Number of international students at VUB rises for eighth year running

Number of international students at VUB rises for eighth year running

VUB celebrates International Student Day with figures on intake for academic year 2021-2022

Thursday 17 November 2022 – In the 2021-2022 academic year, more than 5,000 foreign students studied at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a 10% increase on the previous year. Just over half (52%) of the international students were from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). This is the eighth consecutive year that the number of international students has increased, following the overall admissions trend. The total number of students at VUB also increased for the eighth year in a row. The share of international students remains relatively unchanged, at around one-quarter of the total student population.

The student population at VUB is made up of 152 nationalities, excluding Belgians. The largest group from the EEA is from the Netherlands, at 629 students. This is followed by Italy (342), Spain (273), Germany (225) and France (173). Among students from outside the EEA, China is the leader (264), ​ followed by Iran (182), India (156), Turkey (144) and Cameroon (95).

Over the past eight years, the number of international students at VUB has increased every year. In 2013-2014 there were 3,069 students; by 2021-2022 the figure had grown to 5,129, representing a 67% increase. This positive trend reflects the increase in the number of domestic students.

“Our English-language study offer appeals enormously,” says vice-rector of Internationalisation Karin Vanderkerken, explaining why VUB is so attractive to international students. “In addition, we are located in Brussels, the capital of Europe. Here you will find a multitude of international institutions such as the European Union, Nato and many other European and international companies. When you come here to study, you not only gather international academic knowledge, but internship and job opportunities are also at your fingertips."

Exchange opportunities

With exchange programmes such as Erasmus+ and other initiatives, foreign students can study or do internships at VUB, while VUB students can do the same abroad. In 2021-2022, 300 VUB students went on a foreign exchange. More than three-quarters were female. The top five EEA destinations were Spain (50), France (35), Italy (27), Germany (24) and Sweden (14).

304 exchange students also came to VUB, most from Spain (59), followed by Italy (54), France (28), Germany (18) and the Czech Republic (17).

Nathalie Vlaemynck
Nathalie Vlaemynck TIJDELIJK AFWEZIG - Woordvoerder en algemeen perscontact


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Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


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