Migration of International Students to Belgium 2000-2012 (EMN)

This research project undertaken by Prof. F. Caestecker (University College Ghent) investigates the policy towards international students and the extent to which third-country nationals used opportunities to study in Belgium during the last decade.

The report on "Migration of International Students to Belgium 2000-2012" highlights inter alia the following conclusions:

Belgium increased the opportunities for third-country nationals to study in Belgian higher education institutions during the last decade:

  • The transparency of the Belgian education market improved: Belgian institutions of higher education became more legible for international students; degree levels were adapted to the European standards; recognition of foreign degrees improved, common quality standards were developed, fees were harmonized etc.
  • Student mobility increased strongly: mostly intra-European as this was state-organized and subsidized but also more global as many more bilateral agreements were concluded with third countries. Free movers added to this student population as a global market for higher education came into being.
  • Students were given the possibility of supplementing their income through work during their stay (except for restrictive requirements applying to particular groups), easing economic integration after they finish their studies
  • Although the inflow of international students doubled in the last decade at the same time a more selective recruitment policy of institutes of higher education, buttressed by regional and federal authorities, was discerned

The increasing opportunities for international students have not only caused an increase in the number of international students since 2000, but even more important, it has modified the composition of this student population at the advantage of advanced students from Asia:

  • Africa and in particular Congo and Morocco, the two traditional providers of international students to Belgium have not benefitted from these greater opportunities and have been supplanted recently by Cameroonian students who qualify for admission because of a relatively well functioning Cameroonian state.
  • A dramatic change in the Chinese inflow in 2007 halved the number of admitted students. The students from China from 2007 onwards are, in contrast to their predecessors, advanced students who registered for a Master or advanced Master program or even a doctoral program.

The early students of higher education from North America as exchange students have been able to make most use of these new opportunities

More detailed information, inter alia on the national education system in Belgium, legal and practical conditions applying to international students, misuse of the student route and transnational cooperation in this field, can be found in the report itself.

Publication Date:
Wed 03 Oct 2012
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