Top 10 Universities in Belgium for International Students

Located in the heart of Western Europe, Belgium is known worldwide for its beer, chocolate, music, and of course, the famous Belgian waffle. Apart from that, Belgium is also a big cultural cornerstone of Europe, with amazing architecture, museums, as well as some of the best universities on the continent, which makes it an attractive option for international students from around the world.

The biggest cities in Belgium are the capital, Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Ghent, and Charleroi. French is the main language, but there is also a large number of Dutch speakers, as well as a smaller German-speaking community in the east. If you are an international student, though, you don’t have to worry, as you will be able to get by with English most of the time, depending on your course. In this article, we will be going over some of the best universities in Belgium for international students.

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How satisfied are international students in studying in Belgium?

The reviews of international students who spent a semester or their entire course in Belgium are overwhelmingly positive. Students mainly praise the quality of city life, with everything from museums, to night clubs and different social events. Another thing that is very attractive for students, is the international atmosphere that the country brings with the three main languages, but also the many people who live or study there from around the world, enabling students to interact with people who come from different backgrounds, values, and traditions.

The people there are very welcoming, and students don’t take too long to adapt to the new environment. Cities in Belgium are not very huge, making it easy to get around on a bike, but also big enough to provide everything that a young person would want. The country’s location is also ideal, making it easy to travel to other important European cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, and more.

What are the most popular programs in Belgium for International Students?

Since most of the Bachelor level courses are taught in either French or Dutch, a lot of students prefer to come to Belgium for their master studies, since there are many more options that are also available in English. Belgium is also a lucrative option for PhD students, with plenty of scholarships and other benefits being offered from universities throughout the country.

How many international students study in Belgium?

As we said earlier, Belgium is a top destination for international students from around the world. Although the pandemic might decrease the number of students in the next few years, we can expect everything to return to normal eventually.

There are currently around 50,000 international students in Belgium, of which most study in Brussels, but there are large numbers in other cities as well. One of the main reasons for this large number of foreign students is the Erasmus exchange and Mundus Joint Master Degrees programmes.

What is the most prestigious university in Belgium?

There are a number of world class educational institutions in Belgium, but none is more prestigious than the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven or KU Leuven, which ranked as the 45th best university in the world according to the Times Higher Education University Rankings of 2020. It is also the largest university in the country with over 45.000 students.

Best Universities in Belgium for International Students

1. KU Leuven

KU Leuven is the oldest and the best university in Belgium for international students, consistently ranking among the top 100 universities in the world and number 1 in Belgium. It was founded all the way back in 1425 and is mainly a Dutch-speaking university, but there are also courses in French and English.

The international student population is currently around 10,000, and the university enjoys great reviews from the foreign students, who praise it for the outstanding quality of study material, as well as enjoyable extracurricular activities. The international students gave the institution a 4.2 out of 5 ratings, based on different parameters.

2. Ghent University

Ghent University is easily the second-best university in Belgium for international students, even ranking higher than KU Leuven based on a few metrics. It was founded in 1817. It is most known for being among the world leaders in veterinary sciences. The main language of instruction is also Dutch, but there are postgraduate courses available in English, too.

Ghent university enjoys a large crowd of international students, who love how open the institution is to people of all backgrounds and religions, enabling them to feel right at home

3. Catholic University of Louvain (UCL)

Founded in 1425, Universite Catholique Louvain is one of the oldest universities in Europe, as well as the largest French-speaking university in Belgium. There are currently over 30,000 students enrolled at the university, many of which come from abroad. UCL has a very selective admission policy that is based on the entrance exam, as well as the student’s past academic grades and record. Their degrees are internationally recognized, attracting students from all over the world.

4. University of Antwerp

Next on our list of top Belgian universities for international students is the University of Antwerp. Located in the city of Antwerp, the University of Antwerp is one of the major institutes in Belgium. It was founded in 2003 after a merger of three smaller universities. The University is known for its entrepreneurial approach, and high standards of education.

UA offers a range of courses that are taught in English, but this is mainly for Masters and Advanced Masters degrees, All of the Bachelor programmes are taught in Dutch. For students who still wish to attend the University as bachelors, they offer a one-year language learning programme, before starting with their degree.

5. Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Although not as highly ranked as some of the other Belgian universities, Vrije Universiteit Brussel might be the single best university for international students in the country. It offers courses in both English and Dutch for all degrees, including Bachelor’s, unlike most others you will see on this list, making it ideal for foreigners to come and study here.

The city of Brussels is also an amazing place to spend your student years, so it is no surprise that people from all over the world attend this university and make up such a high percentage of the number of enrolled students. Their website is full of useful information so be sure to check it out if you are interested.

6. University of Liege

The University of Liege, located in Wallonia, is a French-speaking university that ranks among the top 300 educational institutions in the world. As a top university in Belgium for international students, it boasts an impressive staff of over 2.000 academics, scientists, and technicians, who are involved in research on a variety of different subjects.

The University of Liege is also home to almost 6.000 international students, offering them degree options such as International Joint Degrees, programmes in Foreign Languages, Masters Erasmus Mundus, and Specialized Masters for Development Cooperation.

7. Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Universite Libre de Bruxelles is a French speaking research university in Brussels. It is one of the most important universities in the country, and a major research center for both Europe and the world.

With one third of the enrolled students coming from abroad, it is clear that ULB is among the best options foreign students have when looking to study in Belgium. There are three main campuses, including an Erasmus Campus in Anderlecht. Unfortunately, learning French might be necessary if you wish to go there, as most of the courses are in that language.

8. Hasselt University

Despite being relatively smaller than other universities in Belgium, Hasselt University is a renowned institution with a pronounced international orientation, which is the reason it made it to our list of best universities in Belgium for international students. Their programmes are top-class, equipping their students with not only knowledge, but also valuable experience in real-world environments.

Hasselt University has Masters degree available in English, but a pre-enrollment test is required in order to prove your command of the language. The list of English Masters degrees is Master of Biomedical Sciences, Interior Architecture, Management, Statistics, and Transportation Sciences.

9. University of Mons

The University of Mons is the smallest of the four universities in the French community of Belgium. It was founded on January 1st 2009 after a merger of two smaller universities from the same city. There are currently around 6.000 students enrolled in UM.

UM offers international students a variety of different benefits. There are plenty of Masters degrees to choose from, and they offer help in learning the language. The requirements you need to meet in order to enroll depend on various different factors. Visit their website, as they have plenty of information listed specifically for international students.

10. University of Namur

We end our list of best universities in Belgium for international students is the University of Namur, which is located in the capital city of Wallonia, Namur. It is a French speaking University, with the majority of their foreign students coming from French-speaking African countries, but there are also five Masters courses available in English: Masters in Economics, Chemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Microbiology, and Specialized Masters in International and Development Economics.

The city of Namur is close and well connected to the capital, Brussels, and other major centers through railways. There University offers great housing populated by an international community of students, ensuring a great cultural and social experience.


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