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    What is exchange?

    VUB students have the opportunity to study or do a traineeship abroad as part of their studies.

    VUB, holder of an Erasmus Charter for Higher Education (see the charter and VUB's Erasmus Policy Statement here) has set up partnerships with several universities throughout Europe and around the world. Students can apply for grants, for example those offered by the Erasmus+ programme or the Flemish government. Please find here the signed ECHE documents signed by our Rector in English and in Dutch.  

    Whether you are eligible for an exchange is determined at faculty/programme level. Please browse through the information online and contact us if some of your questions remained unanswered.

    Exchange Take-Off Session May 2021

    The annual Exchange Take-Off Session was organised on 5 May 2021 18:00 - 19:30. IRMO provided information on what to expect during and after the exchange, and students were offered the chance to ask any question they might have. Please find the presentation used during this session here.

    Faculty Exchange Info Sessions

    The Faculty Exchange Info Sessions 2021 (for an exchange during academic year 2022-2023) are organised throughout October and November 2021. In case you missed it and would like to get more information about what was discussed, feel free to contact your Exchange Coordinator.

    Faculty Date Location
    Faculty of Engineering (IR)14 October 2021 | 16:00 - 17:30Aula Q.D
    Faculty of Law and Criminology (RC)27 October 2021 | 10:00D 0.03
    Faculty of Social Sciences and Solvay Business School (ES)24 November 2021 | 19:00 - 20:30 Teams Webinar
    Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (PE)26 October 2021 | 10:00 - 11:30To be confirmed
    Faculty of Languages and Humanities (LW)19 October 2021| 15:00 - 18:00G.1.022
    Faculty of Sciences and Bioengineering Sciences (WE)09 November 2021 | 12:00 - 13:30E0.10
    Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy (GF)28 October | 17:30 - 19:00Teams Webinar
    Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy (LK)Online videoOnline video
    Multidisciplinair Instituut Lerarenopleiding (MILO)07 October 2020 | 17:00 - 18:00Canvas Meeting
    Want to share your exchange experience? Let us know!


    There is more than 1 reason why you should go on exchange. Find below why your fellow VUB students already went on exchange and thought it was totally worth it!
    Did you go on exchange as well and want to share your experience? Do not hesitate to let us know!

    Why did Mehdi go on exchange to Sweden?

    Polish adventure

    Franziska went to Poland during her bachelor's in Communication Sciences and was impressed by various domains in Polish society and education system.

    Read all about it in her testimonial.

    Some study domains have options to go to Switzerland via the Swiss European Mobility Programme

    Evelyne went on exchange to École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne during her 1st Master year in Civil Engineering and has showcased her time abroad via this short video.

    Discover another way of living

    Justine went to Norway during her bachelor's in Communcation Sciences and had more than 1 reason why she picked this specific destination.

    Read her full testimonial.

    Joy in the UK

    Joy went to the UK during her bachelor's in Applied Linguistics. Her advise? Just do it!

    Find out all about her experiences abroad when reading her testimonial.

    Check the need to register in SOP Mobility Online below!

    Going abroad may be a life changing experience

    Find out below which destinations are possible, within your study domain, for an exchange for studies.

    Before departure, always check VUB's Travel Policy.

    Important: For every exchange (regardless of duration and content), the student must apply in an online tool called SOP Mobility Online. Check the details mentioned below the destination table.

    Registration in SOP Mobility Online

    • Mandatory registration of outgoing mobility in SOP Mobility Online

    As of March 2021, all outgoing students who are planning to go abroad for studies, traineeships, field work, group mobility, thesis preparation, etc. will have to register in SOP Mobility Online to receive academic or administrative approval, based on the type of mobility. Outgoing PhD students or staff (e.g. voluntary staff) who are not in TEO (M&O database), will equally have to register but only their Travel Log (more details under II.). Depending on the purpose and content of your trip abroad, regardless of the duration (being it 1 hour or a full academic year), a registration link to SOP Mobility Online will be sent to you:

    1. All outgoing students who are going abroad in the framework of their VUB curriculum while receiving a scholarship (see this table) will receive a link to register in SOP Mobility Online from the International Relations office (IRMO), after the student has been officially nominated for the exchange by the faculty towards IRMO (annually mid-March). More information on this method of being nominated, can be found on the page on procedures.
    2. All outgoing students who are going abroad without any scholarship (see this table, with exception of those students who are on a reserve list for a scholarship), will receive a link to register in SOP Mobility Online from their respective tutor, exchange coordinator, faculty administration. More information can be obtained from the responsible person at your faculty:

      LW: Faculty secretariat (faclw@vub.ac.be)
      IR: Coordinator Internationalisation (Pauline.De.Pelsmacker@vub.be)
      RC: Faculty secretariat (facrc@vub.be)
      WE: Exchange Coordinator of study domain (check via table when scrolling up) and/or Coordinator Internationalisation (Marjan.Maes@vub.be)
      LK: Faculty secretariat (faclk@vub.be)
      ES: Faculty secretariat (mobility.es@vub.be)
      GF: Exchange Coordinator of study domain (check via table when scrolling up)
      PE: Faculty secretariat (pe.mobility@vub.be)

    After receipt of the registration link to SOP Mobility Online, and having successfully registered, you will be able to log-in and you will be guided through the steps that follow. This registration is mandatory.

    •  Entering a travel log in SOP Mobility Online

    During your stay abroad in the host country, VUB remains concerned about the wellbeing of its students and staff. In order to act quickly in case of a crisis (natural disaster, social unrest, …), VUB would need to have an overview of students who are on an exchange.

    Therefore, we require students and staff (those not registered in TEO) to enter a travel log as soon as travel details are known (during the academic year for short-term mobilities, after first-session exams or after re-sit exams). Entering of this travel log is mandatory, also for daytrips, and are preferably entered a month before the actual departure (students having re-sit exams can enter the travel log right after the deliberation period).

    The student will receive information from SOP Mobility Online on how to enter the travel log. By entering the travel log, the student indicates s/he is currently abroad for his/her exchange (not taking into account any holidays the student would take before or after the exchange).

    Apply for an intercontinental exchange

    If you go for a non-EU exchange you need to meet the application criteria set by your faculty and/or programme (When? Who? and How? sections on the programme specific pages) . The general exchange procedure equally applies too, all you need to do is to take into account the underneath additional steps.

    Before departure, always check VUB's Travel Policy.

    Fill in the online form, and receive information on VUB's partner institutions!


    Select 3 countries of preference
    Exchanges are only possible under the terms of a bilateral agreement. It is therefore mandatory to express your interest by filling in this online form (deadline: 15/12/2021) and choose a maximum of 3 countries of preference. The International Relations office (IRMO) will then send an overview of VUB partner institutions in the countries of your choice.

    • Deadline: 15 December 2021 (included) (exchanges in 2022-23).
    • Bear in mind the teaching languages, which are often the local language (especially when following BA courses): e.g. French in Marocco & Canada, Portuguese in Brazil and Spanish in Mexico and Chile. The institutions in Asia have an offer in English.
    • VUB has an offer in the following countries:
      • Africa: Marocco (Rabat), South-Africa (Bloemfontein, Bellville)
      • Asia: China (Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan, Xi'an), Japan (Kobe), Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg), South-Korea (Seoul)
      • North America: Canada (Québec)
      • South America: Brazil (Rio De Janeiro, Santa Maria, Santa Catarina, Sao Paolo), Chile (Santiago), Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City, Puebla)

    Draft Learning Agreement for Studies and select one host institution
    You ultimately need to select one non-EU host institution for which your Faculty will nominate you. You thus need to start finding more information on the VUB partner institutions and the offered programmes:

    • Course offer: Check whether the host institution has an adequate course offer for exchange students for your study field and/or programme. Once you narrowed down your choice to one, draft a Learning Agreement for Studies in agreement with your Exchange Coordinator. It is mandatory to have agreed on a draft Learning Agreement for Studies with your Exchange Coordinator prior to your nomination (see Faculty deadlines).
    • Conditions for participation: Check the conditions laid out by the host institution and be sure you meet them (e.g. a minimum overall cumulative GPA required, one semester or whole year exchanges only, some (practical) courses not open to exchange students).

