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What you need to know before studying… in Belgium

Belgium is the number one destination for French students. Procedures, budget, student life… Before crossing the border, l’Etudiant takes stock of what you need to know.

According to figures from Campus France, 16,856 French people left to study with our Belgian neighbors in 2016. Making the “flat country” the most popular destination for students in France. Francophony, geographical proximity, facilities for entering higher education… Belgium has all the cards in hand to attract young French people. Especially since the Belgian higher education system has strong similarities with ours.

Focus on Belgian schools

In Belgium, there are three main types of establishments : them colleges of arts, highly specialized; them universitiesopening up to many fields of study, and high schools, for shorter and more professional courses. After three years of post-baccalaureate studies, you obtain the bachelor’s degree. You can continue up to the master’s degree (bac+5) or doctorate (bac+8), as in France.

Namely: thehe diploma that you validate in Belgium is also recognized in France thanks to the European credit transfer and accumulation system, the famous ECTS. Each year you get 60 credits.

Among the most famous establishments: the Catholic University of Louvain, the Free University of Brussels, the University of Liège and that of Mons for the French-speaking part, but also the KU Leuven, the University of Ghent, that of Antwerp, Hasselt and the Vrije universiteit Brussel, for the Dutch-speaking part.

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Administrative component: what you should anticipate

If you are going to study in Belgium, you will only needa valid identity card (or passport). No need for a visa, whatever the duration of your stay. No need to apply for an international driving license either, yours is enough.

Regarding your health, remember to ask a European health insurance card. It is free, valid for two years and allows you to take charge of your medical care on site.

Also notify your bank of your departure. Bank charges in Europe are free, but it is better to inquire beforehand.

Budget: Belgium, more affordable than France

Before leaving, also plan your budget. The bill is likely to rise, even if the country is more affordable than in France, whether in terms of rents, public transport subscription or food and outings. (-16% on average according to The cost of the expat).

Cost in Paris Cost in Brussels Percentage difference
Monthly rent for a room in the city center €1,186.45 €835.49 – 29.6%
Monthly pass for public transport 75 € 49 € – 34.7%
Modest restaurant for one person 15 € 15 € 0%
fast food menu €8.60 8 € – 7%
Water bottle (1.5L) €0.87 €0.94 + 8%
Local draft beer (0.50 L) €6.50 4 € – 38.5%
Rice (1 kg) €1.79 2,31 € +29.1%
Potatoes (1 kg) €1.92 €1.50 – 21.9%

As for the tuitionthey vary according to the establishment, the level of study, the region (Flemish or Walloon) and whether or not you have a scholarship. These costs can reach €835. If you go as part of an Erasmus program, you will only pay the French costs.

Regarding scholarships and financial aid, several options are possible. Think about Erasmus scholarships (between 150 and 250 € per month as part of a study stay), to those on Council of Europe social criteria et al’international mobility assistance (400 € per month). Know that there are regional, departmental and municipal aids. Your French and/or Belgian establishment can sometimes grant you a scholarship.

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Housing: kots, rather than studios

In Belgium, you will quickly become familiar with the term “kot”. It is actually a studio in student residence, a bit like our university residences in France. The prices are more accessible (up to 550–600 € for a flat in Brussels compared to 600 to 800 € for a studio) and these accommodations are often located near the campuses. However, you will have to share your kitchen and sometimes your bathroom with the other kotters. Go (among others) to the ple.bru or Bru kot sites to find the most suitable accommodation.

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Student life: tips

The European Youth Card seems unavoidable. Valid for one year, its cost is €10 and it allows you to take advantage of many advantages all over Europe. Also think about the culture map. Offered by host establishments such as the Catholic University of Louvain, it gives you access to reductions and invitations to attend shows, go to exhibitions, participate in artistic workshops, etc.

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