Belgium is a charming country which conquers your heart easily. Whether you’re a tourist or an international student, Belgium makes you feel truly at home with its beautiful landscapes, breath-taking architecture, and highly multicultural environment. If you know anything about Belgium, is that they make the best watches, the most delicious chocolate and the best beer barley can offer.
But you probably didn’t know that a lot of international students choose this European country for their Master’s degrees, after considering the tuition fees, the geographical location and the amalgam of cultures.
University in Belgiun
Belgium has some of the best-ranked universities in the world. Seeing how the name of your institution may count on your CV, we recommend one of them. A short list of the best of them is:
- University of Leuven
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel
- Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management
- Vlerick Business School
- Hasselt University
- University of Liége
List of University in Belgium
1. University tuition fees in Belgium
Belgium is divided into three regions:
- the Flemish Region (or Flanders)
- the Brussels – Capital Region
- the Walloon Region (or Wallonia)
In the universities from Wallonia, non-EU/EEA students have to pay specific tuition fees, set by ARES (the Academy of Research and Higher Education). Still, these tuitions can’t be more than five times the amount the EU/EEA students have to pay.
In the Flemish Region, EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens have to pay different tuition fees, as well, but they all start at around 900 EUR/academic year. Although tuitions costs are limited for EU/EEA students, for non-EU/EEA citizens they can grow depending on each university.
You don’t need to worry, because Belgian universities are fair when they calculate tuition fees. If it’s higher, it may be because of the student’s income, the type of study programme, or the available grants or scholarships.
Some examples of tuition fees in Belgium are:
- KU Leuven – tuition between 835 – 9,000 EUR/year
- University of Namur – tuition between 835 – 4,175 EUR/year
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) – tuition between 835 – 4,500 EUR/year
- University of Liége – average tuition of 835 EUR/year
2. Living costs in Belgium
Living costs in Belgium usually vary between 700 – 950 EUR/month. In big cities, you might need a larger budget, but this largely depends on accommodation type and your spending habits.
Here are a few examples of average living costs in some Belgian student cities:
- Antwerp: between 780 – 1,230 EUR/month
- Brussels: between 890 and 1,300 EUR/month
- Gent: between 750 and 1,200 EUR/month
- Leuven: around 800 and 1,300 EUR/month
- Liege: around 700 and 1,100 EUR/month
Cost of Living in Belgium
Accommodation in Belgium
Prices for accommodation are in line with the international average when it comes to student halls of residence. However, when it comes to the private sector, costs are higher.
You have three options when it comes to finding accommodation in Belgium:
- University halls of residence – a room in a student campus can be around 200 – 400 EUR/month
- In the private sector, on average, a room for a student can be around 500 EUR/month
- Renting/Sharing an apartment or a studio will cost you around 600 – 700 EUR/month. Prices are higher for apartments that are closer to the city centre.
Also, don’t forget about utility bills! In student halls of residence, they are included in the price. If you rent a private place, electricity, water, internet, and other utilities can cost between 100 – 400 EUR/month.
Food costs in Belgium
Buying from the supermarket and cooking at home is the cheapest option when it comes to food. On average, you would spend around 300 EUR/month for your groceries. Some of the cheapest supermarkets in Belgium are Lidl, Aldi, and Colruyt.
Eating out once in a while is a nice experience, and it is really worth it in Belgium. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant is between 10 and 20 EUR. With prices between 4 and 16 EUR, you can eat soups, salads, platters of cheese and cold meats, and patisserie at Le Pain Quotidien restaurant chain.
If you like seafood, you should be thrilled to hear about La Mer du Nord / De Nordsee, serving croquettes aux crevettes, escargots de mer (whelks), fish soup, pickled herring, smoked mackerel and salmon, hot dishes of crab and scallops, all for about 8 – 10 EUR.
Transportation in Belgium
Trains and buses are the cheapest and most convenient travel options while living in Belgium. A monthly public transportation pass for students younger than 25 years old costs 50 EUR/month.
Another option is renting or buying a second-hand bicycle. It’s a great way to exercise, enjoy some fresh air, and discover the Belgian city in which you’ll live.
Here are a few examples of other expenses while living in Belgium:
- Books: 35 – 50 EUR/month
- Entertainment: 50 EUR/month
- Health insurance: 20 – 30 EUR/month
If you want to buy second-hand books, you can look for announcement boards in your campus, as some students sell their books for good prices. You can also check Stubooks.be, an online platform where students buy and sell their old books (available in Dutch only).
3. Scholarships in Belgium
Scholarships for international students in Belgium are offered by some universities, the government, the Academy of Research and Higher Education, and other Belgian agencies or organisations.
Here are some examples of scholarships for international students:
- Master Mind Scholarships – provided by the government of Flanders
- ARES Scholarships in Belgium – for students coming from developing countries
- Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees (EMJMD) programme – for all international students, regardless of their country of origin. The EMJMD scholarship covers costs like tuition fees, insurance, and some of the travel expenses. Students also receive a monthly allowance for the entire duration of the study programme.
- Scholarships and funding programmes available on Scholarshipsineurope.com
Prepare to apply
First things first: check the scholarships in Belgium. You have a lot to choose from and the chance that one of them be perfect for you is great. You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
Also, like any country, check the VISA requirements. Although you may be free to come here if you’re an EU/EEA student, it won’t matter where you come from for your residence permit and your application documents.
For example, since 2008, all students from China had to obtain a special certificate from the Centre of Academic Assessment from Beijing to be added to their VISA file.
And, since we mentioned the application process…
Where to apply for a Belgian Master’s degree?
There is a website, StudyInBelgium.be, that will be your general guide through your application. When we say general, we mean it: the information provided here is so basic, you expect it to listen to Taylor Swift on repeat.
Language requirements for a Belgian university application
Most courses in Belgium are either in French or in English. Like always, each page has more information about the grade and the proficiency tests they will accept.
Usually, for English, the tests accepted are:
- C1 Advanced
For French, you will have to:
- take a language proficiency test upon arrival
- or submit a certificate, proving your language level (FLE)
For foreign students, the universities organise special French courses, so if you wish to learn while you’re there, you should be covered. You can find more information directly on the StudyInBelgium website, so don’t forget to check it out before departing.
Required application documents
General application documents
You will probably get tired of hearing this, but always check the website for your programme of choice!
Some of the requirements are basic, like having a Bachelor’s before applying for a Master’s (duh!), and that you must submit all your documents in either English, French or Dutch, but other requirements will be completely up to the university or will depend on your country of origin.
Some of the basic documents required also include your:
- Passport picture
- Bachelor’s degree transcripts
- Proof of language proficiency
- But, like always, RESEARCH!
Specific entry requirements
Some universities or Master’s programmes will require you to submit:
- A motivation letter
- A reference letter
Like always, the number of characters or the number of reference letters may vary, so be prepared and follow the document checklist you will be given like it’s your own personal Manifesto.
Also, take care: some programmes may require students who can afford to pay for themselves for their international experience, including accommodation, living costs, tuition fees.
University application deadlines for Belgium
In Belgium, some deadlines are dependent on your VISA status. Some of the rough deadlines you will need to take into account and mark on your calendar are:
- start of March: Application deadline for students who need a visa
- start 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