Belgium Higher Education

The universities of Flanders and Wallonia admit many foreign students each year. If you are about to complete your education, you have the opportunity to get an internship at an EU institution in Brussels.

Until 1970, Belgium was a nation state, but in 1970 it became a federal state consisting of 3 regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.

The country is divided into 4 language areas: French (Wallonia), Flemish (Flanders), German (Southeast Belgium) and Brussels, where both French and Flemish are spoken, and where many inhabitants are bilingual.

Each of the three regions has the independent responsibility for higher education. The German-speaking area has no higher education institutions and makes the most use of educational institutions in the French-speaking area or in neighboring Germany.

Brussels is an international city that houses, among other things, many multinational companies and international institutions. A large part of the EU institutions are located in Brussels, which is also called the capital of the EU.

Worth knowing

Vocational training in Belgium

The Flemish-speaking part

  • Technical Secondary Education (The technical line) lasts 4 years and corresponds most closely to the Danish htx education. In addition to general subjects such as language, mathematics, physics and history, the program includes technical subjects that are related to the various industries, such as construction, industrial design, environmental engineering, diet and nutrition. The education provides access to higher education and qualifies to practice a mockery.
  • Vocational Secondary Education (Erhvervslinjen) lasts 5 years and is the more typical practically oriented Flemish vocational education. In addition to general subjects such as language, mathematics, history and geography, the education contains subjects that are related to the various industries, e.g. crafts and engineering, service, health and nutrition. The education does not provide general access to higher education in Belgium, but may provide access to related higher education.

These educations take place in schools and do not include internships, but instead workshop and laboratory exercises. There is an opportunity to take an internship-oriented vocational training, but this is not very developed in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium.

The French-speaking part

In the French-speaking part, one can take a purely school-based vocational education or an internship-oriented education, which is the most common.

The vocational educations generally last 4 years and can be taken at:

  • CEFAS – center for exchange programs
  • or IFAPME – the Walloon Center for Vocational Training for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

Internship

If you are considering taking all or part of your own internship abroad, read the section on internships abroad for vocational education under the section Primary school, vocational education and youth education.

Higher education in Belgium

Many foreign students are admitted to Belgian universities every year.

The academic year begins around October 1 and ends in late June. The year is divided into 2 semesters in both Flanders and Wallonia.

Institutions

Higher education in Belgium takes place primarily at universities and at vocational colleges (Flanders) and Hautes Écoles (Wallonia).

The universities of Flanders are very different. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (1425) is the oldest Catholic university in the world. The university offers virtually all traditional educations. University of Antwerp – UA (University of Antwerp) is one of the newest universities in Belgium, founded in 2003.

At Hogescholen you can either take a short vocational education of 3 years, e.g. nurse, librarian or teacher in primary school, or a longer education of 4-5 years, e.g. engineer or architect. Education at the University of Applied Sciences can be compared with professional bachelor programs from the vocational colleges in Denmark, although the range of educations may be different.

Universities in Wallonia are called les universités complètes, as they offer all the most common university educations within e.g. literature, language, law and medicine. There are other universities in Wallonia that offer fewer degrees than les universités complètes.

Hautes Écoles in Wallonia includes all other educational institutions offering higher education. Here, a distinction is made between the short and the long educations. In the short educations you can e.g. read to educator, social worker and nurse. On the long educations you can e.g. read to engineer, economist and high school teacher. The level of the long educations corresponds to the university level.

Degrees at university level after 2004/05

The Flemish-speaking part – Flanders

  • Bachelor degree: a 3-year program (180 ECTS points). Teaching takes place at the universities and the University College (professional orientation)
  • Advanced Bachelor programs. 1 year of studies on top of the bachelor’s program. Typical specialization in the subject area.
  • Professionally-oriented Bachelor programs (profession -oriented bachelor programs), last 3 years (180 ECTS points) and are practice -oriented. They are offered at the University College for the purpose of independent practice of a profession or a professional area.
  • Master degree: 1-2 years (60/120 ECTS points) on the basis of a Bachelor degree. Teaching takes place at the universities and the Hogescholen. The education is research-based and ends with a thesis. Often you can take a 1-year master’s degree and then a 1-year advanced master’s degree on top of the first master’s degree (graduate master or master-na-master)
  • Doctorate (PhD): minimum 2 years on the basis of a Belgian master’s degree.

The French-speaking part – Wallonia

  • Bachelor’s degree: 3 years – 180 ECTS.
  • Master: 1 or 2 years – 60-120 ECTS.
  • Grade de Docteur – 3 years on top of a master’s degree.

Application for higher education in Wallonia

You must send your application directly to the educational institution where you want admission.

Admission requirements

To apply for admission to higher education in Wallonia, you must have your Danish upper secondary school examination approved by the Ministry of Education’s approval department (service des équivalences). The processing time is 2-3 weeks.

Language proficiency

To be admitted to a higher education in Wallonia, you must document that you master French at a high level.

Application deadlines

Information on application deadlines is available at the individual educational institutions.

You can get more information about admission to higher education in Belgium at belgium.be

Recognition of foreign educations in Denmark

If you have completed a publicly recognized education abroad, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education

Economics and education

In both Flanders and Wallonia, an annual tuition fee is paid for higher education. The fee can vary a lot from institution to institution and from level to level.

If your stay is part of an exchange agreement between a Danish higher education institution and a similar one in Flanders or Wallonia, you do not have to pay tuition fees.

Work in Belgium

The location of the EU institutions in Brussels has created many jobs. These are jobs at different levels. The competition for the positions is fierce and the application procedure consists of many tests and interviews. Many Danes work in the EU Commission or the Council.

If you are about to finish your studies or have just finished, you have the opportunity to apply for a trainee position in an EU institution. A trainee position is a kind of trainee position, which typically lasts 5 months. Read more in the article about internships in connection with a higher education.

You can get more information about working in the EU institutions from the EU staff organization EPSO.

Job search
You can receive unemployment benefits for 3 months while you apply for a job in Belgium. See more about this in the article Job search abroad under the folder Paid Work.

You can get information about working in Belgium from the EURES Advisers at the country’s Job Centers.

In addition, you can also search the following job databases:
www.careerjet.be (Flemish)
www.optioncarriere.be (French)

Work-and residence permit

As an EU citizen, you are free to stay in Belgium for up to 3 months. Should you stay in the country for more than 3 months, e.g. in connection with work or study, you must apply for a residence permit. See Your Europe for more information. See also the article Visas, work and residence permits.

Facts about Belgium

Population: Approx. 10.2 million – Allcitypopulation

Languages: French, Flemish, German.

Employment: Unemployment was 8.5% in 2014 (Eurostat).

Residence permit: Applied to the local authorities.

Belgium Higher Education