Doctoral Scholarships Ghent University for Candidates from Developing Countries Call 2020


Special Research Fund – Doctoral for Candidates from Developing Countries – call 2020

With support from its “Special Research Fund” (BOF), Ghent grants  scholarships to promising PhD students from developing countries who wish to carry out half of their PhD research at Ghent University and half in a university in a developing country.

Applying for a PhD & PhD admission at Ghent university

Prior to their scholarship application all applicants need the explicit commitment of a Ghent University professor who will act as their personal PhD supervisor.

If you need to approach a Ghent university professor please browse the list of faculties and research topics available on our research directory.

All international PhD candidates need to complete  an admission procedure during which the academic aspects (equivalence of your degree, research proposal, and language skills) will be evaluated. 
This admission for a doctoral study does not guarantee any funding so it can be started after the result of the scholarship application is known.

Research groups and institutes at Ghent University (per faculty)

  • Arts and Philosophy
  • Law and Criminology
  • Sciences
  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Engineering and Architecture
  • Economics and Business Administration
  • Veterinary Medicine (departments)
  • Psychology and Educational Sciences (departments)
  • Bioscience Engineering
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Political and Social Sciences

PhD: Application, (re-)enrolment or discontinuation

Application procedure before enrolment

BENELUX applicants

  • This means that your diploma (or equivalent) was issued in either Belgium, the Netherlands or Luxembourg
  • Not based on your nationality
  • Your PhD supervisor will need to start up the application procedure:

International applicants

  • Holders of a foreign degree need to complete an admission procedure during which the academic aspects (equivalence of your degree, research proposal, language skills) will be evaluated.
    This procedure may take some time (discounting even the time spent gathering your documents and applying for a visa).
  • Your PhD supervisor will need to start up the application procedure:

During the  application, you will be required to upload your basic diploma and transcripts (or diploma supplement). Note that you will need to add an official translation of these documents, if the originals are not issued in either Dutch, French, German or .

  • After assessment of your application, Ghent University will inform you of the decision by sending you an official letter, signed by the Registrar.
    With this letter of admission you will be able to enrol and to apply for a visa.

In both cases a candidate needs to obtain the explicit commitment of a UGent supervisor.

General information on doctoral research at Ghent University

Visa for Belgium
Visa needed?

All information about obtaining a visa for Belgium is available via the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs and the Foreigners Department of the FPS Home Affairs.
Be sure to apply for the correct visa. Changing from one visa type to another is not always possible.

Visa application conditions

You must go to the embassy or consulate in person in order to submit your visa application and offer a verbal explanation of the purpose and circumstances of your trip. In some very exceptional cases, you may be exempted from the requirement to submit your application in person.

When submitting a visa application at an embassy or consulate, upon entry into Belgium or if subject to a check in Belgium, all foreign nationals (who are not EU citizens) wishing to come to Belgium (whether or not they require a visa) must, prior to entry to Belgium and any short stay in the country, meet the following conditions:

  • Be in possession of identity or travel documents (passport) that are recognised by Belgium and remain valid for at least three months subsequent to their planned period of stay in Belgium. The fact that the passport remains valid means that its holder can return to the country in which the passport was issued and gives the country being visited some guarantee that the foreign national will not be prevented from leaving its territory.
  • Be able to produce documents justifying the purpose and conditions of their planned stay. There may be various reasons for the trip: visiting family, friends or acquaintance, treatment, tourism, cultural, sporting or work-related activities.
  • Have adequate means of subsistence, both for the duration of the planned stay and for the return trip to their country of origin or transit to another country.
    • Foreign nationals must provide evidence that they are able to bear the cost of their stay, any medical costs and the cost of the return journey, so that the Belgian authorities will not have to cover these costs should problems arise.
    • Examples of documents that can be used as proof that the individual concerned has sufficient means of subsistence are: cheques and credit cards accepted in Belgium, an original copy of a pledge of financial support, a work contract, bank statements, proof of enrolment on the trade register and proof of professional activity. For students facing difficulties in obtaining one of the documents mentioned above a specific procedure has been worked out by Ghent University.
    • Only the holders of diplomatic, official and service passports who are on an official mission, citizens of EU countries, Rhine boatmen, cross-border workers and refugee applicants are not required to prove that they have sufficient means of subsistence.
  • Not have been flagged for non-admission to Belgium (e.g. known criminals).
  • Not be considered a threat to public order, national (domestic) security, public health or the international relations of Belgium or the other Schengen countries.

Sometimes other requirements are to be met, such as travel insurance or medical certificate, etc. Want to be sure? Always check with the embassy or consulate!

Top tip: make sure whether a travel ticket is mandatory before you make reservations, to minimize expenses.

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Official documents issued abroad must be legalised or bear an apostille, depending on the country whence they originated, unless a treaty provides for exemption from this process. Documents issued abroad in a language other than Dutch, English, French or German must be translated by a sworn translator.

What documents does Ghent University issue for your visa application?

