Belgian universities - Expat Guide to Belgium | Expatica
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Last update on June 15, 2020

If you want to study in Belgium, this guide lists the main colleges and universities in Belgium, with information on their curricula, background and graduate programs.

If you want to study in Belgium, there are a good range of universities to choose from. There are universities in both the Dutch and French-speaking regions of Belgium with the governance of each coming under the remit of the respective Flemish or French communities.

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

KU Leuven is located near Brussels, in the city of Leuven in Flanders – the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Founded in 1425, it is the oldest university in the Low Countries and the oldest existing Catholic university in the world. From the beginning it quickly became one of the outstanding intellectual centres of the western world. Over the centuries, the University of Leuven has continued to be an important centre of higher learning and scientific research. Today the school is ranked 40th on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

During 1968, one of the most important steps occurred in the Belgian federalisation process, as the University of Leuven was split into two independent universities. The French-speaking Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) moved to a new campus in Louvain-la-Neuve, while the Dutch-speaking Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K U Leuven) remained in the historic town of Leuven.

Today K U Leuven is Belgium’s largest university, consisting of 14 faculties, covering the complete range of scientific disciplines in: humanities, natural science and technology, bioscience and medicine (excluding veterinary medicine). These faculties provide high quality interdisciplinary teaching and university education to more than 31,000 students, of which around 12 per cent are international students coming from approximately 120 different countries.

Most of the study programs are taught in Dutch. However, some 50-international study programs are also taught in English to cater for a growing international student audience.The university’s world-famous library (with its 24 subsidiaries spread across 12 campuses in Flanders) has more than four million books.

Even though the emphasis is on fundamental research, significant efforts have been made to meet the needs of industry and society. With more than 4,000 externally funded research projects currently being carried out, many of these projects directly involve industrial partners.

The University’s interface for technology, K U Leuven Research & Development, stimulates and mediates the birth of spin-offs, and fosters young starters in its Campus Innovation and Incubation Centre.

K U Leuven’s interest for public health finds a presence in five university hospitals, containing approximately 2,000 beds and employing around 7,000 staff. International students are facilitated by a range of associations and offices:

  • Office for International Students and Scholars – administration of applications and student grants awarded by the university;
  • Student Services – housing, social problems, employment, legal advice, medical help, and student restaurants;
  • International Contact Club – contacts with foreign students and visiting professors;
  • Pangaea for cultural and social activities for foreign students and staff;
  • Portulaca – association of foreign students;
  • Study Advisory Service for study information, counseling and career guidance;
  • Research Co-ordination Office for information on current research.

The deadlines to apply for a study program are different depending on your nationality: 1 March for applications of non-EEA citizens, 1 June for applications of EEA citizens, and 1 June for applications of non-EEA citizens living in Belgium with a valid residence permit.

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Oude Markt 13,
3000 Leuven
Tel: +32 16 32 42 71

UCL Université Catholique de Louvain

UCL is one of the oldest universities in Europe, founded in 1425. It combines the traditional with the modern, attracting some of the most qualified students, researchers and teachers from Belgium, Europe and beyond. UCL has a student body of approximately 21,000, around 20% of whom are international, spread across 122 nationalities and five continents.

When, for political reasons, the UCL was forced to move to a French-speaking area of Belgium in 1970, it took up the challenge with enthusiasm. The Faculty of Medicine was set up in Brussels, in Woluwé-Saint-Lambert, where it works closely with the Cliniques Saint-Luc. Other faculties were established 20 minutes from the capital, in Louvain-la-Neuve, a new town created to meet the needs of the university.

The university offers a number of well-known courses including: diploma in European Studies, Master’s Degree in Common European Management Studies (CEMS) – awarded jointly by twelve European universities including UCL; and the European Master’s Degree in the Science of Work.

Research is one of the pillars of the university and the focus of approximately 200 units. Several centres of excellence have strong international reputations, such as the International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology (ICP) founded by Professor Christian de Duve, winner of the Nobel prize for medicine, and the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) created by Professor Jacques Drèze. A large science park on the edge of the University is home to high technology companies wishing to take advantage of the University’s infrastructure.

UCL Université Catholique de Louvain
Place de l’Université 1
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Tel: +32 10 47 21 11

ULB Université Libre de Bruxelles

Founded in 1834, this university has seven faculties and institutes including several university hospitals. Additionally, it also manages industrial zones devoted to research. With its 24,000 students, of whom 32% are coming from overseas, three Nobel Prizes (Jules Bordet for Medicine in 1919, Albert Claude for Medicine in 1974, and Ilya Prigogine for Chemistry in 1977), and its worldwide reputation, the ULB has achieved an outstanding status in the academic world. The ULB is now the Belgian University with the highest rate of foreign students – constituting one third of the student population.

