Yearly Archives:2020

ByTimo Van Gucht

What will our Master Programme look like next academic year?

The Coronavirus situation has affected us all and will keep having an impact on the coming academic year. This is a difficult period for universities and schools, but even more for students. That’s why we as a joint master programme want to have a clear plan for students who are starting their journey in photonics.

Since we are a programme taught at two universities, we have to abide by the regulations of both sides. That gives us the advantage of combining the best of two worlds and making your start as easy as possible.

At this stage, we cannot foresee when travel and mobility restrictions will be lifted. However, rest assured that we are continuously working to find and to implement solutions for international students who may not be able to attend classes on campus as of the first week of the academic year in September 2020. We understand that this may be due to travel restrictions, embassy closures or visa delays, or sanitary and safety reasons.

Our primary goal is to open for the autumn term 2020-2021 for full-degree and mobility students. This might cause changes to the teaching and student environment due to required compliance with sanitary guidelines and social distancing on campus. For international students who are not able to travel to Belgium in September, we will offer online teaching and blended learning to ensure optimal study experience and to avoid disruptions in their study programme. Faculty and teaching staff will offer full support. In addition, and for those courses where this is found relevant and implementable (e.g. laboratory-based courses), peer guidance by fellow students that will be on campus will be available to those who will start with studying remotely.

The safety of our community is of key importance, and we hope that by offering this flexible approach we will be able to offer all students an excellent study experience at our universities for the year to come. We will keep updating you on the progress of our efforts and policies, and we remain available to answer any further questions or concerns at short notice.

Questions can be addressed to

Read all VUB updates here: 
Read all UGent updates here: and


From nice to amazing: my experience with photons.

Tanvi Pradhan, one of our first-year master students, wrote down her experience and looks back at her first couple of months in Belgium. Read her enthusiastic journey from Raipur 🇮🇳 to Belgium 🇧🇪 below!

“Congratulations! You have been academically accepted for the European Master of Science in Photonics (EMSP).” The day I received this email was the happiest day of my life. From the day I received my admission, I started counting days to go to Belgium. To be honest, I did not have any information or contact in the programme so I could not rely on the opinion of someone with experience in this master program. I just googled ” Master courses in Photonics in Europe”, and EMSP popped up. I read the information given on their website and the reviews online – and was excited to apply (this Master Program was gonna be exciting, and this is exactly true, I am not bragging about it).”

“I took a flight from Bangalore to Abu Dhabi and from Abu Dhabi to Brussels (the capital city of Belgium). I had a layover in Bangalore too, as I come from a mediocre city, Raipur, in India, which does not have an international airport. While I was sitting in Bangalore airport alone, a weird feeling cropped up inside me, thinking about how everything would go, how the new culture would be: a new country, a new way of living far away from home, 8000 kilometres away across the ocean. Leaving your parents and home country is definitely difficult. Because of the huge distance, you can’t visit them often. But deep inside I had a feeling too, I was going to join one of the best Photonics programmes in Europe, so everything would be nice. It turned out to be amazing.”

“The initial days I felt a little homesick, but thanks to my classmate Nikhil I felt at home in Ghent. I was also lucky enough to get accommodation from my home country, which made my life here much easier. I would like to mention that finding accommodation in Ghent is so difficult, so make sure the first thing to do after you get an admission is search for rooms. I always had a fear of living in a European city because of the language barrier. I thought I would always feel left out among the locals because they would talk and laugh, and have fun in a language you would never understand. But, Ghent and Brussels are truly international cities! If you love parties and socializing, join the Erasmus Group. They are a group of exchange students from across the European Universities. Also, in EMSP there is a good diversity and we are like a family, we do help each other. “

Studying in Ghent

“I love this medieval ancient, yet modern city of Ghent. Ghent is one of the charming “darlings” of Belgium. It’s so different than what I saw on the internet. The internet can’t do justice to any place and this is quite true. The Gothic Architecture of the Cathedral, the eternal silence of sunsets across the river, and the colourful bubbles at the city centre are some of the things I keep falling in love with. Graslei and Korenlei are two of my favourite streets. They are so magical during the day as well as at night. Also not to forget the amazing fries and waffles. If you love chocolate, trust me, you will love Belgium. If you fancy student life, just go to Overpoortstraat, grab a beer and you will find the craziest of students there. I had the assumption that no one here would speak English because their native language is Dutch, but this turned out to be a misconception. Almost everyone, old and young can speak English. So, whenever you get lost, don’t worry. Belgians are among the most helping and friendly people. With Belgium lying at the centre of Europe, it’s so easy to fulfil your dream of travelling to all the European countries. Paris and Amsterdam are just two hours away from Brussels.”

