Exchange outside of the Erasmus zone

This page will answer all your questions on mobility to a destination outside the Erasmus zone, for study, traineeships and master thesis research.

The COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on many scheduled exchanges in the academic year 2020-2021.

Exchanges for study are not possible in the second semester of the academic year 2020-2021 (there is an exemption for mobility in the context of joint-programmes).

Exchanges for (clinical) traineeships, fieldwork and research can only take place if certain conditions are met (permission from the faculty, no negative travel advice, no know restriction in your host country that seriously impede daily life, added value of physical presence at host institution). For these activities the covid-situation is assessed on a monthly basis and students are informed about the permission on the first Monday of the month prior to the month of departure.  Even if you receive a permission for your exchange period, this permission can be redrawn at any moment by actueel@ugent.be.

Before your exchange

Step 1: Autumn: gather information

  • For concrete administrative questions (e.g. application form or grants) about an Erasmus participation, you can always contact the International Relations Office.
  • Within your own faculty and study programme, you can turn to the FCI chair/staff member for all academic questions (e.g. possibilities or study programme)
In the autumn semester, each faculty organizes an information session about exchange. Bilateral framework agreements are also discussed during this session. More information about this can be obtained from the FCI chair/staff member.

No, first you must be a Ghent University student during your exchange. In addition, you must check with your faculty during which period of your studies a stay abroad is permitted. For example, in some study programmes it is customary to take an Erasmus programme during the third bachelor.
A stay abroad within the framework of a bilateral framework agreement is part of your study programme and is equivalent to a certain number of ECTS credits. Upon successful completion of your stay abroad, these credits will be included in your Transcript of Records. An exchange outside the Erasmus zone therefore counts towards your diploma. Be sure to check what the conditions are regarding GIT in your faculty or study programme.

Whether you can choose a destination yourself depends on the nature of your exchange.

Exchange outside the Erasmus zone for study.

You cannot choose a destination yourself. Your faculty will draw up a list of possible destinations. All destinations are established in bilateral agreements, between your study programme at Ghent University and that particular study programme at a university outside the Erasmus zone. You cannot therefore take up a place in another study programme.

These available ‘places’ by bilateral agreement arose after mutual agreement between study programmes. Each faculty has 1 professor who keeps an overview of all internationalization activities of your faculty. They are the chair of the Faculty Internationalization Committee. They are aware of the agreements concluded by the degree programmes within the faculty for the following academic year. There is also an FCI contact person in most faculties.

Your FCI chair/staff member can provide you with a list of possible destinations. The most important agreements in such an agreement (called the Cooperation Agreement) are:

  • the exemption from tuition fees
  • the possibility to transfer your acquired credits
  • the number of students who can do an exchange within this agreement per academic year

Exchange outside the Erasmus zone for an internship.

In this case, a bilateral agreement is not mandatory. Be sure to check with your faculty whether there is a list of possible internships outside of Europe. If you want to do an internship in the Global South, be sure to consult the website of Vlir-UOS.

Exchange outside the Erasmus zone for research in the context of a master's dissertation.

In this case, a bilateral agreement is not mandatory. But please note: the existence of a bilateral agreement for research in the context of a master's dissertation has implications for a possible grant!

  • A bilateral agreement is not mandatory for research in the context of a master's dissertation into the Global South in the context of Vlir-Uos. In other words, you can receive a grant from Vlir-Uos if you conduct research in the context of a master's dissertation to a destination without a bilateral agreement. A bilateral agreement is not mandatory for other destinations either, but then you will not be able to apply for a grant.
  • If you want to apply for a grant, a bilateral agreement is mandatory for a destination that is not on the Vlir-UOS country list. For more information about financing your stay, see below.

 A stay outside of Europe lasts a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 12 months. The duration depends on the type of exchange: internship, study or research in the context of a master's dissertation. You can request more information your FCI chair/staff member.

Yes, scholarship-eligible students who benefit from reduced tuition fees fully retain this right during their stay abroad. Child allowance continues as well.

For 2020-2021 there are approximately 330 grants to be distributed, the VLIR-UOS grants included.

These scholarships are distributed through a competitive selection process based on a portfolio. This according to the principle: larger grants for students who need this most from a socio-economic point of view and who can motivate/substantiate this in their portfolio. The grants are variable and range from a travel allowance to receiving a (limited) monthly allowance and travel allowance. The amount of the travel allowance is a standard amount depending on the distance from the host country. The amount of the monthly allowance is € 650/month, for a maximum of 1 semester (= 4 months). For scholarship-eligible students this can be increased to € 850/month.

