Study in Belgium
Why Study in Belgium?
A wide choice of study programmes at an affordable price
The 42 universities, university colleges and arts colleges of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation provide short or long-term, specialized or core courses in an impressive number of disciplines. Contact Dynamic Strategies® today to find the courses that interest you.
In addition, the tuition fees are very reasonable. In fact, the authorities want to ensure that higher education courses are of high quality and affordable for Belgian and international students. They therefore invest heavily in higher education, finance universities, university colleges and arts colleges and thus bear a large part of the actual cost of studies.
Study at the heart of Europe
Brussels, capital of Belgium, is the seat of the European institutions, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and more than 1,000 international organisations and companies. It is the ideal place to study in an international and multilingual environment offering numerous networking opportunities.
Culture & Leisure:
Your student life in Wallonia-Brussels will be a whirlwind of cultural, sporting and associative activities.
With names like Magritte, Delvaux or Rops in the field of the fine arts, Simenon in literature, Toots Thielemans in the Jazz world, Hergé for the comic strip, the Dardenne brothers representing Belgian film, César Franck or Eugène Ysaÿe for classical music, not forgetting the singer Jacques Brel, Wallonia-Brussels boasts a culture that is very much its own.
If you are a fan of music, painting, drawing, theatre, cinema, a rich cultural programme is proposed through the year by student associations or special services within institutions. Participation in cultural activities will allow you to meet other students outside the strict context of studies and will not only be a rich source of experiences but also make you feel part of your new home.
Universities in Belgium:
Many universities in Belgium have a strong international outlook and composition, as well as a strong position in the international rankings. A total of eight universities in Belgium are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, all but one of which is ranked within the global top 350 (the University of Mons is a new entry this year in the 501-550 band).
Higher education in Belgium is generally categorized into the country’s two main language communities: the Flemish (a variety of Dutch) Community and the French Community. Alongside Dutch and French, Germany is also an official language of the country, though spoken by a far smaller percentage of the population. German-speaking students typically attend a university in the French Community, or travel to study in Germany. While French and Dutch are the standard languages of teaching, there are also many international programs taught in English.
As in most European countries, a bachelor’s degree usually takes three years to complete and a master’s degree one to two years. Bachelor’s degrees are categorized as either a ‘professional bachelor’ or an ‘academic bachelor’. The first of these has a vocational element, while the second is more academic and designed to prepare students for a master’s degree. Having obtained a master’s degree, students can then pursue research projects leading to a doctorate degree. Bachelor and master’s degrees can be awarded by both colleges and universities in Belgium, while PhDs are only awarded by universities.
The top five universities in Belgium are:
1. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven):
The highest-ranked Belgian university is KU Leuven, ranked 79th in the world as of the 2016-2017 edition. Translated into English, its name is ‘Catholic University of Leuven’ but it’s more often referred to by its Dutch name. It was Belgium’s first university, founded in 1425 (although it was closed during the Napoleonic period and reopened in 1834). KU Leuven taught around 57,300 students in 2015, making it the largest university in Belgium.
2. University of Ghent:
Ranked joint 131st in the world, the University of Ghent was established in 1817 as the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium. The university ranks 90th in world for life sciences, and 27th for veterinary science. It’s another large university, teaching around 41,000 students in 11 faculties.
3. Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL):
The Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) is Belgium’s largest French-speaking university, and is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, a planned city which was built to house the university. UCL has satellite campuses in Brussels, Charleroi, Mons and Tournai. It currently ranks at 154th in the world, and performs particularly well (29th) in the subject ranking for statistics.
4. Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB):
Ranked 182nd in the world, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) was formed when the Université Libre de Bruxelles split in 1970. Both universities have the same name when translated into English (Free University of Brussels), so both avoid this version to prevent confusion. VUB is known for its high research activity, with its research teams internationally recognized in many disciplines of fundamental and applied research.
5. Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB):
The Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) ranks joint 216th in the QS World University Rankings 2016-2017, and claims Belgium’s strongest scores for internationalization – around a third of its students and faculty members come from abroad. It was founded in 1834 and is a highly respected research university, with three Nobel Prize winners, one Fields Medal, three Wolf Prizes, and two Marie Curie Prizes.
Applying to universities in Belgium
In order to apply to study in Belgium at undergraduate level, you must hold a secondary school leaving certificate that is recognized by the relevant authorities, or an equivalence statement for that certificate. There are different authorities to contact for equivalence statements, depending on whether you’re applying to attend a university in the French Community, in the Flemish Community, or in the German-speaking Community.
Applications to study in Belgium are submitted individually to each university, and specific admissions requirements are set by each institution. In general, those wanting to study medicine/dentistry, arts, management and (only in the French Community) engineering sciences must take an entrance exam. You may also need to take an exam to prove your proficiency in French or Dutch. You’ll also need to pay your tuition fees before you can be fully enrolled.