Priority Country Programme

The Priority Country Programme has been established with the aim of promoting exchanges of students between Belgium/Flanders and the following priority countries: Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States of America. The financial part of the programme is managed and supported by VLUHR in collaboration with the Flemish department of Education and Training.

Description

Applications will be accepted from all Flemish higher education institutions, and in all disciplines. The grant can be used for study, internship or research for a bachelor/master thesis. Under the Priority Country Programme both a pair of students can be exchanged in the framework of a duo-project, as well as outgoing mobility from Flanders only.

The total budget available for the Priority Country Programme 2022-2023 is €500 000 EUR.

Eligibility criteria

In order to be eligible, the exchange project needs to fulfill all criteria below:

  • The applicant of a Priority Country Programme grant is enrolled in a fulltime study programme of EQF level 5, 6 or 7.
  • In case of study mobility: a higher education institution in Belgium/Flanders (home institution) and an educational institution in Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey or the United States of America (host institution) have established an academic cooperation agreement or express the intention to set up a new cooperation agreement by writing a letter of engagement.
  • In case of an internship: a higher education institution in Belgium/Flanders (home institution) and an institution/organization/company in Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey or the United States of America (host institution) have established a traineeship agreement.
  • The Flemish higher education institution, as well as the partner from Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey or the United States of America cannot ask tuition fees to the students for the exchanges.
  • To be eligible for a Priority Country Programme grant, the student cannot be staying in the country of the host institution already at the time of the selection procedure.
  • The international students meet all academic entrance criteria, including relevant language requirements, for entering the study programme in the Flemish host institution.
  • A maximum of eight applications per country can be submitted per higher education institution.
  • Nationality of the student is not a criterium.

Modalities

  • The mobility under the Priority Country Programme 2022-2023 has to take place between August 2022 and end before September 2023.
  • The obtained credits have to be recognized by the sending higher education institution.
  • The selection for the Priority Country Programme is made only once a year. In this respect, those who are planning to exchange in the Spring Semester of 2023 (January-August 2023) shall apply for 2022-2023.
  • The duration of a mobility under the Priority Country Programme 2022-2023 is minimum one month and maximum a year.
    • Exception: for Turkey only short mobilities of one month for internship and two months for study are eligible.
  • A month is defined as a period of 30 days even if the month counts 28, 29 or 31 days, with the exception of the last month of mobility which needs to be minimum 26 days.
    E.g.: 15/02/2023 – 11/05/2023:
    • 15/02-14/03 = 30 days = 1 month
    • 15/03-14/04 = 30 days = 1 month
    • 15/04-11/05 = 30 days – 3 days = 27 days (sufficient for the last month)
  • A grant can be maximum four months and is calculated according to the modalities below:
    • The grant amount is €700/month for the Flemish student with a total maximum of €2 800 and €850/month for the international student with a total maximum of €3 400.
    • An extra €200/month (with a total maximum of €800) can be awarded to Flemish students that belong to the underrepresented groups in higher education:
      • students who receive a scholarship from the government of Flanders;
      • students with disabilities recognised by the VAPH (only in Dutch):
        Personen met een handicap kunnen voor ondersteuning een beroep doen op het VAPH. Het is niet altijd duidelijk wat er onder de term handicap verstaan wordt. Daarom hanteert het VAPH altijd de volgende definitie:
        Elk langdurig en belangrijk participatieprobleem van een persoon dat te wijten is aan het samenspel tussen functiestoornissen van mentale, psychische, lichamelijke of zintuiglijke aard, beperkingen bij het uitvoeren van activiteiten, en persoonlijke en externe factoren.
        Die definitie laat toe om de situatie van iedere persoon die een aanvraag voor ondersteuning indient, apart te bekijken. Beantwoordt iemands situatie aan de definitie, dan kan de betrokkene door het VAPH erkend worden als persoon met een handicap en een goedkeuring voor ondersteuning krijgen;
      • working students in a work programme, see the definition of the government of Flanders (only in Dutch):
        Werkstudent : een student die aan al de volgende voorwaarden beantwoordt:
        1) hij is in het bezit van een bewijs van tewerkstelling in een dienstverband met een omvang van ten minste 80 uren per maand, of hij is in het bezit van een bewijs van uitkeringsgerechtigde werkzoekende en de opleiding kadert binnen het door een gewestelijke dienst voor arbeidsbemiddeling voorgestelde traject naar werk;
        2) hij is nog niet in het bezit van een tweede cyclusdiploma of masterdiploma;
        3) hij is ingeschreven in een studietraject met specifieke onderwijs- en leervormen en met specifieke modaliteiten van begeleiding en aanbod, dat als zodanig geregistreerd is in het Hogeronderwijsregister. De afzonderlijke registratie in het Hogeronderwijsregister impliceert niet dat het hier een nieuwe opleiding betreft:

The data in the database of AHOVOKS will be considered as correct. The date of reference to determine whether a student comes from a low socio-economic background is the deadline of 1 April 2022. If on this date the request of the student is still being processed, the final decision of AHOVOKS will be awaited. As soon as the request is approved, the student will receive the extra €200/month. Students from underrepresented groups can additionally send a request for financial aid to the department of social services for students of their institution.

  • The reimbursement for travel expenses is calculated according to the following rules:
    • Between 2 000-2 999 km (Morocco, Russia, Turkey): €360
    • More than or 8 000 km (Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, U.S.A., South Africa): €1 500
  • Upon completion of the mobility or exchange, all students, both outgoing and incoming, are expected to fill in a short questionnaire about their mobility and to submit an essay for which a format is provided.
  • Students should not combine this scholarship with another scholarship from the Flemish Government or VLIR-UOS.