  • Exchange students: Ghent University will supply you with a letter of invitation which proofs that you will be participating in an exchange programme with UGent.
  • Degree students (incl. PhD students): Ghent University will supply you with a letter of admission which proofs that you are admitted to a full-time study programme at UGent.
  • Staff: depending on your employment contract, Ghent University will apply for a work permit, draw up a guest agreement (for the application of a scientific visa) or an individual contract. The Personnel Department will supply a letter of invitation.
  • Guests (short stay): Ghent University will supply a letter of invitation.

Important note: admission as a student or an employee at Ghent University does not guarantee a visa.


  • EU/EEA citizens: The free movement of persons applies within the European Union, making the residence rules for EU citizens much more flexible than those for the citizens of other countries. However, besides the admission as a student or employee at UGent, there are other requirements to be fulfilled. For example, for students: proof of regular studies and enrolment, health insurance, proof of solvability. For employees: proof of actual employment (e.g. employment contract).
  • non-EU/EEA citizens: As with EU/EAA citizens, besides the admission as a student or employee at UGent, there are other requirements to be fulfilled. For example, for students there are always financial prerequisites. Moreover, the granting of a visa can exceptionally be refused (e.g. health and safety measures).
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In any event, the decision on whether a visa will be granted to you remains with the diplomatic post.

Duration and start date of the scholarship:

  • The earliest starting date of the scholarship at Ghent University is 1 October 2020;
  • The candidate obtains a scholarship for 24 months to study at Ghent university (Nord);
  • 24 months of the PhD research/study must be cofinanced at the partner university in the South;
  • Students are obliged to divide the Ghent University scholarship into minimum 2 different research stays in Ghent (North) and need to return at least once to their home university (South)  in between (= ‘sandwich- schedule’);
  • The following mobility scheme is mandatory:
    • Students need to start and end with a research stay of minimum 3 up to maximum 12 months in Ghent.
    • The first research stay in Ghent needs to start between 1 October 2020 and 28 February 2021.
    • At least 24 months of locally  research stay in the South must be scheduled in between the first and last research stay in Ghent.
  • The average duration of PhD studies in Belgium (Ghent University) is 4 years. 

Who can apply for this scholarship

  • The proposals must be jointly submitted by a candidate, a promoter (supervisor) at Ghent University and a supervisor at the partner university.
  • No restrictions are imposed on the field of research, nevertheless  preference will be given to topics that are relevant for development

Development relevance relates to the extent to which the proposals’ objectives are consistent with beneficiaries’ requirements, country needs, synergy opportunities, global priorities and partners’ and donors’ policies.

  • Candidates need to come from – and have the nationality of – a developing country (see country list);
  • There must be a guarantee that the candidate will be able to work fulltime on the PhD project for a period of 24 months at the partner university in a selected developing country (South). This implies that the following conditions needs to be fulfilled:
  1. there must be a local PhD supervisor at the partner university or research center in the South;
  2. written statement is requested stating that the candidate will be/is either a funded fulltime PhD student or a staff member at this partner university
  3. and will be sufficiently exempted from teaching or other assignments as to be able to fully concentrate on the PhD research in the South. Applicants can dedicate maximum 10 % of their time (fulltime appointment) to other tasks (teaching and other tasks)
  4. This statement should also mention that the candidate receives a local PhD scholarship or salary for a period of 24 months when working on the PhD at the partner university in the South.
  • This cofunding is only open for students who intend to obtain a (joint ) PhD degree at Ghent University
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How to apply for this scholarship

  • Applications must be submitted on the application forms provided for this purpose.

The Research Council makes a selection of the applications based in part on the recommendations obtained from members of the Council for Development Cooperation.

  • Selection criteria:

Please note that this call is highly competitive. The success rate for this call is 19% (based on the results of the previous calls 2017-2019). The first selection criterion in this call are the study results of the candidate (both Bachelor and Master Level).

  1. the qualifications of the applicant;
  2. the doctoral project;
  3. the relevance of the research topic for development & capacity building
  4. the scientific/scholarly potential of the promoter’s research group(s); the partnership between Ghent University and the local institute; the scientific/scholarly potential of the local institute.

Scholarship funding

  • PhD scholarship at Ghent University  (24 months).
  • 24 months of PhD research will be executed at the partner university in the South, for which no funding is provided through this scholarship. This part of the research (24 months) must be funded (e.g. local PhD scholarship or salary) at the partner institution in the South.
  • The Ghent University promoter receives a bench fee of €310/per month of research in Ghent + €8000 travel budget to cover (part of) the operational costs, as well as part of the travelling costs of the student and both the Ghent University and the local promoter.

Results scholarship selection 

Deadline scholarship applications

  • 4 February 2020

Further information on the scholarship

Student Administration: for international degree and PhD students

  • [email protected]
  • +32 9 331 00 99 (telephone helpdesk from 9am-12pm) 
    Please take into account that due to privacy regulations we cannot disclose any information concerning someone other than the caller.
  • The Student Administration can provide information about re-enrolment, tuition fees, diplomas, change of address

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