Belgium

Universities

Firstly, it is impossible to describe Belgian universities without mentioning the divide between the Flemish (Flanders) and French-speaking (Wallonia) regions of the country. The education system in each part of the country is run along completely separate lines. This does not really have any impact on the way an international student might choose a university in Belgium but it does mean that where you choose to study will have an impact on the language spoken around you.

Belgium has some excellent universities and four of them are currently to be found in the top 200 of the Times Higher Education International University Rankings.

In the French-speaking region of Wallonia-Brussels there are six universities grouped in three academies. These are:

  • Université catholique de Louvain
  • University of Saint-Louis in Brussels
  • University of Namur
  • Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Université de Mons
  • University of Liège

In the Flemish speaking region of Flanders there are five universities:

  • KU Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven)
  • Universiteit Antwerpen
  • Universiteit Gent
  • Universiteit Hasselt
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Rather unhelpfully the Université libre de Bruxelles and Vrije Universiteit Brussel are separate institutions even though they have the same name when translated into English.

In addition to universities you can also find University Colleges (equivalent to Universities of Applied Sciences elsewhere in Europe, Registered Institutes of Higher Education, Art Colleges and Institutes of Architecture.

Belgium is ideally located at the heart of the European Union and this in itself can be one of the main attractions to studying at its excellent universities. For a head start in an international career, studying in Belgium has a lot to recommend it. You are also only a few hours away from the UK by train or aeroplane.

Masters degrees are usually either one year or two years in duration and both Master’s and Advanced Master’s degrees are offered at Belgian universities.

Accreditation & Recognition

Since 2002 the NVAO (Netherlands and Flemish Accreditation Organisation) has been responsible for recognising all degrees in Flemish-speaking Belgium. Every course is checked thoroughly upon its introduction and then once again every six years. As a result, you can rest assured that the quality of Belgian higher education is checked regularly and is expected to maintain a high standard.

The NVAO checks not only academic context of Belgian degrees but also their real-life relevance and compatibility with the needs of the local economy. The NVAO also aims to increase the international mobility of students with Belgian degrees by improving the comparability of qualifications and maximising the transparency of the subjects studied.

As a result of the European Union’s Bologna process all degrees taught within the European Union should be of a notionally similar standard so there should not be issues with Flemish or Wallonian degrees for students who wish to return to the UK upon graduation.

We are not aware of any courses taught in English that do not have NVAO accreditation but it is always worth checking.

The website for information on recognition of degrees at French-speaking universities is www.enseignement.be. It is in French.

The website provides a directory of higher education institutions recognised and/or subsidised by the Ministry of the Federation Wallonia-Brussels.

Search can be done by type of institutions or programmes here