Belgium, or the much cooler sounding Kingdom of Belgium, is a medium-sized country located in Western Europe. With a population of just over 11 million people spread around picturesque towns and cities, the monarch state is currently one of the world’s leading cultural, economic and political centers.
Home to a handful of leading international institutions and organizations, Belgium is one of the proud founders of the European Union. As a matter of fact, the city of Brussels is officially both the national and EU capital but also, unofficially, the chocolate capital of the globe! Remember – in Belgium, everything comes in threes!
Fun fact: Did you overlook the first heading? That’s Dutch, French and German – the three official languages in Belgium!
Have you already thought about three reasons to choose Belgium as a Masters destination? Of course you haven’t – there are much more than that!
For starters, the Belgian higher education system is organized in two regions – the Flemish Community and the French Community. These function and operate as separate entities within Belgium, thus offering entirely different languages of instruction, tuition, fees and of course – universities.
There is also the third region known as the German-speaking Community of Belgium which, however, does not regulate a higher education system.
Secondly, there are two main types of educational organizations – universities and university colleges. There are no notable differences between them except for the more complex research that you would be involved with at a university college. Another additional type of institution are the colleges of art focusing mainly in the areas of the arts, music and theater.
Together, the Belgian higher education ranks among the best according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2019, with several representatives in the Top 150:
Finally, Masters opportunities in Belgium are certainly something worth talking about, with unique courses offered in the fields of Business, Engineering, Literature & Linguistics, Medicine and Science & Mathematics.
Not to mention the fact that most of these are offered entirely in English or even bilingually, for a standard duration of 2 years (120 ECTS). And you will love the interactive teaching methods combining traditional lectures with hands-on research, in some cases even including placements and visits. Also, get ready to meet a lot of friends, as Belgium welcomes more than 60,000 internationals each year!
Fun fact: Did you know that Belgium is home to a centuries-old university founded back in 1425 – KU Leuven?
In order to be successfully admitted at a higher education institution in Belgium, you will have to prepare a certain amount of documentary beforehand. By default, your Bachelors is an absolute must but you should also bear in mind the following:
From the above, your language proficiency can be decisive upon application for a Masters in Belgium. Make sure that you can present one or more of the certificates below depending on your chosen language of instruction:
And of course there are also deadlines. Most universities and university colleges set their academic calendars from September to July/August which is why it is highly recommended that you prepare and submit your application by February or March. Note that online application is available for most institutions.
If you are a non-EU applicant, you would also have to acquire a residence permit or visa. Make sure that you contact the responsible office for exact and detailed information. As a student coming from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you don’t have to worry about this.
Belgium can be described as a relatively affordable study destination in Europe. For a Masters as a student from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you can expect to pay tuition fees between €850 and €1200 per year for a popular study area at a major higher education institution.
However, these example figures can triple for certain areas such as Medicine or Law, or if you are a coming from a third country.
But then there are scholarships! For example, you can benefit from one of the funding opportunities for a Masters in the French Community!
Additionally, some universities offer individual scholarship opportunities while the Erasmus+ programme is also available if you wish to apply for a study exchange in Belgium.
To put it simply, student life in Belgium is unique. Of course, there are some differences with other European destinations here and there, mainly involving the climate, living standard and general lifestyle.
On the one hand, the weather is certainly not the same as in Spain or Portugal, but Belgians enjoy moderately fair climate throughout the seasons, with temperatures around 20-25°C during the spring and summer and just below 0°C during the coldest winter. So don’t worry about catching a cold – but remember to bring in your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for free healthcare services. If you are coming from a third country, insurance companies charge as much as €10 per month.
The living standard, on the other hand, is one of the highest, but definitely not Denmark-high. Combined with the Belgian way of life, the environment in Belgium is ecological, healthy and safe, which makes up the perfect conditions for a student abroad.
But let’s go in detail and start with finding accommodation. In cities similar to the capital Brussels – Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and Leuven, university residence is your best option. Demand is great much like everywhere else, but if you manage to secure a spot – expect to pay no more than €300 monthly, in the worst case scenario.
Private accommodation is a bit tricky, especially in a city like Brussels where businesses and political institutions are everywhere. Still, you can search for a rent outside the center for around €600 or just bring in friends and find something in the heart of the city for around €750.
Then there are living costs which you can easily budget in the range between €500 and €700 depending on your economy. After a short visit to the supermarket you can leave with two bags for a week of healthy nutrition including:
Keep in mind that Belgian cuisine offers a wide range of tasty dishes that do not require a lot of time for preparation or any expensive ingredients. Try cooking a Mitraillette – it is a student’s favorite!
In terms of getting from point A to point B, public transport should be your plan B. For your daily needs, you can just rent or buy a bicycle and cycle throughout the city!