Exchange without a grant (within and outside the EU)


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 .

There are various grant options to go on an exchange within Europe (to study or for an internship). Outside of Europe exchanges are also possible with financial support.

Unfortunately, not every exchange can be financed. This means that students can take up certain exchange opportunities but must finance this without a grant.

This step-by-step plan contains the necessary information for students who, within the framework of their study programme, go on an exchange using their own resources for:

  • Research in the context of a master's dissertation;
  • (Short) internship within Europe, recognized by the study programme;
  • (Short) internship outside Europe, recognized by the study programme;
  • Summer schools, recognized by the study programme
  • Study trips;
  • etc.

Important! Always register the aforementioned activity/activities in Oasis. Without registration, there is no recognition and record in the diploma supplement!

Before you leave

Step 1: gather information

  • You can go to your own faculty and study programme for all questions about academic aspects of your exchange (e.g. when can I go on an exchange, to which destinations, for which part of my study?). Be sure to contact your faculty’s FCI staff member. They know the various options well.
  • For administrative questions and aspects about how to prepare for your exchange you can contact the International Support Team of the International Relations Office.

In the autumn semester, your faculty organizes an information session about exchange options. During this info session you will receive more information about the procedures to be followed. Do you want to know when the information session of your study programme will take place? Contact your FCI 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. Be sure to check what the conditions are regarding GIT in your faculty or study programme.

If you go on an exchange on your own means (i.e. without a grant), you can choose your own destination in some cases. Always check this with your study programme and FCI staff member.

The duration of your exchange strongly depends on your exchange goal and the agreements with the faculty. This can range from a short summer school to a long-term internship.

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

Much depends on whether you opt for an exchange to an institution with an agreement for student exchanges. There is often an exemption for paying tuition fees at these partner universities. For certain activities you may still have to pay, for example for a summer school. Always inquire in advance at your host institution/organization. Your FCI staff member can inform you about any existing agreements.

Prepare a realistic budget estimate when making your foreign plans. Set up a savings plan when you are abroad and use your budget sparingly. As a job student you can in some cases work abroad.

In theory you can go on exchange several times, but your faculty has the final say.

Ghent University supports students with a disability who want to take on an exchange. You can find more information online or with your faculty’s FCI staff member.

Step 2: Applying (four weeks before departure at the latest)

An application for an exchange is an important condition to go abroad as a part of your study programme. You can create an application on the Oasis website. Please note that the application should be submitted four weeks before departure at the latest (see also the Education and Examination Code (OER) Article 46, paragraph 4).

Registration is important for recognition: your exchange will be on your diploma supplement. In addition, you will be involved in various initiatives for exchange students and you will receive the necessary support from Ghent University.

1. Exchange application

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 study programme/FCI staff member. Files of students selected by the faculty will be sent to the International Relations Office, which will forward your data to the host institution, the so-called ‘nomination’. This is part of the exchange procedure.

If your exchange is not part of an agreement, you will have to check the application procedure in the host institution yourself and take the necessary steps to register with the foreign partner.

2. Learning Agreement

The so-called Learning Agreement (LA) is your guideline to gain recognition for your foreign activities. It must be drawn up and signed by yourself, Ghent University and the host institution before your exchange.

Different templates are available on the Ghent University website, depending on the nature of your activities abroad (i.e. study, internship, research in the context of your bachelor’s or master’s dissertation). If you are going on an exchange with as its goal research in the context of your bachelor’s or master’s dissertation, be sure to complete the master's dissertation agreement, which has an important legal value.

Regarding selection, your faculty can request an LA for every possible destination (you then put together several LAs). Your faculty could also only ask for an LA for the destination for which you were selected. Get more information with your faculty’s FCI.

Important! It is crucial that the LA is signed by the three parties and charged in Oasis before departure. The three parties are: the student, the host institution or company and Ghent University.

Step 3: Administrative procedure of the application

Your application file is processed by your faculty. If you go on an exchange to a destination for which there is an agreement for student exchange, your application will be nominated at the host institution by the International Relations Office.

For other mobilities, a nomination is not part of your exchange procedure. Be sure to check out the host institution’s procedure.

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

In Oasis, you can find an official document confirming that you have been selected to be an exchange student. Name certificate: ‘certificate outgoing exchange’.

You will see that a red exclamation mark appears next to documents with your exchange request in Oasis. The instructions state that you must sign your contract. You can ignore the instructions as well as the exclamation mark; this does not apply to you.

