We all know that Belgium is a European country. The population of the country is 11.5 million. Dutch and French are the official languages of this 30,536 sq km country. This developed country of Western Europe might be the place of preference for students’ higher education. Brussels is the capital of this Shenzhen country. The surrounding countries are France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Belgium is home to the headquarters of the European Union and several other important organizations. There are opportunities to receive education at a relatively low cost. As a result, many students are now migrating to this country for educational purposes. In this article, I am going to elaborate on step-by-step guidelines to study higher in Belgium. Keep reading till the end.
Why Study in Belgium?
There are plenty of reasons to study in Belgium. For instance, world-renowned universities, excellent opportunities for international networking, famously multicultural and multilingual cities, a host of regional cuisines and specialties, beautiful countryside, overall high quality of life, and, of course, those fantastic Belgian waffles. If I elaborate on the quality of education of Belgium then I must say Belgium still has room to build some of the best universities in the world. The Belgium educational institutions have achieved high rankings and are among the top institutions worldwide. Moreover, schools in Belgium are popular for being the best places to study for your Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Ph.D. The hub of world-class business schools, law schools, medical schools, and engineering schools is situated right in Belgium.
Quality and Acceptability of Education
The standard of education in Belgium is very high and its degree gets recognization internationally. Studying abroad in Belgium translates into a high-quality trilingual education system with affordable tuition fees and diverse research programs. However, since the adoption of the Bologna process, Belgium offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees. Moreover, the country is very good for engineering, IT, health, and business. The educational institutions in Belgium usually teach in the Dutch language. Moreover, a few institutions teach in English. So if you are interested in higher education in Belgium, you need to have a good command of the Dutch language.
Some Renowned Universities
Many universities in Belgium are far ahead in the rankings. Hence, if you want to ensure a great education, with the highest-ranked universities in the world, look no further than Belgium. Have a glimpse of some of the top-ranked universities of Belgium-
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. Through tailor-made high-quality research and education, VUB wants to contribute in an active and committed way to a better society for tomorrow. However, VUB is a Dutch- and English-speaking research university located in Brussels, Belgium. It has four campuses: Brussels Humanities, Science and Engineering Campus, Brussels Health Campus, Brussels Technology Campus, and Brussels Photonics Campus. These campuses are the free inquiring, and critical thinking yards. For more than 180 years VUB has helped to build a better society as an innovative, insightful, and enlightened institution. Therefore, if you are keen enough to know more about this university click here.
Universite Libre de Bruxelles (IEE-ULB)
The IEE-ULB stands for Institute for European Studies-Universite Libre de Bruxelles. This is a center of interdisciplinary excellence in teaching and research. However, it concentrates on European issues. Besides, the institution covers mainly four disciplines. For instance, European law, Political Science, Economics, and History. The organization of the IEE-ULB is unique as well as has a strong connection between teaching and research. Their lecture series, seminars, film clubs, and round tables contribute to the debate around the state and the future of the European Union. To know more visit here.
University of Antwerp
The University of Antwerp wishes to provide excellent academic education at Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. levels to students from all social groups and of all generations. This university is a major Belgian university located in the town of Antwerp. The official abbreviation is UA, but its common name is UAntwerpen/ UAntwerp. Further, the University of Antwerp has about 20,000 students, which makes it the third-largest university in Flanders. The university fund is the driving force for the patronage of the institution and puts many social topics. For example, cancer research, the fight against depression, healthier air quality, etc. Learn more about UAntwerp from here.
Ghent University is a top 100 university in Europe that embarked on its journey in 1817. King William I of the Netherlands established this university. It is a public research university located in Ghent, Belgium. As one of the major universities in Belgium, 11 faculties offer a wide range of courses and conduct in-depth research in both exact and social sciences. Under the credo Dare to Think, Ghent University challenges everyone to take a critical view of society. GU helps talented eligible international students through the university fund to continue and stimulate higher education so that they would be an asset at the national and international level. Read more about Ghent University from here.
