Universities in Brussels
Updated last year

Brussels is a great city to live and work in, and consequently, it also has a lot to offer prospective students whether that is an Erasmus experience or long-term course of study. There are many different universities to choose from with lots of courses and masters on offer. These are available in French, Dutch and English and you can always take a language course alongside your programme of study. This guide will tell you all that you need to know about studying in Brussels.

A very cosmopolitan place, it should come as no surprise to learn that Brussels universities are just as diverse as the city itself and people come from all around Europe and further afield to study at its higher education institutions. While most of the Bachelor courses are taught in either French or Dutch, an increasing number of Masters are taught in English. As Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, there are lots of courses that look at business, economics and politics in Europe.

Universities in Brussels

There is quite a wide range of universities for prospective students to choose from and so it is a good idea to carefully research your options before diving into a course of study. The following are some of the most well-known universities in the city, and each of them has lots of international students attending courses.

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is one of the most popular universities amongst international students, and they make up over a third of the student body. Founded back in 1834, it has a very comprehensive list of courses for you to choose from and over the years four Nobel Prize winners have studied or researched at ULB. It has around 40 undergraduate programmes and 250 graduate programmes for you to choose from. Most of the courses are in French although some of the Masters are in English.

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) split off from ULB in 1970 and most people who go there study in Dutch although there are now lots of Masters courses in English which appeal to international students. It is a very innovative university, and lots of people also come here to do research in various fields. Whether it is nuclear engineering, football business or European policy making you're interested in, VUB should have a course perfectly suited to your learning needs.

Université Saint-Louis ' Bruxelles offers up several Bachelor programmes in law, economics, social sciences and translation and interpreting as well as some interesting Masters courses. Around sixty different nationalities attend the university which is located in the centre of Brussels. Some of the courses are impressively taught in all three languages ' English, French and Dutch!

Brussels School of International Studies is actually a part of the University of Kent in the UK that is based in Brussels. It has a very international outlook, and so all of its programmes look at such subjects as conflict analysis, human rights law, migration and international development. All of the courses are in English, and there are often guest lecturers from the European Commission and NATO.

Vlerick Business School is one of the top-rated business schools in Europe, and it has a lot of management programmes on offer that are aimed at attracting international students. These range from digital transformation and entrepreneurship to marketing and sales and people management and leadership. It again is very international, and each year only around 550 students attend its courses as the aim is to keep classes small and dynamic.

As Belgium is quite small, it is entirely feasible to live in Brussels and study at a university in one of the neighbouring cities. Ghent and Leuven, for instance, are just short train journeys away and both cities have a very vibrant student life. The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) is the top-rated university in the country and has fifteen faculties that teach a whole range of courses with around 60,000 students attending its programmes. While it is very international, it also offers up lots of scholarships to students from developing countries. Ghent University is another large university with around 45,000 students. Although a lot of its courses at its eleven faculties are in Dutch, it also has an increasing number of courses in English.

How to study in Belgium

Once you've decided on a university and course, it's time to apply. Each programme of study has its own requirements when it comes to admissions so take a careful look through and see if you meet the criteria or send the university staff an email if you're not sure. While most Bachelors courses simply require a secondary school diploma from either Belgium or abroad, for some, you may need to take an entrance exam. You may also get tested on your language skills depending on where you come from.

Once you get accepted, then you can apply for a visa if you need one to study in Belgium. Here you'll need your acceptance letter from the university, proof of your qualifications and also a statement concerning your finances to show that you have enough money to support yourself for the duration of your course. If you are from outside the European Union, then you may have to get your school qualifications legalised in Belgium beforehand. For more information regarding how to apply for your student visa, the Belgian Immigration Office has everything that you'll need.

University fees

While university fees fluctuate quite substantially depending on the course, you take and whether it's a Bachelors, Masters or PhD, in general prices in Brussels are very cheap and affordable. At VUB for instance, fees for the 2019-2020 academic year stand at less than 250 euros for a lot of its Bachelors and Masters courses. Fees barely rise at all for students from outside of the European Union as courses then cost around 300 euros although some masters at VUB do cost about 1,500 euros. At the other end of the scale, Vlerick Business School's MBA costs 38,000 euros for the year, and that's not including accommodation, food or transport over your time in Brussels. As you can see, there is a huge difference between the two universities, and so it is best to thoroughly research all the options available to you before making your choice.

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