Is Belgium the best study destination you’ve never considered?

Despite not having the resources of its European neighbors, Belgium has long carved out advantages for itself that help to compete with bigger countries. We spoke to representatives from some of Belgium’s leading business schools to find out why it might be the best MBA study destination you’ve never considered.

In short

Why do an MBA in Belgium?

Belgium may not have the economic strength or political influence of its neighbors France, Germany, and the Netherlands, but its prime location means it has carved out its own unique identity in the heart of Europe. 

Eva Peeters is a Student Recruitment Manager at Belgium’s Antwerp Management School. She highlights the country’s central location as being one of the key attractions for international students. 

“What I like a lot is our central location,” she says. “I used to live abroad myself, and it’s only when I lived abroad that I started appreciating how central Belgium is…so for international students, it’s great to explore Europe if you’re in Belgium.” (01:04)

But Belgium’s position in central Europe also brings logistical and economic advantages. With easy access to the rest of the continent by road, rail, air, or sea, the country has become somewhat of a continental transport hub.

“Belgium is also very much important as a hub in terms of transportation. We have a lot of companies such as FedEx and DHL [which are] quite big here,” adds Benoît Masset of Solvay Business School. (11:50

Affordable tuition and post-graduate work visas

Despite Belgium’s relatively small population, it can also compete with its neighbors when it comes to higher education. It is home to some of Europe’s leading universities and business schools, yet tuition fees here remain more affordable than much of the continent.

“I know Belgium is not the most famous country, it’s not like France or the UK, but what I like a lot is that we have a lot of schools that score very well in international rankings, but in terms of tuition fees we are still relatively affordable – especially if you compare it to other Western countries. So in terms of value for money, Belgium is a great choice,” says Eva. (00:38)

Those who choose to study in Belgium tend to stay after they graduate. Eva states that 20-30% of her school’s graduates work in Belgium after graduating – but that figure is likely to increase thanks to a newly introduced work visa for international students.

“In the past, there was no post-graduation work visa. But, now, finally, the Belgian government has approved this visa, so that means everyone doing a postgraduate degree in Belgium will be able to stay for at least one extra year and have full work rights,” Eva confirms. (02:00)

The internationalism of Belgium

Belgium also excels when it comes to internationalism. Another benefit of its central location, coupled with its political neutrality, is that the country has become the home of various international organizations. Yolanda Habets is the Head of MBA Programs at Vlerick Business School.

“I think Belgium is actually an excellent gateway to an international career for students,” she says. “Belgium was the founding member of many major international entities like the EU, NATO, the Eurozone, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to name just a few. Many of those companies are in the capital city of Belgium, Brussels, which gives it a very good position on the international stage.” (07:10)

But how exactly does this benefit MBA students in Belgium? Benoît explains how Solvay Business School is tapping into Brussels’ business community to improve their program offering:

“We are tapping into the network here in Brussels. For example, we are having a new course this year on technology regulation and lobbying, which is going to be delivered by the CEO of Politico Europe. This is one of the main good points of having the EU close by – that we have these high-profile [individuals] who are available to be professors during our courses.” (12:28)

Belgium’s innovative approach to sustainability

We’ve already looked at how Belgium carves out advantages for itself despite its small population, and its approach to sustainability is another one. Not having the pool of natural resources that other countries have has meant the country has had to find innovative ways to compete. 

“Belgium is also known as a hub of innovation, and a lot of that innovation is focused towards sustainability in many industries ranging from transportation through textiles through food and beverages, but also in some of the more traditional industries like finance. Belgium is again at the forefront [in finance] with the introduction of a quality standard for sustainable and socially responsible financial products,” Yolanda explains. (09:18)

Again, it’s interesting to learn how Belgium’s sustainable initiatives manifest themselves in the country’s business schools. Benoît explains Solvay Business School’s commitments to sustainability:

“We’re very proud that the Solvay MBA is embedded in sustainability through our scholarships, through our academia, with all courses [including at least] one sustainability chapter – also through our operations, where we really care about making our systems as sustainable and lean as possible.” (15:58)

Its approach to sustainability is one of the many ways in which Belgium has learned to maximize its potential. Choose to study here, and you could be inspired to do the same.

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