Exchange PhD Students

Students who are visiting Ghent University to perform research in the context of their PhD (for which they are enrolled at another university) and who are defending their PhD at their home institute and not (also) at UGent are administratively called “exchange PhD-students" or visiting students. This exchange can take place within Erasmus+ mobility or within another structure.

Some facts and figures about Ghent University

How to enroll as an exchange PhD student

Ghent University welcomes all exchange PhD students who come to our University in order to conduct part of their research in the framework of their PhD. A bilateral agreement between your home institution and Ghent University in your field of study is not necessary but optional.

However, if you want to follow courses as an exchange PhD student, an agreement between your home institution and Ghent University is obligatory.

All applications need the explicit commitment of a Ghent University professor who will act as your research  supervisor.  So the first step is to approach a professor within your research area and discuss the possibilities. Once you have found a professor who is willing to act as your host you can apply.


Applications in the framework of PhD studies and research stays should be submitted at least two months prior to arrival. For students who need a visa to travel to Belgium it is advised to submit the application at least 3 months in advance.

Exchange Application

You need to create a Ghent University account and register via the Oasis website
In this procedure you need to select your faculty, the correct academic year of your exchange and choose the correct semester in which your exchange period would fall. Click on the link ‘Exchange’ under ‘Curriculum’. For questions, please contact the administrator of your host faculty at Ghent University.

You will have to upload some documents

  1. Proof of enrolment as a PhD student at your home University
  2. A signed Learning Agreement. Please chose the correct template for doctoral mobility

Most important is that your personal details are filled in and that this document is signed by yourself and your home institution and your contact person from UGent. Please make sure the Learning Agreement is completely filled in and signed, dated and stamped where necessary!

Language skills

Your knowledge of Dutch and English. Please consult the language requirements in order to prepare the correct English language certificate.

Once you have submitted your application in ‘My Oasis’, please contact (or ask your host) the FCI-administrator of your guest faculty so that he/she can check approve your file.

Contact details of your FCI-administrator.

Approval Procedure

  • The faculty needs to approve and sign the Learning Agreement.
  • After approval, you can continue the procedure in Oasis.
  • After submitting your complete exchange application the Faculty Officer responsible for Internationalisation (FCI) and the UGent promoter will check if your application is complete and if you are eligible.


After your exchange application has been approved, you will automatically receive an official invitation letter from Ghent University. You need this letter for your student visa application together with a letter of your promotor specifying the dates of your study stay.

The approval procedure can take a few weeks.

When applying for a student / family reunion visa or residence permit, international PhD students need to prove that they have sufficient means of subsistence to cover their living expenses, study, healthcare and repatriation costs. This can be proven in different ways.

1. Costs

Exchange PhD students are exempt from a tuition fee.
Exchange PhD students pay bench fee only in case the promotor wishes so and if it is part of a possible scholarship you receive during your stay.
A idea about the costs of living in Belgium.

2. Housing

Ghent University offers accommodation to exchange PhD students only after the admission application has been completed and this for a maximum period of 6 months. As soon as you can log in to Oasis with your prospect number you can make this booking. 
Read more information about housing for (exchange) PhD students.

Accommodation in a dorm at Ghent University to start can be practical, because you can domicile there and you have time to search for a place to stay on the private market.

If you are looking for a place to stay on the private market, you can request a list of short term rentals from

There’s a closed group on Facebook with rooms for expats
There is a closed Facebook group ‘Rooms in Ghent for Erasmus students’

3. Insurance

International PhD students are legally obliged to have a health insurance during their stay in Belgium (for themselves and their family members staying in Belgium).

Ghent University provides an All-in insurance for liability, sickness and accidents for PhD students. This can only be requested online by a UGent staf member, so therefore, please contact your faculty administration. The cost of the UGent all-in insurance is about 2,7 euro/day.

Read this important information carefully.

4. Money and banking

Practical info regarding banking and taxes in Belgium

In case you need to open a Belgian bank account, we advise you to choose KBC Bank: Kouter 175, 9000 Gent. They offer a very good service for international students. Or use a bank of your choice.


1. Travelling to Belgium – how to reach Ghent

2. Enrolment at Ghent University

Don’t forget to enroll. After enrolment you will get your student card and a certification of registration. You will need this document for your registration at the Migration Office at the City of Ghent

3. Student Residence Permit (Registration at Stad Gent)

After arriving and enrolling at UGent, it is mandatory for every foreign student to register at the Stad Gent for the issuance of a student residence permit. For students who are staying longer than 3 months, passport, enrolment at UGent, housing contract (either from university accommodation or from private market) and proof of scholarship or sufficient means of subsistence is mandatory. This process might take 1-3 months, so it is advised to start it as early possible. It depends on your accommodation location and type, usually the process is relatively fast if you have contract from university accommodation.

More information on your registration at the city of Ghent.

4. How to prolong your stay

Due to unforeseen circumstances, it can be possible you would like to prolong your stay as an exchange PhD student at Ghent University. In that case you you will need to present a:

  1. Signed letter from your home university stating the period that you want to stay longer as an exchange student at Ghent University
  2. Signed letter from your professor in Ghent stating the period that you want to stay longer as an exchange student at Ghent University
  3. Copy of your health insurance (European Health Insurance Card or other insurance) valid in Belgium for the entire period of the prolongation

Bring/send the 3 documents to the Exchange Student Adviser

  • After checking the forms he  we will change your file in the UGent-databases.
  • Your student card will be valid for the prolonged period from the next day onwards.
  • He will also give/send you a Letter of Prolongation.

You can use this Letter to change your reservation in the UGent student residences.

You will also receive a Letter from the Central Students' Administration by post on your address in Gent.

You can use this letter to prolong you registration in the Foreigners' Registration Office of the City.

5. More information and opportunities

This charter creates an academic framework necessary to successfully conduct doctoral research in a scientific environment.

  • Psycho-social well-being at work and ombudsperson

Doctoral and other students can contact their faculty's Ombudsperson in case of disputes with lecturers or problems during a doctorate for most statements or complaints. If this is, for some reason, not possible, then you can turn to the institutional Ombudsperson for further mediation. Visit this page (sorry in Dutch) for more details.

  • Stad Gent

More information on all aspects of ‘life in Ghent for an international student’.

  • Different types of PhD students

Working as an exchange PhD student, you will meet other colleague PhD students. The journey of a PhD student at UGent can be very different. Depending on your status as a student, you will have access to some facilities.

Exchange PhD students have limited access to UGent software, shared documents and printers.

Travelling costs from home to work will not be refunded for exchange PhD-students. Whether you are entitled to be reimbursed for work related travel depends on your specific situation. Make sure to get the details from your supervisor, department office or whomever is paying your scholarship.

As a  students you can get reduction for a train pass. Once enrolled, you can print the document from your Oasis account. Busses and trams only offer reduction to students under 26 years age. They can buy a so-called Buzzypass with their university student card. Students older then 26years can buy an Omnipass for 50 euro.