While Belgium may be a small nation, it is big when it comes to beauty and culture. With its magnificent castles, refreshing ales, and scrumptious chocolates, it has become the country of choice for tourists – and students too.
If you want to take advantage of Belgium’s lower cost of living (compared to other European countries), high quality of life, and multiculturalism, then it’s time for you to apply to universities in Belgium. Here’s how:
1. Decide What Subjects You Want to Pursue
If you don’t have a set course to take yet, then you may want to try the most popular degrees in Belgium.
The number 1 choice amongst foreign students is the Social Sciences, with disciplines ranging from Political Science, Economics, and International Relations. Of the 8 Belgium universities listed in the Times Higher Education World Rankings, 7 of these have been highly-regarded in the said field. The list is led by KU Leuven, which is named as the 40th best university in the world for the Social Sciences.
The second-most popular program encompasses the Humanities, which again, has 7 Belgian Universities included in the list. As expected, KU Leuven is the top institution for this, being ranked the 25th best university in the world for Humanities.
Other popular programs in Belgium include Journalism and Medicine, with the latter having KU Leuven as the top-ranked school for such (46th in the world).
2. Fulfill the Dutch, French, German, or English Requirements for Belgian Universities
Since Belgium has three official languages – Dutch, French, and German – the language requirement will depend on your university of choice. Before, applying to universities in Belgium, you will need to meet the language requirements in Belgian universities.
At Ghent University, most programs are taught in Dutch so Bachelor’s applicants need to possess a B2 level proficiency. This means you should be able to communicate with native speakers with relative ease.
A higher grade of C1, on the other hand, is required of students who wish to take Applied Language Studies. Having this grade means that you can understand longer and more demanding conversations.
At UC Louvain, French proficiency is required as most classes are delivered in French.
At KU Leuven, English-taught programs mandate proof of proficiency. The university will accept results from any of the following exams:
- TOEFL iBT – 90
- IELTS – band 6.5
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) or Proficiency (CPE)
As for Master’s students, proficiency in any of the 3 languages may be required – unless you enroll in an English-taught program. At Ghent University, a B2 proficiency in English is mandated. However, if you wish to take a Dutch-taught program, you will need to have a B2 proficiency in Dutch.
At the College of Europe, both English and French are used in teaching. As such, applicants need to have a C1 level in English – and a B1/B2 level in French.
In courses such as UC Louvain’s Masters in Modern Language in Literature, a B2 proficiency in the German language is required. Should you major in Dutch studies, you will be asked to demonstrate your proficiency in the Dutch language.
3. Fulfill the Application Requirements for Universities in Belgium
To prepare for your Bachelor’s degree in Belgium, you will need to meet several requirements. Here is a list of the needed documents to apply to universities in Belgium:
- Certificate of secondary education (foreign degree to be assessed)
- Copy of passport
- Proof of language proficiency (Dutch, English, or French – depending on the university)
At KU Leuven, applicants also need to submit these additional requirements:
- SAT of at least 560 or ACT of at least 23
- Motivation letter
- Curriculum vitae
An Entrance exam may also be required for Medicine or Dentistry applicants due to the high demand for these courses.
Masters students, on the other hand, need to provide a copy of their Bachelor’s degree – plus proof of language proficiency – which is Dutch (or English, depending on your course) at the University of Antwerp.
More often than not, your Bachelor’s degree should be aligned with your desired Master’s for direct admission. If not, you will need to undergo a bridging program before you can start with your classes.
4. Shortlist Universities According to Ranking and Reputation
Belgium has 8 universities that are recognized by Times Higher Education’s world rankings. They are:
- KU Leuven
- Ghent University
- Université Catholique de Louvain (UC Louvain)
- University of Antwerp
- Université Libre de Bruxelles
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel
- Hasselt University
- University of Liège
True to this list, KU Leuven proves to be the best choice in the fields of Education, Computer Science, Clinical/Health Science, Business & Economics, Arts & Humanities, Engineering, Law, Life Science, Physical Science, Psychology, and Social Science.
Although this is the case, other Belgian universities fare well in the aforementioned fields too. As such, they also warrant your consideration when you apply tu universities in Belgium.
Take the case of Ghent University, which trails KU Leuven in the said disciplines except for Social Science and Business & Economics. For these fields, the next-best school is the University of Antwerp, which is also ranked well in other disciplines.
Another notable mention is UC Louvain, which ranks third for Engineering, Life Science, Physical Science, Psychology, Arts & Humanities, and Clinical/Health Science.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, on the other hand, is ranked third in the field of Education.
5. Consider Applying to Affordable Universities in Belgium if Finances Are Important
In Belgium, non-EU students will need to pay $4,900 a year in tuition fees. While this is notably cheap, it can still be a big cost for most enrollees. After all, they also need to shoulder their monthly living allowance, which ranges from $850 to $1,150. You may even have to spend lesser if you decide to study in a ‘cheaper’ area, such as Bruges.
To make sure that you don’t wallow in student debt after graduation, it would be wise to opt for these cheap Belgian universities:
- University of Namur – from $1,010
- UC Louvain – from $1,095
- Ghent University – from $1,095
- KU Leuven – from $1,095
In Belgium, studying in the cheapest universities does not equate to a lower quality of education, which you should consider when applying to universities in Belgium. After all, 3 of its cheapest universities are ranked 1st to 3rd in the Times Higher Education World Rankings. With these costs, you can get the best value for your money in Belgium.
6. Apply to Scholarships in Belgium
Apart from applying to affordable universities, you may complete your education without much financial pressure with the help of scholarship programs.
VLIR-UOS is a scholarship that places 31 foreign students into Flemish universities. Apart from answering the entire cost of an English-taught Master’s program, it also covers the applicant’s accommodation and travel charges.
The ARES scholarship is also open to 150 international students who wish to undertake a 1-year Master’s course in Wallonia-Brussels.
The Government of Flanders, on the other hand, offers a Master Mind Scholarship for 30-40 foreign students. This covers an amount of $9,700 in schools such as Ghent University, KU Leuven, and the University of Antwerp.
Another option is the Belgian Government scholarship, which is offered to Master’s students from southern countries.
7. Submit Your Applicaiton
Once you are done with these preliminary research, it is time to submit your application! Make sure to follow the instructions listed in the universities’ websites.
As with most student destinations, applicants should file their scholarship documents way ahead of time. Given the huge volume of applications, doing so may help improve your chances of getting the scholarship.
I hope that this article on how to apply to universities in Belgium was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page!