Guide for admitted students

Congratulations on your offer to study at Vlerick Business School, and welcome to Brussels!

The below guide will provide you information to prepare for your arrival in Brussels. Should you need any further information or have any questions, you can contact us at any time.

Brussels: The capital of Europe

You may know all the clichés but the life in Brussels is not all about beer, waffles and fries. Brussels is a melting pot of different cultures with international companies as well as the EU institutions bringing people together from all over the world. This means that there is a wide range of cultural and social activities on offer throughout the year. Brussels is a vibrant and dynamic city and is home to around 74.000 students. French is the most widely spoken language but English is also understood and spoken.

Applying for a student visa

If you are not a European citizen, you will need to apply for a student visa to come to Belgium. For further information about the procedure, please consult the following website: www.diplomatie.be.

We recommend that you apply for a student visa type D with multiple entries and with a validity for the entire duration of the programme. Please take into account that it can take up to two months to process a student visa application once a complete application is submitted with the Belgian embassy. The Belgian embassy or consulate in your country will provide you with all information on the documents and procedures required to obtain this visa.

Since Vlerick Business School is a higher education establishment organized, recognized and subsidized by the public authorities (Article 58), there is no need to provide information on course curriculum.

Visa fees: The administrative fee, to be paid to the embassy, equals to €200 as Vlerick Business School is a public university institution. This fee is to be paid on top of the handling fee/consular taxes of the long stay visa (equivalent of €180 in local currency). You are exempted of paying the administrative fee in case you received a scholarship.

To apply for the visa, you will also have to prove solvency.

  • via “pledge of financial support”, also called Annex 32
    A pledge of financial support is specific proof of means of subsistence. Through this pledge of financial support, parents or relatives act as a guarantor for your period of residence, your return journey and your medical costs.
  • via blocked account
    You can transfer €9.600 into the account of Vlerick Business School and get a Financial Certificate to prove solvency to the embassy in return. (i.e. we will pay back 12 times €800 into your Belgian bank account from September 2018 up and including August 2019).

Extra step for Chinese students: APS

In case you have a Chinese degree certificate, you will have to obtain the APS certificate in order to get a student visa at the Belgian embassy or Consulates General in PR China. Please contact the APS administration in Beijing at [email protected].

The APS screening consists of two parts:

  • they will check the authenticity of your degree certificate and will therefore contact your university or the Chinese Ministry of Education.
  • in addition there is an interview testing your language skills.

Note: If you fail to obtain the correct visa, Vlerick Business School cannot be held responsible for the resulting consequences.

Climate and clothing

Belgium has a temperate climate and its reputation as a rainy country is not unfounded. Although there will be sunny days, we recommend to carry an umbrella! You can expect to see all four seasons in Belgium with a cold winter and warm summer. Therefore be prepared to bring winter and summer clothes.

Arriving in Brussels

There are two airports in Brussels: Brussels National Airport (Zaventem) and Brussels South-Charleroi. Both airports are connected by public transport to the city.

The Brussels campus is located in the heart of the city in the Manhattan Centre (Avenue du Boulevard 21, 1210 Brussels). The campus is easily accessible by metro, tram and bus (stop Rogier) or by train at the Gare de Bruxelles-Nord. For more information about public transport in Brussels, please consult the STIB website.

Living in Brussels

Vlerick Business School does not offer on-campus accommodation. We advise our students to come to Brussels a few weeks before the start of the programme and book a room at a hostel, Airbnb or similar whilst they look for permanent housing. Previous students have stayed in the following hostel close to campus:

Youth Hostel Sleep Well
Rue du Damier 23, Brussels
[email protected] / www.sleepwell.be

We advise you to visit several places before securing an accommodation, to compare options and have the chance to see the area and the offer.

The most commonly used apartment search websites in Brussels are the following:

  • Spotahome.com is an online housing booking platform, offering medium and long-term accommodation (apartments, rooms, studios and student residences) in ten different countries. Their services are particularly interesting for international students searching accommodation before their arrival to Brussels. Spotahome verifies all the properties and takes photos, a guided video tour and provides detailed descriptions of the home and the neighbourhood. Vlerick students can enjoy a 30% discount on Spotahome’s booking fees with the following discount code: VLERICKDISC (introduce during the booking request).
    Spotahome
  • www.student-rooms.com
  • www.appartager.be
  • www.immoweb.be/en
  • www.immo.vlan.be
  • www.logic-immo.be
  • www.zimmo.be
  • www.ikot.be
  • www.spotahome.com

Alternatively, you can walk around the city and look out for the orange “A louer” (to rent) signs in windows or on front doors of apartments.

