Mobility outside Europe: Bilateral Agreements - roadmap for UGent students

This page will answer all your questions on mobility to a destination outside the Erasmus zone, only possible under the terms of a bilateral agreement.

NOTE: this page is for Ghent University students who have the intention to go on an exchange abroad (and NOT for exchange students applying at Ghent University) 

Before mobility

Step 1: Autumn: gather information

A bilateral agreement outside Europe is an agreement which includes arrangements on student exchange programmes with a partner institution outside Europe.
The most important arrangements in these agreements (also referred to as ‘Cooperation Agreements’) are the following:
  • the exemption from tuition fee
  • the possibility to transfer acquired credits
  • the number of students per academic year that can apply for an exchange programme under the terms of this agreement
Under the terms of a bilateral agreement, you can go to a partner institution abroad for your studies, for research on your master’s thesis, or for a traineeship.
The minimum duration of your stay is 1 month. The maximum duration is 12 months.
  • Specific administrative questions regarding a bilateral agreement application (e.g. application process, scholarships) can be directed to the .
  • All academic questions (e.g. about compatibility with your study programme, the content of your stay abroad) can be directed to the FCI chair/staff member at your own faculty or study programme.
In the autumn, each faculty organizes an information session on its exchange programme. Depending on the faculty, it is possible that during this session information will be given on bilateral agreements. The FCI chair/staff member can provide you with more information on this topic.
No. First and foremost, you have to be a student at Ghent University both in the year of application and in the year of mobility. Moreover, you have to check with your faculty during which period of your study programme a stay abroad is allowed. For example, in some fields, it is customary to take up an exchange programme in the third bachelor year.

A study abroad under the terms of a bilateral agreement is part of your study programme and is equated with a number of ECTS credits. After you have successfully completed your studies abroad, these credits will be added to your Transcript of Records. A participation to an exchange programme under a bilateral agreement is therefore considered for your degree.
You cannot choose your own destination. Your faculty will draft a list of possible destinations. All destinations are regulated by bilateral agreements between the faculty at Ghent University and its counterpart abroad. You cannot register at another faculty.
These ‘vacancies’ were established in mutual agreement between the concerned professors. In each faculty, (at least) 1 professor takes on a key role in the internationalization activities. He/she is the chair of the Faculty Committee Internationalization (FCI chair). He/she is well-informed about the agreements his/her faculty has reached for the coming year. In most faculties, there is also an FCI contact person.
Your FCI chair/staff member can provide you with a list of possible destinations.

The minimum duration of a stay under a bilateral agreement is 1 month and the maximum duration is 12 months. The duration depends on the type of mobility: studies, traineeship or research for master’s thesis. For more information, contact your FCI chair/staff member.

Yes. Scholarship students who are entitled to a reduction of the registration fee fully retain this right while staying abroad. All rights to child benefit are also retained.

No. This depends on a number of factors. You will not be automatically awarded a scholarship. You have to file an application for a scholarship. The distribution of the grants is a competitive selection process. The largest grants will be granted to the students who have the best files and who can use financial support the most from a social economic point of view. Should you think that you do not belong to the category mentioned before, do not hesitate to still hand in a file: there are around 175 grants to distribute, including travel reimbursements for students who need less financial support. The deadline for application is yearly the first week of March. The distributes the Guidelines for Applications in January of each year. The distribution is done via Minerva and your FCI chair/staff member.

Bilateral agreement students are fully exempt from paying tuition fees at the host institution. However, they continue paying the tuition fee at Ghent University.
At certain universities, students are sometimes required to pay an administrative contribution, regardless of the actual tuition fee. Check in time with your host institution whether this is the case.
The scholarships described under the item “Am I automatically awarded a bilateral agreement scholarship?” are possibly not comprehensive and will sometimes only cover part of the extra costs of staying abroad. The real cost of a stay under a bilateral agreement depends on the country and the city you stay in, the type of accommodation, the course material, public transport…
Tip: draft a savings plan when you are abroad and be economical. You can also take up a student job abroad. The job service or your host institution’s International Relations Office can help you find a job.

Tip: check the website of the partner institution for information on the ‘cost of living’.
Whether or not you can take up an exchange programme under a bilateral agreement twice depends on your FCI chair/staff member.
Other possibilities are Erasmus, Erasmus Belgica (going to French-speaking Belgium) or an Erasmus traineeship. In these cases, your faculty always has the final say.

Step 2: As of January: submit application

If you want to apply for a specific bilateral agreement destination, you need to submit an exchange application form on the Oasis website. At this point, it is possible that your faculty will already ask you to submit a completed and signed Learning Agreement (see below). The application deadline is usually set in January or February, depending on the faculty.

If you want to apply for a scholarship to fund your mobility outside of Europe, you will have to submit a portfolio. The deadline is each year in the first week of March (see above).

