Study in Belgium

Study in Belgium- a guide for international students

Écrit par Dr. Damaris Foping




Is Studying in Belgium Something You Have Been Contemplating Forever?


We can help you with that!



Unlike the overwhelming number of abroad study consulting agencies that flood the internet or our cities, using all sorts of analyses, our experts go out of their way to make sure you make the best of this opportunity so that upon completion of your studies in Belgium, a bright future awaits you.



 Why is Belgium a popular destination for international students?

Several facts may explain the attractiveness of the Belgian, Francophone, and Flemish higher institutions of learning hold for international students:


  • The cultural and linguistic diversity of Belgium allow this country to be more open to students of varied origin, Francophones or Anglophones, and facilitate their integration. Except for certain domains such as medicine, access to many programs of study does not require an entrance examination.
  • Many diplomas obtained abroad are accepted in Belgium. As a consequence, the duration of studies in this country might be shorter than in other western countries.


When it comes to going to Belgium for your studies, there's two ways to go about it:


(1) Paying everything out of pocket.

(2) Applying for a scholarship.




Whichever option you choose, avoid the mistake committed by thousands of African students each year: "traveling for the sake of traveling" – you need to put a lot of thought into what brings you to Belgium. (read this article, it is very important!)


Many foreign students do hope to study one day in Belgium. In this country, there are three official languages, namely, French, German and Dutch. Since 1970, Belgium in response to its diversity established a federal system composed of three regions (Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders) and three communities (French, Flemish or Dutch, and German). Regions adhere to a geographical criterion while communities are classified according to their specific language . In Wallonia and Brussels, French is commonly used. The Flemish community is also called Flanders.

It should be noted that each community has a separate higher education system. We will focus specifically on the system encountered in the Francophone community and secondly on the one used in Flanders.


  1. Given the autonomy of each Belgian community in terms of higher education, we will discuss the characteristics of the Flemish and Francophone Belgian university systems separately. Special characteristics of higher education in the Francophone community of Wallonia-Brussels Since the 2003-2004 academic year, the Bologna process has been put in place in the community of Wallonia-Brussels, with the aim of harmonizing the different European university systems. There are thus in this system three programs leading to bachelor's, master's and doctorate, respectively. Credits corresponding to 24 hours of learning activities (lectures, practical work, individual work, group work, projects, etc.) are used to assess students. Supplemental diplomas indicating the courses taken and the results are issued to students at the end of their training.   In this system, students can choose between long courses and short courses. These courses are taught by two categories of institutions: university institutions and non-university higher education establishments.   Learning taught in universities   Universities in the Francophone community of Belgium are divided into three academies:
    1. The University Academy of Louvain consists of the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL),
    2. The University Faculty Notre-Dame de la Paix in Namur (FUNDP),
    3. The University Faculty Saint-Louis in Brussels (FUSL) and the Catholic University Faculty of Mons (FUCaM);

The university academy composed by

  1. 1.the Wallonia-Brussels Free University of Brussels (ULB),
  2. 2.The University of Mons-Hainaut (UMH) and the polytechnic faculty of Mons (FPMs);
  3. 3.The Wallonia-Europe University Academy with the University of Liège (ULg) and the University Faculty of Agronomic Sciences of Gembloux (FUSAGx).


In these universities studies are organized into three cycles:

  1. The first cycle lasts three years and leads to the degree of bachelor's
  2. The second cycle leads successively after one or two years to a master's, after three years to a veterinary medical degree, and after four years to an MD.
  3.  The third cycle comprises both doctoral training leading to a certificate of training in research and other work related to the preparation of a doctoral thesis. The PhD itself is only issued after a defense of the thesis.  Note that there also exists a master's degree leading to a specialized professional qualification. Non-university higher education In this group, there are high schools, institutes of architecture and schools of art. Higher institutes of architecture only offer long training programs while high schools and high schools of art organize long and short programs of formation. Short 'professionalizing' training programs occur only once in one cycle and lead to the award of a bachelor's degree. These courses are both theoretical and practical. Note that in high schools there may exist one year of specialization at the completion of the first cycle. Special characteristics of higher education in the Flemish community As is the case with higher education in the Francophone Belgian community, higher education in Flanders has followed the Bologna Process since 2003, resulting mostly in the visible structure classified in three cycles of studies which lead to the degrees of bachelor's, master's and doctorate. In this system, there are two types of higher education institutions viz universities and colleges. Only universities are authorized to issue doctorates while vocational bachelor's degrees are awarded by colleges. Belgian higher education institutions deliver three types of diplomas, namely, bachelor's, master's, and PhD. Each of these diplomas may be subdivided into many other diplomas. 
  1. Bachelor's Vocational Bachelor's - this type of program equips students with general knowledge and skills which enable them to practice a profession. These programs include at least 180 credits and are only available in colleges.    General Bachelor's - this type of program focuses on theoretical knowledge and is a means to get access to a Master's. This degree can be obtained in three years with 180 credits.     Advanced Bachelor's - this program allows deepening knowledge and skills acquired during the training for a vocational bachelor's. This bachelor's is obtained in one academic year with 60 credits. Master's

 Master's - this degree allows students obtain an advanced level of knowledge and skills in a specialized field of study. This kind of program has an academic orientation but can be a little more professionally oriented. This Master is achieved in one academic year with at least 60 credits.     Advanced Master's - this program aims to develop deepened knowledge and skills in a specialized field of study. Only students who already hold a master's can gain access to this type of program. An advanced master's is achieved in one academic year with at least 60 credits.  Ph.D. This degree is awarded after a public defense. It demonstrates the ability of the holder to create new scientific knowledge after conducting independent scientific research.   In Flemish higher education, institutions are of two categories depending on the type of registration:     1. The institutions called 'statutory registered institutions’, which were already recognized by the Flemish Education Authority before the implementation of the Bologna Process in 2003     2. The institutions called 'registered institutions’, which have passed the registration procedure and are officially recognized by the Flemish government   Note that in Flanders, universities and colleges are grouped in associations in order to better cooperate and facilitate research.  Moreover, even if the majority of programs are delivered in Dutch, some master's and PhD programs are taught entirely in English.

