Checklist for Studying

To be able to follow a higher education in Flanders, there are a few things that must certainly be in order. Here you will find an overview of the most important elements that you need to start a course.

Diploma Conditions

To do higher studies, you NEED at least a secondary education diploma. You DO NOT have to get your diploma recognized by NARIC. The educational institution where you want to follow your studies decides for yourself whether you can start or not.

It is also possible that you are entitled to exemptions based on your foreign diploma. Regardless of whether your diploma is (fully) recognized or not.

For more information about exemptions you can visit the website of the Flemish Government. At the bottom of this page you can DOWNLOAD the information brochure about certificates of competence.

For more information, contact the educational institution of your choice.

Language Conditions

If you want to follow higher education in Flanders, you have to take into account that almost all bachelor's programs are offered in Dutch. There are a number of English-language master's programs.

You will only be admitted to a Dutch-language study program if you can demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Dutch.

Required language level conditions differ per study program and per institution.

B2 knowledge is required for most directions in Dutch-language higher education (= CVO grade 3.2). But for some courses, C1 (CVO grade 4.2) is required. Some institutions, such as Syntra, also accept students with a B1 level.

The Onderwijskiezer (Education chooser) website gives you an overview of the required language level per course and per school. Search this site for the study program of your choice and look for the 'International Students' tab. There you will find what level is being asked and which tests are recognized.

How to prove your language level?

Below you will find an overview of the different ways in which you can prove that you meet the language requirements.

Some institutions request a certificate of a language test:

  • The Interuniversity Dutch Language Test for Foreigners (ITNA) - B2 or C1. This test was developed by the language centers of the four Flemish universities (the KU Leuven, the University of Antwerp, Ghent University and Free University of Brussels). The ITNA can be taken at one of the open test moments in the 4 university language institutes or as a final test of level 5 of the NT2 courses of those same institutes.
  • The profile tests of the Certificate Dutch as a Foreign Language (CNaVT): These tests are organized internationally and can also be taken in Flanders:
    • ○ Educational Starting Competence (STRT) - B2 (formerly PTHO).
    • ○ Educational Professional (EDUP) - C1 (formerly PAT)
  • The Netherlands State Exam II - B2. This exam is organized in the Netherlands, but also gives admission to a number of higher studies in Flanders.
  • Some institutions also organize their own admission test.

For other institutions you can also prove your knowledge of the requested language level with a certificate from a language course from a recognized language institute:

Preparation Programs for Newcomers

Tips and facts
  • If you have already attended at least one secondary or higher education year in Dutch and have passed all exams, you must also meet the language requirements for higher education
  • A level determination of an Agency for Integration and Integration is not accepted as an official language certificate.

Get your higher education diploma through VDAB

Is your diploma not recognized but you still want to continue studying? Then under certain conditions you can obtain your diploma through VDAB.

What are the advantages?

You keep your benefit during your studies. Your registration fee and learning materials will be reimbursed. You are eligible for various allowances, such as a travel allowance. You can find more information about the conditions and which studies you can follow on the VDAB website. VDAB makes a distinction between recognized and non-recognized studies. You must follow a different procedure for non-recognized studies.

Valid residence permit (Recognized as a refugee or subsidiary protection)

To be able to study in Flanders (and throughout Belgium by extension) you do not need a work permit, but you do need a valid residence permit. Thus, you need to be recognized as a refugee or subsidiary protection.