“Ghent University is one of the best-ranked universities in the world and our professors are so friendly, nice and their knowledge is amazing. The academic staff is helpful, caring and making your arrival in Belgium so smooth. When in trouble, they are always there. There is an introductory session by the university common for all students and also some fun activities. There also was a kick-off event by Photonics Group. All detailed information was given, which made me comfortable enough to plan out my studies for two years (this really isn’t a piece of cake). The professors are so kind and they reply promptly to every question you have. So the transition from the culture in my home country to the European culture was so smooth. Now I feel so confident about the perfect career choice I made. In the kick-off event, the information was crystal clear, so I could figure out my way through these two years. I have a sound plan of going for an international internship to CEA-LETI in France. I will share my experience if the Coronavirus outbreak doesn’t screw up my plans. Also, since our program and our professors both at UGent and VUB have so many industrial contacts, getting a job won’t be like walking through thorns in a garden of roses.”

Balance your time

“With an Engineering background, the first semester courses are very challenging and difficult. The first semester courses are fundamental physics and some mathematics. I have a “math phobia”, but thanks to Professor Peter those lectures were amazingly well planned and easy for me to study. The courses are difficult but not impossible. Everyone can manage it because the professors explain the concepts very well. They are brilliant, experts and genius, I would say. Although, I would like to mention that balancing your time is very important. I did six exams in twenty days, so that was a bit more challenging.”

“The second semester is rather easy and less dense. It’s manageable, but you have got to do more lab reports. For me, concepts like Fourier Transforms and Periodic Structures were abstract and imaginary, but when I actually did them in labs, I realised how fascinating they are. I couldn’t say much about the second semester now, because it went all online because of this Coronavirus outbreak.”

“After one semester in Belgium, you get used to the culture and the lifestyle, which makes life so easy. To get a truly international experience, this master program offers many exchange opportunities at almost all of the Best Universities in Europe like ITMO, EPFL and DTU. That way, you also have a chance to experience another European culture. All the professors have a extensive industrial network, so finding an international internship is not so difficult. I got one in my first semester!”

This post was published on Tanvi’s personal blog. Read more and ask her a question!

ByTimo Van Gucht

5 Reasons To Study Photonics in Belgium

Why Photonics? 5 reasons to join our master programme!

Choosing where and what to study is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Many things will influence your final choice: the quality of education, future career prospects, living cost, student life. Before you make your final decision you should answer 2 questions: What is my passion? What are my future ambitions? On this page we will tell you what we are looking for, and if you fit that profile, why our photonics programme should be at the top of your list.

1. You like a challenge

As a photonics master student, you will be submerged in a tradition of academic excellence and you will be challenged to take your education into your own hands and learn how to work without constant supervision and direction. You are an open-minded but critical thinker, you enjoy problem-solving and your natural curiosity drives you to find a deeper understanding of things. Putting in some hard work does not scare you.

2. Creativity is key

Do you know what is the most important asset you will need in your future career? According to recent global studies successfully navigating an increasingly complex world will require, more than management theory, technical background or even vision, a high level of creativity and flexibility. You need to think independently and with a creative mind. You question the status quo by assessing available information, you look for new perspectives and you are not afraid to think out-of-the-box.

3. Future skills for future engineers

Our approach to teaching and learning means that as a student, you will not only perfect your theoretical and technical skills. You will also be exposed to all the important 21st-century skills: communication and presentation skills, interpersonal skills, business training, real-world work experience through international internships, business networking, etc.

4. Thinking must never submit itself: equality, diversity, inclusiveness

Equality, diversity, inclusiveness, free-thinking: this is what our programme stands for and as a university community we are committed to protecting and promoting these guiding values at all cost. We aim at recognising and eliminating practices and structures that create and sustain inequality and discrimination based on race, gender, religion or culture.

5. The beating heart of Europe

Our programme is being taught in Ghent and Brussels, two of the main cities in Belgium, the beating heart of Europe. Both are at the centre of the country, so no matter which city you choose, you’re always nearby!

Brussels is not just the capital of Belgium, it is the political and economic capital of Europe. With its European Union and NATO headquarters, a wide range of international trade and finance organisations and hundreds of multinationals it is one of the most international places in the world.

Today, Ghent it a vibrant university town and cultural hub. Its pedestrianized centre is known for medieval architecture such as 12th-century Gravensteen castle and the Graslei, a row of guildhalls beside the Leie river harbour; and with plenty of leisure possibilities, museums, exhibitions, bars & clubs and cosy restaurants.

Both are in fact international places with a mosaic of languages and cultures where you will discover a wealth of history and culture, art and architecture, food, music and of course, there’s chocolate everywhere! Oh, did we mention yet we are also pretty good at brewing our own beer!?

As an EMSP student, you’ll be living and studying in the middle of this decision-making epicentre: a head start for launching your career. Ready to get started? We thought so!

ByTimo Van Gucht

Applications & the Coronavirus – No need to worry!

The Coronavirus Covid-19 causes administrative problems in a number of countries. Certain administrative and service centers remain closed due to measures. Because of that, it is possible that you can’t take the language tests necessary to apply for our master programme. If you are in that situation and want to apply, just upload a blanco PDF in our application form and mention your situation. If you have any specific questions, contact us at