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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.5 Cross-border learning mobility

Last update: 31 March 2024

Policy framework

As described in Eurydice, Flanders has participated and is still participating very actively in the European programmes (e.g. previously in Comenius and Leonardo Da Vinci, currently in Erasmus+). In multilateral cooperation (Unesco, the Council of Europe and the OECD), Flanders opts mainly for projects that tie in with Flemish education policy or where Flanders is able to make a structural contribution. Flanders also aims to maximizes opportunities for so call internationalisation at home. The World@School project, for example, brings international students form the Flemish high schools and universities in contact with pupils in primary or secondary schools.

In the action plan “Brains on the move” (Brains on the move - actieplan mobiliteit 2013) the Flemish government stipulated that by 2020 at least one in three graduates from higher education must have followed part of their education or internship abroad, both inside and outside Europe. To this end, the Flemish government provides the necessary grants, with extra attention for students from under-represented groups. These are students with a disability, scholarship students, immigrants, work students and students from cultural-ethnic minorities with a migration background. The most recent report (January 2021) that monitors and registers the outcomes of all these initiatives can be found here.

Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education

Programmes for pupils in secondary education

  • eTwinning (Action of the Erasmus+ Programme): Through eTwinning, primary and secondary schools can set up online projects in collaboration with schools in Europe. The use of eTwinning - the online community for schools in Europe - is free and low-threshold. An eTwinning project can be performed by teachers, teacher teams, directors, librarians, ICT coordinators and also by pupils.
  • Erasmus+, Individual learning mobility KA1(Epos-Vlaanderen): Pupils who follow initial vocational education, such as technical and vocational education, can go abroad individually or in groups for two weeks to 12 months abroad. 
  • Neighbour classes (Epos-Vlaanderen) is a simple grant programme that allows class exchanges between two schools: one Belgian class and one class from a neighbouring country of Belgium. Schools in primary and secondary education of all levels and forms (including special needs education) can participate. Central to the projects are class exchanges, but there can also be other project activities.
  • With Erasmus in Schools (ESN Belgium) a school can invite an Erasmus student to class for one or more hours. In this way, students acquire knowledge of cultural diversity and international mobility.
  • The Prince Philip Fund (Prins Filipfonds) provides financial support for language-crossing exchange projects in Belgium (Scholen Swich) that promote cooperation between schools, colleges and universities.

An overview of the current possibilities for studying abroad can be found on the Euroguidance - Vlaanderen (in Dutch) and on the pages of the Department of Education and Training on cross-border learning (de grens over met je klas). 

When they have reached the age of 15, pupils can also study abroad for a few months or a year on their own initiative. To go abroad during secondary education there are two ways: through a mediation organisation (AFSEasy languagesEF – Education First, UWC - United World Colleges, YFU – Youth for Understanding, WEP – World Education Program) or the students arrange everything themselves.

Programmes for students in tertiary education

The action plan "Brains on the Move" contains a wide range of initiatives that contribute to the further development of an international high-quality higher education in Flanders. The emphasis is on student mobility. The action plan contains not only measures for Flemish students who go abroad, it also creates opportunities for attracting foreign students.

Erasmus Programme

The European Commission's Erasmus+ programme is the most prominent. With its programme Erasmus+ (2021-2027) in the field of education, training, youth and sport , in which the Flemish Community is also involved, the EU wants to improve the skill level and employability of young people and modernise education and youth work.

At Flemish level, EPOS (the National Agency for the Erasmus+ programme in Flanders)  is responsible for the Erasmus+ Education and Training (and alsof or the sport component). The various actions are divided into 3 large clusters of key actions:

  1. individual learning mobility projects: grants for projects that offer young people, students and youth workers opportunities to learn or work abroad.   
  2. projects for cooperation between organizations and institutions: institutions and organizations can collaborate on a small or large scale with organizations in other countries. 
  3. support policy development and cooperation

Institutions in higher education (or a consortium of institutions) can apply to EPOS for mobility of staff and students (including graduates) within Europe. This allows students to study, work internship or gain work experience at a company or educational institution in another European country. During the academic year 2020-2021, 7.335 Flemish students in tertiary education followed - by means of the Erasmus exchange programme - a part of their studies or internship in another European country (EPOS Yearbook, 2022 p.175) . 

Mobility outside Europe is also possible within Erasmus+ through cooperation with international partner countries, also known as International Credit Mobility (ICM). Institutions in higher education (or a consortium of institutions) can submit an application to EPOS. Through this action, students and staff from one of these partner countries can also come to a European Higher Education Institution.

