French-speaking students demonstrated in Brussels on Thursday against the increase in income requirements for guarantors of foreign students and the resulting vulnerability and expulsions of students from abroad.
More than 200 students from the universities of Mons, Liège, Namur and Brussels took part in the demonstration, according to the Federation of French-Speaking Students, FEF, which organised the protest.
After gathering at the Gare du Nord, the procession headed to the Foreigners’ Office, then to the office of the Minister of Higher Education, Valérie Glatigny, to demand a review of the new amounts required for guarantors.
Under Belgian law, every student from outside the European Union must have the support of a guarantor to gain access to higher education. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the income requirement for these guarantors has increased.
It has been set at €2,758 net per month, which corresponds to 120% of the Social Integration Income (previously 100%), plus €789, which every third-country national must have in order to study in Belgium.
According to the FEF, these amounts are often unattainable. If a guarantor cannot be found, some students risk losing their residence permits and having to leave the country, while others are sometimes scammed by fake sponsors.
“With the exams approaching, it is difficult for these students to concentrate on their studies while worrying about this issue. This demonstration illustrates their frustration,” FEF President Emila Hoxhaj explained.
The FEF also denounces the precarious situation in which some foreign students find themselves. According to the federation, they are denied access to assistance from the social services due to “absurd criteria” and the red tape they have to face is “heavy, complicated and unfair.”