Study in Belgium
Belgium is one of the popular destinations for international students given its high standard of education, strategic location in the EU, multi cultural and multi lingual environment and government policies conducive for higher studies. Being a multi lingual country courses are offered in French, Dutch and German. Many universities offer courses in English to attract international talent. Standard of education here is high and ample internships and permanent work opportunities are available. Universities here offer a wide variety of courses including technology, medicine, dentistry, fine arts, management and much more. Language classes are offered at very resonable rates to help students cope up with the multi lingual environment.
Why study in Belgium?
- Standard of education is high in Belgium and the universities have high international ranking.
- The Belgium government and various other organisations offer many scholarships to international as well as domestic students.
- Belgium is strategically located in the heart of Europe and has very good travel connections to rest of Europe.
- Tuition fees in Belgium are lower than those in other countries.
- Belgium is culturally diverse and has three national languages. The society welcomes international students open heartedly and is a safe place to live and study in.
Communities in Belgium
Belgium is a small country strategically located in the centre of western Europe. It has a population of around 11.5 million that comprises of three major communities -French speaking, Dutch/Flemish speaking and the German speaking community. Most universities are financed by these communities. A small number of schools are organised by the local governments. Each community has a set of rules and regulations to run the universities. Hence eligibility requirements, tuition fees and other policies vary depending upon which community the university belongs to.
Belgium divides its degrees into three cycles. The Masters degree is considered the second cycle and Doctoral degrees the third. Most universities ask for a good score in an internationally recognized degree program in the same stream as a prerequisite to applying to a Masters program. Along with a good GPA, the candidates may also have to pass an entrance test depending upon the university and course they are applying for. A recognized masters degree in the same field is considered prerequisite for most Doctoral programs. English language proficiency needs to be established with IELTS or TOEFL. Proven advanced language skills are required in case you are opting for courses in French, Dutch or German.
Finance and costs
For Belgian students and those from the European Union (EU), higher education is financed partly by the public authorities. Students bear the remainder of the cost which varies depending upon the institution, the course applied to and financial aid eligibility of the students. Cost of education is higher for non EU students. For example, tuition fees in Belgium for students who have earned a scholarship can be €80 (US$108) while non-bursary student may pay around €830 (US$1,150) per year. Different universities belonging to different communities, namely the French, the Flemish/Dutch and the Germans, have different policies and structures with regards to tuition fees. It is best to contact the individual universities for exact amounts. In Belgium, the monthly living expense could range between 550€ to €850 inclusive of accommodation, transportation, food, and utility bills. University accommodations are cheaper than renting a place outside. Students are allowed to work up to 20 hrs/week to support expenses. In general, costs of living and education in Belgium are lower than in rest of Europe.
Universities in Belgium
There are couple of American Universities in Belgium :
A bachelor’s degree in Belgium usually takes three years. Master’s programs are usually one to two years in duration. A bachelor’s degree could either be professional or of academic nature. Professional degrees are issued by University colleges. They prepare students for the respective professions. If they wish, students may pursue short specialization courses after a professional bachelors degree. An academic bachelor's degree is usually issued by universities and prepares students for a masters program. Having obtained a master’s degree, students can then pursue research projects leading to a doctorate degree.
Professional bachelor programmes offered by university colleges have a vocational element and include theory, practical classes and a trainee-ship. In general, students study from text books and reference materials. The use of electronic learning platforms is gradually increasing. Some courses offer some or all components digitally that can be taken remotely, without having to be on the campus. Working professionals can opt for distance learning classes over the weekend to enhance career prospects. Students could study for either a credit contract, a degree contract or an exam contract. A credit contract is a contract between the board of the institution and the student to obtain proof of credit for one or more courses. In a degree contract, the student aims at obtaining a degree while they may opt for an exam contract when the objective is only to appear for exams to obtain a degree or credits for one or more courses.
Through a Parliamentary Act passed in 2004, all courses in Belgium are divided into course components and each component has credits assigned to it. One credit comprises a study load of 25-30 hrs. Exams are usually conducted in June, September and January. Students are assessed on a scale of zero to twenty with 10 being the passing grade. The board of the institution grants a proof of credit to students who pass a particular course component. On passing the stipulated number of courses, degrees are awarded by the institutions.