The European experience: Erasmus Study roadmap for Ghent University students

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.

Would you like to participate in this unique exchange programme and do part of the training or your mandatory internship in Europe? Then start now!

Before you leave

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 event on Erasmus. During this information session you will receive more information about the procedures to be followed and the available scholarships per destination. You can receive more information on this from your 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. Be sure to check what the conditions are regarding GIT in your faculty or study programme.

You cannot choose a destination yourself. Your study programme draws up a list of possible destinations. All destinations are established in bilateral agreements between the study programme at Ghent University and that particular study programme abroad. Therefore, you cannot take up a place in another study programme.

These "places" were created after mutual agreement between the professors involved. In each faculty, (at least) 1 professor acts as a key figure in internationalization activities. They are the chair of the Faculty Internationalization Committee (FCI chair). They are aware of the agreements that their faculty has concluded for the following academic year. In addition, most faculties have an administrative Erasmus contact person.

Your FCI chair/staff member can provide you with a list of possible destinations.

An Erasmus stay must last a minimum of 3 months (= 90 days) and a maximum of 12 months.

The exact length of your stay is relevant for the calculation of your grant.

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

Yes. So far, all students are entitled to an Erasmus grant, provided they comply with all administrative formalities.

Every year, the European Commission and the Flemish government provide scholarships for Erasmus students. Since the Erasmus+ reforms, the grant fee depends on your destination.

  • Group 1: Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, UK, Sweden: for students with a study grant from the Flemish Government: € 529. For all other students: € 379.
  • Group 2: (Belgium), Cyprus, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Spain: for students with a study grant from the Flemish Government. € 479. For all other students: € 329.
  • Group 3: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Turkey: for students with a study grant from the Flemish Community: € 429. For all other students: € 279

These amounts apply for 2020-2021 and can be reviewed annually.

The International Relations Office is responsible for the payment of the Erasmus grant. Students leaving for an exchange during the first semester can expect their first deposit in the second half of November when all formalities are completed. Students who do not leave until the second semester will receive their first grant at the end of the 2nd month of stay, on condition that all formalities have been completed.

Advance payment on the Erasmus grant

Students on a grant and concessionary students can request an advance on their Erasmus grant at the Ghent University Social Service. In the event that the family budget cannot provide an advance of the Erasmus grant, an advance payment is possible after an individual financial investigation. Check out the conditions.

Erasmus students are completely exempt from paying tuition fees to the host university. You will continue to pay the registration fee to Ghent University.

Note: in Germany a 'semester fee' is charged per semester, which results in an extra cost. This amount often includes a subscription to public transport.

The Erasmus grant is not a comprehensive grant, and thus covers part of the extra costs associated with an Erasmus stay. The real cost of an Erasmus stay depends on e.g. the country and city where you study, the type of accommodation, and travel costs. The number of times you travel also determines these additional costs.

Tip: set up a savings plan when you are abroad and use your scholarship sparingly. As a job 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: in France, Erasmus students can benefit from an additional grant thanks to the CAF (Caisse d'Allocation Familiale). You can find more information on how to request this support here.

In theory, you can take a second Erasmus participation on the condition that your faculty allows this. The Erasmus+ programme allows you to go abroad for up to 12 months per study cycle (i.e. bachelor, master, doctorate) on a grant.

You can also do an internship within the framework of Erasmus (i.e. Erasmus Traineeship). Other possibilities are Erasmus Belgica (to French-speaking Belgium) or destinations outside Europe via the bilateral framework agreements (BIRAKS). However, your faculty always has the final say in this.

Ghent University supports students with disabilities who want to take part in an Erasmus exchange. More information about this can be found online or from your faculty's FCI staff member.

Step 2: As of January: submit application

If you want to apply for a specific Erasmus destination, 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

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 Erasmus 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. You do not have to wait for the nomination for this.

2. Learning Agreement

  • The Learning Agreement for studies is a document in which you have to fill in the courses you will follow at the host institution (i.e. your study programme). Via Oasis you can enter the programme that you will follow abroad. After approval by the FCI staff member/ academic exchange coordinator, you can print the signed Learning Agreement via the 'Documents' tab in your exchange application.
  • For 1 semester, you choose courses worth 30 ECTS. If you go on an exchange for 1 academic year, you choose courses worth 60 ECTS.
  • Your provisional study programme as an Erasmus student must be approved by your faculty before your departure abroad. In any case, check the procedure you should follow 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 in the curriculum via Oasis as soon as possible after departure. After approval by the FCI staff member/academic exchange coordinator, you can print a signed version of the official 'changes to the learning agreement'.

Depending on the faculty, the Learning Agreement is either requested for selection at the initial application for each possible destination or you only have to draw up a Learning Agreement for the destination for which you were selected.

Important! It is crucial that the Learning Agreement is signed by the three parties and uploaded onto Oasis before departure. The three parties are: the student, the host institution and the home institution.

Step 3: Administrative procedure of the application

Applications approved by the faculty will be sent to the International Relations Office. In March or the first half of April, the International Relations Office will nominate each individual student at the host institution assigned to them, and this will be confirmed by email. It is recommended not to wait for the nomination email to consult the procedure at the host institution and to start it up if necessary (depending on application deadlines). Only after completing the application procedure and approval of the host institution, you are definitely admitted.

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.

Step 4: After admission by the host institution, the preparations for your stay will start.