If you are looking for a student room or flatshare, you should look out of for the words “Colocation” or “Kot” in adverts. Furnished rooms will be advertised as “meublé”. You should expect to pay a security deposit of two to three months of rent. Popular areas for students are Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, Etterbeek and Auderghem. We advise you to avoid the city centre (1000 Brussels) as this might result in delays with your residence permit request.

Please, note that you should only rent a room or appartment where “domiciliation” is possible. This is required for the residence permit and registration at the local authorities. Without this you will not be able to register.

Tips & tricks when renting a room/studio

  • Read the contract and ask all questions before signing an agreement. Normally Belgian contracts are in French/Dutch, but you can check a standard English contract from the housing organisation Kotagent.
  • To be able to register in the town hall to get your resident card, you must be able to use the address of the room/apartment. Make sure to check whether that is possible with the landlord.
  • A deposit of two to three months of rent is usually asked to cover possible damages and cleaning upon your departure. If you leave everything clean and without damages, you will be fully refunded.
  • Make sure you know what is included in the costs (water, electricity, heating, etc.) and what the extra costs per month will imply and how they are calculated.
  • Check if the room/studio is furnished/unfurnished so you can calculate what you need to foresee extra.
  • Make an inventory of possible damages to the property together with the landlord as soon as you are in. If you have individual counters for water/electricity, it is good to take note of the meter reader when you move in.

Residence Permit

In Brussels, you will have to register at the foreigners office (Office des Étrangers) of your local authority (commune) to receive a National ID number. Your commune is based on your post code (i.e. 1050 is Ixelles, 1060 is Saint-Gilles, 1000 is Brussels).

The registration process can vary depending on the commune so you should check their website to see what documents you will need to take with you. You need to register within 8 days on moving to your permanent address. We recommend that you make an appointment over the phone or online as soon as you have your permanent address. For opening timings, please refer to the website of your commune.

Please, be aware that a local police officer will come to check that you live at the address you have given at your registration. Therefore, it is important to clearly label your doorbell and letterbox with your name.

Health care

Health Care Insurance is mandatory in Belgium. Doctors are of free choice and charge a fee upon consultation. Therefore, arranging an insurance should be a priority for you. Depending on your nationality, the process to register in one of the “mutuelle” may vary.

  • If you are an EU citizen, you just need to make sure to bring your European Health Insurance Card when moving to Belgium. Once here, pass by the mutuelle of your choice and register with your card and ID.
  • Non-EU students will normally register as “students” and pay a quarterly fee. Once you receive your resident status you can change it and register as a resident.

Living expenses

Although the cost of living largely depends on the student's lifestyle, Belgium and its capital Brussels is, on average, cheaper to live in than more than half of Western Europe's capitals, including Paris, Stockholm and London.

An average monthly budget consists of:

Housing €450
Electricity, Gas and Water €40
Food €250
Health Care €20
Miscellaneous (trips, clothing, laundry...) €140

This makes the estimated total cost per month €900.

Public transport in Brussels

The public transport network in Brussels is operated by STIB. All timetables and live information can be found on the website. The Brussels campus is well connected by metro (lines 2 and 6), tram (lines 3, 4, 25 and 55) using the stop Rogier. There are also many bus routes that pass by the campus. The closest train station to the campus is the Gare de Bruxelles-Nord.

The best way to use public transport in Brussels is with a Mobib card which you can buy at large metro stations for €5. You can then purchase 10 journeys (JUMP 10) at a time for €14 which will be loaded onto your Mobib card. Alternatively, you can buy a subscription for the public transport system. If you are using public transport every day, this may be better value for money. You can find out more information about the different types of subscriptions on the STIB website.

Travel while in Belgium

Many European countries are within easy reach of Brussels by train, plane or car. You can get interesting deals on the Thalys trains to France, Germany and the Netherlands or the Eurostar to London.

We recommend that you also take the time to discover other cities in Belgium which are accessible by train from Brussels such as Ghent, Leuven, Namur, Bruges, Antwerp, Mons etc. For 99 reasons why Belgium is uniquely phenomenal, please see the website http://www.uniquelyphenomenal.be.

There are special deals on train tickets at weekends when tickets are half price. You can also buy a ticket which is valid for 10 journeys throughout Belgium. One or more people can use this ticket at the same time. For students under 26, this costs €55 (Go Pass). For those over 26, the cost is €76 (Rail Pass).

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