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Mobility in higher education

Belgium - Flemish Community

13.Mobility and internationalisation

13.2Mobility in higher education

Last update: 9 June 2022

Student mobility

As well as the EU initiatives, students can also achieve mobility via other projects.

Student exchange via the generic scholarships

The Flemish government awards grants for student mobility to countries outside Europe which are not included in the Erasmus+ programme as programme countries. The purpose of this scholarship programme is therefore to encourage mobility for the purpose of study, work placement or thesis research in countries outside Europe, complementary to the possibilities offered by the classic Erasmus+ programme.

More information is available at: (Dutch)

Exchange of students within the Priority Country Programme

The Priority Country Programme promotes the exchange of students between The Flemish Community and a series of priority countries: Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States of America. A student can participate in the programme through outbound mobility, but exchange in the framework of a so-called duo-project is also possible. More information can be found on:

Exchange of students for internships within the ASEM WPP programme

The ASEM Work Placement Programme (ASEM WPP) wants to promote the exchange of talent between Europe and Asia by granting students of Flemish higher education institutions a scholarship to do an internship in a number of Asian countries. More information can be found on:

Exchanges through the Washington Center for internships and academic seminars

The Washington Center is an independent, non-profit organisation that offers internships and academic seminars for students from Flemish universities and university colleges. Each academic year, Flanders offers 12 scholarships to students from Flemish higher education institutions who want to do a one-semester internship with international organisations or companies in Washington D.C. More information can be found on:

Student exchanges within ASEM-DUO

This programme involves exchanges of students between Flanders and the ASEM countries. The students are selected via cooperation agreements between Flemish and Asian institutions. Both Flemish and Asian students (from the ASEM countries) can use the scholarships; arrangements are always made on the basis of pairs of students. The students gain credit in their regular institution for their exchange.

Exchange of students for placements through Erasmus+ after graduation

The Erasmus+ programme not only offers scholarships for student mobility during studies, but also for work placement mobility immediately after graduation. The Flemish universities and university colleges have formed a consortium to offer Erasmus+ grants for work placements after graduating from a graduate, bachelor or master's programme or after obtaining a doctorate. This consortium is called 'Flanders Traineeship Platform' and is managed by the Flemish Universities and Colleges Council (VLUHR). More information can be found on: (Dutch)

Cooperation with Quebec

There is a cooperation programme between the Flemish government and Québec, whereby the Québec government grants exemptions from increased tuition fees to a maximum of ten candidates from a Flemish higher education institution. More information can be found on:

Erasmus Belgica: a co-operation project between the communities

Erasmus Belgica is a co-operation project between Belgium's three communities to promote the mobility of higher education students and to give them the opportunity to spend part of their studies at a university or a college of higher education in another community. The programme follows the same principles as the European Erasmus programme.

An Erasmus grant consists of a lump sum (premium) + a monthly allowance (minimum 3 months, maximum 1 year) if the student pays a residence fee. EPOS (European Programmes for Education, Training and Cooperation), as the National Agency for Flanders, is responsible for the implementation of the Erasmus Belgica lifelong learning programme.

Cooperation with France

In 2009, regional cooperation was initiated between France, the French Community and Flanders in higher education for, among other things, the launch and expansion of joint master's programmes.

Inter-community exchanges within the framework of the Prince Philippe Fund

The Prince Philippe Fund supports the exchange of students from university colleges and universities from at least 2 of the 3 Belgian Communities. These exchanges must run over a minimum of 5 days, can be staggered across the academic year and can even take place at several locations in Belgium. A minimum of 5 students per university college or university must take part in the project. Priority is given to projects with an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to knowledge about the 3 Communities and to projects which enhance proficiency in the three official languages.

In 2009, the Prince Philippe Fund also set up a project which offers information on the launch and expansion of Joint (degree) programmes (e.g.: double degrees) between the three Communities of Belgium. Next to an inventory of the existing initiatives of Bi, Multiple and Joint (degree) programmes, there was a Colloquium in 2010 regarding the students exchanges between the three Communities and in 2011 a Joint Degree Guide was published.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Higher education degrees, diplomas and qualifications may be recognised by NARIC-Flanders [see 13.1.1]. Although the Codex Higher Education of 11 October 2013 lays down the access and admission conditions, higher education institutions in Flanders decide autonomously on admission to their programmes.