    It is your (the student’s) responsibility, to check the course offer for exchange and whether you meet the criteria and conditions for participation. If in doubt, contact IRMO, who can help you in this regard.

    Apply at Faculty level for this exchange to the non-EU host institution

    Apply at Faculty level for this non-EU exchange according to their criteria. Your Faculty will nominate you towards IRMO who will then nominate you towards the host institution (exchange procedure).

    • You can be nominated for one non-EU host institution only and you need a draft Learning Agreement agreed upon with your Exchange Coordinator.
    • Back-up EU destination: Often non-EU universities select strictly, you can therefore choose 1 back-up destination within Europe for which your Faculty will nominate you. In case your intercontinental exchange cannot take place and you correctly applied for an exchange at the EU back-up destination you can still go abroad as part of your VUB study programme.
    • If the applications exceed the maximum number of slots foreseen on the bilateral agreement. The Faculties will prioritise using their own standards.

    Prepare your application for the non-EU host institution
    Applications at non-EU institutions need to be prepared in more detail. Check the host institution’s website and start assembling the requested documents (e.g. proof of language proficiency, reference letter by VUB Professor, cover letter, proof of solvability) and information well in advance. (!) Note that you can only apply at the host institution once IRMO has nominated you.

    Application and acceptance at the host institution & official confirmation from your VUB Faculty

    • You apply at the host institution once IRMO officially nominated you towards the host institution. The host institution will then, based on their conditions for participation, evaluate your application and inform you whether or not you are accepted as an exchange student. (!) Note that non-EU universities select strictly and we advise to have a back-up application within Europe (see above).
    • Your exchange needs to be officially confirmed after the exam period by your VUB Faculty too (see general procedure).
    You wish to do an intercontinental traineeship? Find more information here.


    General information on the possibilities to do a traineeship as part of your VUB curriculum can be found here. You need to contact your Exchange Coordinator if you wish to do this traineeship in a non-EU country.

    You need to meet the application criteria set by your Faculty and/or programme (When? Who? And How?-sections on the programme specific pages) for intercontinental exchanges (outside of Europe). The general exchange procedure equally applies for traineeships outside of Europe. Meaning that you need to nominated by your Faculty, following their selection process, towards IRMO for further follow-up (except for VLIR-UOS reisbeurzen – travel grants, find more information here).

    If you wish to apply for a scholarship to help finance your stay abroad have a look at the following webpage and follow the instructions explained.

    Kirsten went to Washington D.C for her internship through The Washington Center! Get in touch with exchange.outgoing@vub.be for more info about doing internships abroad!


    There are a few ways to help you finance your studies or traineeships abroad: Erasmus Belgica, Erasmus+, Generieke Beurs, Priority Country Programme, Washington Center, ASEM Work Placement & VLIR-UOS travel grants.

    VUB also offers extra financial support if needed (see below).

    Difficulties financing your study abroad? Contact Social legal & financial support.


    Exchange grant

    Belgian students (*) who experience difficulties financing their study period abroad, can apply for an exchange grant (buitenlandtoelage). With this exchange grant, you can finance the study costs abroad (transport, housing, study books, etc.). To receive this grant, there are general and specific conditions you must comply to.

    (*) Some EU/EEA-students can be entitled if they have been living in Belgium for at least five years or if they (or their parents) have been working in Belgium at least one year. Non-EEA-students can be entitled if they have a permanent residence in Belgium.

    Social legal & financial support

    If you are not entitled to an exchange grant and experience difficulties in paying the study expenses for your international exchange, you can contact Social legal & financial support to see if you are eligible for another kind of financial support. All your questions will be treated confidentially and your specific situation will be considered.


    For outgoing exchange students.