We advise students with a destination outside Europe to submit a grant application anyway, even if you suspect that you are not eligible because of your financial situation. Then you still have a chance to win a travel allowance!

An independent selection committee decides according to a ‘trickle-down system’. The largest grants go to the students who need it most from a socio-economic point of view. The size of the grant will depend on 1/ quality of the portfolio and 2/ your motivation, budget and your socio-economic situation.

You submit an application using the following online tool: sharepoint
Carefully read the guidelines before getting started!

The deadline for submitting an application is 4 March 2021 (4 pm); this deadline is strictly adhered to.

Selection results will be announced in May 2020.

Students are completely exempt from paying tuition fees at the host university. You will continue to pay the tuition fee at Ghent University. At certain institutions, you have to pay an administrative fee apart from the actual tuition fee. Make sure to inquire about this at your host institution in time.

The grants described under 'Will I automatically receive a grant' may not be comprehensive grants and thus sometimes only cover part of the extra costs associated with a stay outside the Erasmus zone. The real cost of an exchange depends on the country and city where you are staying, the type of accommodation, teaching materials, public transport, etc.

Tip: set up a savings plan when you are abroad and use your money sparingly. As a student you can do extra jobs abroad. The job service or the International Relations Office of your host institution can help you in your search for a job.

Tip: check the website of the partner university to see if you can find information about the ‘cost of living’.

Whether or not you can make use of a bilateral agreement a second time depends on your FCI chair/staff member.

Other possibilities are Erasmus Studies, Erasmus Belgica (to French-speaking Belgium) or Erasmus Traineeship. However, your faculty always has the final say in this.

As mentioned above, there is a large number of scholarships available for mobility outside of Europe. Deadline to submit your scholarship application is each year beginning of March (see above).

Step 2: As of January: submit application

If you want to apply for a specific destination outside of the Erasmuszone, you submit an exchange application via the Oasis website. Your faculty might request a completed and signed Learning Agreement (see below).

The deadline for submitting your candidacy is usually sometime in January or February, depending on the faculty.

  1. Exchange request

Via Oasis you must prepare an exchange application for every possible destination for which you wish to be considered. The application includes the following elements:

  • Details about the exchange
  • Motivation
  • Language skills
  • Emergency contact
  • Learning Agreement (see below)

The application guides you through the various steps of the application. Submit the complete application for approval by your faculty.

The selection and assignment of destinations is done by the  FCI chair/staff member. Files of students selected by the faculty will be sent to the International Relations Office, who will forward your data to the host institution, the so-called nomination as an exchange student.

The host universities also expect you to apply directly to the host institution according to their own procedures. You must check the procedure yourself.

Please note that the academic calendar of an institution outside of Europe can be COMPLETELY different from ours. Therefore, be sure to check when the deadline for applications at the partner institution is. For example: in South Africa, the academic year starts in January, which corresponds with the exam period after the first semester.

2. Learning Agreement
The Learning Agreement (LA) is a document in which you must fill in which courses you will follow at the host institution (i.e. study programme). In the case of research in the context of a master's dissertation, you must also complete the master's dissertation agreement. In the case of an internship outside the Erasmus zone, you use the Learning Agreement for Traineeships. All templates are available on the Ghent University website. Via Oasis you can enter the intended activity abroad. After approval by the FCI staff member/academic exchange coordinator, you can print the signed document (i.e. LA, master's dissertation agreement or LA for Traineeships) via the 'Documents' tab in your exchange application.

  • If you are going abroad for 'study', you choose courses worth 30 ECTS for 1 semester. If you go on exchange for 1 academic year, you choose courses worth 60 ECTS. Your provisional study programme as an exchange student must be approved by your faculty prior to your departure abroad. In any case, check the procedure to be followed within your faculty. Any change to the Learning Agreement must be re-approved by all parties and provided with the necessary signatures. Changes to this Learning Agreement must be implemented into the curriculum as soon as possible after departure via Oasis. After approval by the FCI staff member/academic exchange coordinator, you can print a signed version of the document 'Changes to the Learning Agreement'.
  • If you are going outside the Erasmus zone for research in the context of a master's dissertation or internship, be sure to contact your FCI staff member for more guidelines. Your provisional plan for an internship or for research in the context of a master's dissertation must be approved by your faculty before you travel abroad. Any change to the master's dissertation agreement or the Learning Agreement for Traineeships must also be approved again by all parties and provided with the necessary signatures. Changes after arrival abroad must be communicated to the FCI employee or academic exchange coordinator as soon as possible.