    In the Francophone community African students, as those originating from countries outside the European Union, are required to pay certain fees:     Tuition fee usually paid when enrolling in a university amounts to € 811     Registration fees at a high school, a school of arts or a higher institute of architecture:

  • For long studies: € 330.07 / year (and € 428, 56 in the year of award of the diploma);
  • For short studies: € 165, 03 / year (and € 214, 28 in the year of award of the diploma).

It is advisable for African students wishing to enroll in a university in the French Community of Belgium to visit the site of their university of choice to have an exact idea of ​​the various fee they have to pay.     In the Flemish community For students from countries outside the European Union, the annual tuition fees vary, depending on the training program to follow. Note that the fee for an EU student is € 550. It is interesting to note that there are discounts for students from certain developing countries. It is therefore advisable for African students wishing to continue their studies in the Flemish system to go to the site of their university of choice for accurate information regarding the amount of fees to be paid.

The amount of money a student spends daily depends on many factors related to the type of accommodation chosen, his lifestyle, etc. However, it is estimated that a student needs a minimum of € 800 for monthly expenses, not including tuition fees themselves. Thus, it is estimated that yearly, the average sums a student spends would include the following:




  • € 500 for the purchase of books and other study materials
  •  € 2,380 for housing
  • € 2,250 for nutrition
  •  € 370 for health insurance and other medical expenses
  • € 520 for relaxation
  • € 370 for clothing
  • € 370 for other expenses Please go to social services of institutions you have selected or their website for more information on the cost of living for a student who is studying there.



For an international student to go to Belgium, he has to be admitted to a full time program of study. This should be an undergraduate or postgraduate program or foundation training in an accredited university or non-university institution.  To pursue such studies, all African students are obliged to apply for a personal student visa officially. This visa is called temporary residence permit to study; submit an application at a Belgian diplomatic or consular authority where you lives or abroad. The following documents must be joined to the application:


  • A copy of passport still valid for at least one year,
  • A certificate that attests that the candidate is regularly registered or has an admission in a Belgian higher institution. This certificate has to be issued by an educational institution that is accredited by the Belgian government. It may happen that the institution where the student wishes to enroll only issues such a certificate after receiving a declaration of the equivalency of diploma or a certificate of study abroad at a Belgian diploma of secondary education or after the student has successful passed an entrance examination. In this case, the applicant must submit either a certificate proving the submission of an application for an equivalency of his diploma, or a registration to an admission examination.
  • Evidence of the availability of sufficient means of subsistence.
  • A medical certificate attesting that the person is not suffering from any of the diseases mentioned in the Belgian Law of 15 December 1980.
  • A police certificate (not older than 6 months), if the student is over the age of 21 years, stating that he has not been convicted of crimes or common crimes. In practice, the criminal record must cover at least the last 5 years, which means that if the student has lived in several countries during this period, he must submit as many certificates as the number of countries where he has resided.
  • In addition, if he wishes to study at an educational institution of the French community, he must submit his degree of secondary education to the registration committee, between 15 November and 15 July of the academic year foregoing registration. In addition to educational institutions organized, recognized or subsidized by the government, the Minister grants an annual waiver to a number of private colleges allowing students who wish to take courses there to obtain a residence permit. In this case, the applicant must produce: The copy of the diploma allowing his access to higher education;
  • certificate issued by one of the institutions included in the annual list determined by the Minister of the Interior, valid for the academic year for which the institution benefits from the derogation;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • if applicable, a certified copy of the original of all diplomas and certificates since the end of high school;
  • a certificate from the Ministry in charge of education, indicating the opportunities to study in the same orientation or specialization chosen by the student, in his country of origin or in a neighboring country;
  • proof of sufficient knowledge of the language in which the courses for which he applies for the visa are organized;
  • evidence that he has sufficient means of subsistence to cover his stay in Belgium;
  • a medical certificate stating that he is not suffering from any disease or disability listed in the Annex to the Belgian Law of 15 December 1980;
  • an extract from the judicial record, if aged over 18 years, demonstrating the absence of convictions for crimes of common law. The extract should not be dated more than 6 months. In practice, the criminal record must cover at least the last 5 years. If the applicant has stayed in several countries during this period, he must submit several records. It is important to note the peculiarity of the application for entry in Flanders, where in addition to the documents mentioned above, you must produce:
  • A personally signed statement affirming your commitment to leave the territory of Flanders after graduation
  • A certificate of good conduct
  • A proof of sufficient financial means
  • Recent passport photos signed Note that up to 8 days after his arrival in Belgium, the student must register at the municipal administration of his place of residence in Belgium. This registration will allow him to obtain an identity document valid for the duration of his stay.





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