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
KU Leuven is a research university in the Dutch-speaking city of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium, founded in 1425. It is Belgium’s largest and highest-ranked university as well as one of the most renowned universities in Europe. As a leading European research university, KU Leuven offers a wide variety of programs in English. The university conducts teaching, research, and services in the natural sciences, engineering, humanities, medicine, law, business, and social sciences. KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. However, all programs at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors. KU Leuven ranks among the best 50 universities worldwide. If you want to apprise KU Leuven more, click here.
University Application Process
To study in Belgium, you can apply once a year. That is in February / March. To get admission to the university, you must first check that your academic background is equal to that of the Belgian university. Go to this link to check: http://www.equivalences.cfwb.be/accueil.asp
To select your program, visit this link: http://www.studyinbelgium.be/en/search-formations (Search this link for required information such as medium of instruction, program level, study field, program name, program type, and institute type). Moreover, if you apply for admission information and prospectus from a particular university to study in Belgium, they will send a detailed processing plan. They usually make the initial application by e-mail. Then they have to send the application fee along with all the educational and other documents by the courier as per their instructions.
Belgium is a multi-lingual country that offers a quality education at a cheap price. Tuition fees for Belgian universities range from as low as EUR 800 to up to EUR 9000 on an annual basis. On average, a student’s budget can be between EUR 700 to 900 per month. Scholarship opportunities are also available for international students. It is possible, however, that you study in Belgium completely free.
Take a glance at few examples of tuition fees of study in Belgium Universities-
- KU Leuven – tuition between 835 – 9,000 EUR/year.
- University of Namur – tuition between 835 – 4,175 EUR/year.
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) – 835 – 4,500 EUR/year.
- University of Liége – approximately 835 EUR/year.
Required Documents for Admission
You must have the following qualifications for enrollment in the Belgium academic institutions.
- IELTS 6 to 6.5 (for English medium)
- It is better to have at least 60% marks in the academic examination
- SSC transcript and certificate
- HSC Transcript and Certificate
- Bachelor’s Transcript and Certificate (to apply for Masters)
- Masters Transcript and Certificate (for Ph.D.)
If your application is accepted, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria and pay the tuition fee. You can find out the qualifications from your university’s website/program coordinator. It is worth mentioning here that some programs and universities require you to pass an entrance exam for admission.
There are innumerable numbers of scholarships in Belgium that can provide you access to a tour of cost-free study courses. However, Belgian Universities are included in the top 100 World Universities with scholarship programs for international students. Have a look at the 5 prestigious scholarships in Belgium.
Belgium Government Scholarship
In its efforts towards development cooperation, the Belgian Government offers scholarships to foreign students wishing to pursue their further studies in Belgium. It’s one of the leading scholarships in the country and a prestigious one. Many international students prefer to have this one as it is a fully-funded scholarship. The program provides a total of 220 scholarships. So, it is highly competitive to secure a berth. Unless you are highly skilled or do not have a solid academic background, you cannot have it. The programs are customized to study both graduate and undergraduate courses. It covers almost all of your academic expenses, living costs, an arrival allowance, travel costs, and registration fees.
VLIR-UOS Scholarship Program
The VLIR-UOS scholarship program is for Masters and training. Students of 31 countries can apply for the scholarship. The countries include Asia, Africa, as well as Latin America. The successful applicants will have complete coverage of their academic costs. And it will last as long as they study in the country. However, the program covers costs like tuition fees, accommodation costs, travel, and others.
Top-Up Grants of Ghent University
If you want to obtain a Master’s degree with a scholarship, this is the perfect one. The courses are available in English. But the selection process is competitive. The students from the OESCO-DAC list will be eligible for the application at Ghent University. However, you have to get admission to the university before you apply for the grants. There is no open scope of application. Only 10 scholarships are awarded under the program. And the amount is € 1,000 per month that covers insurance, repatriation, and others. Interestingly, you can pursue a Master-after-Master degree by using this grant.
ARES Scholarships Program
Academy of Research and Higher Education (ARES) annually provides some 220 grants in different programs. The successful applicants can pursue Masters in different subjects including Master of Environment and Societies, Human Rights, Aquatic Resource Management, Aquaculture, Risk and Disaster Management, among others. This is a fully-funded scholarship for advanced levels of studies. The successful applicants should be from a developing country. And the age of the applicant should be a maximum of 40 for the Master’s degree. It will cover the tuition fees, living costs, installation costs, and housing allowance, return fees, etc.
