Study in Belgium
Belgium is one of the countries in Europe that can offer you a fantastic study experience. Despite its size, the country has a rich cultural history and has over 11 million residents. It’s also the political hub of Europe being the home of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Located in Western Europe and bordering with Luxembourg, Germany, France and the Netherlands, Belgium can be roughly divided into three main areas. In the Southern area of Wallonia they speak mainly French, in the northern area of Flanders they speak mainly Dutch (Flemish), and in the Brussels-Capital area most people speak both Dutch and French. Belgium is a densely populated country, and is a welcoming place for international students.
Why Study in Belgium?
Located right in the heart of Europe, Belgium is incredibly multicultural and would be a fantastic choice for any international student. Known for its high quality of life, educational and healthcare facilities, the country ranks high as one of the most peaceful and safest cities in the world.
Belgium has many excellent higher education institutions throughout the country, offering high quality education at all levels. There are 7 Belgian universities in the QS World University Ranking top 500, and 4 of these are in the top 200! The highest ranked is KU Leuven, coming in at 71st place. Generally, Institutions in Belgium cater well for international students, so you would be in the perfect place to explore Europe throughout your studies.
A developed country with great infrastructure and high-income economy, Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830. Belgium is steeped in history and you will be able to visit and learn from many amazing tourist attractions, such as impressive cathedrals and medieval castles.
Due to the country’s small size, there is minimal regional differences in climate. All areas benefit from moderate winters and cool summers that are heavily influenced by the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The best tourists attractions in Belgium include:
Mini Europe (Brussels)
Grand Palace (Brussels)
The Citadel (Dinant)
Cost of Studying & Living in Belgium
Belgium uses the Euro (€) as its currency.
There are many public and private institutions in Belgium, and your tuition fee will depend on which of these you choose to attend. If you are from an EU/EEA country and choose a public institution, you can expect to pay around €850 yearly in tuition fees. If you are from any other country, you can expect to pay between €1,000 and €4,000 yearly in tuition fees. For a doctorate or master’s degree, most students will have to pay an application fee.
A private institution will most likely charge higher than this. There are also scholarships available, but they are highly competitive. For more information, contact the admissions office of your chosen institution.
Generally your living costs will depend on where you choose to live, as well as whether you stay in private or university accommodation. On average, you can budget between €750 and €1,100 per month to cover living expenses. This includes travel, accommodation, groceries and course equipment.
Most students are eligible for a part-time job which can help with your living costs, depending on where you are from. If you are from an EU/EEA country, you will most likely be able to work without any special permissions. If you are from any other country, you may need to first get permission in the form of a work permit in order to work during your studies, and will normally be allowed to work up to 20 hours. Find out more information from your university about this.
Another cost you need to consider is health insurance. If you are an EHIC holder, you should be able to access healthcare at the same cost as Belgian citizens once you have joined a ‘mutuelle’. If you do not hold an EHIC, you will need to either ensure that your current policy is valid for your stay in Belgium or acquire health insurance. You will then need to join a ‘mutuelle’ to receive full healthcare benefits.
Students from an EU/EEA country need not apply for a visa to study in Belgium. If you are from any other country, you should apply for a visa first before travelling to study in Belgium. Apply for the ‘long stay’ visa, and you can start this process at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country. Make sure to do this as early as possible because it might take some time for your application to progress and your visa to be granted
Belgian people speak three official languages; French, German and Dutch (Flemish)
Whilst there are courses taught in all of these languages, majority are offered in French. That said, you will no doubt be able to study programmes in the English language.
Note that if you are applying for a course taught in any of the official languages of Belgium, you must possess advanced language skills, and be able to pass language proficiency tests. Same applies to courses taught in English, you will also need to pass an English language test. These tests are designed to ensure that your language skills will meet the required standards for learning. It is a common thing for institutions to offer courses to improve your language skills if need be to help you pass proficiency tests.
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Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, is where you will find the headquarters of NATO and the EU. It is a place for international cooperation, politics and affairs, with a vibrant mix of different nationalities and cultures. The city is well known for its historical and architectural landmarks, with a couple of them registered as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Brussels is home to several universities, both Dutch and French speaking. The two main universities are the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, which is a Dutch speaking university with about 10,000 students and the Université Libre de Bruxelles, which is French speaking and has around 20,000 students.
Home to a little over 118,000 people, the city of Bruges is a canal-based city and sometimes referred to by many people as the Venice of the North. The historic city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, because there are plenty of medieval architecture still intact. Within the Church of Our Lady you will see the sculpture Madonna and Child, which is said to be the only Michelangelo sculpture to leave Italy within his lifetime.
Bruges is remains an important centre for education in West Flanders. Here you will find the prestigious College of Europe, which offers postgraduate courses in European Law, Economics and Politics. In Bruges is the United Nations University, which specialises in the comparative study of regional integration