Prof. dr. Romain Meeusen, Vice-Rector Internationalisation picture: @Jean Cosyn

International Relations at the VUB

Ranked as one of the world’s top comprehensive universities with a history spanning 180 years, the VUB combines award-winning research and accredited English and Dutch-taught study programmes (Bachelors, Masters and PhDs) with high impact on social, economic and cultural innovation.

At the VUB, students and professors work closely together. We coach our students to become open-minded world citizens, with a strong commitment towards sustainable humanistic societal values. Our graduates are well prepared for professional careers in an increasingly multilingual and international environment. An independent research attitude, as well as a multidisciplinary, international and intercultural environment are key features in the VUB’s ambition to be an open, international university platform. Our expertise and strategic position at the heart of Europe makes us an ideal partner for excellent research and education with a wide outlook on Europe and the world.

Take a quick online tour of our main campus!

Thinking about studying with us in Brussels? You are studying with us, but not managed to see our main campus yet? Here's a quick fast-paced tour of our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus.

The VUB is one of Europe's top universities!

The VUB is among the top 17% of universities worldwide, according to the 2021 QS World University Rankings - VUB scores particularly well in terms of teaching quality and international attractiveness for teaching staff. Brussels is 43rd in QS Best Student Cities ranking from 2019. When asked to name the best thing about studying in Brussels, one student commented: “The diversity of people and the many internship and job opportunities.” - read on to the full story.VUB is one of Europe's most innovative universities, appearing in 59th position in Reuters' top 100 European list of most innovative universities. Also, check out the listing for the U-Multirank


International Relations office: Pleinlaan 2 (visitors: 5), 1050 Brussels, Belgium.
Tel +32 (0)26148101 - email international.relations@vub.be

Welcome desk is open: Tuesday & Friday 10:00-12:30 + 13:30-16:00 / CLOSED on Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays. CLOSED on 21 July 15 August
NO Partena represemtative between 15 July & 18 August, due to holidays.


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Register for an online info-session to learn more about VUB's academic offer.

CORRIENTE XXI project on aquatic ecosystems in full flow despite COVID-19: The Erasmus+ capacity building project received EU funding for three years. It's officially called 'moving towards innovative education for research-based and sustainable management of marine and freshwater ecosystems'. 

We spoke to JJ Hoste, who graduated from his masters in electromechanical engineering at VUB (BRUFACE programme, aeronautics major) in 2013. We chat to him about his time at VUB, supersonic jets, his advice to current VUB students & life since he graduated.

World Water Day: Tackling water scarcity through an e-Master's programme in the MENA region: an Erasmus+ project shows the way. 

Still riding the crest of the wave: Oceans & Lakes programme celebrates decade of interuniversity and international cooperation. 

New evidence discovered in Mexico linking the extinction of dinosaurs to the impact of an asteroid 66 million years ago. An international team of reseachers led by VUB's Steven Goderis have published their findings in Science Advances. 

Professor Rik Vosters joins the Nederlandse Taalunie (Union for the Dutch Language) with an engagement to promote Dutch studies at home and abroad. It’s true that Dutch is often underestimated in its spread and use. It’s spoken by 24 million people worldwide. It’s an official language in Belgium, the Netherlands, but also in the Dutch Caribbean countries, Sint-Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao, and in Suriname. Dutch is also in the top 40 of most spoken languages in the world — bearing in mind that over 6,000 languages are spoken globally, so not an unimpressive position —, and it’s listed as the 8th most used language in the EU.

Multilingualism in Brussels and at VUB: fostering language diversity - we speak to Professor Wim Vandenbussche about the diversity and multilingualism being embraced across Brussels and how this is reflected at VUB. 


VUB is coordinator of the UNISTAR project, which has European Commission Erasmus+ framework programme-funding. The project brings together VUB with Vilnius University (Lithuania), Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Universidad Alcala (Spain), and the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht (the Netherlands), and works in partnership with the UNHCR. The project team is developing a university staff training programme on how to work better with refugee students. 

On 9 February 2021, the VUB Institute for European Studies and Vesalius College announced their alliance in the formation of the Brussels School of Governance. Karel De Gucht, the school's new president, explains what distinguishes the Brussels School of Governance from its competitors. 