Depending on the faculty, an LA/master's dissertation agreement/LA for Traineeships is either requested for selection at the initial application for each possible destination or you only need to prepare an LA for the destination for which you were selected.

Most host universities also expect you to apply directly to the host institution according to their own procedures. You have to check the procedure yourself. You do not have to wait for the nomination for this.

Important! It is crucial that the LA/master's dissertation agreement/LA for Traineeships is signed by the three parties and uploaded in Oasis before departure. The three parties are: the student, the host institution and the home institution.

Step 3: Administrative processing of application

Applications approved by the faculty will be sent to the International Relations Office. From February onwards – depending on the type of agreement – the International Relations Office or the faculty nominates each individual student at the host institution assigned to them.

The host institution reviews the file and handles the further procedure directly with the student. If you have not heard from your host institution by the end of April, please contact the host institution directly. You can certainly also inform us, so that we can contact the host institution directly about the status of your file.

Only after completing the application procedure and after approval of the host institution, you will be definitively admitted.

Among other things, most host universities will want you to complete the Application Form of the host institution.

Please note: in some institutions the academic year starts earlier than at Ghent University. As a result, the latest submission date for the Application Form is earlier.

Consult the host institution’s website on this.

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

In the first half of July you will be able to consult a number of documents via the Oasis website under 'Documents' under your exchange application. The following documents are made available:

  1. Refund language course at the University Language Centre (‘UCT’)
    As an exchange student, you can follow 1 language course at the University Language Centre at a reduced registration fee (see below). The UCT will automatically be informed of your Erasmus participation, so you can simply register with the UCT. To be eligible for this course, you must attend at least 80% of the course series. You can only follow a course for the language or languages of your host country. The refund will be made during your exchange period and after you have completed your contract and your confirmation of stay.
  2. Confirmation exchange student statute
    This is an official letter confirming that you have been selected as an exchange student, useful for your host country and your visa application. You can print this letter from Oasis. Name certificate: certificate outgoing exchange.
  3. Financing Agreement (if applicable)
    If you have applied for a scholarship and your application was selected, you will find your scholarship contract in Oasis. See above under 'How can I finance my stay abroad?'.

To find accommodation is your own responsibility. Always beware of fraud during your search!

Do you want to rent out your own room during your foreign adventure? You have the right to temporarily rent out your room when you go on Erasmus. You can find more information on kotatgent.be.

As soon as your application has been approved, and you are therefore registered as an Erasmus student at the International Relations Office, you are entitled to a language course at a greatly reduced registration fee at the University Language Centre (UCT).

You must be registered at Ghent University for the new academic year and state that you are going on an exchange when registering with the UCT. Contact the UCT for the courses they offer.

To be able to follow a language course at this greatly reduced registration fee, you must be present during at least 80% of the course sessions. You can only take a course for the language or languages of your host country.

The partial reimbursement of your language course will take place during your stay abroad, after you have uploaded the documents 'Erasmus contract' and the 'Confirmation of arrival' onto Oasis.

Every year, the International Relations Office organizes two intercultural preparation days. If you go abroad, participation in this intercultural preparation is strongly recommended. You will receive information about culture shock, health and safety while traveling. Due to the current corona crisis, the International Relations Office has developed a few online videos and student testimonials. More information .

Provided that you have a good reason, you can revoke your candidacy for a stay abroad. Write a motivated email to the International Relations Office and your faculty contact person with the notification that you are withdrawing your application and why.

Read all information on insurance to see if you are sufficiently insured.

In the event of an accident during your university activities at the host institution, please immediately contact the Ghent University Legal Affairs Department and the International Relations Office. Medical costs abroad can sometimes be extremely high. In addition, good medical care is not available everywhere, which sometimes requires an evacuation by plane or helicopter. That is why it is important for everyone to take out a good travel assistance insurance before departure. In this regard, be sure to contact your health insurance company to check what you are entitled to in any case. If your destination is outside the EU, you should definitely pay more attention to this.

Register upon arrival by email at the Belgian embassy or consulate in the country of destination, stating your name, period of stay and contact details.

