belgium top universities

Top Universities in Belgium for Higher Education

Students choice of selecting a university abroad depends heavily on the employability opportunities. Every year “The Times Higher Education” releases ranking list for universities around the world. The ranking is based on 13 performance indicators which measure the institution’s performance across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The list is prepared after compiling answers of several recruiters, chief executives and business managers from top companies in 20 countries.

Let us have a look at the list “Top Universities in Belgium for Higher Education for the year 2020”

KU Leuven


Founded in 1425, KU Leuven has been a centre of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium’s highest-ranked university as well as one of the oldest and most renowned research universities in Europe.

As Europe’s most innovative university and co-founder of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), KU Leuven offers a wide variety of study programmes in English, all supported by innovative and interdisciplinary research.

Ghent University


Ghent University (UGent) in Belgium was founded in 1817 by King William I of Orange. As a Flemish university, most of UGent’s 230 degree programmes are taught in Dutch, although a few of its graduate degrees are offered in English.

With a total of 36,000 students and 9,000 staff, UGent is one of the major research universities in Belgium. Its 11 faculties offer a wide academic portfolio, including courses in every scientific discipline, while its research investment averages around £180million annually.

UGent prides itself on being among the leading universities in the world with a global reputation that attracts talented students and teachers. It boasts associations with several Nobel Prize winners, among them Joseph Guislain, Walter Fiers, Marc Van Montagu and Peter Piot. While its alumni include such notables as Robert Cailliau, who collaborated with Tim Berners-Lee in developing the internet, and the astronaut Dirk Frimout.

The university’s main campus is located close to the city centre. It also has a campus by the sea in Ostend, home to the GreenBridge incubation and innovation center that provides facilities for start-up technology companies, and conducts sustainability research into seas and oceans.

UGent was also the first university in Europe to be accepted as part of the Songdo Global University Campus (SGUC) in Incheon, South Korea, where it provides three bachelor’s programmes in molecular biotechnology, environmental technology and food technology to domestic and international students, alongside the 10 other universities it shares a campus with.

Students who live in Ghent can expect to be surrounded by beautiful architecture, unique street art and a large number of pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Good transport links exist throughout the city and Ghent has excellent links to the rest of Belgium by train. Much of Ghent is also navigable by bicycle, which is the most popular mode of transport for students.

Université Catholique de Louvain


Founded via decree by Pope Martin V in 1425, Université Catholique de Louvain, often abbreviated as UCL, is the oldest Catholic university in Europe.

UCL is the biggest French-speaking university in Belgium, and was separated in 1968 into two institutions. Today UCL’s sister university Katholieke Universiteit Leuven operates independently in Leuven, while UCL remains in Wallonia, the southeast administrative region in Belgium recognized for its Gothic cities and economic development.

In September 2011, UCL merged with two other catholic universities: the University of Namur and Saint-Louis University Brussels, to form what is known as Université Catholique de Louvain today.

With campuses spread across 6 locations in Belgium including Louvain-la-Neuve, Woluwe, Mons, Tournai, Brussels and Charleroi Saint-Gilles, Université Catholique de Louvain plays host to 15 schools and faculties focusing its degree programs and research in various subjects such as: theology, law and criminology, management, psychology and educational science, public health and architecture.

The university, which is known for its stringent selection process including entrance exams, remains an appealing prospect for local and international students who from a wide range of countries. The majority of courses are taught in French, but the university is taking steps towards offering English courses as well.

To help newcomers successfully adapt to their new surroundings, student associations (often called Cercles and Régionales) arrange cultural activities such as conferences, trips and museum visits.

Students have the unique chance to live with up to 10 others flatmates in theme-based shared apartments called kots with the intention being to work on a project, but also to challenge negative cultural, religious or gender stereotypes.

UCL’s most famous alumni include mathematician Vitold Belevich, Queen Mathilde of Belgium and economist Vera Songwe.

University of Antwerp


The roots of the University of Antwerp (UA) date back to 1852 with the establishment of the State School for Economics and the Saint Ignatius School of Economics – two commercial institutes with a focus on business.

Both institutes were granted university status by the Belgian government in the 1960s and became Faculties for Economic Science. The Jesuit Saint Ignatius School gradually expanded to offer courses in arts, law and social sciences and by the 1970s, a third institute was founded to provide post-graduate and PhD programmes in Belgium’s second largest city.

All three institutions began operating as a confederation under the University of Antwerp banner and finally became the university it is today in 2003.

Today, UA is home to 20,000 students, of which about 18 per cent come from overseas with 132 countries represented through the student body. Working at the university are over 5,000 employees, including 3,000 tenured researchers and almost 700 professors.

The university is organised across nine faculties, including Economics, Engineering, Arts, Design Sciences, Law, Medicine, Pharmaceutical, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, and Social Sciences.

It offers 33 undergraduate degree programmes, 69 master’s and 18 ‘master-after-master programmes’. A total of 31 programmes are taught in English and the university prides itself on engendering an entrepreneurial approach.

There are nine campuses of the university that are spread throughout the diverse city of Antwerp, from the historic city centre to what is called the ‘green belt’ to the south.

Each year, the university publishes around 3,650 scientific publications. It cites research strengths in drug discovery and development, ecology and sustainable development, infectious diseases, neurosciences, socio-economic policy, and urban history and policy.

