The 5 best universities in Belgium
Chocolate, beer and leading universities - Belgium has it all! Source: Shutterstock

From the picturesque canals of Bruges and Antwerp’s trending fashionistas, to indulgent chocolate truffles, captivating castles, mouth-watering mussels and let’s not forget the beer – what’s not to love about Belgium?!

This quaint little country in Western Europe is known for medieval towns and renaissance architecture, as well as its status as de facto home of the European Union and NATO HQ. It’s a recognised hub for innovation, with Robert Calliau, Belgian engineer and scientist, producing the first proposal of a hypertext system we now know as the ‘World Wide Web’.

“Though compact, Belgium is a place of striking contrasts: linguistic, cultural and topographic,” Lonely Planet writes.

“Most of the historic ‘art’ cities lie in predominantly flat, Dutch-speaking Flanders, seducing visitors with medieval belfries, magical market squares, and step-gabled houses that often overlook pretty urban canals.

Ghent, Belgium-May 03, 2014: Couple of tourists picking up candles made in form of a traditional glass of Belgium beer. Source: Shutterstock

“Then, of course, there’s beer,” it adds. “Brewing is almost a mystical art in Belgium with a dazzling rainbow of different styles, most notably the six great Trappist beers, still created within active monasteries.”

And as a nation in which English, French and Dutch are widely spoken, this is a choice destination for the prospective international student. Think Belgium could be right for you? Here are the nation’s five best universities, according to QS Rankings 2019.

1. KU Leuven


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Amazing weather in #Leuven today 🌞 Take those study books outside and enjoy the sun! 🌡📚🍦

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Ranked 81st in the world and 27th in Europe, KU Leuven is an education provider that inspires the outstanding.

With 14 campuses across 10 cities in Flanders, this really is an academic force in the heart of the continent. Its 15 faculties provide an elite education, with all departments clustered into three distinct groups: Humanities and Social Sciences; Science, Engineering and Technology (SET); and Biomedical Sciences.

Founded in 1425, KU Leuven has pioneered the education realm for almost six centuries. Delivering a wide range of programmes in English, this institute embodies the accessibility and inclusiveness that empowers our increasingly globalised world.

2. Ghent University


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Be🍁 in yourself! #wednesdaywisdom #hellofall #winteriscoming #ugent

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Ranked firmly within the world’s top 150 higher education providers, Ghent is one of the most esteemed institutions in the nation and the world.

Here, 11 faculties explore diverse disciplines, from the Arts and Philosophy, to Economics and Business, to Veterinary Medicine and everything in between. Between these walls, deeply impactful research is conducted, bolstering knowledge and expertise in science and all fields beyond.

“Ghent University is challenging everyone to dare to think, to question conventional views and dare to take a nuanced stand,” its mission statement notes. “It is because of those…who sometimes defy dominant views and strong convictions, that the world progresses…#daretothink is in our DNA and we encourage everyone to do the same.”

3. Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)

“Openness to the world” has defined the spirit of UCL since its foundation in 1425. Home to more than 30,000 students across seven locations in Brussels and Wallonia, this university is at the cutting-edge, standing as the only French-speaking institution in Europe to offer online courses on the edX platform.

This school is highly-engaged in society an inherently international, with 25 percent of teaching staff, 40 percent of researchers and 20 percent of its student body hailing from overseas.

Here, learners benefit from a wealth of guidance and support, including orientation, study assistance, housing advice, financial or need-based aid and more. It covers a breadth and depth of disciplines from bachelor- to doctoral-level, producing highly-qualified global graduates who enrich the wider world.

4. Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)


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Tests, group work, deadlines… Oh my! Even though it is such nice weather, sometimes duty calls. #deweekvan #wearevub #theweekof

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Ranked 188th in the world and 83rd in Europe, VUB has strived to build a stronger, more innovative society for more than 180-years.

Adopting a free-thinking, humanistic approach to all activities, the institution challenges the traditional structure of education and breaks new ground in scientific discovery. Driven by a quest for insight and enlightenment, every member of this school’s learning community refines the value of the VUB education.

“Freedom in all its shapes defines the Vrije Universiteit Brussel,” the institution writes. “Freedom of research, freedom of thought with an open mind, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and other conventions.”

5. University of Antwerp

Home to 20,492 students – 19 percent of whom are international, with 123 countries represented across campus – the University of Antwerp feeds the global knowledge economy.

Nine faculties cover Applied Economics; Arts; Law; Medicine and Health Sciences; Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences; Social Sciences; Science; Design Sciences; and Applied Engineering. It’s a university that serves your future ambition, no matter where your passion lies.

The University of Antwerp offers a broad portfolio of English-taught programmes, mainly at master and advanced master level. All bachelor programmes are delivered in Dutch, but the institution offers a preparatory year of Dutch language lessons to get your skills up to scratch!

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