Why should I study in Belgium?

The capital of Europe, beer, chocolate, waffles and french fries...

How to Study in Belgium

Belgium is one of the smallest countries in Europe but nevertheless it has a huge amount of fascinating and divers places to discover. Situated in Western Europe, Belgium borders the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France as well as the North Sea. Thereby, Belgium not only has urban cities but also beautiful beaches. One remarkable characteristic of Belgium is that most people in the Northern part speak Dutch and the majority in the Southern part French.

The Belgian Higher Education System

The Belgian higher education system is divided into universities and universities of applied sciences. As usual in the European Union, the degree-structure is three-tiered: bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

There are currently 81 Belgian higher education institutions, of which 30 are private. In 2018, approximately 500,000 students were enrolled at Belgian universities. In general, the study programmes are structured by academic years.

Belgium’s Higher Education System in International Comparison 

In this section, we highlight the overall performance of Belgian universities on the institutional level per U-Multirank dimension. The table below shows the national breakdown of Belgian universities and how they stand across the spectrum of above average (receiving a score of ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good)), versus below average (receiving a score of ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak)). In doing so, U-Multirank offers a clear picture on the country’s strengths and areas for improvement.

It becomes apparent that in general Belgium’s higher education institutions perform strongest in U-Multirank’s research, international orientation, regional engagements and knowledge transfer dimensions.

National performance: Belgium

Percent of all Universities 100% 80% 60% 40% < below Average above > 40% 60% 80% 100% Teaching & Learning 36% 36% Research 3% 77% Knowledge Transfer 21% 62% International Orientation 22% 69% Regional Engagement 8% 77%

How much does it cost to study in Belgium?

In general, the amount of fees depends on whether you are an EU, EEA, and Swiss citizen or a non-EU citizen. As a standard tuition fee in the academic year 2017/2018, a maximum of 835 Euro was charged. Non-EU students have to pay an additional amount of fees between 2,000 and 4,175 EUR per academic year, but not more than five times the amount of the ordinary fee. For more information about the tuition fees in Belgium, click here.

Addition of information on fees and financial support

Source: Eurydice 
Reference year(s): 2020/2021


In this section we highlight the fees for studying in Belgium. The fees are shown in the national currency and address all fee types: tuition, enrolment (part- or full-time, etc.), certification, or other administrative costs. Students that are exempt from fees are also described, as well as information on international student fees if they differ.

Belgium - French Community

  • Fee limits are set by the government of the French Community of Belgium. The maximum fee in first- and second-cycle programmes at universities is EUR 836/year. Different (lower) fees apply to non-university programmes, including programmes at hautes écoles, programmes at arts colleges and adult education programmes known as 'social advancement education' (enseignement de promotion sociale). 
  • Students receiving a need-based grant do not pay fees. Students not receiving a grant but who are considered as belonging to a lower income group, pay an intermediate fee of EUR 374/year.
  • There are short-cycle higher education programmes (brevet de l’enseignement supérieur) in social advancement education (enseignement de promotion sociale). Students in these programmes pay the registration fee of EUR 26/year and tuition fees of EUR 0.37 per teaching hour. Some students (for example, unemployed or students with special needs) do not pay any fee.
  • International students, defined as non-EU students, have to pay additional fees fixed by law. For programmes organised by hautes écoles and arts colleges, fees are EUR 992 for professionally-oriented programmes and EUR 1,487 for academically-oriented programmes in the first cycle; EUR 1,984 for second-cycle programmes. For university programmes, the maximum amount should not exceed EUR 4,175. Non-EU students also pay a complementary registration fee.

Source: Eurydice. National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

  • All students have to pay a registration fee of EUR 100 per academic year. In addition, the higher education institution may charge each student up to EUR 370 tuition fees per academic year. In practice, all students pay the same amount of EUR 450, as this is the amount that the higher education institution has defined. 
  • There are no short- or second-cycle
  • International students, defined as students from outside the European Union, pay the same fees as Belgian and EU nationals. In case of exchange students, however, no fee is charged.

