Belgium invites you to an exciting, lively and cosmopolite urban setting where the world gathers to enjoy fine culture, beautiful fairytale castles and great cuisine. Studying in Belgium is not only studying abroad. With its multicultural and multilingual environment Belgium offers you the ultimate international experience.
Belgium might have as much as three official languages (French, Dutch and German) but English is the fourth, unofficial language and Belgians have no problems with conversing in English. The Belgian people are used to welcoming the world. The city of Brussels is one of the world's great cosmopolitan capitals, home to both the European Union and NATO, as well as a wealth of international trade and finance companies.
The history of Belgium has always been linked to both commercial and cultural exchange, and much of its character is due to its role as the great meeting place of Western Europe. It would be difficult to name a European country who didn’t want to stake their claim in Belgium at one time or another. Traces of the Austrians, Spanish, French and Dutch can still be seen in its architecture and in the lifestyle of its people. You will see superb examples of art and architecture past and present - Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Art Nouveau.
The official currency of Belgium is the Euro (€) which is also the official currency of the European Union. 15 member states share this currency, and this simplifies travelling and comparing prices over the European countries. Sharing borders with France, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Belgium is a great starting point for travelling all over Europe.
Many universities offer courses in English and there are also European and international schools that operate in Belgium. If you prefer to develop your skills within the official languages most universities offer language courses.
The Belgian kitchen
Belgium is very well-known for its kitchen, and Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential gastronomic guides, such as the Michelin Guide. Belgians love waffles (which originated in Belgium) and french fries. Contrary to their name french fries also originated in Belgium. The name "french fries" actually refers to the French description of the manner in which the potato is cut. To "french" means to cut into slivers. The national dishes are "steak and fries with salad", and "mussels with fries". Belgian chocolate is considered to be amongst the world’s finest!
French, Dutch and German are all official languages of Belgium, and the country includes three language communities:
- - The Flemish community (Dutch)
- - The French community (French)
- - The German community (German)
The language of teaching and assessment for activities carried out by students in these various establishments is, in principle, French. However, some courses are taught in another language (for example English). Students are informed of this upon their application.
Students not having had the opportunity to learn French but who have a command of English may sign up without difficulty for doctoral studies and certain specialized university programmes in Belgium. On their arrival, they will be able to acquire a basic grasp of French.
The Bologna System
The Belgian system of Education is regulated by the Bologna declaration. The Bologna process was initiated in 1999 when the Ministers of Education from 29 European countries signed the Bologna declaration in the Italian city of Bologna. The purpose of the process is to create educational standards for academic degrees and quality assurance, in order to make it easier for students to move from one European country to another and to improve the overall quality of European higher education. The system also incorporates aspects of the American higher education system and thus simplifies comparison. The Bologna System uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to measure the amount of higher education credits.
The Bologna system, and thus the higher education system of Belgium, follows 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.
The Bologna System also uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to measure higher education credits.
The university institutions in Belgium have as their specific purpose fundamental and applied scientific research. University education is founded on a close link between scientific research and teaching.
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
Anybody with a qualifying diploma of secondary education can apply to all Belgian institutes of higher education with three exceptions: degrees within the fields of Medicine, Arts 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.
Every year, students in Belgium must pay a registration fee. For Belgian and European Union students, higher education is financed to a very large extent by the public authorities. 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 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 may be estimated at between 200 and 300 Euros per month.
If you want to study abroad in Belgium and you're from the EU, you do not need a Belgian visa to study in Belgium, but have to carry a national identity card.
Students from outside the European Union must file a student visa application with the Belgian diplomatic or consular representation in their own country of origin. More information can be gained from this representation or from the Foreigner Office in Belgium.
Students from the P.R. China need to follow a specific procedure. All Chinese students have to obtain a certificate of academic screening issued by the Academic Evaluation Centre (ASP) at the German Embassy in Beijing before being allowed to enroll to any higher education institution in Belgium and in order to obtain a Belgian student visa.
Within eight days following their arrival in Belgium, students (including those from the European Union) must register with the local administration of their place of residence in Belgium.
- The Bologna Process: http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/
- Visa Application: http://diplobel.fgov.be/en/travel/visa/default.asp
- Belgium: http://www.visitbelgium.com/