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Study abroad: MBAs in Belgium

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Many expats working abroad give their careers a boost by studying an MBA abroad. Learn the MBA rankings, what is an executive MBA, and where to find MBA courses in Belgium.

The idea of going back to school after years of working as a successful international executive may seem a bit strange at first. But expats in Belgium and all over the world are deciding to do just that with MBAs, executive MBAs and more.

The market in executive education has exploded in past years. For example, experts estimated that there were more than 3,500 different programmes around the world that gave students the possibility to earn a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). But MBAs are not the only option for executives in Belgium looking to give their careers a shot in the arm. Prospective students can sign up for executive education courses, learn about management sciences, opt for part-time or full time studies, or receive in-company training. You can read more about studying options and higher education institutions in Belgium.

Faced with such a wealth of choice, the big question for anyone planning to spend what is often quite a hefty amount of money on some mid-career education is, of course, which programme is the one for me

Do your homework

For Patrick de Greve, Managing Director of the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (VLMGS) in Belgium, choosing a reputable course is vital.

"With so many programmes on offer, it is obviously hard to know which the best ones are," he says.

De Greve says what really counts is whether a particular business school has received formal recognition from the relevant academic authorities both in the country where it is based and internationally.

VLMGS, for example, is the postgraduate management school of two of the biggest and most respected universities in Belgium — the Catholic University in Leuven and Ghent University. This fact alone guarantees its national reputation.

When it comes to international recognition, the school has been approved both by the UK-based AMBA quality accreditation system for MBAs and by EQUIS, the European management school approval system.

Check the rankings

Another way to determine whether the course you are considering is up to scratch is checking whether it is included on a reputable business school ranking roster.

The two best-known rankings are published yearly by the UK's Financial Times newspaper and by news magazine The Economist. Data in these two rankings are broken down in several ways but both have a simple Top 100 list of MBA programmes worldwide. Rankings are also presented for different regions like Europe or the United States, as well as for particular disciplines.

"Obviously the academic approval is more vital from a scientific point of view, but the rankings are important. They are an at-a-glance way to see what a particular school has on offer," Greve explains.

Financial advantage

Executive education programmes, however, are not cheap. You will probably spend the best part EUR 10, 000 on teaching fees alone, and most students expect a healthy return on their investments as soon as possible.

People who sign up for executive education courses do not generally do so out of a simple love of learning or for the good of their health. They want to see tangible results in the form of higher salaries when they graduate.

"This is the big issue," says de Greve. "Our students are hard-nosed business people and this is the main question they ask us."

The VLMGS Director says it would be wrong for any school to guarantee a particular salary increase to students.

But he estimates that students graduating from reputable establishments like his could generally expect to see their pay swell by between 15 to 30 percent.

"Sometimes we've seen pay rises of over 50 percent, but that's not every day. Certainly not in the current economic climate," de Greve adds.

Is an MBA for me?

Opting to spend a great deal of both time and money on an executive education programme is a major decision that should not be taken lightly. It is very important to make sure you choose the right point in your career to go back to school.

"Most of our courses are for people who already have three, five, perhaps seven or even ten years of real-world business experience under their belts," explains de Greve. "These are not generally courses that would be particularly useful to people fresh out of university."

Most reputable business schools say the same thing: executive education is for mid-career people looking for an extra bit of professional push.

Business schools in Belgium

Read more about the higher education system in Belgium and a find list of the top universities and education institution in Expatica's guide to studying in Belgium. Certain students will also need to apply for a Belgian student permit.

Antwerp Management School
Het Brantijser, Sint-Jacobsmarkt 9–13, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
+32 (0)3 265 47 58 |

Flanders Business School
Korte Nieuwstraat 33, 2000 Antwerp
+32 (0)3 201 18 25 | W

Louvain School of Management
Université Catholique de Louvain, Place des Doyens 1, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
+32 (0)1 047 21 11 |

Solvay Business School of Economics and Management
Université Libre de Bruxelles, Campus de Solbosch
Avenue FD Roosevelt 42, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
+32 (0)2 650 65 17 |

United Business Institutes
Avenue Marnix 20—Marnixlaan 20, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
+32 (0)2 548 04 80 |

United International Business Schools
Rue Guimard 7, 1040 Brussels, Belgium
+32 (0)2 203 77 80 |

Vlerick Business School
Ghent Campus, Reep 1, 9000 Gent, Belgium
+32 (0)9 210 97 11 |

Leuven Campus
Vlamingenstraat 83, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
+32 (0)9 210 97 11 |

Business school and MBA rankings



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Published 2011, updated 2016.

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