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 at the International Relations Office:

  1. Erasmus + Student Charter
    Every Erasmus student must go through an Erasmus contract before going abroad. The Erasmus Charter sets out the necessary provisions (i.e. conditions, rights, and obligations) of an Erasmus student. This serves as proof of your Erasmus participation for registration at the foreign partner institution.
  2. Erasmus + scholarship contract
    The scholarship contract regulates the scholarship payment. Please electronically approve your scholarship contract in Oasis. Please note: you can only electronically approve your Erasmus + scholarship contract once you have re-registered at Ghent University (i.e. after you have received your exam results in the 1st or 2nd exam period).
  3. 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.
  4. Confirmation Erasmus statute
    This is an official letter confirming that you have been selected as an Erasmus student, useful for your host country. You can print this letter from Oasis. Name certificate: certificate outgoing exchange.
  5. Obligatory language test via online linguistic support (OLS)
    Before the start of your exchange period, you will receive an invitation by email from the Online Linguistic Support system (commissioned by the European Commission) to take a language test. This test is compulsory, but it immediately gives you the opportunity to see where you stand in terms of language level. It also offers you the opportunity to take an online language course during your stay. This course is free.

    Students who do not have to take a language test are:
  • students studying the language of their host country
  • students who can be considered native speakers for the language in which they will be studying (e.g. via nationality or via e.g. following an English-language study programme).

As an Erasmus student, you have to take the test twice - before or at the start of your exchange period and at the end - to measure your progress in the language. Unless you are exempt of the obligation to take the language test, you will receive an invitation by e-mail from the Online Linguistic Support system to complete the language test.

Filling in the language test takes approximately 45 minutes. The system automatically guides you through the different steps.
Afterwards you will immediately see which level (A1-A2-B1-B2-C1-C2) you have achieved on the various parts of the test. If the overall level is roughly below B2, you will be invited without obligation to follow an online language course during your Erasmus stay. The results do not affect your acceptance by the host university/internship institution.
At the end of your stay, you will receive a new invitation email to complete the final language test.

To find accommodation is your own responsibility. A few tips:

  • The International Relations Office of your host institution can certainly help you in your search.
  • In some universities there is a housing service that can assist you.
  • Contact Ghent University students who are currently in your future host institution. Maybe you can take over their room or they can give you some interesting tips.

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 www.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 lessons. You can only take a course for the language or languages of your host country.

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

Taking a language course at your host institution is recommended. Knowledge of the local language makes communication easier. Check with the university language centre of your host institution for their offer and prices. You have to pay for this language course yourself. Be sure to consult your faculty at Ghent University on this: some faculties provide a partial reimbursement of the cost.

If you decide to take a language course at your host institution, you may want to do this before the actual start of your Erasmus exchange. For example, if you leave 2 weeks earlier for this language course and the language course is not part of your Learning Agreement, these 2 weeks will not count towards your grant.

As far as health insurance is concerned, you must inform your health insurance fund in good time before traveling abroad to know the formalities that must be completed in order to obtain a refund of the medical expenses abroad and the European Health Insurance Card is identifiable by its blue colour. Please note: the European Health Insurance Card is not valid in Turkey.

For accident insurance of the Ghent University Erasmus student, the same conditions apply as when the student takes lessons at Ghent University. Via My Oasis Certificates, you can print a certificate as proof of insurance for the host university. Cases for which you are insured through Ghent University:

  • Civil liability: if you cause damage to third parties in the context of university activities, so NOT on the way to and from university activities.
  • Personal physical accident: for medical costs if you are the victim of a personal physical accident in the context of university activities or on the way to and from university activities.
  • Travel assistance: for medical costs, repatriation and the like if students travel abroad in the context of university activities. 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 have 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.
  • You can find more information about insurance on the website of the Legal Affairs Department or via your private insurance policy.

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.

Register by email at your 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). If you have a different nationality, it is possible that your home country has a similar system. Check the website of your Foreign Office.

In case of security problems, illness, accident, or loss of identity papers, you should contact your nearest embassy/consulate on site as soon as possible. For more information about this, see the website of your Foreign Office.

Remember that the emergency number 112 applies in all EU countries.

TIP! Be sure to read the Traveling Brochure of the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs. Here you can find recommendations regarding, among other things, insurance, and vaccinations. Do not forget to read the travel advice of the FPS Foreign Affairs 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.

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.

Owing to the free movement of persons within the EU member states and the EFTA countries, possession of an identity card is the only formality required when crossing a border within the European Union.

You do have to register with the municipal population service of your Erasmus destination for registration in Central Register for Foreign Nationals. However, there are no general rules on the documents to be submitted for this purpose.

The formalities regarding visa application for Turkey can change. Please contact the relevant embassy in good time or see www.evisa.gov.tr. Ask if you can obtain a visa with 'multiple entries'. You can find detailed information about embassies, procedures, etc. at www.diplomatie.be or at the website of your Foreign Office.

Always take copies of your important documents with you or keep them on your laptop, flash drive on in the 'cloud'.

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.

Within the European Union, customs rules are very flexible. If your Erasmus is to Turkey, these rules are a lot stricter.

Tip: keep proof of purchase of goods and products that you wish to export when you want to leave the country.

Know where you are going and familiarize yourself with the main health risks at your destination. A lot of information on 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).
  • Traveling with medication
    • Provide at least a minimum of travel medications depending on your destination. These medications become all the 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.
  • Special precautions: if you are pregnant or if you already have certain health problems for which you are being treated or not, be sure to contact your doctor to discuss this.
  • You can find extra information in these brochures (only in Dutch):
If your trip is as part of an internship, you can 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.

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 videos and student testimonials online.

More information

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 European 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. For more information about this, see the website of your Foreign Office.
  • 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?

A final administration and obligation for the International Relations Office is to complete an online student survey. The information about this will be automatically sent to you after your specified end date. Once all formalities are in order, the last month of the grant will be paid.

At the end of your stay, you will receive a new invitation email to complete the final language test.

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!