The VUB's student magazine, De Moeial, interviews 6 international students to find out how they were experiencing their studies at VUB during the pandemic. Have a look at what Cabirou (Cameroon), Jes (US), Michelle (El Salvador) say in article #1, and what Sophie (US), Jakob (DE, UK, BE), and Ottone say in article #2. 

VUB welcomed 100 international students and interns for the 2nd semester! On 5 February they were given an online welcome information session with info on administration in Brussels and at VUB, but also specific info on their exchange. They are joining VUB from 22 different countries. 


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EXCHANGE: Enrich your student life and study in Brussels!

Incoming Students

EXCHANGE: Expand your horizons & study abroad!

Go Abroad Students

International Student Platform

The ISP is an advisory committee to the Student Council of the VUB. The International Student Platform represents the interests of international students who come from 129 countries around the world. This student structure takes on any issue the VUB's international students may face. The ISP, which consists of a group of 12 international students,  plays an active part in the decision-making process at the VUB.


VUB coordinates or is a partner in several international projects.

Some projects below…



VUB is coordinator of the UNISTAR project, which has European Commission Erasmus+ framework programme-funding. The project brings together VUB with Vilnius University (Lithuania), Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Universidad Alcala (Spain), and the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht (the Netherlands), and works in partnership with the UNHCR. The project team is developing a university staff training programme on how to work better with refugee students. This article on VUB Today gives more information on the initial testing phase taking place in 2021. More information on UNISTAR on this webpage


Everyone knows about the "classical" development cooperation, but did you know that VUB is involved in several research and teaching activities with universities in the Global South? Each year, VUB professors work together with their colleagues from countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia to tackle global issues and perform excellent research. At the same time, student mobility (North–South or South-North) is geared towards the exchange of knowledge and experience. As such, the whole VUB community and their partners are  each strengthening their capacity and building sustainable relationships. The University Development Cooperation unit is part of the VUB International Relations office. 

More information on our vision, projects and publications can be found on our dedicated page.


In 2016 VUB started a project on Arabic language courses for children between 6-15 years old. It is the first secular Arabic language course in Belgium with academic supervision. The curriculum is checked by specialists and PhD experts in Arabic language. It is a non-profit programme where each lesson contains extra learning activities next to the regular teaching, such as games, Arabic songs etc. Students will receive a certificate of attendance by VUB. A video was made (in English) to showcase the classes and the reason why the VUB is coordinating this project.

Check out ALEF Project website for more information.


The LEAD2 project a Capacity Building in Higher Education project supported by the Erasmus+ programme. The aims of the LEAD2 project are to: Strengthen the capacity of higher education institutions in governance and academic leadership; Enhance the knowledge and capacities of academic leaders and potential academic leaders on university governance and leadership; Implement innovative and targeted blended training (MOOC, workshops & peer learning) for academic leaders; Deepen the understanding of university governance and academic leadership through comparative studies; Create an online Knowledge Base,  Referencing Tool & Networks; Establish an EU-China Center on University Leadership. The project is coordinated by VUB . 


SIEM - Social Inclusion and Engagement in Mobility - is a collaborative cross-European partnership between ESN, UUKi and the European University Foundation,YES Forum, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (BE), University of Vigo (ES), Masaryk University (CZ), University of Latvia (LV), ESN Spain (ES) and ESN France (FR). This project is an important step toward making international mobility opportunities more inclusive, enabling students from all backgrounds to study, work or volunteer abroad. The ultimate goal of higher education in general, and studying abroad in specific, is to shape a generation of Europeans that transcend traditional cultural beliefs, who embrace cultural differences and endorse mutual intercultural understanding to shape a united society that offers space to everyone. More information on the project's website


Enhancing Mental Health, Counseling, and Wellbeing Support for University Students in Bhutan (EMCWUB) is a Capacity Building in Higher Education project supported by the Erasmus+ programme. The project aims to establish a counselling service centre at all the colleges in the Royal University of Bhutan in order to create an enabling and inclusive environment for students’ development. These counselling centers will embody the hybrid of western counselling principles, and the Bhutanese concept of Gross National Happiness. The project is coordinated by the Royal University of Bhutan and VUB is one of the three European partner institutions.


