The University of Kent's Brussels centre is home to the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS), a specialist postgraduate centre located in a world centre for international affairs. With Brussels known as the ‘capital of Europe’, the city is home to the main institutions of the European Union and numerous other European organisations, such as think-tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies.
We offer a range of specialist programmes, all taught in English, related to the study of international affairs. In recent years we have attracted students from more than 65 countries around the world, with 60% of its students coming from outside the European Union. This creates a diverse community, giving students the chance to hear the perspectives of many other cultures and nationalities.
The University of Kent has its own purpose-designed facilities in Brussels, including academic offices, a student common room, a range of seminar rooms and lecture spaces, as well as access to IT facilities, reference books and a range of journals. Students also have access to the facilities of our partner universities, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).
Brussels has a wide choice of libraries on offer, including some unique specialist libraries.
All our students have access to the public computers and printers within UKBs facilities as well as those on the VUB campus, across the street. Wireless internet access is available within Kent facilities and on many areas of campus.
Advice and supportKent staff can provide useful information on housing, student visas, enrolment, orientation and practical tips on preparing for and arriving in Brussels. All new students are encouraged to attend an Orientation Week before their studies begin
The sports facilities on the VUB campus include: a 25-metre swimming pool; a football pitch, rugby pitch and athletics track; sports halls for indoor soccer, basketball, badminton and tennis; a martial arts hall, squash courts and a climbing wall.
There is also a fitness centre on campus, which may offer a discount to students. Its facilities include a modern gym and cardio area, a relaxation area, a solarium and a dance hall.
Language coursesAlthough all of Kents teaching is provided in English, many students wish to take advantage of their time in Brussels to learn another language (such as French). Private French tutoring is available on campus, and courses are available from the ULB and VUB at very reasonable student rates.
Brussels is a diverse city with architecture ranging from medieval rampart walls to the impressive modern architecture built to house the European Union. Popular attractions in the city include the Grand Place Square, with its Gothic and baroque architecture, the 15th-century Hôtel de Ville, and the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula. Brussels has over 80 museums and many beautiful parks and open spaces, including the Parc du Cinquantenaire. Brussels has excellent transport links with other European cities. For instance, Paris is only 90 minutes away by train and both Ebbsfleet (near our Canterbury and Medway campuses) and London can be reached by Eurostar in less than two hours. Brussels also has a major international airport. The University also has its own Brussels-based Careers Adviser who is dedicated to helping students prepare themselves for work and organises between ten and 15 internships with international organisations, which are exclusively for students attending the Brussels School of International Studies. Many students take on work experience for organisations based in Brussels and this often leads on to employment within that organisation or in a related field.
The University has an extensive network of contacts in the city and, through its Guest Lecture Committee, organises frequent specialist talks from diplomats, journalists and politicians. These discussions are often related to international events that occur during the academic year. Many students also join think-tanks, such as the Royal Institute for International Relations of Belgium, Friends of Europe, or the Centre for European Policy Studies and can attend the public meetings and events of many Brusselsbased institutions. A highlight is UKBs annual dinner for staff and students, with a prestigious expert guest speaker, who is usually a diplomat, politician, or a senior member of an international organisation.
There is a growing network of UKB alumni based in Brussels, Washington DC, New York and around the world. An alumni forum holds regular reunions and events and also provides a website and an email newsgroup for sharing opportunities, information and ideas. Some alumni come back to the University to talk about their experiences and some help our students to find internships and employment Student life Brussels is referred to as' The Capital of Europe' because it is the hub of European Union institutions: it hosts the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament. In addition, Brussels is home to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is in nearby Mons. Moreover, because important political, economic and social decisions are made in Brussels every day, over one thousand governmental and non-governmental international organisations, some 165 Embassies and Diplomatic Missions, the worlds largest international press corps, and over 700 multinational corporations cluster in and around the city.
The Brussels community
How does all this benefit you as a graduate student at UKB? First, because the University of Kent ensures that you have a daily gateway to the 'real world' of International Relations, policy-making, and International Law. Frequent tours, conferences, seminars, and receptions are organised both by the University and by other organisations in Brussels that welcome graduate students. Our location also means that UKB students easily attend the public meetings of these institutions, and have access to them for up-to-date research and internship opportunities. The Brussels community also provides a wealth of practitioners working at the cutting edge of the international world to teach some of our classes, and others are invited to the School for weekly Guest Seminars or special events. In fact, many of our part-time students combine active professional lives in these institutions with study for an advanced degree at UKB.
A multi-cultural city
Despite having a cosmopolitan environment, Brussels itself remains conveniently small. With a population of only a million people, Brussels is by no means a sprawling metropolis. Public transportation is good, and includes a comprehensive metro, tram, bus, and train system. In addition, Brussels is a convenient hub for travel to other European cities either for research or for a study-break: Paris, London, Amsterdam, The Hague and Cologne are all an easy train journey away.
That ancient and modern coexist in a patchwork of diversity is characteristic of Brussels, which is diverse in a range of other ways. Of its one million inhabitants, approximately one quarter is not of Belgian origin. Indeed, Brussels is a multi-cultural city that is open and welcoming to all newcomers. Brussels is officially bi-lingual, French and Dutch, though most speak English, and the high degree of internationalism has made English the working language of many in the city. In fact, there is a community of approximately 200,000 native English speakers in Brussels. International newspapers are readily available, and there are local newspapers in English, such as The Bulletin and The European Voice. English-medium television and radio stations can be received, such as BBC1, BBC2, BBC World Service, CNN, and NBC.
Local television stations also broadcast some programming in English. Nevertheless, Brussels is one of the best cities in the world to take up or improve a second or third language, and many UKB students find the time and energy to do so. Typical of a European capital city, Brussels has a full cultural agenda ranging from art exhibitions, theatres, ballet, music concerts, sporting events, and a range of carnivals and special events. Yet, not far from the city centre (in fact very near to the School), is the beginning of the splendid forest park, the Bois de la Cambre, with its centuries old beech trees. When the weather is good, UKB students frequently take advantage of this proximity for outdoor sports, but they also have access to extensive indoor sports facilities at our partner Belgian Universities.
Brussels has a past that stretches back to the Middle Ages, and its rich history is much in evidence. The remnants of the high rampart walls constructed around the city in 1270, for example, are still visible today. One can also wander through Brussels beautiful historic market square to see many of the buildings and streets that are little changed since the 17th Century. The especially beautifully preserved medieval cities of Ghent and Bruges are about forty minutes away from Brussels by train, but for those who prefer more modern sites, the city is also internationally known for its numerous Art Nouveau and Art Deco masterpieces.
Belgium is also justifiably famous for its food, and has one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per person of any city in the world. The Petite Rue des Bouchers (street of the butchers) in the medieval centre of Brussels is famous for the fact that every building on it is a restaurant. The street is for pedestrians only, which allows the restaurant owners to construct wonderfully colourful displays of seafood on ice, and to arrange tables outside along the cobble stone walks. For all the quaintness, however, the astute will be aware that at the next table could be an agenda-setting conversation among people who have just left the corridors of power for a light lunch.