The Codex Higher Education of 11 October 2013 confirms that the recognition of foreign higher education diplomas and degrees in Flanders follows the principles of the Lisbon Recognition Convention of 1997 of the Council of Europe and UNESCO. Ratification by Belgium took place on 22 July 2009. The LRC came into force in Belgium on 1 September 2009. Just like NARIC-Flanders for the recognition of foreign higher education diplomas, the higher education institutions have to apply the principles of the LRC regarding access and admission to their programmes. Moreover, the Council for Disputes on Study Progress is the appeal body for recognition decisions taken by NARIC-Flanders. On 14 June 2013, the conditions and procedures for the recognition of diplomas at any level were also laid down in Flemish legislation.


 Europass offers free tools to help students, workers and jobseekers:

  1. The Europass profile helps people to describe and list their skills, find interesting job and learning opportunities, manage applications, store all evidence of learning and work experiences and prepare CVs and motivation letters.
  2. The Diploma Supplement provides an overview of the knowledge and skills someone has acquired in higher education.
  3. The Certificate Supplement is similar to the Diploma Supplement but relates to vocational education and training.
  4. Europass-Mobility documents the competences acquired during a placement, (voluntary) work or learning experience abroad.

Flanders was the first in Europe to introduce a statutory Diploma Supplement. This was introduced for universities in 1991 and for university colleges in 1994. The diploma supplement is obligatory. Every higher education student in flanderes automatically receives a Diploma Supplement with is degree. The degree (Associate Degree, Bachelor, Master and Doctor) and the accompanying diploma supplement are intrinsically interlinked and are regarded as one single whole. It states that the higher education qualification framework in Flanders is compatible with the overarching framework of the European Higher Education Area and that this is officially confirmed on the website of the NVAO. This confirmation is also provided on the website of the ENIC and NARIC networks. The diploma and the associated diploma supplement are issued free of charge in Dutch. The associated diploma supplement is issued in English free of charge. For a programme offered entirely in a language other than Dutch or English, the diploma supplement will also be issued in that language free of charge.

Screening of Chinese students

In December 2006 Germany and Flanders signed an agreement in which the "Akademischen Prüfstelle Beijing" was empowered to screen the diplomas and certificates of higher education of Chinese students wishing to study in Flanders and Germany from the academic year 2007-2008 onwards. Austria, Switzerland, the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and the Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Belgiens joined this cooperation.

Chinese students, in most cases, need a positive AP screening attestation to obtain a student visa for Belgium from the Belgian Embassy in Beijing or a Belgian Consulate-General in China.

The AP screening has two phases. Phase one is the document screening. Experts check whether the qualifications are authentic and indeed awarded by Chinese (higher) education institutions. Phase two is the interview. Experts (including Flemish ones) check during the interview whether that person is indeed the holder of that qualification and at that level.

From the academic year 2018-2019, in consultation with the Flemish higher education institutions, the APS Centre, the Chinese Embassy in Belgium and the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, other and more categories of partial and total exemptions have been introduced. 

More information is available at the website.


Benelux is an intergovernmental cooperation between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The union's name is formed from joining the first two or three letters of each country's name - Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg - and was first used to name the customs agreement that initiated the union signed in 1944. It was officially founded in 1958 by Treaty and updated on the 17th of June 2008.

On the 7th of November 2012 Benelux started - on initiative of Flanders - to discuss the automatic academic general recognition of eachter other's higher education degrees. Thanks to the Benelux Decisions on the automatic mutual generic level recognition of higher education diplomas M (2015) 3 of 18 May 2015 and M (2018) 1 of 25 January 2018, the higher education diplomas Graduate (Associate Degree), Bachelor, Master and Doctor are automatically recognised as level equivalent in the Benelux.
In 2021, such automatic level equivalence will also come into effect between the Benelux Member States and the Baltic States, namely Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia.

Automatic non-individual recognition of foreign higher education qualifications

Thanks to the provisions in the Codex Hoger Onderwijs (Higher Education Code) of 11 October 2013 and the Decision of the Flemish Government of 14 June 2013 on the conditions and the procedure for the recognition of foreign study certificates issued in higher education, in addition to an equivalence decision of a foreign higher education diploma with a specific Flemish higher education diploma, a level equivalence decision is also possibleThe recognition authority, NARIC-Vlaanderen, can legally establish at which level of qualification the foreign study certificate is located, namely at the level of a graduate diploma or at the level of a bachelor's degree or at the level of a master's degree or at the level of a doctoral degree.

