up Master theses, let alone PhD’s, without the basis of scientific research. Furthermore, the contact with scientific research (through the courses, practical works, laboratory sessions and the Master thesis) enriches the students: it stimulates independent and critical thinking and broadens their horizon. As all universities, the RMA has an obligation towards the community.
The ultimate goal of scientific research being to forward the society, every university should ensure dissemination of knowledge and provide scientific consulting and testing services to the community as a whole. This is even truer for the RMA: as “corporate university” of the Belgian Defence it has the obligation to aid the decision processes in its “community” in every possible way. This can only be done if the RMA disposes of enough scientific knowledge in the specific (military) fields that require expertise. The only way to acquire this knowledge is through dedicated research. The core research of the RMA should be directed at solving military problems. By extension (and also on the basis of “dual use”) security and safety problems are also eligible. Finally, in a much broader sense, strategic issues such as energy independence can be considered. Teaching staff at the RMA enjoys academic freedom in all relevant domains, including research. This means that they can initiate research in any scientific field as long as they are not violating any legal constraints. Being a small institution with limited resources and a limited staff, the RMA focuses on very narrow niches and integrates its specific knowledge in larger research programs (national and international), seeking complementarities with other research institutions.
Finally, the RMA has to participate actively in the promotion of science, inside and outside the Belgian Defence. A better understanding of science (and the role of the RMA in teaching and research) will hopefully attract more young people to invest themselves in a scientific career. It will also enhance the integration of the RMA in the decision making process of the Belgian Defence. The RMA does in itself not fund any research projects. Our departments have their own research axes. To get their projects funded they introduce proposals to the Royal Higher Institute for Defence and other funding institutions [European Commission (EC), European Space Agency (ESA), European Defence Agency (EDA), Belgian scientific policy (belspo)…]. Once we get the funding we can start the project. If we need a researcher to do the job we publish a job description. There are two possibilities depending on the funding organism.
If the project is funded by the Belgian Defence the researcher can be recruited and employed either by the General Directorate Human Resources of the Belgian Defence or by the RMA Patrimony. In the first case the job description is published on www.selor.be, in the second one it is published via ACTIRIS (www.actiris.be), the web site of the RMA (vacancies) and other suitable channels, e.g. the heads of renowned laboratories in the field. If the project is funded by a third party the researcher is always recruited and employed by the RMA Patrimony.