    You’ve decided to go abroad in the framework of your studies at VUB for studies or a traineeship? Consider that you will need to have the right grades, work on a study plan, prepare to gain the required language level, etc. Underneath are the necessary steps to be completed (download the PDF of the procedures). More detailed information on each step is given below.

    Self-funded students can go on exchange as well and will need to register. Check the 'destinations' tab for more info.

    1. Exchange application at your Faculty

    You apply for an exchange for studies or a traineeship at your Faculty. The selection is determined by each Faculty’s own regulations, but often involves: the results you obtained, study progress, language proficiency, motivational letter and draft study plan (i.e. Learning Agreement) for your exchange. The start and end date of the application process are set by your Faculty or study programme (start in December – deadline around mid-February). You apply for an exchange for the next academic year. Once the Faculty Selection Committee has evaluated the applications, your Faculty informs you whether you can go on an exchange prorgramme. Have a look at the webpage of your Facutly and/ or study programme for their selection criteria and application deadline. The contact details of your Exchange Coordinator can be found there too.

    ! Have a look at the programme specific pages and find out when and where you can go. This depends on a.o. your faculty, study programme, purpose of your stay abroad (studies, traineeship), your level of study and the scholarship programme.

    2. Faculty selection results and nomination

    Each Faculty nominates their selected students to VUB’s International Relations office (IRMO). Only students who were officially nominated by their Faculty towards IRMO can start their online VUB exchange registration and will be eligible for one of the scholarship programmes managed by VUB for their exchange during the next academic year (including Erasmus+ scholarships for Traineeships after Graduation). Late applications (at Faculty level) and nominations (towards IRMO) will not be considered.

    3. Online VUB exchange registration

    Nominated students have to complete the online VUB exchange registration through Mobility-Online. All administration for your exchange (before, during and after) is managed through the online platform. You need to register online the moment you receive the link from the International Relations office (IRMO) (for those receiving a scholarship), or via the responsible person at your faculty (for self-funded students). Check this page for more details.

    4. Learning Agreement for Studies or Traineeships ‘before mobility’

    A Learning Agreement for Studies or a Traineeship is a plan that details the courses or training activities you will achieve during your mobility. This is an official document and obligatory for all exchanges for studies or a traineeship that are part of your VUB study programme. There are three parties who should agree on your Learning Agreement (study plan):

    1. You, the student.
    2. You draft your Learning Agreement in consultation with your VUB Exchange Coordinator who is academically responsible and approves it.
      Deadline: Your Faculty will tell you when the Learning Agreement needs to be final and ready to be approved by your VUB Exchange Coordinator (usually beginning of May)
    3. Once approved from VUB's side, you send the Learning Agreement to the person academically responsible at the host institution or organisation (in case of traineeships) who needs to approve and sign.

    Learning Agreements for Studies are formalised through the platform Mobility-Online. Technical issues with Mobility-Online can be reported to IRMO.
    Learning Agreement for a Traineeship-templates can be downloaded via Mobility-Online.

    5. Application at host institution or organisation

    Register and apply for your exchange at the host institution following their requirements and regulations. Check the host university’s website and check what their procedures are. IRMO passes on the names of the nominees to the host institution, but submitting an application and completing the administration at the receiving institution is the student’s responsibility.

    • ! Applications for intercontinental exchanges are more demanding and lengthy. Start preparing for your application well in advance. You can only start your application once IRMO has passed on the names of the nominees to the host institution. We strongly recommend to start collecting the required documentation and to have everything ready on time.
    • ! Your application is subject to official acceptance by the host institution. Exchanges to partner universities within the framework of Erasmus+ are usually accepted if all administration is completed correctly and you have the recommended language proficiency. Applications for an intercontinental exchange (exchanges to a partner institution outside the framework of Erasmus+) are evaluated by the partner institution, taking into account multiple criteria such as study results, language proficiency and personal motivation.

    Students going abroad for a traineeship need to make the necessary arrangements with the host organisation.

    6. Take Off exchange info session

    You will be invited for the mandatory Exchange Take Off info session (beginning of May). You will receive detailed information on how to prepare for your exchange: insurance, safety, language preparation, housing, travel and residence documents and paperwork at home.

