European countries are steadily becoming a hub for higher education over the last decade. World-class education, affordable tuition, prospective career, and several other reasons can be named for the influx of international students in Europe. Among them, Belgium happens to be one of the top choices. Let’s take a look at the higher education opportunities in Belgium for international students and explore how Bangladeshi students can be a part of it.
Why Study in Belgium?
Starting with the beautiful scenic countryside, luscious gorges, and canals, Belgium is a country to behold for its natural beauty. The scenic nature of Belgium, a central European country, combined with the cosmopolitan cities has been a great destination for many international students to pursue bachelor, master's, or Ph.D.
In addition to that, Belgium offers some of the best living standards in Europe. The cities are robust with cultural affluence. The mix of the Flanders and the Wallonia culture has made the country even more diverse within itself.
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On the educational end, the top 10 universities in Belgium rank in the top 800 universities globally according to the QS ranking of 2022. The programs offered by the top Belgium universities are also diverse. Study programs range from pure science, engineering, life sciences, and social science to medicine.
Higher Study Opportunity in Belgium for International Students
Belgium offers all three of the higher education options – bachelor, master, and Ph.D. Bachelors generally run for 3 to 4 years, masters for 1 or 2 years, and Ph.D. for 3 to 4 years maximum.
However, there’s a caveat with the bachelor’s opportunities. Most of the courses and programs on the undergraduate level are offered in Dutch. Compared to that, very few English-taught programs are available at the undergraduate level. This means you’ll either have to learn the language or search very hard for your desired program.
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In contrast, most of the master's and Ph.D. programs are offered in English. So, a standardized English proficiency is enough to get going in these programs.
Can International Students Study Bachelor in Belgium?
Bachelors in Belgium aren’t all that common for international students mainly because of the language requirement. But there are still ample opportunities and many students avail themselves with some extra effort to learn the language first.
The process of application for bachelor's, master, and Ph.D. are more or less the same. However, there are certain distinctions as you will see in each part.
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The admission window for foreign students in Belgium is only open for fall. Belgium does not offer admission to international students in Spring.
The general requirements for documents include –
- Educational certificate and Transcripts
- Two LORs
- Statement of Purpose/ Motivation Letter
- Extra-Curricular Activities (If Applicable)
- Awards and Achievements Certificates (If Applicable).
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Students will require a legalized copy of each of the documents that they submit online or send through traditional mail to the university. To legalize the documents, a student will need to get their documents attested by their respective educational institution, Education Board, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Belgian Consulate in their respective country.
The process may be cumbersome but Belgian institutes do not accept any application that hasn’t been legalized in the above manner.
The application process usually starts a year before the prospective entry date. Depending on the university, a student will have to pay 30 to 100 euros or 3,045 BDT or 10,115 BDT as an application fee (1 EUR = 101 BDT).
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Tuition also isn’t free in Belgium. Undergraduate courses can run anywhere between 950 euros to 6000 euros or 96,436 BDT to 6,09,072 BDT per year depending on the program.
Scope for International Students to Study Masters in Belgium
Master in Belgium is the more popular choice for international students as it doesn’t require Dutch and neither does it require specialization in academia for Ph.D.
Generally, a master's program runs for about 2 years with some specified courses having a 1-year degree offering. Prospective student needs to complete at least 16 years of formal education in their respective country to be eligible for a master's in Belgium.
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A student can bypass the IELTS/TOEFL requirement if their Medium of Instruction or MOI at the undergraduate level was English. The English-taught programs are required to be certified by the respective universities. In addition to the document requirements mentioned in the bachelor's section, a student might have to submit a research plan for their intended program.
The average tuition fees for master's degrees are the same as bachelor's and are calculated on an annual basis.
Ph.D. in Belgium
We have already talked about how Belgium is basically divided between Flanders and Wallonia. Universities in Belgium are also classified between Flemmish and Walloon universities. Each of the two has a different fee structure for their Ph.D. program.
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Flemmish universities charges around 474 euro or 48,116 BDT each for the first and last year of a Ph.D., nothing in between.
On the other hand, Walloon universities has an initial first-year tuition fee of around 835 euros or 84,762 BDT with a subsequent fee of around 50 euros or 5075 BDT per consecutive year.
To get admission into Belgian Ph.D. programs, prospective candidates need to have a good research track record and experience in academia.
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Scholarship Opportunities in Belgium
Belgian universities have generous scholarship opportunities depending on the universities. Most of these scholarships are available after enrollment. In addition to university-specific scholarships, there are other centralized scholarship opportunities as well. These include –
1. Belgian Technical Cooperation Scholarships
2. The [email protected] Scholarships
3. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters
6. The VLIR-UOS Training and Master Scholarship
7. University of Ghent Doctoral Fund
8. Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) Scholarship
Cost of Living in Belgium
As Belgium is divided distinctly into two regions, the cost of living somewhat differs depending on where your university is located or where the student is living. Generally, the cost of living is around 750 euros to 950 euros or 76,134 BDT to 96,436 BDT in places away from the capital.
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Living costs can go up as high as 1200 euros or 1,21,814 BDT if you live in and around Brussels. But that’s the highest cap in terms of living cost in Belgium and most students can easily get by under 1000 euros.
Job Opportunities in Belgium
There are ample job opportunities for foreign graduates in Belgium. The country recently allowed all foreign students to have orientation time of up to one year for job search after graduation.
This will allow the foreign student unlimited access to the Belgian job market and secure a desired career track after graduation. After securing a job, students will need to get the Combined Residence Permit to stay and work in Belgium.
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So far, we have discussed how students from Bangladesh can do bachelor's, master's, or PhDs in Belgium. Higher study in Belgium is now more accessible and affordable than ever. As the country has a growing old-age population, it is reforming policies to attract non-EU talents to the country and potentially secure jobs in the Belgian market. This is a golden opportunity for prospective students to utilize Belgium as a potential study destination and career hub in the long run.