The CORRIENTE XXI, an Erasmus+ funded capacity building project , is entitled “Moving towards innovative education for research-based and sustainable management of marine and freshwater ecosystems”. The project’s consortium consists of two EU partners (VUB, the project coordinator, and the Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO)), two partners in Ecuador (Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) and Universidad Central del Ecuador (UCE)), and two in Peru (Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) and Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM). More about the project can be found in this article. Also check the project's website for more information. 

eMWRE Project

The e-Masters in Water Resources Engineering (eMWRE) programme is an Erasmus+-funded proejct coordinated by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)’s Professor Ann van Griensven and dr Zainab Zomlot. The consortium includes IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (the Netherlands),  Eummena (a company specialising in technology-enhanced learning), the Islamic University of Gaza (Palestine), Al-Quds University (Palestine), Mutah University (Jordan), and The University of Jordan. The aim is to implement an innovative e-Master programme in water resources to modernise education by using innovative technologies and advanced tools to provide more sustainable solutions to the water scarcity issues in the MENA region. More information on the project in this article, and on the project's website. 


The European Latin-American Network in Support of Social Entrepreneurs (ELANET) (funded by the EU's Erasmus+ programme) is a consortium of 17 partners and 35 associated partners from different organisations and higher education institutions (HEIs) in Europe (Belgium, Bulgaria, Austria and Italy), and Latin-America (Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador). The consortium is coordinated by Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), under the coordination of the VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship, and aims to create (in the next 3 years) an IT platform with seven modules. More information is available in this article, and on the project's website

Partners & Network

Global challenges require going beyond the borders of individual institutions. The VUB therefore supports international relationships emerging from bottom-up initiatives from within the academic community, but also builds institutional partnerships with leading like-minded partners. Our relationship with each partner is unique, but fits into the three levels of the VUB’s mission: research, education and societal impact creation.

Education: individual or group student mobility; staff mobility and international guest lecturers; joint curriculum development; double or joint diploma programmes; summer schools.

Research: collaborative research projects; joint PhDs; international joint research groups.

Societal impact: societal outreach; knowledge and technology transfer; incubator facilities; interregional development.

Strategic partners with whom the VUB has exceptionally strong alliances at these three levels, with an ongoing commitment for expanding the collaboration to several disciplines and faculties, are considered Privileged International Partners (PIP). Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China, is the VUB’s first PIP.

Check out the map showing European mobility intensive partnerships.

EUTOPIA - European University

EUTOPIA is a challenge-led, student-centred, place-based inclusive alliance of entrepreneurial, change focused universities. The EUTOPIA alliance brings together 6 universities in Europe and unites over: 
165,000 students - 30,000 members of staff - 90,000 international alumni. With research centres in 760 areas, EUTOPIA’s expertise spans multiple areas, highlighting the network’s breadth of knowledge.

European Networks - UNICA

UNICA is an institutional network of 46 universities from 35 capital cities in Europe, combining over 150,000 staff and 1,800,000 students.

European Networks - EUA

The European University Association (EUA) is the representative organisation of universities and national rectors’ conferences in 47 European countries. EUA plays a crucial role in the Bologna Process and in influencing EU policies on higher education, research and innovation. Thanks to its interaction with a range of other European and international organisations EUA ensures that the independent voice of European universities is heard, wherever decisions are being taken that will impact on their activities.

European Networks - IMISCOE

International Migration, Integration & Social Cohesion (IMISCOE) is Europe's largest network for migration and diversity research institutes. BIRMM-VUB was accepted as an institutional member of the network in early July 2018. Our expertise on migration and diversity will contribute to IMISCOE's success. VUB's location in the capital of Europe, which is the second most diverse city in the world, constitutes an outstanding location for IMISCOE's activities and visiting researchers.

European Networks - EIASM

The European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM) is an international network for management research and teaching that includes more than 50,000 management scientists from all over the world. EIASM's mission is to enhance high quality in research and doctoral studies in management and related disciplines.

