Eleven Belgian universities appealed to the authorities on Wednesday to make it easier for foreign researchers and students to travel to Belgium.
The processing of visa applications, in particular, could be improved, the universities, represented by the Council of Rectors (CRef) and the Flemish Inter-University Council, VLIR, said in a statement.
The statement followed the holding on Tuesday of the second edition of the VLIR-CRef Forum, an initiative aimed at improving collaboration on both sides of the linguistic border and fostering exchanges on issues concerning the entire Belgian academic world.
The forum’s agenda proposed to address the financing of higher education. It also addressed administrative obstacles to international mobility, and the 11 universities stressed the importance of this issue.
Delays at the federal and regional levels are too long
CRef and VLIR welcomed the attention the universities received during preparatory work for the amendment of the Foreigners Act for researchers, but noted that obstacles remain.
For example, they say, administrative delays at the federal and regional level are still too long, and legal certainty for foreign researchers could be improved.
“Convincing highly qualified students and researchers working outside the European Union to join Belgium is crucial in view of the tightness of our labour market,” CRef President Annemie Schaus said.
“All political authorities must work together to facilitate the arrival of these talents,” she added. “This also means better coordination and communication between all ministries.”
“The processing of visa applications, for example, can be improved in this regard,” she stressed.