Higher education

Once you have obtained a certificate of secondary education, you can continue your studies at a college or university. Higher education leads to diplomas for the labour market: teacher, nurse, accountant, etc.

Conditions for admission to higher education

  • You have obtained a certificate of secondary education in Belgium: you can enrol directly with the school.
  • You have a certificate of secondary or higher education from another country:
    • Ask permission from the school before enrolling
    • You have proof of sufficient proficiency in the language of the course (Dutch, French or English)

To be a doctor or dentist, or for certain training courses for engineering, you must first pass an admission test.

Preparatory year for foreign-speaking students

Some colleges or universities offer a preparatory year for foreign-speaking students.

The preparatory year includes:

  • Dutch/French classes for non-native speakers
  • Studying methods
  • Guidance in your choice of studies
  • English, mathematics and research
  • Certain other classes which you can choose.


  • Have you not yet received a response to your application for international protection? You cannot request a study grant. You also need to pay the full enrolment fee.
  • Have you been recognised as a refugee or have received subsidiary protection? You can apply for a study grant to pay for part of your studies. You also pay a lower enrolment fee than other students.
  • If you are a recognised refugee and younger than 25, you can apply for child benefit. This is a small amount given to all young people during their studies. Ask your social worker whether you meet the conditions.

Higher education involves 4 types of courses

  • HBO5 courses: short, practical courses
  • Professional Bachelor's: practical course of 2 to 3 years
  • Academic Bachelor's and Master's: courses that only give access to work after the Master's programme. The courses are less practical and more knowledge-oriented.
  • Doctorate: a specialised course following a Master's. The main activity is scientific research.