Université libre de Bruxelles


Founded in 1834 by Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is a private research university with several campuses located in the heart of the Belgian capital, giving researchers and a 24,000-strong student body every opportunity to embrace all the perks of a vibrant European city.

ULB offers about 40 undergraduate programmes and nearly 250 graduate courses. Accessible by train from several major European cities in under two hours, about one-third of ULB’s intake are international with 20 per cent coming from Europe. Although it is a francophone institution, international students can take advantage of university languages courses to improve their French and some master’s programmes are taught in English. ULB has strong links with international institutions and works closely with Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a Flemish-speaking institution also based in the capital.

The university’s founding philosophy focused on the idea of freedom of inquiry and students are represented on all decision-making bodies.

ULB’s motto can be translated as “conquering darkness with knowledge” and its scholars have won a variety of awards including four Nobel prizes, 24 Francqui Prizes, a prestigious scholarly award in the sciences in Belgium, and a Fields Medal. Well-known alumni include the English journalist Robert Peston and business school graduate Heidi Cruz, who worked for the Bush administration and is the wife of US politician Ted Cruz.

The university has 12 faculties and incorporates several museums, including one dedicated to zoology, and at the Solbosch campus, ULB’s main location, there is a weekly market selling locally produced food.

Vrije Universiteit Brussel


The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium is an institution founded on the principles of free enquiry and an adherence to reason. The seal of the university is embroidered with the Latin Scientia Vincere Tenebras, meaning ‘science will conquer the darkness.’

The university grew out of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) until the two institutions separated in 1969, with the Dutch-speaking VUB becoming fully independent in 1970.

The principles of free enquiry the university is established on are ones that its founder, Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen, held close to his heart. As a lawyer and politician, Verhaegen wanted to create a place of great learning that would be disconnected from the stifling aspects of the church and state and, in 1834, he achieved this with the inception of the ULB.

Verhaegen’s legacy survives and every year he is commemorated at both universities through the laying of wreaths at his memorial. The VUB and its sister institution the ULB remain closely affiliated, helped by their proximity to each other in Brussels.

The university is organised across two campuses in the centre of Brussels: Etterbeek, its main campus, and a medical campus at Jette. It is the biggest Dutch-speaking employer in the area, located close to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the Royal Palace of Brussels and other major attractions and places of historical interest.

VUB prides itself on having an open-door policy and a highly democratic spirit, where everyone at the university, from students to professors, are given a say in the management of the institution.

The university also strives to participate in the local community through initiatives such as the Centre for Information, Documentation and Research on Brussels, which it helped to set up and now contributes to. It also conducts research into social developments within Brussels.

University of Liège


The University of Liège (ULg) was founded in 1817 by King Wilhelm the First after Napoleon demanded a university for Belgium – a territory that was then part of the Napoleonic Empire. It was given its current name in 1989 and is the only public university for the French-speaking community of Brussels.

ULg has more than 20,000 students, almost a quarter of whom are international. It offers 33 undergraduate degree programmes and 193 master’s courses organised across ten faculties within five sites (four in Belgium and one in Corsica).

The university specialises particularly in foreign languages and emphasises learning that prepares students for work anywhere in Europe. It maintains strong ties with former students and claims to be unique in the support it offers graduates.

With links to over 600 Belgian and international firms, ULg works with businesses to teach courses that meet the needs of industry and which equip students for employment. The university’s applied research activities have generated a total of 80 high-tech spin-off firms as well as a portfolio of licensable technologies.

It also offers a programme of continuing education consisting mainly of technological or management seminars for graduates and companies.

More than half of ULg’s budget is invested in research and the university prides itself on being one of the most active in terms of research programmes, both locally and internationally, encouraging inter-disciplinary research among its faculty.

Liège is Belgium’s third largest city, which sits in the Meuse River valley, close to the German and Dutch borders. It is one of the country’s major educational hubs and boasts a large population of students as well as a vibrant multicultural community. Its weekly Sunday market, La Batte, is popular with both tourists and locals alike. There is also a large number of sport and leisure clubs available to students through the university.

Hasselt University


Established as the Limburg University Centre in 1973, Hasselt University started with just two faculties and did not become known by its current name until 2005.

The institution is located in the small city of Hasselt in northeast Belgium. Today the university has six faculties: architecture and arts, business economics, medicine and life science, engineering technology, law, and sciences, as well as a newly established school of transportation.

Hasselt University is home to six research institutes, and the university prides itself on its research in life sciences, environmental technology, biostatistics, visual computing, new materials, and road safety and mobility.

The university has two campuses within a short distance of each other. Campus Hasselt is located in the northern suburbs of the city, while Campus Diepenbeek is around 4 kilometres east of the town.

Most faculty buildings (apart from the Faculty of Law) are located at Campus Diepenbeek along with a library and restaurant, while Campus Hasselt is home to two auditoriums and a former city prison which now houses the Faculty of Law.

Students are enrolled at Hasselt University in one of the institution’s 17 undergraduate courses or 20 master’s programs, five of which are taught in English.

A collaborate program has been established between Hasselt University and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, known as the Transnational University of Limburg as a result of both universities being located in the Limburg region.

A number of faculties in both universities work together in several research projects, both in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *