Sitting right in the heart of Europe, Belgium is wonderfully multicultural, and for any international student, it would be a fantastic choice. Renowned as one of the safest and most peaceful cities in the world for its high quality of life, health care, and education.
Throughout Belgium, there are many excellent higher education institutions offering high-quality education at all levels. In the top 500 QS World University Ranking, you will find seven Belgian universities, and four of them are in the top 200! KU Leuven is the top-ranked, arriving at 71st place.
Unknown to many, Belgium offers a number of scholarship programs specifically for students from developing countries to international students. The Belgian government offers scholarships to foreign students who wish to pursue further studies in Belgium in their efforts towards development cooperation. Belgian universities also have scholarship programs for international students included in the top 100 universities worldwide.
Some of the scholarships in Belgium for international students are
Belgian Government Scholarships for International Students
VLIR-UOS Training and Masters Scholarships
VLIR-UOS awards grants to students from selected developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to pursue a development-related training or master’s program at Belgian universities. The scholarships cover fees for tuition, accommodation, allowance, travel costs and other costs associated with the program.
Government of Flanders Master Mind Scholarships for International Students
A new scholarship program, Master Mind Scholarships, is being launched by the Government of Flanders to promote the internationalization of Flemish Higher Education. It awards outstanding Master students from all countries up to 35 scholarships. A scholarship of up to EUR 7,500 per academic year is awarded to the incoming student. The Flemish Host Institution may request a tuition fee of up to EUR 100 per year from the applicant.
Belgian Universities that offer Scholarships for International Students
Science@Leuven Scholarships for International Students
For motivated and talented international students, the Science@Leuven Scholarship is interested in participating in an international master’s program of the K.U.Leuven Faculty of Science. The scholarship amount can be up to € 10,000 for 1 year. The scholarship will always cover the1-year tuition fee, insurance, and basic insurance coverage. The number of living expenses awarded may vary.
Ghent University Master Grants for Developing Countries
Ghent University provides top-up grants to candidates from all OESO-DAC countries wishing to receive a Master’s degree from Ghent University. The call will only be open in 2018 for new students applying for an English-language master or master-after-master program. The scholarship consists of a monthly and all-in insurance allowance of EUR 654.
The ARES grants an average of 150 master scholarships and 70 training scholarships each year through courses to developing country nationals. The scholarship includes expenses for international travel, living allowance, tuition fees, insurance, housing allowance, etc.
Belgian American Education Foundation Fellowships
The Belgian American Educational Foundation (B.A.E.F.) encourages applications for advanced study or research fellowships at a Belgian University or higher learning institution from citizens or permanent residents of the United States during one academic year. The B.A.E.F. will award up to ten fellowships each with a $27,000 scholarship for Master or Ph.D. students or $31,000 for Postdoctoral Fellows.
Cost of studying and living in Belgium
In Belgium, there are public and private institutions, and your tuition fee will depend on which of them you choose. You can expect to pay around € 850 per year if you are from an EU / EEA country and choose to go to the public institution. You can expect to pay between € 1,000 and € 4,000 per year if you’re from any other country.
Most students will have to pay an application fee for a master’s or doctoral degree. Most likely, a private institution will charge more than that.
Your cost of living will depend on where you choose to live and whether you are staying in university or private accommodation. Your living costs can range from € 750 to € 1,100 per month on average. This includes equipment for accommodation, travel, grocery stores and courses.
You may be able to get a part-time job, depending on where you come from, to help with your living costs. You will most likely be able to work without any additional permissions if you are from an EU / EEA country. If you are from any other country, you may need to seek permission to work during your studies in the form of a work permit, and you may need permission to work for up to 20 hours.
Health insurance is another cost that needs to be considered. If you are an EHIC holder, you can access healthcare at the same price as Belgian citizens once you join a’ mutual.’ If you don’t have an EHIC, you’ll either need to purchase health insurance or make sure your current policy is valid for your Belgian stay. In order to receive health care benefits, you will then need to join a’ mutual.’
Food cost in Belgium
The cheapest option when it comes to food costs is to buy from the supermarket and cook at home. On average, if you remember some of Belgium’s cheapest supermarkets: Lidl, Aldi, and Colruyt, you’d spend around 300 EUR / month on your groceries. Eating out once in a while, though, is a nice experience, and it’s really worth it in Belgium.
A meal in a reasonable restaurant, for example in Antwerp, is between EUR 8 and EUR 15, and even less. At Le Pain Quotidien restaurant chain, you can eat soups, salads, cheese and cold meat dishes, and patisserie at prices ranging from EUR 4 to 16.
Additional expenses in Belgium
You can look for advertising boards on your campus if you want to buy second – hand books, as some students sell their books at good prices. You can also check Studbooks.be, an online platform for students to buy and sell second – hand books
- Books: 35 – 50 EUR/month
- Entertainment: 50 EUR/month
- Insurance/ health care: 20-30 EUR/month
Transportation expenses in Belgium
Trains and buses are the easiest, but also the cheapest, ways to travel while living in Belgium. That’s why you should know you can buy:
a monthly public transportation pass for students under the age of 25 costing EUR 50 per year; a forty-minute trip from Ghent to Brussels costing EUR 7.50 because Belgium’s train network is one of Europe’s best!
University application deadlines for Belgium
Some deadlines in Belgium depend on your VISA status. You will need to take into account some of the rough deadlines and mark on your calendar:
- 1st of March: Application deadline for students who need a visa;
- 1st of June: Application deadline for students who DO NOT need a visa;
- October: Autumn semester starts;
- Mid-January – late-January: 1st-semester exams;
- Mid-February: Spring semester starts;
- Mid-June – late-June: 2nd-semester exams;
- July – September: Summer Holiday.
As a parting thought, congratulations to an international university for this enormous step you are taking and for following your dreams. We’re sure you’re going to do great and don’t forget to combine your courses with a bit of fun, as always, and take advantage of the combination and exchange of culture that you’ll find there. Good luck and maybe you will have the strength!