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Potential Move to Belgium


My husband has been offered a position in Antwerp and we are seriously considering it but I have some questions regarding schooling in Belgium.

We have an 18 year old who will be graduating from high school in June 2016. He is bilingual (french and english). He was planning on starting university in the fall in Canada but is considering moving with us.

Does anyone have any info on Canadian education equivalencies in Belgium? Would he be able to go to University in Belgium or would he have to go back to high school to take a few courses?

Any help/advice/info provided will be welcome.



Year 1 of university tends to be a leveling year anyway. If he's ready to go in Canada, he'll be ready to go in Belgium.

The only requirement is that his Canadian high school diploma is recognised as equivalent to the Belgian one.

Apr 21, 2016 07:16
livin'in Leuven

Hey! Canadian living in Leuven! I have two boys, 17 and 19. The oldest did his last 3 years in Ontario High School, even though we were here.
Your son needs to get his diploma recognized here -
As for University here, the only major difference here is that when you choose you study area, that's all you study. In North America you get to pick and chooses a lot of classes. Here in Belgium, the studies are set with only a couple of choices, still within your study area.
Antwerp has a great University, but like the rest of Belgium, the selection of Bachelor programs taught in English is limiting. If he chooses to study in French, the options in Brussels and the south of the country are limitless.
Also, a Bachelor in Belgium is 3 years and is recognized as equivalent to a 4 year Bachelor in Canada, so you are saving a year. And thousands of dollars!

My oldest son will probably go to school in Scotland next year although he has an offer to study at the University of Manitoba. UK schools are also an option, but for the most part, you had to apply before 1 January.

If you want any more info, feel free to contact me!

Apr 21, 2016 07:34

I'm not sure how aware you are of the use of language in Belgium.
Antwerp is in Flanders and Flanders is Dutch/Flemish speaking. Your son will not be able to study in French at Antwerp Uni.
As a general rule all the Flemish professional people you will deal with - doctor, bank, estate agents - will speak English. English is generally widely understood and those who speak it are happy to do so - indeed they will speak English even if you have good Dutch. The single exception is in the commune offices where they will expect you to use Dutch exclusively.
One hard and fast rule in Flanders - don't start a conversation in French until you are sure that French is acceptable. French is widely spoken and understood but it is always best to let the other party offer to use it.

Apr 21, 2016 09:05
Claire Wall

My son (from the UK) has gone to study at Maastricht university - quite a few courses in English and close to Belgium (but not too close!) so another option for your son to consider.

Apr 21, 2016 10:13

thank you all for the very helpful information. We are still deciding and may come back with further questions. Thank you Leslie for providing your email address, I just may take you up on your offer to contact you with further questions.

Apr 22, 2016 01:22

Canadian Living in Diest - I believe that KUL teaches some courses in English (but would be Flemish otherwise). He could also look at Brussels University which has both French and Flemish courses.
You will need to get his High School Diploma recognised as a previous poster mentioned - you should check if you can start that process in Canada, I had to courier documents back and forth when we got married and I could have saved headache had I know. My boys are too young yet for University, but if you have any general "Living in Flanders" questions feel free to email me as well (I've been here 13 years & my wife is a local) -

Apr 22, 2016 21:13

There is a limited number of universities in Belgium, but all of them that I'm aware of are considered to be fairly high-quality. I don't suspect his Canadian diploma will be a problem, either.

As mentioned by the others, the only issue here seems to be the language. Antwerp has a decent university but everything is obviously in Dutch, with a limited number of courses offered in English. His French will be virtually useless in Flanders, though it is considered a huge plus on the job market (sine qua non for quite a few jobs, especially in Brussels). If he's up for the challenge, he could try uni in Dutch, which is an excellent way to become trilingual, but then I would advise him to start taking preparatory Dutch courses as soon as possible. Fortunately, Flemings tend to be very accommodating towards English speakers. If he insists on French, he will have to go to Brussels or Wallonia. Louvain-la-Neuve or Liège come to mind in the latter case.

May 1, 2016 16:03