Application

Step 1: The Flemish higher education institution preselects the applicants for the Priority Country Programme 2022-2023. This can be a student from a Flemish host institution for outgoing mobility only or a pair of students in case of the duo-mobility. In case of a duo of students, a Flemish student is matched with an applicant from Brazil, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Turkey or the United States of America. The selection of both students has to be accepted by the institution where the student will be hosted.

Step 2: The Flemish institution starts the application procedure for the Priority Country Programme scholarship by creating the application file(s) in the Mobility-Online tool.

Step 3: The applicant(s) receive(s) an email generated by the Mobility-Online tool notifying him/her of being preselected for a Priority Country Programme scholarship.

Step 4: The applicant registers in the Mobility-Online tool and completes his/her application file in the Mobility-Online tool before the deadline. Documents to be uploaded:

  • Motivation letter of the student (maximum two A4 pages) with a personal and an academic/professional motivation.
  • Official Transcript of records of the current and, if applicable, of the previous academic years during the current bachelor or master programme.
  • A signed Letter of recommendation from a professor or lecturer of the home institution.
  • In case of study mobility or research mobility for bachelor/master thesis:
  • Cooperation agreement between partner institutions, signed by both parties: home institution and host institution. If there is no cooperation agreement yet at the moment of the application, a letter of intent signed by both parties to set up a new cooperation agreement will also be accepted. The letter of intent will have to be replaced by the signed cooperation agreement before the student starts the mobility.
  • Learning agreement signed by the student and the home institution. If the learning agreement is not signed by the host institution at the moment of the application, a signed version will have to be uploaded later. If the signed learning agreement is not received in time, the student will not receive his/her first payment.

In case of internship mobility:

  • A draft version of the training agreement containing at least the minimum information on the internship (duration, department, general tasks and competences to be acquired during the internship) signed by all parties: student, Home institution and internship institution/organization/company. This document can be used as an upload for the Cooperation agreement and for the Learning/Training agreement of the student in the Mobility-Online tool.

All documents are to be written in English, with exception of the official transcript of records. If the transcript of Records is written in another language than Dutch, French or English, a certified translation should be enclosed.

Step 5: The Flemish institution validates and submits the completed application file(s) in the Mobility-Online tool before the deadline of midnight 1 April 2022 GMT+1. Applications validated submitted after midnight 1 April 2022 GMT+1 will not be accepted.

Selection procedure

In collaboration with the Flemish Ministry of Education, a selection committee will make the selection after the application deadline, based on the following criteria:

  • the quality of the applicant’s motivation (in connection with the planned learning agreement) (30 points)
  • the applicant’s previous study results (transcripts of records) (30 points)
  • the reasons for recommending the applicant (recommendation letter) (20 points)
  • the quality of the learning agreement (20 points)

DUO-applications do not necessarily get higher scores in the selection.

The selection committee consists of experts in the field of higher education and internationalisation. Each application will be read by two independent jury members. During the selection committee meeting every application will be discussed by the two jury members. In case of more than 10% of difference between the scores for the same application, the application file will be reopened and reevaluated. Benchmarks will be built into the selection process, in order to guarantee equal chances for each application. At the end of the selection committee meeting a final ranking will be made based on the consolidated scores of each application.

Take note: at least 25% of all scholarships will be awarded to students with a low socio-economic background (only applicable for the Flemish students):

  • students who receive a scholarship from the government of Flanders;
  • students with disabilities recognised by the VAPH (only in Dutch):
    Personen met een handicap kunnen voor ondersteuning een beroep doen op het VAPH. Het is niet altijd duidelijk wat er onder de term handicap verstaan wordt. Daarom hanteert het VAPH altijd de volgende definitie:
    Elk langdurig en belangrijk participatieprobleem van een persoon dat te wijten is aan het samenspel tussen functiestoornissen van mentale, psychische, lichamelijke of zintuiglijke aard, beperkingen bij het uitvoeren van activiteiten, en persoonlijke en externe factoren.
    Die definitie laat toe om de situatie van iedere persoon die een aanvraag voor ondersteuning indient, apart te bekijken. Beantwoordt iemands situatie aan de definitie, dan kan de betrokkene door het VAPH erkend worden als persoon met een handicap en een goedkeuring voor ondersteuning krijgen;
  • working students in a work programme, see the definition of the government of Flanders (only in Dutch):
    Werkstudent : een student die aan al de volgende voorwaarden beantwoordt :
    1) hij is in het bezit van een bewijs van tewerkstelling in een dienstverband met een omvang van ten minste 80 uren per maand, of hij is in het bezit van een bewijs van uitkeringsgerechtigde werkzoekende en de opleiding kadert binnen het door een gewestelijke dienst voor arbeidsbemiddeling voorgestelde traject naar werk;
    2) hij is nog niet in het bezit van een tweede cyclusdiploma of masterdiploma;
    3) hij is ingeschreven in een studietraject met specifieke onderwijs- en leervormen en met specifieke modaliteiten van begeleiding en aanbod, dat als zodanig geregistreerd is in het Hogeronderwijsregister. De afzonderlijke registratie in het Hogeronderwijsregister impliceert niet dat het hier een nieuwe opleiding betreft.

-> The data in the database of AHOVOKS will be considered as correct.

If the applications of these categories of Flemish students do not cover at least 25% of all scholarships, the total number of awarded scholarships will be adjusted.

Timing

  • Launch of the call: December 2021
  • Start application procedure in Mobility-Online: from Januari 31, 2022
  • Deadline for application: 1 April 2022
  • Selection: April 2022
  • Announcement of selection results: May 2022

More questions? Get in touch with the VLUHR-i secretariat.