Top Belgian Universities

Several of Belgium’s universities are regularly rated among the top 200 universities in the world. Read about the main universities in Belgium.

The Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven located near Brussels is the oldest existing Catholic university in the world, founded in 1425, and Belgium’s biggest university. It offers courses in 11 Belgian cities and remains an important centre of higher learning and scientific research catering to more than 55,000 students, of which around 16 percent are international.

The Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) was originally part of KU Leuven but was moved to the French-speaking area of Brussels around 1970 as a result of changes in the education system. It combines the traditional with the modern, attracting some of the most qualified students, researchers and teachers from Belgium and beyond, with almost one-fifth of the student population coming from abroad.

The Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) has one of the highest rates of foreign students in Belgium, constituting one third of the student population. It was founded in 1834 and includes several university hospitals. It also manages zones devoted to research and contributed to the education of four Nobel Prize winners, the most recent being François Englert for his part in theorising the Higgs particle, in addition to Jules Bordet for Medicine in 1919, Albert Claude for Medicine in 1974 and Ilya Prigogine for Chemistry in 1977. The university is also a founding member of the International Forum of Public Universities (IFPU) and works in partnership with the Universities of Oxford, Berkeley and Paris IV, among others.

The Ghent University, or UGent, became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium in 1930, and is now attended by more than 50,000 students and staff, including a sizeable international crowd that is attracted to the university’s science and engineering programs. It offers advanced degree programmes, many of them in English, and boasts several Nobel Prize winners over the course of the university’s history.

The University of Liège, founded in 1817, is the public university of the Walloon Brussels Community and is part of the Wallonia-Europe University Academy. There are some 20,000 students across nine faculties, comprising around 20 percent of foreign students. It has a large focus on facilitating mobility and its practices have received EU recognition. Honorary degrees have been awarded to individuals such as Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Salman Rushdie.

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is the Dutch Language University in Brussels, initially formed as a part of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) before becoming a university in its own right in 1970 when significant legislative changes heralded in a new educational era. Many courses are available in English, including Master’s and PhD degrees.

The Universiteit Antwerpen’s (UA) history is grounded in commerce and is the product of three joined institutions. With some 13 percent of more than 20,000 students coming from abroad, it offers several postgraduate courses in English across nine faculties. UA has close ties to Antwerp University Hospital (UZA), Antwerp Management School (AMS) and other higher education institutions that belong to the Antwerp University Association.

Vlerick Business School is the only Belgian school to hold triple accreditation from Equis, AMBA and the American AACSB. It is also Europe’s oldest business and management school, founded in 1953 by Professor André Vlerick. It recently added a new campus in the centre of Brussels, in addition to its Belgian campuses in Leuven and Ghent, and St Petersburg, Russia. The schools benefit from alliances with more than 40 international business schools, and host around 6,800 people in postgraduate management and executive development programmes.


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