Study in Belgium | All you need to know

Would you like to experience student life in Europe? Especially in the heart of Europe? Are you looking for a diverse, multicultural and multilingual country to be your study destination? All this without having to rob a bank in order to cover the costs of studying?!

If your answer is yes, then Belgium is the best and most suitable option for you, and in today’s article we will put in your hands a comprehensive guide to living and studying in Belgium.

Information about Belgium

The Kingdom of Belgium is a small country in the heart of Europe, bordered by Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

  • Capital: Brussels.
  • Population: 11 and a half million people.
  • Total area: 30,689 square kilometers
  • Languages: French, Dutch and German.
  • Currency: the euro.
  • Number of international students: 41 thousand students.

Apply for: Free University Of Brussels Scholarships

Study in BelgiumAdvantages

Why Belgium in particular? What distinguishes it from other European countries? What are the advantages that might prompt you to choose this country as a study destination?

Here are some of them:

1- A multicultural country

Living and studying in Belgium will make you feel like you are traveling in more than one European country at the same time. This is due to the influence of this country on the nearby cultures that surround it, and its reflection on all aspects of life in it, starting from architecture, art and music, to the diverse delicious Belgian cuisine.

2- An opportunity to develop language skills

In addition to its cultural diversity, Belgium also has an outstanding linguistic diversity. It is one of the very few countries with three official languages: French, Dutch and German. Also, educational institutions attach great importance to the development of foreign language skills of their international students.

If you decide to study in Belgium, this means that you have a great opportunity to learn an additional new language or develop your skills in a language you already know.

3- An outstanding level of life

Belgium is known for its security and high quality of life. From its world-class health system to its delicious cuisine. Not only that, there is a lot to do and do in Belgium, such as enjoying the beautiful nature, enjoying ancient castles and palaces, as well as the many activities that you can do in various student cities such as Brussels and Antwerp.

In fact, Brussels is ranked 38th in the world among the best student-friendly cities.

4- A reputable educational system

Belgium’s higher education system is one of the strongest and best in the world, with the country boasting many prestigious universities that rank high in international rankings. In addition to the availability of a wide range of programs and specializations from which you can choose what suits you, all at affordable prices and relatively low costs compared to other countries around the world.

But if you are interested in studying international relations or diplomacy, or have ambitions to work in international organizations, then studying in Belgium would be a very good option, because Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union.

Not only that, Brussels is the seat of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and part of the European Parliament. Belgium as a country is one of the founding members of NATO and a number of other international organizations.

The best universities in Belgium

Belgium is home to a number of distinguished universities that are highly regarded in the world. Here are five of the most important of these universities:

1- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

It is abbreviated as KU Leuven. The university was ranked 83 in the world in the QS rankings for the year 2021, and it is the first university established in Belgium, back in 1425, but it was closed for a period of time and reopened in 1834.

The number of students enrolled at KU Leuven reached about 57,000 students in 2015, making it the largest university in Belgium.

2-  University of Ghent

Ghent University is ranked 135th in the world in the QS University Rankings for 2021. It was founded in 1817 as the first university to offer its programs in the Dutch language. It is one of the largest universities in Belgium, which teaches more than 40 students annually spread over its eleven faculties.

3-  Université Catholique de Louvain

UCL, abbreviated as UCL, is the largest francophone (programs in French) university in Belgium. The university is ranked 189 for the year 2021. It was founded in 1834 in the new city of Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve), which was specifically built to host the university.

The university is particularly well known for the disciplines of theology and religious studies.

4-  Vrije Universiteit Brussel

It is known by the abbreviation of VUB, as this name is used instead of the name translated into English to differentiate it from another university of the same name.

Founded in 1970, VUB University was ranked 200 in the 2021 QS rankings.

This university is particularly famous for its research activity, as its research teams are internationally known in applied fields

5-  The French Free University in Brussels. Universite Libre de Bruxelles

It is abbreviated as ULB to avoid confusion with VUB University, which was founded in 1834 and ranked 250 in the 2021 QS rankings.

ULB is one of the prestigious research universities that has produced many distinguished personalities. Among its graduates are several winners of international awards such as the Nobel Prize and Marie Curie Prize.