  1. Exchange application
    In Oasis you need to draft an exchange application form for each possible destination you want to apply for. The application contains the following elements:
    –    Details about your exchange
    –    Motivation
    –    Language skills
    –    Contact person in case of emergencies
    –    Learning Agreement (see below)

    The programme will guide you through the various steps of the application procedure. Submit the complete application form for approval to your faculty.
    The FCI chair/staff member selects and allocates the destinations. The files of the students who are selected by the faculty are sent to the Internationalization Department, which forwards these data to the host institution. This procedure is called the bilateral agreement student nomination.
    Most host universities also expect you to directly apply to the host department under the terms of their own procedure. You have to check yourself whether of or not this is required.

    If you want to apply for a specific bilateral agreement destination, you need to submit an application form with your FCI chair/staff member. At this point, it is possible that your faculty will already ask you to submit a completed and signed Learning Agreement (see below).

    The deadline for submitting your electronic application is usually set in January or February, depending on the faculty.

    Note: the academic calendar of a university outside Europe can be completely different from ours.  Therefore always check the host institution’s application deadline. For example: in South Africa, the academic year starts in January, which is equivalent to our first semester exam period.

  2. Learning Agreement
    The Learning Agreement is a document in which you have to specify which courses you will take at the host institution (study programme). In Oasis, you can indicate which programme you will take up abroad. After obtaining approval from the FCI staff member/academic exchange coordinator, you can print the signed Learning Agreement by selecting the tab ‘Documents’ on your exchange application page.
    –    If you leave for one semester, you need to choose courses for a total of 30 ECTS credits. If you leave for an entire academic year, you need to choose courses for 60 ECTS credits.
    –    Your preliminary bilateral agreement study programme is to be approved by your faculty before you leave abroad. Always check the specific procedure in your faculty. Any amendment to the Learning Agreement must be reapproved by all parties and completed with all necessary signatures.

    All changes to this Learning Agreement are to be implemented in the curriculum on Oasis as soon as possible after departure. After obtaining approval from the FCI staff member/academic exchange coordinator, you can print a signed copy of the document ‘changes to the Learning Agreement’.

Step 3: Administrative processing of application

The applications approved by the faculty are sent to the Internationalization Department. In the first half of April, the Internationalization Department nominates each student to the host institution he/she is assigned to.

The host institution examines the file and completes the procedure directly with the student.

Only after completion of the application procedure ánd approval of the host institution are you finally admitted to the programme.

Most host universities will, amongst other formalities, require you to also complete the application form of the host institution.

Note that at some universities the academic year starts earlier than at Ghent University. This means that the deadline for handing in the application form will also be set earlier.

For further information, you can consult the International Relations Office.

Also check the website of the host institution.

Step 4: After approval by the host institution: start preparing your stay

In the first half of July, a number of documents will be available for consultation under ‘Documents’ on your exchange application page on the Oasis website. The following documents are at your disposal:

1    – REIMBURSEMENT OF YOUR LANGUAGE COURSE AT THE UCT
As an exchange student, you can take 1 language course at the University Language Centre (see below) at a reduced registration fee. The Language Centre is automatically informed of your participation to the exchange programme, which means you can just register at the Centre. To qualify for reduction of the registration fee, you need an attendance rate of at least 80% for the course. You can only choose a course in the language(s) of your host country.

2    – CONFIRMATION OF BILATERAL AGREEMENT STATUS
This is an official letter confirming your selection as a bilateral agreement student, which will be useful for your host country and for your visa application.

3    – SCHOLARSHIP CONTRACT (if applicable)
If you have applied for a scholarship and if you have been selected, you will find your scholarship contract in OASIS.

Finding lodgings is your own responsibility. Always be aware of possible fraud when looking for lodgings!

