Belgium has become less popular as a destination for foreign students since the 22 March attacks.
AFS that organises exchanges for secondary school pupils said that there are far fewer youngsters enrolled in its exchange programme for the coming school year.
Furthermore, between 7% and 10% of those that had been selected for an exchange have dropped out, while the Francophone Belgian arm of the organisation has seen 10% cancel.
Most of those cancelling are youngster from South America.
Matthias Van Hyfte of AFS said, “You have the attacks, but also communication about the asylum crisis. “People can get the impression that Europe is being flooded with refugees, but is totally not the case.”
“The political and economic situation in South America is also a factor; the situation there isn’t good, especially with the currency devaluation”, Mr Van Hyfte concludes.
The Erasmus Programme that organises exchanges for students in higher education noted a similar trend, but doesn’t have any firm figures for the next academic year.
However, Brussels’ Dutch-medium Free University (VUB) said that 20% Erasmus students are enrolled than at the same time last year.
The university believes that the 22 March terrorist attacks have had an impact.
The VUB’s Nikki Van Tendeloo: “We can’t say with 100% certainty, but we have very strong suspicions that this is the case. We have also noticed with our own students that there were fewer requests to go to Istanbul. Some of the students that had been selected ask to change destination at the last minute.” – vrt