Prof. Sonja Snacken, Vice Rector International Relations

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.

 - Professor Sonja Snacken, Vice Rector International Relations

International Relations Office

Pleinlaan 2,1050 Brussels Belgium - Visitors: Pleinlaan 5 - T: +32(0)26148101 - E: Open: Mon/Tue/Fri:9:00-12:30 & 13:30-16:30 Wed/Thur:9:00-12:30

Why study in Brussels and at the VUB for a Master's degree?

Listen to what some of our international students have to say on why they choose Brussels and the VUB for their Master's degree. Here's an overview of all available courses in English:

The VUB is one of Europe's top universities!

The VUB is 182 in the QS World University Rankings

VUB is one of Europe's most innovative universities, appearing in 48th position in Reuters' top 100 European list of most innovative universities. 

Check out the listing for the U-Multirank

Brussels is 45th in QS Best Student Cities ranking. 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

Latest news from International!

VUB 1st Belgian University to join UNHCR Coalition #WithRefugees - check out the video and sign the petition!

Orientation Day 2018: VUB Welcomes over 100 New International Students - On Friday 9 February 2018, the VUB International Relations office organised an afternoon session to welcome the more than 100 new international students who have arrived at the VUB to start the 2nd semester through their exchange programmes.

VUB & Chocolate? What's the link? 
This week some 85 Chinese students and young professionals are spending time at VUB. They also got a treat (in more ways than one!): a lecture by Mr Pierre Marcolini, one of Belgium's top entrepreneurs and a known name to all chocolate aficionados!

Europe's largest CO2 neutral smart grid incubator has been launched! 
The Green Energy Park project will include a multi-functional research building that gives the University's faculties a platform to create innovative technologies.The project is the combined work of VUB - Vrije Universiteit Brussel, UZ Brussel, and Flux50.

VUB's International Relations office - highlights of our 2017 activities! Check out what we've been doing the past year, well... some highlights at least!.

Read Valérie's story: Diagnosed as terminally ill, now declared cancer-free thanks to a new form of immunotherapy developed by our colleagues at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s University Hospital (UZ Brussel). “Without this therapy, Valérie would be dead now,” says her oncologist.

The International Student Platform (ISP) presents its new team and chair. We interviewed the new chair, Jimmy Hendry Nzally, about the team's vision, strategy and first actions.

Film booth on campus! Check out Felix's story: a short film with a large message. From 24 November 2017 till 22 January 2018, a special installation will be set up on the VUB Sciences, Humanities and Engineering Campus. The initiative comes from the Scholars at Risk network, an international organisation which protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging temporary research and teaching positions at institutions inside their network, as well as by providing advisory and referral services.  VUB is a member, and rightly so. 

Protest lecture against VUB guest teacher Ahmadreza Djalali death penalty - Rector Caroline Pauwels calls for massive show of support for Ahmadreza Djalali on Friday 27 October! Come and join the crowds!

3.3% more first-generation students: VUB keeps growing, success for science faculties and more incentive to study abroad!

Public Finance Management training course: For officials from the national treasury of south africa co-funded by BTC.

We welcomed our new international students to VUB and Brussels on Tuesday 29 September with a general presentation welcome event. Have a look at some photos from the afternoon on our facebook page!

Mixed Feelings/Gemischte Gefuehle - Brussels/Berlin #1 2017 - to celebrate 25 years of partnership between the cities of Brussels and Berlin, there will be an art exhibition opening on 9 October 2017 at Flughafen Tempelhof in Berlin. More information on the exhibits on display can be found in the invitation flyer.

VUB students selected for Huawei’s Seeds of the Future programme & VUB wins best organiser prize - The Seeds of the Future scheme is organised every year by Huawei, the Chinese ICT company, as part of their CSR programme. The aim is to provide a 2-week work experience in China in August for 15 Belgian students who are in their 3rd bachelor year.

VUB Ranks 48th (up 2 places) in Reuters Top 100 Europe's most Innovative Universities! VUB went up 2 places from 2016 and was particularly good with regards to patents and publications. 

Brussels ranked 45th of Best Student Cities in the world: Brussels also scores very well for both Desirability and Affordability, offering relatively low tuition fees - read the full story

More than 40 full degree programmes taught in English!

Check out our academic offer

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…

CARIBU is an Erasmus Mundus Action 2 (EMA2) partnership programme which aims to increase academic mobility, research and capacity-building opportunities between 8 EU universities and 12 countries from the African, Caribbean & Pacific region. The project creates a forum for mutual scientific cooperation, learning enhancement and exchange of best practices. All partners strive to meet the needs of the countries involved, including the support to disadvantaged regions, with special attention given to equal opportunities and gender balance.


The main goal of the Sport Physical Education And Coaching in Health (SPEACH) Project is to increase awareness and behavioural change in sports professionals and European citizens towards an active and healthy lifestyle.


The overall objective of EUCA INVEST is to strengthen the culture of entrepreneurship and creativity within Higher Education in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. Higher education institutions should become actively interested parties for socio-economic development by strengthening the collaboration between the "corporate mindset" of the University and the "academic involvement" of the industry. 


The LEAD project is an Erasmus+ KA2 Capacity Building Project in the field of higher education supported by the European Commission. The project is coordinated by VUB and aims to enhance the capacity of higher education institutions related to governance and academic leadership in the context of innovation and internationalisation of higher education. 


VUB has started a project on Arabic language courses for children between 6-15 years old. It is the first Arabic language course in Belgium with academic supervision. The curriculum is checked by specialists and PhD experts in Arabic language. As a non-profit programme only the material is charged (80 EUR per school year). 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 the website page for more information on the classes and to register.   

VUB's Arabic Language Classes project in Brussels - a video

Arabic is a world language. To provide them with a neutral learning platform, the VUB in collaboration with UCOS and de Scholengroep, set up these courses to give youngsters in Brussels the opportunity to learn Arabic in a well-founded and qualitative manner.

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.

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 - 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 Industrial Managers for Europe

Top Industrial Managers for Europe (T.I.M.E.) is a network of fifty-three engineering schools, faculties and technical universities. The oldest European network of engineering schools in its field, the T.I.M.E. Association promotes graduate student exchanges and double degrees throughout Europe and the world to enable students to achieve a broader, high-level scientific engineering education with in-depth intercultural experience.

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.