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Belgium more attractive to foreign researchers

Belgium is set to become more attractive for non-European researchers, as a result of a recent decision by the Ministerial Council to improve their social status.

If their native country has an existing social insurance agreement with Belgium, the researchers will henceforth enjoy the certainty that they will be covered for all the standard benefits offered by the Belgian social insurance system: reimbursement of medical costs, accident insurance, sickness pay, child benefit, etc. They will also know that any pension rights they acquire during their time in Belgium can later be transferred in full, either when they return to their own land or if they move on to some other third country.

In the past, considerable numbers of scholars, researchers and graduate students have stayed away from Belgium, largely because these matters were so inadequately arranged. Many others turned their back on our country, after discovering to their cost that even the most basic social provisions were lacking.

In addition, Belgium is wrestling with an other problem – one also faced by the majority of its European partners. Many foreign researchers avoid Europe entirely, discouraged by the fact that every country has its own different degree structure. It is hoped that the recently signed Bologna Agreement – under the terms of which 35 European lands have all agreed to follow the Anglo-Saxon model of higher education - will force a breakthrough in this traditionally difficult area.

Reported by
24 January 2003

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