Master Mind Scholarship by the Government of Flanders
Available in several universities, the grant allows students to pursue a Master’s degree. The applicants can have a scholarship in universities including the University of Leuven, Ghent University, and LUCA School of Arts. Annually, 30 grants are awarded to successful students. However, the grant is reserved for the students of a couple of certain countries. A successful candidate will have around €8,000 for an academic year. Moreover, the duration of the scholarship is for a single academic year. Find more from here.
Part-Time Job Information for Students
In Belgium, all foreign students, even if from outside the European Economic Area, can work while studying. The only conditions are that you must be enrolled with a higher education institution in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation as well as you must have a valid residence permit. They can do part-time jobs by attaining work permit C which allows them to work anywhere in Belgium like any other native employee. However, in this country, foreign students are allowed to work 20 hours a week. But you can get an allowance to work full time on summer vacation. Belgium allows international students to extend their student visa up to 12 months duration for job searching after completion of the study program. In this duration, students can work part-time and support their expenditure as well as search for employment according to their qualifications.
All the students must struggle initially in their part-time jobs. However, the top 8 part-time jobs for international students in Belgium are-
- Pet sitting.
- Food Delivery.
- Student support jobs.
Accommodation in Belgium
Accommodation can cost on an average 200-650 euros per month. However, there are different types of student accommodation in Belgium-
- On-Campus accommodation: This option is best for students as it is close to the university. Therefore, it’ll make it easier to get to classes on time. You’ll also be able to save your unnecessary expenses of public transport. You have to share the kitchen and bathroom and even you might end up sharing the room with another student. The room will normally cost anywhere between €200 to €450. The cost will depend on the size and additional features of the room.
- You can contact the university administration’s office or the international student office and ask for help finding accommodation before you arrive.
- Private Off-Campus accommodation: In case of renting an Off-Campus apartment, you’ll normally have to rent it for more than 9 months. In this regard, you must look for a roommate as the rent will be pretty high. On average, the cost of a one-bedroom apartment is €400 a month.
- Shared Off-Campus accommodation: Shared off-campus accommodation is a great facility in Belgium. In this regard, you’ll have to agree with a group of students to rent an apartment together and share the rent and bills.
- Homestay in Belgium: Homestay might be slightly expensive in some of the cities in Belgium. In case of homestay, you do get the advantage of family life and you’ll feel less like an outsider. Homestay also gives you an opportunity to get to know Belgian culture and tradition in addition to practicing your language skills.
Prospective Career Opportunities after Study
Belgium is an attractive place for young professionals to work. However, the job market in Belgium is competitive and language skills are in high demand. Multilingual foreign workers or those that can speak at least one of the country’s official languages stand more chance of gaining employment. Many foreigners easily find work in Belgium and chances of finding jobs in Belgium’s main cities, particularly jobs in Brussels, are increased by the extensive international business scene and European Union (EU) presence. With many EU institutions, NATO, and other major international organizations and multi-national companies based in Brussels, there are many job opportunities for foreigners in Belgium. But keep in mind it is not easy to make it through the tough Belgian laws.
How to Get a Job in Belgium?
1. Apply for a Work Visa
Work Visa allows holders to take on paid employment in any field and for any job contract type for the validity of their residence permit, providing similar rights of employment as Belgian citizens. The permit is issued for up to one year and can be renewed under certain circumstances. There are three main types of work permits in Belgium:
- The Type-A permit allows you to work for any employer in Belgium for an unlimited period of time. In order to be granted a Type-A work permit, you must have lived and worked in Belgium on a Type-B permit for a minimum of 4 years.
- The Type-B permit is valid for one employer and runs for one year, after which it can be renewed. Jobs filled using a Type-B work permit must pay a minimum of €39,802. Once you have lived and worked in Belgium for 4 years on the same permit, you can receive an unlimited A permit.
- The Type-C permit is valid for only one year, allowing the holder to work for multiple employers. This is usually valid to temporary migrant agricultural or domestic workers, or to those whose length of stay in Belgium is unconfirmed, such as asylum seekers. You can renew Type-C.
