If you didn’t know yet, Belgium is a unique location to be in Europe. It is the administrative centre of the European Union and contains a rich history of diversity between its three autonomous regions: Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia. Each has its own majority language and rules and regulations.
Fear not, because as an international student, you are welcome at any of the universities in this country. What follows is key information about studying in Belgium - read it carefully.
#1 Work Opportunities in Belgium
Despite being a relatively small nation, Belgium excels at its specialities. It has excellent beers, delicious chocolate, and so much more. It’s no surprise then that there are plenty of jobs in these areas. If you like beer, take a look into Anheuser Busch Inbev: they own some of the world’s most popular beers and some of Belgium’s finest, too.
Plus, with an unemployment rate of 5.7%, you’re likely to find a job to your liking somewhere in Belgium.
#2 Student Life in Belgium: On-Campus
Belgium’s different schools are run differently depending on the region that they are in. While English is a popular language medium in Belgian schools, there are opportunities to study in local languages if you are interested. The northern region of Flanders runs its schools in Dutch exclusively, whereas Wallonia is predominantly French and Brussels is a mix of both. This also indicates the language requirements: for many programmes, you will be required to demonstrate adequate knowledge of either English, Dutch, or French.
You can choose to attend a traditional university (with a focus on research) or a university college (where you will learn more applicable knowledge). Only the traditional universities grant access to the full range of Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD’s.
#3 Student Life in Belgium: Off-Campus
No matter where in Belgium you end up, you are bound to have a great time. Take Leuven for example; it is considered one of the most active student cities, with its university dating back all the way to the 15th century. On the flip side of that, there is Brussels, which is highly diverse not only in its student population but also politically. It’s the place in Belgium where you’re most likely to hear people speaking both Dutch and French.
There’s something for everyone in all of the Belgian cities: bright student culture, discounts for gyms, museums and even haircuts, and specific hot-spots that you cannot miss as a student.
#4 Cost of Living for students
Depending on where you live and how you live, studying in Belgium can be more expensive or actually cheaper than it would be if you were to study in your home country. On estimate, you will need to budget at least €930 a month for all your expenses - with Liege on the lower end of the scale and Brussels on the higher end.
If you’re looking to explore Belgium during your time there, there are discounts on trains available for young adults under 26. However, within cities, you can cut your costs even more by purchasing a bicycle and explore your new home that way. The bike lanes in many Belgian towns are well-developed, and you can even explore other cities with the bike routes that exist between cities.
#5 Study in Belgium: Visa Regulations
Since Belgium is in the European Union, students from the EU/EEA are free to get up and move there to start their studies. All others will have to obtain a visa D from your local Belgian embassy. This is only possible after you registered for a specific study programme at a university and have the documents to prove it. You can find more information at the Belgian Immigration Office or your local Belgian embassy.