Automatic recognition higher education qualifications - Flanders and the Netherlands

The Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO) was established by an international treaty on 1 February 2005. By working with the same accreditation organisation, a minimum quality of higher education programmes in the Netherlands and Flanders is guaranteed. That treaty also stipulated that holders of a bachelor's degree from the Netherlands have immediate access to a master's programme in Flanders and vice versa. Holders of a master's degree also have direct access to a doctoral degree programme.

On 16 January 2013, the NVAO treaty was revised. It stipulates that the Bachelor's and Master's degrees of Flanders and the Netherlands are automatically level equivalent.
This is also confirmed by the Benelux Decisions mentioned above.

Joint (degree) programmes

The "transnationale Universiteit Limburg" was founded by the international Agreement between Flanders and the Netherlands singed in Maastricht on 18 January 2001 and ratified in Flanders on 13 July 2001. The transnationale Universiteit Limburg is entitled to award Bachelor and Master degrees in listed fields of study and are automatically recognised in Flanders and the Netherlands.

Joint programme

Higher education institutions in Flanders may allow their students to take part of the programme (educational activities and also exams) at another higher education institution of their choice. This other institution can be a Belgian institution or a foreign institution, but only if this educational institution offers programmes of at least three years or, in the case of level 5 programmes, at least 90 credits.

Double degrees

Higher education institutions may award a Flemish higher education diploma together with a recognised diploma from one or more partner institutions. The possible partners are:

  • a (or several) higher education institution(s) of one of the other Communities in of Belgium
  • the Royal Military Academy in Brussels
  • a (or several) foreign higher education institution(s)

The preconditions to be met are as follows:

  • an agreement must be concluded in which the educational objectives and the content of the training courses correspond sufficiently;
  • providing details of the eduational organisation (such as the education regulations) for these students at all the higher education institutions involved;
  • students will take at least 20 ECTS at the partner institution in case it is a programme with a load of study of 60 ECTS or at least 27 ECTS in other cases;
  • students are also enrolled at the Flemish higher education institution at the moment the diploma is awarded, if necessary only for examinations; this requirement does not apply if it concerns an exchange of students within the framework of a European education programme;
  • avoiding a double (or even more) subsidy for the same student;
  • the two (or more) names of the degrees are mentioned on the same document, unless the national legislation of the partners do not allow it.

Joint degrees

Flemish higher education institutions may award a joint diploma with one or more institutions abroad, with higher education institutions in one of the other communities of Belgium or with the Royal Military Academy in Brussels, within the limits of their teaching competences.

The Flemish higher education institution may grant the Flemish legally protected "Graduated", "Bachelor" or "Master" title on top of it. The organisation of these joint courses takes place within the framework of an international or European (exchange) programme or a cooperation agreement between the institutions involved. 

Joint and double doctoral degrees

Flemish universities can award a joint or double doctorate with a domestic or foreign university or with the Royal Military Academy in Brussels.
A doctoral or PhD student must successfully defend their PhD thesis. Members of the jury include professors from all institutions involved. The doctoral student has to spend at least six months at the partner institution doing scientific research in the framework of their doctoral thesis.

Academic staff mobility

Erasmus Belgica - a collaboration project between the Communities of Belgium

Since academic year 2006-2007, the Erasmus Belgica programme has been extended to include exchanges between higher-education lecturers from the 3 Communities. To that end, participating university colleges and universities must conclude bilateral agreements with their partners from the other Community. The application of the programme is consistent with the terms of the Erasmus programme. Each lecturer receives a fixed amount per day with a maximum amount for five days.

Belgian Inter-Community exchanges for higher education within the framework of the Prince Philippe Fund for the development of common course material

The Prince Philippe Fund assists lecturers and professors teaching at university colleges and universities located in the three Communities of Belgium with the development of common didactic material. Per academic year, they must spend at least three meeting days on the development of common course material. These particular collaboration projects can receive funding for 2 or 3 years.