PhD Students with External Funding

This webpage is designed to assist international students who are considering a full PhD at Ghent University and will be funded by their home university, an external organization, their local government or who will study on their own financial means.

Get to know Ghent and Ghent University

Some YouTube clips to give you a first impression:

Welcome at Ghent University!

Ghent University yesterday, today and tomorrow

Promotional video of Ghent

For general information on how to start a PhD at UGent, take a look at the Doctoral Research webpage. 

For some groups, dedicated webpages are available: VLIR-UOS, HEC, CSC

The journey of international PhD students at UGent can be different. We advise you to check the very informative pages for incoming PhD students, which give an overview from the start until the end of a PhD process.


Ghent University has no ‘single point of contact’ for PhD students. You will have to contact different people at Ghent University for enrolment, housing and etc. The Student Guide for incoming international student offers a lot of information.

This webpage is designed as a portal to guide you through your specific process as an externally funded PhD student. We start from the premise that you have already identified a promotor and you have or will apply for a scholarship with an external funder.

PhD Study costs

Scholarship amount details in relation to living costs

Ghent University’s Board of Directors has adopted a new guideline recommending that PhD students should meet a threshold of at least 1520 euro in means of subsistence (meeting November 2022). The amount is corrected on an annual basis according to the index.

This guideline flows from concerns raised by the Board on the living conditions of PhD students that come to Belgium with insufficient financial means.

To have an idea about the costs of living in Belgium, please check the following link:

Bench fee

Read the bench fee guideline applicable to all PhD students that enroll at Ghent University.

Tuition fee

Read about the tuition fee for doctorate and doctoral training programme.

What to do before travelling to Belgium

Visa application

    Important: as an externally funded PhD student you will need to apply for a student visa.

    The most important documents for your visa application are:

    • Letter of Admission : your promotor has to start the admission procedure in the Oasis studentplatform. After completing this PhD application, Ghent University informs you about the decision by sending an official Letter of Admission (LOA), signed by the Registrar. Along with other documents and this letter of admission  you can apply for a visa. PhD students with a doctoral scholarship always need to apply for a student visa – visa D (long stay to study).
    • Proof of travel and health insurance (e.g. European Health Insurance Card), a private insurance or a letter ‘proof of intention’ from a Belgian health care fund. Find more details on the proof of health insurance.

    Ghent University does not assist in visa related questions. Please contact your embassy in case of difficulties. You can start the application for a visa D at the local Belgian embassy.

    Having a European Union residence permit from another EU country is not sufficient as a non-EU citizen because upon arrival in Belgium you will have to present the same documents to the immigration office as for a student visa (type D) application and the procedure will take much longer.

    In some cases it can take more than three months to obtain a visa so it is important to apply on time.
    Do not travel to Belgium with a type C tourist visa unless you plan to stay for less than three months.

    Housing in Ghent

    Ghent University offers accommodation to 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.

    More information about university accommodation.

    Accommodation in a dorm at Ghent University for the first months  can be practical, because you can domicile there and you have time to search for a place to stay on the private market. It is quite difficult to obtain a housing contract on private market before reaching Belgium.

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

    There are some closed groups on Facebook with rooms for expats and students. You can find other useful websites at UGent, Immoweb, Zimmo and Immovlan.

    On top of the rental cost, you have to take into account the electricity and general costs. This also lies between 100 € and 200 € per month . (described often as ‘maandelijke algemene kosten’).

    How to get to Ghent

    Arrange your travel plans and review the Ghent University faculty map to orient yourself in this lovely medieval city. Watch a video on how to travel from Brussels International Airport to Ghent Sint-Pieters railway station, the city’s largest rail stops, or read some more on how to reach Ghent by train

    Buy your train ticket in advance on Trainline.

    Multicultural, historical, connected and open: the city of Gent welcomes expats from all over the globe. Gent has 25 different districts and suburbs where it is pleasant and pleasant to live. These zones are defined on the basis of the zip codes. All neighborhoods have schools, nature, shops, libraries, pharmacists, doctors, etc. Take a look at the digital street map of Ghent. 

    Public transport

    The Belgian National Railways (NMBS) offers discounts for adults under 26. Other discounts and passes are available, such as the Railpass and the Benelux pass.
    De Lijn is the regional bus/tram service for Flanders and offers service in Ghent and surroundings. For public transport in Ghent (bus and tram).

    What to do after reaching Ghent

    Enrollment as PhD student by arrival – tuition fee

    All PhD researchers must enroll as student at the Registrar’s Office at the start of their study, as well as re-enroll online every following academic year until graduation, after approval of an annual progress report. At that time they also need to pay the tuition fee.