Do you want to rent out your own lodgings while you are abroad?
  1. Complete the registration form
  2. Send the document to
After the information has been received, your address will be included in the database.
Interested parties will contact you by email of telephone.
All further arrangements will be settled between you and the prospective tenant.
Once your application has been approved and you are registered with the International Relations Office as a bilateral agreement student, you have the right to take a language course at the University Language Centre at a reduced registration fee. Only for the course material, a small contribution will be charged. You have to be registered at Ghent University for the new academic year and, upon registration at the Language Centre, mention that you are an exchange student. You can contact the Language Centre for an overview of their programme.
To qualify for the reduction of registration fee, you need an attendance rate of at least 80% for the course. You can only choose a course in (one of) the language(s) of your host country.
As soon as your application has been approved and you are registered with the Internationalization Department as a bilateral agreement student, you can receive a language voucher.
It is advisable to take a language course at your host institution. Knowledge of the local language will facilitate communication. Check the programme and fees of your host institution’s language centre. You have to pay for this course yourself. Make sure to consult the guidelines at your faculty: some faculties provide a partial refund of the cost.
Should you decide to take a language course at your host institution, it is possible that you want to do this before the actual start of your bilateral agreement mobility.
You can withdraw your application as a bilateral agreement student in case of a serious reason. Write a motivated letter to the International Relations Office and to your FCI chair/staff member announcing your withdrawal and the reason why.
You can find all information on insurances on the following link.
In case of an accident during a college activity at the host institution, please immediately contact the UGent Legal Office and/or the International Relations Office.
Upon arrival in your host country, also register by mail at the embassy or consulate in the country of your destination, mentioning your name, the duration of your stay and your contact information.
In case of security problems, illness, accident or loss of identity papers, you need to contact your local embassy/consulate as soon as possible. For further information, consult the website your Foreign Office.
You can find an overview of the formalities regarding your passport and possible visa application on the website of your Foreign Office. If a visa is required, the following documents will be useful:
–    The ‘acceptance letter’ of your host institution;
–    The document ‘Confirmation of bilateral agreement status’ (available on the Oasis platform).
Enquire whether you can obtain a visa with ‘multiple entries’. On the website of your Foreign Office, detailed information on embassies, procedures etc. can be found.
Always take a copy of important documents.
Before you leave, check with your bank whether your bank card works in the country of destination. In case of loss or theft of Belgian your bank card, immediately call Card Stop: 0032 70 344 344.  You can reach this number 24/7.
Travelling to a destination outside Europe can confront you with strict customs policies. To this end, be sure to consult the website of your Foreign Office.

During mobility

Step 5: What is expected of me during my studies abroad?

During your studies abroad, it is advisable to keep in touch with your faculty. Probably, the International Relations Office will occasionally contact you by email to process your file. It is important to remember that we will only use your UGent email address.

Once you have arrived in the host country and the Welcome Week or classes have started, we expect you to register as soon as possible at the International Relations Office of your host institution/faculty. Ask them to complete and sign the section ‘arrival’ on your ‘confirmation of stay’ document. You will find this document by selecting the tab ‘Documents’ on your OASIS exchange application page. This is also where you need to upload the signed document.

Upon arrival at your host institution, you may discover that some courses are no longer taught. In that case, you need to report these changes to your faculty as soon as possible.  To this end, you need to modify your exchange curriculum on Oasis. Your modified curriculum will then be submitted for approval to the faculty. After approval, you can access the official signed form by selecting the tab ‘Documents’ on your Oasis exchange application page.

As the university applies a semester system, exams are held each semester. This implies that, for example, during the first semester you have courses and exams at Ghent University (30 ECTS credits) and mid-February you start at the host institution (remaining 30 ECTS credits). Unfortunately, in reality this is often more complicated, because the second semester at the host institution starts earlier or later. If the semester starts later, there is no problem; if it starts earlier, you could arrange with your UGent examiners to take your exams a few weeks earlier (if feasible). In these cases, the UGent Education and Examination Code is to be respected. If this is not feasible, you need to report to your host institution that you can only start mid-February.
Most universities do not have problems with this.
Your study time abroad (including exams or other evaluations) is equated with study time at your home university (even if the content of the courses is slightly different). Most countries apply a different system for examination and marking.
Bilateral agreement students are evaluated and marked based on the system applied by the host institution, which often deviates from the UGent system. The scores obtained abroad will be fitted in with the final scores obtained at Ghent University by the Faculty Examination Board.
In any case, before you return to Ghent University, contact your host supervisor and ask to submit your transcript of records in time. Some universities cannot issue the transcript before your departure. Always find out who the concerned contact person at your host institution is and when you will receive your transcript of records. Also check whether you will receive the transcript electronically or in the form of a letter.

Should you experience problems of any kind during your stay at your host institution, first address your host institution’s contact person. In case of serious problems, do not hesitate to also contact your FCI staff member, as well as the International Relations Office.

In case of security problems or loss of identity papers, you need to contact your local embassy/consulate as soon as possible. For more information, consult the website of the your Foreign Office.

At the end of your study or traineeship abroad, you need to sign out at your host institution’s International Relations Office. Ask them to complete the second section of the document ‘Confirmation of stay/departure’. You can print this document by selecting the tab ‘Documents’ on your Oasis exchange application page. Subsequently, upload the signed document on Oasis.

By ‘end date of study period’ we mean the day after your last exam.

After mobility

Step 6: Which formalities are to be respected after your return?

It is the student’s own responsibility to upload his/her final scores as soon as possible, in the form of a transcript of records, under the tab “Documents” on his/her Oasis exchange application page. Some universities cannot issue this transcript before the student’s departure.

In any case, find out who the concerned contact person is at your host institution and when you will receive your transcript of records. Also check whether you will receive the transcript electronically or in the form of a letter.

This is only necessary for students who have applied for and have been selected for a scholarship to fund their mobility outside of Europe.

After your return, you need to submit the original copy of your contract to Kelly Van Malderen and Greet Naessens, International Relations Office

Het Pand, Onderbergen 1
9000 Gent.