Costs of living in Belgium

As an international student in Belgium you will need to spend an average of €800-1000 per month:

  1. Looking for accommodation to live on your own will be more expensive, especially in a city like Brussels, where apartment rents range from 600-800 euros. But the cost is lower in smaller cities such as Ghent or Leuven.
  2. For transportation and transportation, you will not need to pay more than 25 euros per month thanks to student discounts.
  3. Depending on the major you are studying, you will need about 50 euros per month to cover the costs of books and tuition expenses.
  4. For food, supplies and other expenses related to your basic needs, you will need about 300 euros per month to cover them.

Follow these tips to save extra money and spend it on travel and hobbies:

  • Take advantage of student discounts.
  • Use a bicycle or walk to your university (if it is nearby).
  • Cook your meals instead of buying takeaway.

Study costs in Belgium

The costs of studying in Belgium are relatively affordable for both European and international students. It varies depending on the region in which you decide to study, the major you are attending and your country of origin. There are also many scholarships that are awarded to students of outstanding academic achievement.

Study costs in the Flemish (Dutch-speaking) region

The cost of studying in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium is about 940 euros per year for European students. While it ranges between 940-6,000 euros annually for international students of other nationalities, depending on the major and the program to which they are enrolled.

It is worth noting that studying medicine in Belgium as well as engineering or an MBA costs much more than the aforementioned amount.

Study costs in Wallonia (French-speaking)

For European students wishing to study in the Wallonia region of Belgium (the French-speaking region) the tuition costs are approximately 835 euros, while international students of other nationalities have to pay up to 4,175 euros annually.

Again, the cost will increase significantly if you are enrolled in a medical specialty or an MBA.

For more details about tuition fees and costs to study in Belgium, be sure to contact the university of your choice or visit its official website.

Scholarships in Belgium

Several scholarships are available for international students wishing to study in Belgium, as they cover all undergraduate degrees (Bachelor, Master and PhD) and are offered by both the public and private sectors.
Among the most famous scholarships available in Belgium, we mention the following:

1- Belgian Technical Cooperation Scholarships

It is a group of scholarships granted by the Belgian Technical Cooperation Council, to postgraduate students (Masters and PhD) as well as those wishing to enroll in practical training opportunities in Belgium.

These scholarships cover tuition fees, travel costs, housing, and insurances for one or two academic years.

2- Vlir-UOS Scholarships for Training and Masters

These scholarships provide the opportunity to study in Belgium for Moroccans, whether students or professionals, who can enroll in a university in the Flemish (Dutch-speaking) region to study a master’s or attend technical training in their field.

These scholarships are fully funded and cover all expenses related to travel, study costs, etc.

You can find out more about the conditions for studying in Belgium with the VLIR-UOS scholarship by visiting the official website of the scholarship.

3- Erasmus Mundus Joint Master scholarship

It is a program that allows students from all over the world to enroll in a European university to study a master’s, where you can choose Belgium as a study destination within the Erasmus programme.

The scholarships cover all travel, study and accommodation costs. It is available to international students from all over the world.

You can find out more about the scholarship details and application requirements by visiting the official Erasmus website . 

4- Ghent University PhD Research Scholarships

It is a funding program for researchers from developing countries that allows them to travel to Belgium and do part of their research at Ghent University.

It is worth noting that this scholarship is partially funded and the applicant must fund the other part of his research (which he is conducting outside Belgium) either himself or through another granting institution.

5- Master Mind Scholarship

The Flemish Ministry of Education (in the Flemish region of Belgium) offers scholarships to international students from all over the world who wish to enroll in a master’s degree at a Belgian university in this region.

The Master Mind Scholarship covers tuition, housing, insurance and a significant portion of the living costs. Where you can read the full application details through the official scholarship website .

Steps to apply to study in Belgium

Having chosen Belgium as a study destination, you may be wondering: “What are the steps to apply to study in this country?”

The process is easy and simple and can be summarized in the following steps:

First Step: Choose a course of study

It is undoubtedly the first step to studying anywhere, locally or internationally. Follow your passion and take into account your strengths and skills.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Which regions do you prefer to study in Belgium? French or Dutch territory?

In both cases you will have to provide proof of your language proficiency. As well as choosing the university degree you want to obtain: Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD?

