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What is the English-taught semester on Migration and Refugees?

The English-taught semester on Migration and Refugees takes place in autumn as a block course with a wide range of modules. The modules include lectures, field trips, group works, testimonies of experts from the field and contact with people displaced due to conflict, war and persecution.

Our Social Work Programme affords you access to large network of NGO’s and government departments, so you can be in contact with experts from different fields. This is also helpful if you are interested in voluntary work as an international student of Howest.

As an international student in our Social Work Programme, you will notice how we value cooperation through strong communication structures. We will do our utmost to promote positive learning environments that foster sharing and understanding of different realities to improve the lives of people migrating throughout Europe.

Through this programme you will deepen your knowledge and competences in interactions with people by enhancing your understanding of the methods and approaches used in practice.

The English-taught semester on migration and refugees is available for exchange and non-exchange students - postgraduate applicants.

Do you want to combine this semester with more practise experience? Then definitely ask about our one-year “Migration & Refugees IN ACTION” programme and combine your international semester with a three-month placement during the spring!

This English-taught semester is organised by our Bachelor of Social Work (SW).

This programme is only available in English.

Howest - Aftermovie BIP Globalization and Migration

What makes this semester unique?

In this course students learn about the impact on social transformation and cultural identity when vulnerable people move between geographical locations, circumstances in which human rights may be violated and sources of support and protection are limited. This block study programme explores the developments and responses to the opportunities and challenges of migration, within the Belgian and European legislative frameworks including field trips. This course is suitable for all as it is enriched by the diversity of its participants and is ideal for anyone looking to expand their knowledge and skills in this rewarding area of work. This topic is globally increasingly relevant and as such it provides an ideal foundation for professionals who are currently or in the future working with migrants or are pursuing a career in international development.

Your class group will consist of international, EU (Erasmus) and non-EU (postgraduate), students with multicultural backgrounds and a wealth of experience.


Minimum 2 successfully completed semesters or an equivalent of 60 ECTS in a Bachelor of Social Work, Applied Psychology, Social Cultural Work, HR, Orthopedagogics, Youth Work, Social Pedagogy. This will need to be confirmed by means of an official certificate, a survey of completed courses, or a signed letter from the sending university.

Click here for Howest language expectations.

All Howest and exchange students

All Howest and exchange students should bring their own laptop, with all necessary and officially licensed software. The course overview above mentions the specific software (if any) necessary for the course unit. Howest applies a very strict policy on the use of legal software.

Non-exchange students

Non-exchange students can only attend the international semester as a Postgraduate Certificate course and need to have completed at least a full Bachelor degree programme in the field of Social Work or Humanities (Psychology, Pedagogy, Sociology, Education, …) – and/or a proof of experience via reference as a volunteer, in youth work, … - at the time they start the international semester course at Howest.

Course overview

Find the course unit descriptions for this programme (course catalogue) here.

Cultural and socio-economic introduction to Belgium (3ECTS)

In this module you will learn about Belgian and Flemish politics, culture and socio-economic data, all in comparison to the socioeconomic data of your home country. This module includes a survival course Dutch and visits to several important Belgian cities.

Intercultural Learning and Identity (3ECTS)

In this module we will analyse frameworks to understand different group cultures, their values and standards. We will use non formal training methods to explore issues such as stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination and take this opportunity to learn together as a diverse interactive group of people, informed by and drawing upon our own life experience.

Global Social Work (3ECTS)

In this module students will analyse and compare how social work looks like in their home country and other countries around the globe: how is it defined, how does it operate in practise, what is the content and format, is there a legal framework, is it based on governmental and/ or charity organisations, is it influenced and recognised by other disciplines such as education….etc. and what is the impact of all of this on migration?

Integration in Different Fields (6ECTS)

This module contains an introduction of the history and demography of European and worldwide migration, an analysis of Flemish integration projects and field visits in a variety of service areas such as housing, employment, culture, sport, youth, education etc. Students will analyse the circumstances and approach in their own culture and country of origin and through comparative learning techniques, compare it with the approach taken in Belgium and other European countries.

Project Work (6ECTS)

Students will have the opportunity to spend 4 hours a week at an organisation that supports migrants and/or refugees so that the knowledge gained from study of the other modules can be applied and integrated into practice. Students will add value and use project work methods to support their organisation to address and seek to resolve a specific problem in the field.

International & National Policy and (Legal) Frame Work (3ECTS)

The course will examine the different international policies, treaties and institutions at European and global level. Legal policy, administration and the application human rights of migrants in the Flanders region and wider Europe will form the basis of our discussions.

Cultural Frameworks in Health (3ECTS)

Through visits, guest speakers and case studies, students will expand their cultural knowledge, theory and practice framework by learning about cultural patterns and barriers in Health and Intercultural communication. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about health promotion alongside people with a migration background and those working in underdeveloped countries.

Psychological Aspects of Migration (3ECTS)

The psychological impact of migration can be enormous, for example when people leave their family and friends behind or flee war. Students will explore techniques such as psychological counselling, used within Flemish mental health care services to support migrant children, adolescents and adults.

English for Exchange Students (3ECTS) - optional course

This English course provides exchange students with training in speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, all focused on their ongoing or upcoming academic experience. The lecturer will take the diversity of academic areas of the participants into account, by addressing a range of topics and choosing subjects that are relevant to the attending students wherever possible.

The course aims at the B2 proficiency level. We strongly recommended it to all exchange students who have not fully achieved the B2-level in English at the moment of application for their mobility project. For the more proficient students, we see the course as an interesting immersion experience.

This course is optional. Classes take place in the evening.

Welcome international students!

Discover everything you need to know about Howest.

Read more

How to apply

Procedures, deadlines and tuitions: you will find all the information here.

Read more


Sarah De Vriendt

Sarah De Vriendt

Coordinator and lecturer Intercultural learning and Identity

Ivo Opstaele

Ivo Opstaele

Lecturer Psychological Aspects of Migration

Johan Bertels

Johan Bertels

Lecturer Intercultural Learning

Frank Stevens

Frank Stevens

Lecturer International & National

Joni Verstraete

Joni Verstraete

Lecturer Integration in Different

Register now!

Have you decided? We look forward to welcoming you to our Howest community! 
You can find all information about registering via the link below.

Apply now

Studenten in pauze met koffie op de campus


Do you have questions? Don't hesitate to contact us!

Sarah De Vriendt

Sarah De Vriendt

International Coordinator