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The Belgian higher education system follows the Bologna declaration. In 1999, the Bologna process was initiated with the purpose of creating educational standards for academic degrees and quality assurance throughout the 29 European countries signing the declaration. The Bologna declaration aims to make it easier for students to move freely throughout Europe, and to improve the quality of European higher education. An additional bonus of the system is that it simplifies comparisons between schools, grades and programs also with the United States as some aspects from this system have been incorporated.

Due to the structure of the Bologna system, higher education in Belgium is organized according to the Bachelor/Master system:

Bachelor's degree: 3 years (180 ECTS credits) towards a professional bachelor or an academic bachelor. Offers students core teaching in the chosen discipline, as well as a broad general education. The academic bachelor gives access to master's studies.

Master's degree: 1 or 2 years (60 or 120 ECTS credits). Provides specialized content whilst allowing for further development of the scientific research process.

After obtaining a Master's degree, students can choose to pursue research projects leading to a Doctorate degree (PhD). PhD's are only awarded by Universities.

Another part of the Bologna System is the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to measure higher education credits and giving corresponding grades throughout the countries involved.


The universities in Belgium have fundamental and applied scientific research as their purpose. University education in Belgium is founded on a close link between scientific research and teaching.

Other institutes

Higher education organized outside of university institutions aims at obtaining professional or artistic higher qualifications. Among these are:

  • Institutes of Higher Education
  • Higher Institutes of Architecture
  • Colleges of the Art


Admission to all Belgian institutes of higher education requires a qualifying diploma of a secondary education with three exceptions: degrees within the fields of Medicine, Art and Engineering Science. The student that wishes to study Medicine or Dentistry needs to take an entrance exam organized by the government. Art students must take a practical test held at the individual colleges. To be admitted to studies towards a Master of Science within Engineering colleges within the French Community can require students to take an entrance exam.

Cost of Higher Education

Students from within Belgium or the European Union have their higher education in Belgium largely financed by the public authorities. All students in Belgium must however pay a registration fee. The amount of the registration fee varies depending on higher education establishment and type of program. The registration fee for Belgian and European students for one year is set at around €800.

Foreign students from non-European Union member countries have to pay additional registration fees whose sums vary in accordance with the type of study.

Information concerning the total amount of fees to be paid can be obtained from the education institutions.

Student living costs in Belgium depend on type of program, type of accommodation and way of life. According to recommendations students will need a minimum of €700 per month without taking registration fees into account. The minimum price for accommodation when studying in Belgium may be estimated at between 200 and 300 Euros per month.

>> Read more about studying in Belgium


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