    7. Official approval exchange

    After the exam period (depending whether you have to retake exams, this will be at the beginning of July or September) the VUB Faculty evaluates and officially approves your study abroad. This eligibility check is based on criteria set by your Faculty (or specific study programme). Consult the Faculty webpage or your Exchange Coordinator for more information. It is not allowed to leave on exchange without official confirmation.

    • ! In addition to VUB’s academic approval (eligibility check) the host institution also needs to accept your exchange application. Make sure you complete all the necessary administration (such as the Learning Agreement). Non-EU partners (for intercontinental exchanges) might have specific admission criteria and will evaluate your application file. Have a look at the partner institution’s website to find out more about the admission criteria for exchange students.
    • ! Please note that next to these confirmations having a Learning Agreement for Studies or a Traineeship signed by all three parties is obligatory (see above).

    Students whose exchange can take place, will receive an approval email from IRMO.

    8. Students receiving a scholarship

    Students eligible for a scholarship (from a scholarship programme managed by the VUB), will receive an email with the scholarship administration documents. Scholarship administration documents are only sent if 1) the Learning Agreement for Studies or Traineeships has been signed by all three parties, and if 2) the exchange has been officially approved by the Faculty (via Mobility-Online).

    More information on the different scholarships and its specific requirements (such as signing of the grant agreement, other necessary administration, payment scheme) can be found here.

    9. Start of your exchange

    You remain a VUB student while you are studying abroad, so do not forget to re-enrol at VUB. In addition, you need to register at the host institution and attend their welcome activities. Courses that are exchanged at VUB are usually registered by your faculty secretariat but make sure to notify your faculty secretariat in time.

    Get your Certificate of Arrival signed by the responsible person at the host organisation or institution. Upload the file to your personal flow in Mobility-Online (or send it to exchange.outgoing@vub.be if instructed to do so). The Certificate of Arrival is attached to the email informing you of the approval of your exchange.

    10. Changes to the Learning Agreement for Studies or Traineeships ‘during mobility’

    Upon arrival (after submitting the Certificate of Arrival) one-time changes to the Learning Agreement for Studies or Traineeships are possible. Changes to the Learning Agreement have to be motivated (reason for change) and need to be academically approved at the host institution or organisation and at VUB (Exchange Coordinator). Please refer to the procedure of the approval of the learning agreement ‘before mobility’.

    • Deadline 1st semester exchanges: 15 October.
    • Deadline 2nd semester exchanges: 28 February.

    11. Prolongation exchange

    Not all students can prolong their exchange, regulations are set by each Faculty (contact your Exchange Coordinator for more information).

    Only students who are allowed to prolong their exchange are informed by email (beginning of December) on the prolongation procedure.

    12. End of your exchange

    Before returning home, you need to get the Certificate of Departure signed by the responsible person at the host organisation or institution. Upload the file to your personal flow in Mobility-Online (or send it to exchange.outgoing@vub.be if instructed to do so). The Certificate of Departure is the same document as your Certificate of Arrival (uploaded or sent earlier).

    Your Transcript of Records (Grade Sheets) will be sent to VUB by your host institution. If you receive the Transcript of Records yourself, send the copy to the VUB Student Administration. Traineeship Certificates need to be sent to your VUB Exchange Coordinator and the VUB Student Administration.

    • Please remember that your grades might be converted and may differ from the result you have obtained at your host institution. Grade conversion is done at Faculty level (contact your Exchange Coordinator for more information).

    The credits gained abroad (and part of your Learning Agreement) will be recognised and mentioned on your “VUB-diploma supplement”.

    Students receiving a scholarship managed by VUB need to comply with the specific requirements set by the funding organisation (i.e. complete survey, non-binding online language test, essay writing) to receive the last instalment. More information on the scholarship info page.

    Join us at the welcome back session (for which you will receive a personal invitation) and share your experiences!

    Get in touch!

    Do you have any questions? Do not hesitate to contact us.

    All general questions