2. Hunt a Job
You need to focus on the following points while hunting for a job that’s reliable with your passion-
- Know your career goals.
- Plan ahead.
- Research companies.
- Use all job search resources.
- Apply for a job with confidence.
- Schedule informational interviews.
3. Create a fascinating CV
Being the linguistic hodgepodge that it is, Brussels will require some extra thinking when it comes time to write your CV. What language you’re writing your CV in is crucial. However, it conveys to your employer your intellectual, cultural and professional acclimatization with their world of work. Hence, you must create a fascinating CV to represent yourself properly. Therefore, emphasize the following points while creating an attractive CV-
- Customize for the job you want.
- Pick the best CV format.
- Visualize a summary of your skills and major accomplishments.
- Build your CV education section correctly.
- Demonstrate that you are connected.
4. Give a Proper Interview
Brussels’ format for interviews relies on many of the same skills you’d need elsewhere in the Western world like dressing formally, shaking hands with your interviewer as well as not using your mobile phones while giving the interview. Brussels’ basic interview faux-pas can be counteracted by demonstrating the following inter-personal skills-
- Don’t exaggerate yourself, that is, represent yourself in an honest way.
- Speak plainly and directly because Belgians appreciate forthrightness as it lends itself to communication and the free exchange of knowledge.
- Display that you are enriched in negotiation and teamwork.
Skills In Demand
Belgium has a huge demand for highly skilled workers in diverse sectors. These include-
- Social services,
- Public health,
- Estate Agencies,
- Overseas businesses and institutions, and
Major Occupations of Belgium
The majority of Belgians work in the service sector in-
- Retail Tourism.
- Transport Industries.
How is the education system in Belgium?
Compulsory education is divided into primary (6-12 years) and secondary (12-18 years). Before the compulsory school age, there are also free pre-primary school facilities for children aged 2,5 years and over.
Is Belgium affordable to live in?
The cost of living in Belgium is relatively high but still considered affordable, including the cost of living in Brussels, when compared to some of its neighbors. Though the cost of living in Belgium is definitely up there, it is nowhere near as expensive as some other western European countries.
What is the average cost of food in Belgium?
On average, you would spend around 300 EUR/month on your groceries. However, some of the cheapest supermarkets in Belgium are Lidl, Aldi, and Colruyt. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant in Belgium is between 10 and 20 EUR.
What is the religion of majority of the Belgians?
Required Documents for Visa
- Completed and signed Visa Application Form (Download the form from this website)
- Valid passport (must be valid for at least 1 year)
- University / College Offer Letter (with details, subject, degree, duration, tuition fee, etc.)
- Evidence of financial solvency (at least 731 euros per month must be kept in your bank account for the 2016-2017 session, this may vary from year to year. For the latest information, visit this website.
- Proof of source of income/money.
- Medical certificate.
- IELTS Certificate.
- Tuition fee payment document.
- Police Clearance Document (over 21 years of age)All academic documents must be attested by the Board of Education, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Belgian Embassy / Consulate.
To sum up, I would like to add that there are many reasons to study in Belgium that I have already explained. In addition, excellent opportunities for international networking, famously multicultural and multilingual cities, a host of regional cuisines and specialties, beautiful countryside, overall high quality of life, and, of course, those fantastic Belgian waffles are also some additional reasons to study in Belgium.
Besides, Many universities in Belgium have a strong international outlook and composition, as well as a strong position in the international rankings. A significant number of those reviewing the experience of studying in Belgium reveals satisfactory reviews with the diverse international study programs offered at Belgian universities. International students report that Belgium provides quality higher education in Europe. Seven universities in Belgium received an award for international student satisfaction. Five were considered “excellent”, receiving a rating of 9 out of 10, while two other universities in Belgium were rated “very good”. Moreover, the quality of courses gets a rating around the European average.
Lastly, If you want to learn more about different universities and their scholarship, or interesting facts about the education system of developed countries then you can wander here for daily updates. Moreover, do not forget to share the articles with your friends if you like them. Most importantly, best wishes for your future goals.