Global Networks - Scholars at Risk

Scholars at Risk works with its global network of higher education institutions around the world to arrange temporary research and teaching positions for threatened scholars.

Global Networks - Top International Managers in Engineering

Top International Managers in Engineering (T.I.M.E.) is a network of leading technical universities and engineering schools founded in 1989. The members have a strong international dimension in their research, teaching and industrial relations, and are all committed to international cooperation and student exchanges and recognition of studies abroad. The association consists of 57 members in 21 countries.

Global Networks - Universities Against the Death Penalty

Membership of the Universities Against the Death Penalty Network implies the conscientious application of member universities’ moral and intellectual weight and voice. It is a statement of support for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. Network members lend their name to the struggle.


See below a selection of knowledge hubs active at VUB


The heart of Europe can without any doubt be considered as one of the most creative places on Earth. Painters, video artists, fashion designers, musicians, choreographers, film directors, … living and working in Belgium and its capital Brussels, are among the most respected masters in their specific domain, worldwide.

Our experiences of the last years - particularly in the Far East - in tight collaboration with Belgian and Flemish artists made it clear that this creative potential can serve as an excellent instrument for the promotion of Belgium and its regions as a place in the world that is driven by a unique form of innovation and creativity. A project methodology applying a special grass-roots approach was developed. The preparation of each project starts with the development of a human network in each city, connecting local artists, curators, universities and business people. This methodology, which must be understood as intertwining cultural and academic diplomacy, comes with the surprising effect that the opening of an exhibition becomes at the same time the celebration of a first constructive phase of a relationship. All events are fine-tuned to local interests, putting talented contemporary artists, belonging to different cultures, in the spotlight while combining artistic creation with academic reflection centred around thematically challenging and appealing themes.  There is always an educational aspect linked to the events, involving students in the arts.

Contact Information and opening hours

To follow the government's guidelines on working from home as much as possible, while also maintaining some opening hours to help students, the international relations office welcome desk has changed its opening times.

  • The office will be open every Tuesday and Friday from 10:00-12:30 + 13:30-16:00. A Partena representive will be available on Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • The office will be closed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please note, additional closure on 21 July & 15 August (public holidays).
  • NO Partena representative between 15 July & 18 August, due to holidays.

We are available for general questions on all working days on email international.relations@vub.be or telephone +32(0)2 614 8101For specific questions on,

Who is who

Meet the team:

Vice-Rector & Director


Romain Meeusen, Vice-Rector International Relations

Jacqueline Couder, Director International Relations office

Welcome & Information Desk & Secretariat

Ingrid Bauwens

Carine Steenwinckels

John Vandewijer

Steven Verhulst

Rita Vynck

Legal & Social Services, and Finance

Sarah Schoofs, MoUs, Legal & Social advice

Vincent Spiessens, Finance

University Development Cooperation

Francoise De Cupere

Yann De Troyer

Christophe Goossens

Anne Martine Nijenhuis

Annabel Van Damme

EU Cell

Email incoming exchange students: exchange.incoming@vub.ac.be

Email outgoing exchange students: exchange.outgoing@vub.ac.be 

Email: erasmusprojects@vub.be

Khaola Al Rifai

Louise Debeer

Eugenia Marchetti

Paola Mureddu

Tarik Van Dam

Ann-Sophie Vanderschueren

International marketing, recruitment & communications

Daisy Bocchi, International marketing & recruitment

Maarten Gernay

Kim Hardie, International communications

Diana Kentsch, International data governance

Xiaohong Tong, International marketing & recruitment + VUB China Network

Academic diplomacy, selected scholarships, student engagement

Casper Mazijn

Student Refugee Programme

Email: refugee@vub.ac.be

Khaola Al Rifai

Tahaney Kattash

Brussels Diplomatic Academy

Email: bda@vub.be

URL: www.brusselsdiplomaticacademy.eu 

Delia Barbu

Gunter Gaublomme

Len Ishmael

Cailin Mackenzie


Arabic Language Classes Project

Email: arabic.class@vub.be

Sami Azar

Hala Aboud