Browse the websites of Belgian universities and see the options for specializations and programs offered by each of them. Compare them and choose what suits you best.

Second Step: Know the conditions for applying

Each program has its own specialization requirements that differ according to its nature, location and the university that offers it. You may need to prove your proficiency in French or Dutch, while some courses may only require English proficiency.

Make sure you know the conditions for studying at the university and the major you have chosen, and contact the Admission and Registration Office if you have any questions in this regard.

Third Step: Prepare the necessary documents

After you have chosen the appropriate program, university and territory in which you want to study, it is time to prepare the necessary documents for the application process.

Here you can contact the Belgian consulate or embassy in your country for guidance and guidance in your first steps towards applying.

Although the terms and requirements for applying differ from one university to another, the most important documents required include the following:

  1. Proof of identity (ID card or passport)
  2. A high school diploma (if you are applying for a bachelor’s degree).
  3. Bachelor’s degree (when applying for a master’s degree)
  4. Master’s degree (when applying for doctoral studies).
  5. A completed application form after uploading it from the university’s official website.
  6. TOEFL or IELTS certificate if you choose a major taught in English.
  7. The DELF certificate, the DALF or the Dutch NT2-II t certificate if you choose a major taught in French or Dutch.
  8. Proof of payment of application fees, if any.
  9. Motivation letter explaining why you want to study in Belgium.
  10. Recommendation letters.

Fourth Step: Submit the application

The difficult stage is over…the stage of collecting and preparing the necessary documents and papers, and once you do that all you have to do is send the application.

Applying to study in Belgium is done electronically through the application systems on the official university websites. However, sometimes you may need to send certified paper documents to be sure of their authenticity.

After your application has been reviewed and evaluated, the university will contact you with the result and let you know if you are going to take an admissions test or an aptitude test.

Fifth Step: Apply for a Student Visa

If you have reached this step, it means that your application has been accepted at the university of your choice…Congratulations to you!

Now is the time to apply for a travel visa and residence permit in order to travel to Belgium.

Steps to apply for a student visa to Belgium

Non-European students need to apply for a student visa before they arrive in Belgium as there are two basic types of student visa:

  • Category C visa for short-term stay (less than three months).
  • Category D visa for long-term stay (more than three months).

In both cases, you must fill out an application for a visa at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your country, as the process of reviewing the application and obtaining a visa takes from 6 to 8 weeks.

Documents required to obtain a visa

You will need the following documents and papers when applying for a student visa to Belgium:

  1. Acceptance letter from a Belgian university.
  2. Completed and signed visa application.
  3. Academic certificates you previously obtained.
  4. A passport valid for at least 12 months.
  5. Proof of sufficiency, meaning that you have enough money to finance yourself during your stay in Belgium, and you can do this by submitting statements to your bank account.
  6. Proof of good conduct without any criminal record.
  7. Medical certificate and health insurance.
  8. Proof of payment of administrative fees.

Once you arrive in Belgium, you will need to register with the municipality or city council, and then you will need the documents mentioned above as well.

For more information and details about student visas, you can contact the Embassy of Belgium in your country or the Federal Services Center for Foreign Affairs in Belgium.

Step Six: Arrive in Belgium

You have obtained your university acceptance, your visa has been issued… Now you are ready to travel to Belgium, and all you have to do is book your ticket and set out on your adventure.

Decide if you want to live in a student residence or a private apartment. Join student forums in Belgium and their groups on social media to learn more about student life there and hone your language skills a bit before arriving in this new country.

Job opportunities for students in Belgium

If you are a foreign student attending an educational institution in Belgium and have a valid residence permit, in this case you can work part-time jobs with no more than 20 hours per week. In this case, you need a fixed-term contract from the employer and a Class C work permit.

During the public holidays, students can work without any restrictions and without the need for an official work permit.

Now you have a comprehensive idea about studying in Belgium, its conditions and details. The decision is now in your hands, either you choose this distinguished European country as your next study destination, or you browse other study destinations to make a kind of comparison before making the final decision.

You can read more about different study destinations and top tips for a successful study abroad experience in our articles on Learn. You can also definitely register on the site and browse all the opportunities available in all countries of the world.

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