Going abroad has many advantages: proof of dynamism, motivation and a true experience. The Erasmus program in Brussels is part of an EU program (EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) that was created in 1987 to ease cooperation between European universities and allow for full academic recognition of studies and qualifications throughout the Union for both staff and students. Erasmus offered the possibility of studying abroad for between 3 months and 1 year, with transferable tuition rates and grants.
Built on the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), the European Commission suggested in November 2011 to merge all the different EU programmes for education into a single project. The new program known as Erasmus for All will replace the LLP in 2014 in the hope that combining all the programs under one roof will reduce administration costs, duplication and fragmentation. The program is expected to last until 2020.
Who was Erasmus?
The Erasmus program is named from a famous character of Christian humanism, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, also called Erasmus of Rotterdam. "The Spanish apartment", the movie from Cédric Klapisch, makes a reference.
Erasmus was a Dutch traveler, born around 1500. He was an orphan that received a religious education and became priest, eventually earning a doctorate in Paris. Critical about the teaching method, he used his theories to create his own program which he used as he lived and worked in several parts of Europe. By leaving his fortune to the University of Basel, he became a precursor of mobility grants.
More information on Erasmus here.
Students enrolled at a Higher Education or a Higher Education/Further Education (HE/FE) Institution in the EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and EU candidate countries that wish to study, do a work placement or be a language assistant may apply. Students may also enroll if they are enrolled in a short term higher vocational education course or if they are a part-time student that will study full-time during their period abroad. Postgraduate students can also take part in Erasmus, provided they have not already exceeded their grant quota. Students from all subject areas can participate. The home Higher Education Institution must have a formal agreement with a partner in one of the eligible countries and it must have an Erasmus University Charter awarded by the European Commission.
Erasmus also offers education and training opportunities for teaching and non-teaching Staff. It's a great opportunity to teach or work in another EU country and get to know the workings of their educational system. Learn new ideas and best practices to take from Belgium, develop your international network and enhance your language skills. You will also acquire first-hand experience to share with students and colleagues who may be interested in Erasmus.
Note that the language of instruction may be different than that of your home institution. Some institutions organize tests and select the students based on their skills on the language, such as the Deutsches Sprachdiplom in German, Dele in Spanish, or TOEFL in English. Erasmus Intensive Language Courses may be offered at host universities.
Participation countries include countries in the EU, EEA, or candidate country. Students from all subject areas can participate, from art to zoology, biology to psychology. However, not all institutions offer Erasmus for all subjects. Do your research and make sure the institution you want to go to provides your program. It is advised to start preparing your stay at least 1 year before departure to find the right program and ensure you are able to submit all necessary documents and deadlines.
Students can take part in the Erasmus study mobility at any time during their degree, except during the first year. When you go will depend on the structure of your degree and the arrangements your university has with its partners. Credit is given by the home institution.
Work Placements need to be approved by the home institution, with an agreement between the student, institution and employer. Students in their first year of study are eligible for work placements. Some employers offer a basic income in addition to grants. Work placement offers credit and recognition by the home institution.
The Language Assistant Programs allows participants to improve language skills and explore a community. Language assistantships in other EU, EEA member states or Turkey are now considered as work placements under Erasmus. Undergraduates participating in the official Language Assistants programme, are eligible for Erasmus status, subject to eligibility criteria being met.
Students may apply through their university with an Erasmus Coordinator in their subject area. Applicants must submit:
Applicants should be prepared to submit certified copies of all diplomas since the baccalaureat or A Level. Translations may be required (information should be provided by your home institution).
The ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) system provides uniform credit across different educational institutions. ECTS grades make study programmes easy to read and compare for all students, local and foreign, with respect for the marks of the host institution.
Student workload consists of the time required to complete all planned learning activities such as attending lectures, seminars, independent and private study, preparation of projects, examinations, etc. 60 Credits represents the workload of a year of study, usually 30 Credits per semester and 20 credits per trimester. One credit stands for around 25 to 30 working hours). Those credits allocated to modules and courses can only be obtained after successful completion of the work required and appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes achieved.
Example of graduation:
Percentage of successful students normally achieving the grade
|outstanding performance with only minor errors|
|above the average standard but with some errors|
|generally sound work with a number of notable errors|
|fair but with significant shortcomings|
|performance meets the minimum criteria|
FAIL- some more work required before the credit can be awarded
FAIL - considerable further work required
It is important to note that the ECTS grade does not replace that of the institution. The ECTS grading system gives information which is in addition to that provided on the host institution's standard transcript, after agreement with the home institution. The ECTS grade is indicated alongside the mark awarded by the institution on the student's transcript of records.
Students may study abroad for between three months and an academic year. For students on short term higher vocational education courses, the minimum period on a work placement is two months. You can combine a study period with a work placement (providing there are no gaps between the two activities) so it is considered a single Erasmus period. Check with the university Erasmus Co-ordinator for details on criteria.
Currently, students benefit from the tuition fee-waiver scheme. For example, a foreign student spending a full academic year on Erasmus does not pay any tuition fees in Belgium for that year. However, if you study abroad for less than a year, you will have to pay the tuition fees.
Students may receive an Erasmus grant for study or work placement. These are supplementary, non-repayable grants intended to offset any additional expenses incurred while abroad. The Erasmus grant is not means-tested. To be eligible, students must be registered at a Higher Education institution which holds an Erasmus University Charter (EUC) and spend an approved study or work period of between 3 to 12 months each at an institution which holds an EUC in another EU, EEA or candidate country. Grant values vary depending on the country you visit.
Students undertaking short-term work placements can receive additional supplementary funding in order to offset the relatively high initial setup costs of such placements. This includes a one-off supplementary grant of €250 can be paid to each student, to assist with the higher expenses relating to short-term accommodation. Up to €300 can be paid to each student for travel costs.
Erasmus grants in Belgium are paid through your home institution and in addition to the standard grants or loans to which you are entitled. The total duration of all grants may not exceed 24 months.
Information regarding accommodation, health insurance, and living in Brussels and in Belgium can be found in this guide. Refer to the sections listed in the menu.