We strongly recommend registering on the following website: www.travellersonline.diplomatie.be (in case you have the Belgian nationality).

In case of security problems, illness, accident or loss of identity papers, you should contact your nearest embassy or conculate on site as soon as possible.

Tip! Do not forget to read the FPS Foreign Affairs’ travel advice before you leave. If travel advice is negative for a specific destination, Ghent University cannot allow its students to leave. Even when non-essential travel is discouraged, no authorization can be given. Moreover, it is possible that travel advice is positive, but that the university you are going to is closed due to local problems. In this case, if your academic activities cannot continue, Ghent University cannot allow your departure. When in doubt, contact the International Relations office.

A description of the formalities related to passport and possible visa application is available on the website of your embassy. If a visa applies, the following documents are useful:

  1. Your host institution’s ‘acceptance letter’
  2. The document ‘Confirmation of the status of exchange student outside Europe’ (available in Oasis)

Ask if you can obtain a visa with 'multiple entries'. Detailed information about embassies, procedures, etc. can be found on the website of the FPS Foreign Affairs.

Always take copies of your important documents with you or keep them on your laptop or a flash drive.

Before you leave, check with your bank whether your bank card works in the country of destination. In case of loss or theft of your bank card, call Card Stop immediately: 0032 70 344 344. This number is available 24/7. In the event of theft of your identity card or passport, call Doc Stop immediately: 0032 2 518 21 23. This number is also available 24/7.

Traveling to a destination outside of Europe can entail strict customs regulations. Therefore, be sure to consult the website of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs.

Know where you are going and familiarize yourself with the main health risks at your destination. A lot of information about this is available online, but an excellent and reliable site is that of the Antwerp Tropical Institute: www.wanda.be  (or available as the ‘Wanda’ app). Type in your destination and you will get an overview of the main health risks and recommended vaccinations. Consider specific circumstances following the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 (Corona). Good preparation is even more important if you are dealing with certain health problems and/or need to take medication. Try to find out in advance where to go in case of health problems during your trip.

  • Vaccinations
  • Gather all possible information about the vaccinations you have already had: you may have a vaccination card (or your parents might have it), or contact your doctor. In any case, do this in good time (at least 8 weeks before departure) so that there is enough time for vaccinations that require multiple injections.
  • Make the necessary arrangements to arrange your vaccinations: Your doctor can administer most vaccinations himself, except for the Yellow Fever vaccine. The latter is only possible by a centre that is recognized for this (such as the Tropical Institute in Antwerp and the Travel Clinic of UZ Gent).
  • Provide at least a minimum of travel medications depending on your destination. These medications become even more important should you have reduced access to good healthcare at your destination. Online information
  • Discuss this with your doctor or a doctor from the travel clinic. By the way, you need a prescription for certain medication. Consider the storage conditions of certain medications. Focus on the most important things, after all, you are not supposed to have to carry a whole suitcase full of bandages and pills.
  • Consider sufficient mosquito-repellent measures if you travel to southern or tropical countries.
  • During your trip, you can do a lot yourself to avoid getting sick: avoid unnecessary risks and pay sufficient attention to hygiene, not only in terms of personal hygiene (in particular washing your hands before and after eating and using the toilet) but also with regard to food and drink (Cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it!), sexual contacts, etc.
  • Traveling with medication

If your trip is as part of an internship, you can also contact the Ghent University Department of Medical Supervision. Contact the internship office for more information about this. Check this website Please note: this only applies to internship students, not to exchange students or master dissertation students!

You may experience culture shock or feel homesick at some point. Remember: this is completely normal! Prepare for that! A few tricks?

  • Stay in regular contact with friends and family (social media!).
  • Keep a diary or blog of your experience; write down how you feel.
  • Get plenty of exercise and keep your body and mind active.
  • Learn the local language & culture/get someone to know your language & culture there.
  • Join social groups and expat clubs; meet people who have been through what you are going through/Join a local student organization.
  • If it is still too challenging: do not make hasty decisions, take the time to get used to the differences.

During your stay abroad

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

Once you arrive in the host country and start the Welcome Week or classes, we expect you to register with the International Relations Office of your host institution/faculty as soon as possible. You have the ‘arrival’ section of the ‘certificate of residence period’ document filled out and signed. You can find this document via the 'Documents' tab of your exchange application and upload the signed version there.

After having arrived at your host institution, you may find that certain courses are no longer taught. In that case, you must notify your faculty of any changes as soon as possible. After approval, you can request the officially signed form via the 'Documents' tab of your exchange application in Oasis.