Source: Eurydice. National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Belgium - Flemish Community

  • First-, second- and short-cycle fees have two components: a fixed amount of EUR 245.20 and a flexible part that differs with the number of ECTS credits taken. For each credit point, a fee of EUR 11.70 is charged. This means that on average for a full-time student (60 ECTS points) the total fee is EUR 947.20. The amount of the fee varies with the income of (the parents of) the student. Students who are eligible for a need-based grant pay EUR 111.90 per academic year, regardless of the number of ECTS credits taken. An intermediate tariff of EUR 245.20 + EUR 4.30 per number of ECTS-credits taken applies to students who almost meet the income criteria linked to a need-based grant. The amount of the tuition fee is fixed in law (Codex Hoger Onderwijs). There are no tuition fees for the associate-degree programme (short-cycle) in nursing.
  • International students, defined as non-EEA students, pay higher fees than EEA-students. These are determined by higher education institutions.

Source: Eurydice. National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Financial Support

In this section we highlight the financial support system implemented in Belgium. The types of support covered in this section include: grants, loans, tax benefits for students' parents (or students themselves) and family allowances.  How these terms are defined, are outlined below:

  • Grants are provided in the national currency and are differentiated between merit-based and need-based (or universal, where applicable). All main public financial support that does not need to be paid back is included, with the exception of grants for study abroad (i.e. mobility grants). Information is also presented on the proportion of students (in the short, first and second cycle) who receive grants.
  • Loans: information focuses on the existence of a student publicly-subsidised loan system and the percentage of students that take out a loan. Information on the interest rate and modalities for the repayment of loans may also be provided.
  • Tax benefit is any tax relief that is granted to parents whose child is a higher education student or to students themselves. The information aims to cover the amount of the tax relief, how it can be claimed and who is eligible to apply.
  • Family allowances for students' parents: this part provides information on their amount and the eligible population.

Belgium - French Community

  • Public need-based grants are available for low-income students. Students must apply for this financial benefit each year. The amount granted in 2017/18 ranged from EUR 409 to 4,966 per year, depending on household (parental) income. Students who are part-time in education and part-time in employment as part of their programme are not eligible for a grant. The grant provider is the French Community of Belgium. In 2018/19, 17.2% of students received a grant. There are no merit-based grants.
  • Students' parents can take out a loan to finance studies if they have at least three dependent children. Very few take out a loan (fewer than 0.01% in 2017/18, no student asked for a loan in 2019/20). The interest rate is 4%. Repayment must start six months after graduation.
  • Heads of family receive tax benefits, which depend on the number of dependent children and relatives (including students with no income enrolled in higher education). The tax-free minimum earnings threshold is increased by EUR 1,630 for one, EUR 4,210 for two, EUR 9,430 for three, EUR 15,250 for four, and + EUR 5,820 for each subsequent child. The tax benefits are determined by the Federal Public Service of Finance.
  • Family allowances range from EUR 97.72 to EUR 269.96/month per child (until 25) in Wallonia, depending on the number of children. In the Brussels-Capital Region, it ranges between EUR 153.00 and 163.20 depending on their age (until 25). The student should have no paid employment other than a student job for more than 240 hours per quarter of the academic year (unrestricted work possible during the summer holidays for students not in their final year of study).