Finding a room is your own responsibility. A few tips:

  • If you are staying at a host university, they can certainly help you in your search.
  • Contact Ghent University students who are currently residing in your future host city. Maybe you can take over their room or they can give you interesting tips.
  • In case of an internship, make sure to check with the internship location how you should work, and whether they can support you in your search.

Always beware of fraud in 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 if you go on an exchange. You can find more information at kotatgent.be.

As an exchange student, you can follow 1 language course at the University Language Centre (‘UCT’) for a reduced registration fee. The UCT will automatically be informed of your exchange, so you can simply register with the UCT. To qualify for this course at a reduced registration fee, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You go on exchange for at least 1 month;
  • You follow at least 80% of the language classes;
  • You follow a course for the language or languages of your host country.

The reimbursement will happen during your exchange period and after you have added proof of arrival at the host institution (the so-called residence period certificate) as a document to Oasis.

Read all information about insurance on the Ghent University website to make sure you are well-informed.

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

For the accident insurance of the Ghent University exchange student, the same conditions apply as when the student follows lessons at Ghent University. Via My Oasis – Certificates you can print a certificate as proof of insurance for the host university regarding insurance. 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 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 or on a similar website of your own Foreign Office
  • In case of security problems, illness, accident, 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 the FPS Foreign Affairs.
  • Remember that the emergency number 112 applies in all EU countries.
  • TIP! Be sure to read the Traveling Brochure (in Dutch) of the Belgian 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 a 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. Please note that this could influence your academic activities. 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.

  1. Within Europe: Due 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 the 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 change regularly. Contact the embassy concerned 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 e.g. embassies and procedures at https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en  or the website of your Foreign Office.
  2. Outside Europe: A description of the formalities regarding passport and possible visa application are available on the website of the Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs or the website of your Foreign Office. If a visa applies, the following documents are useful:
    1. The host institution’s or host company’s ‘acceptance letter’
    2. The document ‘Confirmation of exchange student status’ (available in Oasis)

Ask if you can obtain a visa with 'multiple entries'. Detailed information about embassies, procedures, ... 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 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 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

  1. 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 space for vaccinations that require multiple injections.
  2. 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

  1. 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: https://www.wanda.be/nl/a-z-index/geneesmiddelen-mee-op-reis/ (in Dutch).
  2. 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.
  3. Consider sufficient mosquito-repellent measures if you travel to southern or tropical countries.
  4. 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):

https://www.itg.be/Files/docs/Reisgeneeskunde/ngezond.pdf

https://www.uzgent.be/nl/home/Lists/PDFs%20patienteninformatiefolders/Veilig-met-vakantie.pdf

→ !! Important for internships !!: 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. See also https://www.ugent.be/student/nl/studeren/stage/medische-info-stage. Please note: this only applies to internship students.

You may experience culture shock or feel homesick at some point. Remember: this is completely normal! Watch testimonials of students who have been on an exchange and how they handled culture shock here.

How can you prepare for dealing with this culture shock? Watch the clip with tips and tricks of the International Relations Office here!

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. Or contact your faculty’s FCI staff member or the International Relations Office.

+ Is the decision to accept your exchange application final?

Most of the exchanges can take place as planned, but in exceptional circumstances the university board can withdraw an exchange admission due to exceptional circumstances (e.g. for security reasons or reasons that hinder academic activities abroad).

During your stay abroad

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

Once you have arrived in the host country and will start with academic activities, we expect you to complete the so-called ‘arrival’ section of your ‘certificate of residence period’ document and have it signed. You can print this certificate and upload it in the Document section of your exchange application.

After you have arrived at your host institution, it is possible that certain activities will look a bit different for you. In that case, you must report changes to your faculty as soon as possible so that, if necessary, your LA can be formally changed.

If you encounter problems of any kind during your stay at a host institution or at your internship, please speak to your contact person at the host institution first.

In case of serious problems:

  • Do not hesitate to contact your FCI staff member  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 www.diplomatie.be/en or de 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 log 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.

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 your exchange

Step 6: What formalities must be done AFTER return?

Make sure you are aware of the agreements between the host institution and the study programme regarding the evaluation by the host institution. When you receive an evaluation report yourself, upload it as soon as possible in Oasis under the Documents tab of your exchange application.

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 INTERchange, an event of the International Relations Office. This way you keep the experience alive!

Would you like to know how former exchange students dealt with reverse culture shock? Be sure to watch the videoclips on this webpage!

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