Since the university uses the semester system, exams are taken per semester. In concrete terms, this means that you for example follow the first semester at Ghent University (30 ECTS) and take exams and start the second semester at the host university in mid-February (the remaining 30 ECTS).

Unfortunately, it sometimes turns out to be different and then the second semester at the host university starts sooner or later. If the semester starts later, there is no problem; if it starts earlier, you can agree with the examiners at Ghent University to take your exams a few weeks earlier (if feasible). The Ghent University Education and Examination Code (‘OER’) must always be followed. If this is not feasible, report to the host university that you will not be able to start until mid-February. Most universities do not have a problem with this.

Your period of study abroad (including exams or other evaluations) is recognized as a comparable period of study at the home institution (even though the content of the subjects may differ slightly). Most countries have a different examination and grading system.

Erasmus students are evaluated and graded according to the host university's system, which often differs from the Ghent University system. To this end, a conversion key was established within the ECTS-system so that the foreign study results obtained by the Faculty Examination Board can be incorporated into the final result at Ghent University.

In any case, before returning to Ghent University, contact your guest supervisor so that they return your study results in a timely manner. Some universities are unable to deliver this credit note before you leave. In this case, make sure that you know who the contact person in your host institution is and when you can receive the points slip. Check whether you will receive the points slip electronically or on paper.

If you encounter any problems of any kind during your stay at a host institution, first speak to your contact person at the host institution. In case of serious problems:

  • Do not hesitate to contact your Faculty internationalization contact and the International Relations Office.
  • There is Ghent University permanence 24/7. You can contact them on 0032 9 264 88 88 or via permanentie@ugent.be
  • In case of illness or accident, contact your health insurance company/insurance company.
  • In case of security problems or loss of identity papers, you should contact your embassy/consulate on site as soon as possible.
  • Always follow the guidelines of the local authorities or your host institution.
  • Indicate an ICE number in your mobile phone. ICE is the abbreviation for ‘In Case of Emergency’. This is a person (e.g. father, mother, boyfriend or girlfriend) who should be contacted first should something happen to you.
  • Be sure to keep in touch with fellow students.

If you are dealing with unacceptable behaviour (e.g. bullying, aggression or sexual harassment) you can contact the Ghent University confidential advisor, every working day between 9 and 12 o'clock via 0032 9 264 82 82 or vertrouwenspersoon@ugent.be. Discretion is assured and you will receive a reply answer no later than the next working day.

At the end of your study period or internship period, you must sign out at the International Relations Office of your host institution. You then have the second part of the 'Stay Period Certificate’ completed. You can print this form via the 'Documents' tab of your exchange application in Oasis. Then upload the signed document.

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

During your exchange you are an ambassador of Ghent University. You can testify about what it is like to study and live in a city like Ghent. It is possible that you will be asked by your host institution to put Ghent University in the picture. If you want support for this, you can contact the International Relations Office. The International Relations Office can ask you to do an Instagram Take Over. Always keep an eye on your Ghent University email address, because all communication is sent via that email address.

After the exchange

Step 6: Which formalities must be done AFTER I return?

Every student is responsible for uploading their study results, in the form of a points slip, as quickly as possible via the 'Documents' tab in your exchange application in Oasis. Some universities are unable to deliver this credit note before you leave.

In this case, make sure that you know who the contact person in your host institution is and when you can receive the points slip. Check whether you will receive the points slip electronically or on paper.

Be alert for health complaints during and AFTER the exchange. After all, it is always possible that only after your return you develop complaints related to a condition that you contracted during your trip. In case of fever during the trip or up to three months after return, urgent medical advice is always required to rule out serious infections such as malaria (if applicable in terms of region). Contact your doctor as soon as possible. If you need an antipyretic, use paracetamol and not aspirin.

Once you are back in Belgium, you can experience a reverse culture shock. You have had many experiences, your interests may have shifted, you have made new friends. Everything has remained the same in Ghent, but you have fundamentally changed. Some students experience the reverse culture shock very subtly, others very violently. How can you deal with this? Be aware that reverse culture shock is normal and accept it. Find space and time to share your experiences with family, friends, and fellow students. Engage in international student associations, as a buddy or participate in the Interchange Event of the International Relations Office. This way you keep the experience alive!

Once the previous administrative matters are all in order, it will be a successful exchange experience!