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

  • Student grants are need-based. Parental income and students’ age (max. 35 years of age) determine eligibility. Students must hand in their application annually. Annual grant amounts, which depend on parental income and students’ academic achievement, are between EUR 362 and EUR 2,710. Th grants are paid by the Ministry of the German-speaking Community. In 2019/20, 14.38% of first-cycle full-time students received a need-based grant; and the most common amount granted to students studying in the German-speaking Community was EUR 663. There are no merit-based grants.
  • The German-speaking Community of Belgium does not provide publicly-subsidised loans. However, students studying in the Community can take out loans managed by the Province of Liège of the French Community of Belgium.
  • Heads of family receive tax benefits which depend on the number of dependent children and relatives, including higher education students under 25 with no income. The tax-free minimum earnings threshold is increased by EUR 1,550 for one, EUR 3,980 for two, EUR 8,920 for three, EUR 14,420 for four, and + EUR 5,510 for each subsequent child.
  • Family allowances: as of 1. January 2019, a new flat rate system of EUR 157 per child applies to all dependent children (until 25) in the school system, including current higher education students. The student should have no paid employment other than a student job for more than 50 days in a year.

Belgium - Flemish Community

  • Student grants for short-, first- and second-cycle programmes are allocated on the basis of economic need. Eligibility is determined by the income of the parents and/or the student. Annual amounts typically range from EUR 277.46 to 5,781.09. In 2019/20, the average grant amount of this grant awarded was EUR 2 571.67. A student is also entitled to an extraordinary grant on the basis of extremely low income and lack of family support. Grants are provided by AHOVOKS, an agency within the Ministry of Education. About 36.8% first-cycle and 12.5 % second-cycle full-time students received grants and/or fee-reduction in 2018/19. There are no merit-based grants.
  • There is no student loan
  • Heads of family receive tax benefits which depend on the number of dependent children and relatives (including students with no income enrolled in higher education). The tax-free minimum earnings threshold is increased by EUR 1 650 for one, 4,150 for two, 9,290 for three, 15,030 for four, and + 5,740 for each subsequent child. The tax benefits are determined by the Federal Public Service of Finance. Students with an income are also eligible for tax benefits.
  • Family allowances range from EUR 93.93/month to 259.49/month per child (until 25), depending on the number of children born before 1. January 2019. The student should have no paid employment other than a student holiday job of maximum 475 hours per year, and/or maximum 80 hours per month through an ordinary employment contract. A student can be self-employment, as long this does not make up their main activity.

What are the entry requirements for Belgian Universities?

If you are coming from an EU country, from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and have a school-leaving certificate that qualifies you for higher education, it will usually also allow you to study in a bachelor's programme in Belgium, too. To study in a master's programme you need to hold a bachelor's degree. If you are living outside the EU and want to study in a bachelor's programme, you need a school leaving certificate that has to be translated into French or Dutch. Since each university in Belgium has its own regulatory terms, it might be a good idea to have a look at the individual university regulations.

How to get a Scholarship in Belgium?

No matter the reason, paying high tuition fees can be a source of stress for many. However, there are many options for financing your studies, including the use of scholarships. There are various scholarship opportunities available for international students looking to study in Belgium. Depending on your country of origin and the level of studies, there are different options for funding. To explore what scholarship options are available, check this scholarship database.

Do I need a Student Visa for Belgium?

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are not required to obtain a visa, a residence permit or a work permit but they need to register with the local authorities after their arrival. Generally, all non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens must have a student visa. The visa has to be obtained before traveling to Belgium. For a student visa, you have to fulfill some requirements: Your study has to be your main occupation, you need to have health insurance coverage and you must have enough resources for your stay in Belgium. For more information about the student visa in Belgium and its application process, click here.

Top Student Cities in Belgium


How do Belgian Universities fare in U-Multirank?

  1. Ten out of twelve Belgian universities are presented in U-Multirank.
  2. Belgian higher education institutions perform strong in the dimensions Research, Knowledge Transfer, International Orientation as well as Regional Engagement, in which more than 70% of all indicator scores are ranked above average (‘A’ or ‘B’).
  3. Six out of the ten Belgian universities included in U-Multirank scored ten or more ‘A’ scores. These are University of Antwerp (16), Hasselt University (16), Ghent University (15), the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (15), University of Moans (11) and University of Namur (11).
  4. All of them score most of their top group positions in Research or Knowledge Transfer.

Here you can find the current Belgium country report.


Belgium's Higher Education Performance in U-Multirank

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