    Money and Banking

    See some practical information on banking and opening a bank account.

    As a Phd student with a foreign grant you do not have to pay income taxes in Belgium. You might have to complete a local tax form in your home country. Every student who has a domicile in Ghent is subject to provincial tax. See some more information on taxes.

    Student Residence Permit (Registration at the City of Ghent)

    After arrival in Belgium, the procedure to obtain a Belgian residence card for you and your family must be started within 8 days. The procedure can be done online.

    Obtaining a Belgian residence ID card is mandatory if you stay more than 90 days in Belgium. The ID card will replace your visa to enter Belgium and provide you the right to stay, live and work in Belgium. The procedure to obtain the card is started immediately after arrival. More information on the registration process.

    Please note that to apply for a residence permit you will need to have permanent housing where you can be officially registered (=main residence). If upon arrival you do not have a permanent address (= where you can stay for minimum 2 months) you can e-mail (within 8 working days) to inform them about your arrival and mention that you do not have a permanent residence yet. As soon as you have a permanent residence fill in the online application form. If you will not live in Ghent you need to contact the city where you actually live.

    In case your family would like to join you during your stay in Belgium you will have to prove sufficient means of subsistence as a family. The amount is 2050 euro/month irrespective of the number of children. This means that if your scholarship is not sufficient, you will need the solvency procedure.

    If your family holds a NON-EEA nationality, visa procedures for family reunion will need to be started before they can move with you to Belgium. The application for the visa for family reunion is best done in the Belgian embassy of the home country.

    Family reunion procedures must be prepared well to run smoothly. The Belgian embassy will always send the visa request for students to Brussels for a file check. It is therefore possible that there will be a difference between the time that the student visa is issued and the visa for family reunion.

    If your family joins you to Belgium, you can contact to start the registration procedure for the family members (see more information on the visa procedures for family reunion).


    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).

    The Belgian health Fund system reimburses (Belgian) medical expenses. On average, the health Fund system will reimburse 75% of your expenses. In addition and extra insurance that will cover the surplus in case of hospitalization can be taken.

    The different Health Funds in Belgium are HZIV - HulpkasCM - Christelijke mutualiteit, LIBMUT - Liberale mutualiteit, SOCMUT - Socialistische mutualiteit, HELAN - Onafhankelijk ziekenfonds, VNZ, Neutraal ziekenfonds.

    Helan and CM have a lot of experience with international students. Their services are also available in English.

    All Health Funds, except from Hulpkas, also provide upon request an additional hospitalization insurance to cover more expensive treatments that require hospitalization.

    Ghent University also offers an all-in insurance that covers additional health costs, and also includes civil liability and travel insurance. Keep in mind that you still have to register with a health fund, even if you take the all-in insurance.

    Through your stay with Ghent University, you are automatically insured for:

    • Physical accidents during university activities
    • Civil liability during university activities
    • Industrial accidents

    More Information and opportunities

    PhD charter

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

    Ghent University PhD Community

    Ghent University PhD Community is an inclusive community of and for all PhD students at Ghent University. A network of enthusiastic and dynamic PhD students is operating as PhD ambassadors that transcends the boundaries of faculties and science disciplines.

    The PhD community is supported by the Doctoral Schools UGent and Gentse Pre- en Postdoc Raad.

    Psychosocial 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.


    Low Countries Studies is a post academic program for exchange students and other foreign students and researchers, eager to learn more about Flanders, Belgium and the Netherlands.

    Learning Dutch

    Check the Dutch courses at the University Language Centre or at Amal vzw, the Agency for non-native newcomers and organizations in Ghent.

    Family and work


    Day-care services for children between 3 months and 3 years are provided for by nurseries ('crèche' or 'kinderdagverblijf'). Ghent University offers its own childcare for students and staff. The 6 daycare centres are: Heymans, De Sterre, De StadsKabouter, De Boskabouter, Het Koetshuis, De Parkkabouter (more information).

    Childcare allowance

    In some cases it is possible to apply for a child allowance. Monthly allowance 2021 = € 166,30 per child is paid until the age of 18 by the Belgian government per child. Your child must move to Belgium!
    To start the application: contact the child allowance funds (more information).


    During your stay in Belgium as a PhD student you are not entitled to a work permit but you can be employed as a student. You can work during term time up to 600 hour per year, provided your work doesn’t interfere with your studies. However, the job service of Ghent University does not facilitate PhD students.

    If your partner would join you through family reunion, he/she is not entitled to work.

    Orientation year

    Students with a residence permit as a non-EU student who graduate at Ghent University as bachelor, master or PhD, are eligible for an orientation year: a stay of 12 months to search for a job or to carry out an independent activity (see how to apply).