Other programmes

The Flemish Department of Education and Training finances, within the framework of the Mobility Action Plan, also the following scholarship programmes:

  • Priority Country ProgrammeThis programme promotes student exchange between Flanders and a number of priority countries, namely Brazil, Chile, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, the United States of America and South Africa. Under the Priority Country programme, both an exchange of two students in a framework of a duo project is possible, as single outgoing mobility from Flanders. The total budget available for the Priority Country Programme in 2023/2024 is 500 000 EUR. 
  • ASEM-DUO: The purpose of this programme is to promote student exchange between Flanders and four countries in Asia (China, India, Vietnam and South Korea) on a balanced and permanent basis. In this respect, DUO-Belgium/Flanders requires that a pair (two persons) of students will be exchanged in the framework of a cooperative project. This can be done for one-semester mobility (with renewal of up to one year, where the grant amount is limited to one semester).  For students, €1,000 to €2,000 is supported per pair for one month (4 months).
  • The Washington CentreThe Washington Centre is an independent, nonprofit organisation offering internships and academic seminars to students from Flemish universities and colleges. The Department of Education and Training offers 12 scholarships for Flemish students who want to do an internship at international organizations or companies in Washington during one semester (studies that can apply: business and management, criminology, IT, international relations, arts, media and communication, political science, law studies, and global trade). The scholarship amount is € 9.000 per student (or €3.500 for the virtual program; academic year 2023-2024). For students from underrepresented groups the scholarship amount is € 12.000 (or €4.300 for the virtual program).
  • Erasmus Belgica: This is a cooperation project between the three Communities of Belgium to enhance the mobility of higher-education students and to give them the opportunity to follow part of their programme at a university or university college in another Community. The programme follows the same principles as the European Erasmus programme. It concerns a study or internship period of minimum two (for internships) or three (for studies) months and maximum 12 months in a different community. Students receive a flat rate of €100 and a monthly scholarship of €100if they can prove that they have specific accommodation costs for the duration of their stay in the other community.


Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work

JINT was founded in 1989 by the Flemish government, in consultation with Flemish youth organizations. JINT's mission is to stimulate and support the international mobility and cooperation of young people and youth organizations. JINT is structurally financed by two institutions, namely: 

JINT promotes international mobility in the following ways:

  • JINT builds bridges between international youth policy and Flemish youth policy, and between youth work abroad and in Flanders
    • Under the name Go Strange, JINT shows individual young people their way abroad. Through Go Strange they find a range of international exchange opportunities, including volunteering, studying, internships and foreign camps.
    • JINT is also the National Agency for the Youth in Action section of the Erasmus + program in Flanders and for the European Solidarity Corps. JINT takes care of the daily implementation of this subsidy program of the European Commission. 
    • JINT is responsible in Flanders for implementing the Belgian subsidy program Bel'J. The Bel'J program was established in 2009 and gives young people aged between 12 and 30 the opportunity to meet young people from the other Belgian communities by means of volunteering or a group exchange.
    • JINT houses the SALTO-YOUTH Inclusion and Diversity Resource Centre that specializes in international projects with young people from vulnerable and diverse groups. It is one of the SALTO-YOUTH Resource centres set up by the European Commission to support the Youth in Action project applicants and the National Agencies.
  • Offering young people, youth workers and their organizations tailor-made information throughout their international / intercultural trajectory. This goal is achieved by both online (e.g. newsletters, websites, social media) and offline information (e.g. info fairs, info sessions, help desk) channels. Some of the online information channels are:
    • The Go Strange website provides an overview of organizations that allow Flemish youth from 14 to 30 years old to go abroad. The website also provides information about scholarships and grants and tips to prepare the foreign adventure.
    • The Quality Mobility App (Q! App): helps organisations to create learning mobility projects. It allows organisations to self-assess the quality of international youth projects and compare their assessment with colleagues. It can also provide organisations with an online platform to create their own project and cooperate with their partners. Several practical resources, tips, videos and checklists are provided to improve the quality of a learning mobility project.
    • Kamiel is developed for young people between the ages of 16 and 30 who go abroad for a temporary, non-tourism activity. Kamiel informs young people on all practical issues when going abroad.

Quality assurance

Mobility in the context of formal education

Students in higher education can contact in their institution an internationalization service for general information on international mobility. The study or internship in another European country within the Erasmus+ programme must meet the following conditions for students

  • meet the learning objectives of the degree to be achieved; 
  • meet the student's personal development needs;
  • be an integral part of the student's study programme 


Mobility in the context of youth work

Since 2011, JINT together with several other Erasmus+ Youth in Action National Agencies and research partners participate in the transnational, on-going Research-based analysis and monitoring of the Youth in Action Programme (RAY). RAY Network studies the impact of Youth in Action projects on participants, supervisors and their organizations. 

In 2019-2020 the RAY network conducted RAY-LEARN, a research project that aims to explore the strategies and practices used for learning within organisations active in European Union youth programmes. It also intends to explore how this learning further shapes the development of organisations working with young people in Europe. In Flanders, JINT vzw, the National Agency of the Flemish Community and the Study Department Social Work of Howest University of Applied Sciences are part of this network and carried out the study for Flanders. The RAY-LEARN research has being conducted in 14 countries and aimed to explore strategies and practices of organisational learning among youth organisations and networks within European youth programmes. The research consisted of two parts: an exploratory phase based on qualitative research conducted in 14 countries and In a second phase, based on the findings of the first part, a questionnaire. 

in Flanders, nine organisations participated in the qualitative part of the research. Results of this qualitative Flemish research are bundled in an extended report in dutch and in an English executive summary