The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is a Dutch– and English-speaking research university located in Brussels, Belgium. It has four campuses: Brussels Humanities, Science and Engineering Campus (in Ixelles), Brussels Health Campus (in Jette), Brussels Technology Campus (in Anderlecht) and Brussels Photonics Campus (in Gooik).
The university is organised into 8 faculties that accomplish the three central missions of the university: education, research, and service to the community. The faculties cover a broad range of fields of knowledge including the natural sciences, classics, life sciences, social sciences, humanities, and engineering. The university provides bachelor, master, and doctoral education to about 8,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. It is also a strongly research-oriented institute, which has led to its top-189th position among universities worldwide. Its research articles are on average more cited than articles by any other Flemish university.
The main organisational structure of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is its division into faculties:
- Faculty of Law and Criminology
- Faculty of Social Sciences & Solvay Business School
- Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
- Faculty of Sciences and Bio-engineering Sciences
- Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy
- Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
- Faculty of Engineering
- Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy
These faculties benefit a wide autonomy over how they structure their educational programmes and research efforts, although their decisions need to comply with the university’s statutes and must be approved by the central administration.
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel offers courses in a large variety of modern disciplines: law, economics, social sciences, management, psychology, physical sciences, life sciences, medical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, humanities, engineering, physical education. About 12,000 students follow one of its 128 educational programmes. All programmes are taught in Dutch, but 59 are also taught in English. In agreement with the Bologna process, the university has implemented the so-called bachelor-master system. It therefore issues four types of degrees: bachelor’s, master’s, master after master’s, and doctoral degrees.
Admission to the programmes is generally not restricted; anyone can subscribe to the programme of his/her choice. However, prerequisite degrees may be mandatory for advanced programmes, e.g., a bachelor’s degree is required to subscribe to a master’s programme, and a master’s degree is required to subscribe to a master after master’s or doctoral programme. An exception to this is the admission exam to the bachelor in medicine, which is required following ruling of the Flemish government. Tuition fees are low, and even decreased or eliminated for some students with less financial means.
The academic year is divided into two semesters, each spanning thirteen course weeks: the first semester lasts from October to January, the second semester from February to June. Students take exams in January and June. Apart from the Christmas and Easter holidays (both lasting two weeks) that are normally used to prepare for the exams, students are free the week between both semesters and during the summer vacations from July to September.