Universities in Brussels, Belgium
About Universities in Brussels, BelgiumHave you always dreamed of studying and living abroad for a time in a foreign country? Have you considered the beautiful city of Brussels, Belgium as a potential study abroad locale? If there was ever a city that was truly international, Brussels is definitely it, making the city a perfect spot for students thinking about participating in a study abroad program.
Brussels, or in French, Bruxelles, is the capital and largest city of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union (EU). It is also the largest urban area in Belgium, comprising 19 municipalities, including the municipality of the City of Brussels, which de jure is the capital of Belgium, in addition to being the seat of the French Community of Belgium and of the Flemish Community.
Over the many years of its existence, Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town, founded by a descendant of Charlemagne, to a sizeable city and very important European hub. The city has a population of roughly 1.2 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area with a population of over 1.8 million, both of them the largest in Belgium. Since the close of World War II, Brussels has been a principal center for international politics. Hosting a number of key EU institutions and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the city has become the multilingual home of numerous international organizations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants.
Although Brussels is situated in the Flemish region of Belgium and is historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels has seen a major shift to the French language since Belgian independence in 1830. Today, although the majority language is French, the city is officially bilingual, and all road signs, street names, and many advertisements and services are shown in both French and Dutch. Though Dutch and French are the most common languages heard in Brussels, the city is increasingly becoming multilingual with increasing numbers of migrants, expatriates and minority groups speaking their own languages.
Universities and Higher Education in Brussels, Belgium
The higher education system in Brussels, Belgium is organized by the Flemish and French communities within the city through state or private institutions, the latter often linked to religious organizations. The Belgian higher education system as a whole, known as Hoger Onderwijs in Dutch and Enseignement Superieure in French, boasts several comprehensive universities (and colleges) offering a full range of subjects. In most cases, students are free to enroll at any institution as long as they have their qualifying diploma. However, those wishing to continue their studies in areas such as medicine, dentistry, arts and engineering sciences may face stricter admission controls, including, but not limited to, additional examinations.
Registration costs at Brussels’ universities are set by the government and reviewed annually. There are three fee levels depending on the students’ financial situation and that of their family.
The higher education system in Belgium follows a Bachelor/Master degree structure, with a Bachelor's degree earned after three to four years of study and a Master's degree obtained after a further one to two years of education. Bachelor’s degrees are categorized as either “professional bachelor degrees,”—those having a vocational element—or “academic bachelor degrees,” which are more academic in nature and designed to help students prepare for graduate level studies. Having obtained a master’s degree, students can then pursue research projects leading to a doctorate degree. Bachelor and Master’s degrees can be awarded by both colleges and universities in Belgium, while PhDs are only awarded by universities.
Students from outside Belgium coming to study in one of these higher education institutions will need to prove that they have obtained the appropriate entrance qualifications from their home country and demonstrate that they can support themselves financially during the course of their studies.
Why Study Abroad in Brussels, BelgiumThere are many reasons for choosing Brussels, Belgium as your study abroad destination, not the least of which are its world-renowned universities, multicultural community, and the excellent opportunities for international networking. Brussels is also home to the very finest in regional and international cuisine, breathtaking natural landscapes, a very high quality of life and, of course, those delicious Belgian waffles.
An established hub for international politics, Brussels has even more ambassadors and journalists than you’d find in Washington D.C., and is the headquarters of many international businesses and organizations. As you’d expect, the resident population of Brussels is also highly international, with around a quarter of the population hailing from countries other than Belgium.
In terms of sightseeing, Brussels has scores of noteworthy sights and attraction—places to visit when you’re not too busy with your classroom studies. Some of these include:
The most popular tourist attraction in Brussels, the Grand Place offers many interesting photo opportunities. This medieval square, with its 15th century gothic Town Hall, is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful city squares in Europe. The Grand Place has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998, and is the perfect place for enjoying a meal or a cocktail as you soak in the international atmosphere.
A statue depicting a small boy relieving himself (peeing) into a water fountain, the Manneken Pis is to Brussels what the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben are to New York and London, respectively. Visitors to the Manneken Pis will notice that, interestingly, the statue is often adorned with any number of costumes, many of which have been presented by visiting heads of state and other dignitaries. With over 700 costumes, transforming the small boy into everything from Elvis Presley to a Tibetan monk, this is definitely a must-see site when visiting the fascinating city of Brussels.
A quite unusual monument and one of the city’s major landmarks, the Atomium is another very popular Brussels attraction; an attraction that was erected in 1958 as part of the World’s Fair Exhibition. Modeled after an iron atom after being magnified some 165 billion times, the Atomium is especially popular among fans of science and architecture who come to marvel at the intricate detail of the structure. The top portion of the monument serves as a spacious restaurant and lounge, offering guests some of the most scenic panoramic views of the city below.