In 1990 ULB launched the UNICA network, a partnership of universities from across Europe’s capitals and now comprising 49 universities and almost two million students.

Industrial research and development, as well as transfer of technology, represent an increasingly important part of the university’s research activities. In the last few years the budget devoted to the cooperation between the university and various industries has tripled. In the heart of Europe, close to the European Community headquarters, the ULB occupies a strategic position in the close-knit network of research centers and top industries. 30% of its research contracts are undertaken with international partners. To respond to the needs of the industry university collaboration, the ULB has created its own interfaces and manages scientific zones in Nivelles, Evere and Anderlecht.

The school also co-finances a continuing education program for adults, “EPFC.” It has a reputation for its language courses for foreigners but also offers courses in commerce, business, public relations and accounting. It is also a founding member of the International Forum of Public Universities (IFPU) and works in partnership with both the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge amongst other leading international schools.

ULB Université Libre de Bruxelles
Franklin Rooseveltlaan 50
1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 650 21 11

University of Antwerp

Universiteit Antwerpen
Prinsstraat 13
2000 Antwerpen
Tel: +32 3 265 41 11

University of Ghent

University of Ghent was the first Dutch speaking-university in Belgium when it was formed in 1930. There are approximately 41,000 students across 11 different faculties. It offers advanced degree programmes, many of them in English. Disciplines include: arts & philosophy, law, sciences, engineering, economics & business administration, agricultural and applied biological sciences, pharmaceutical sciences and veterinary medicine. The school is currently ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide, scoring highly for innovation.

University of Ghent
Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 33
9000 Ghent
Tel: +32 9 331 01 01

University of Liège

The University of Liège, founded in 1817, is a major public university of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. It offers a complete course of studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and there are 20,000 students across ten different faculties. There are also 2,800 faculty members working there.

The university has around 20% of students coming from overseas, representing 80 different nationalities from five continents. More than 20% of its research funding comes from international sources and the university maintains close ties with over 200 institutions in Europe.

The science park located on the large wooded campus, houses many high-tech enterprises, including spin-offs that were created from university laboratory research. Based on pluralism and humanism, the university offers an open environment in which all ranges of thought can be freely expressed and where human development is promoted. These values are illustrated by the personalities, on whom it has recently conferred the degree of Docteur Honoris Causa, including Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Salman Rushdie.

University of Liège
Place du 20 Août 7
B-4000 Liège
Tel: +32  4  366 21 11

VUB Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is the Dutch Language University in Brussels.The university’s name is sometimes abbreviated by “VUB” or translated to “Free University of Brussels“. However, it is an official policy of the university not to use abbreviations or translations of its name, because of possible confusion with another university that has the same translated name: the French-speaking Université libre de Bruxelles. Many courses are available in English, including Master’s and PhD degrees in Management, International and Legal Cooperation, Industrial Location and Development, Medical and Pharmaceutical Research and Fundamental Applied Marine Ecology. The university is organised into 8 faculties that accomplish the three central missions of the university: education, research, and service to the community. The faculties cover a broad range of fields of knowledge including the natural sciences, classics, life sciences, social sciences, humanities, and engineering . More than 11,000 students attend the university each year with around 15 per cent being foreign students.

VUB Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Elsene
Tel: +32 2 629 20 10

The University of Mons (Université de Mons)

This is a new Belgian university located in the city of Mons, that has been created by merging the Engineering Faculty of Mons (FPMs) and the University of Mons-Hainaut. It was founded on 1 January 2009. The merging of the institutions was achieved because of the high complementarity between them and their location being in the same city. The University of Mons is the fourth and smallest university of the French community of Belgium having about 5,700 students.

Université de Mons-Hainaut
Place du Parc 20
7000 Mons
Tel: +32 65 37 30 14

The University of Hasselt

This university has campuses in both the locations of Hasselt and Diepenbeek in Belgium. It was officially established in 1971, as the Limburgs Universitair Centrum (LUC). On June 15, 2005 the university changed its name to Hasselt University. The university campus at Hasselt has three buildings, located near each other: The Vice Chancellor’s Office Building, the Faculty of Law and the Oude Gevangenis (the renovated city jail). The university campus at Diepenbeek, set upon a 75-acre location, has several institutes for applied research, an incubator for starting small enterprises, and several small businesses interacting with the research activities of the university.

Universiteit Hasselt
Martelarenlaan 42
3500 Hasselt
Tel: +32 11 26 81 11

The University of Namur

The University of Namur or Université de Namur, is a Catholic private university in Belgium There are six faculties in the fields of: Philosophy, Law, Economic, Social and Management Sciences, Computer Sciences, Sciences and Medicine.

Université de Namur
Rue de Bruxelles 61
5000 Namur
Tel: +32 81 72 41 11