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VLIR-UOS Biology Scholarships for Developing Countries

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VLIR-UOS Biology – Specialisation Human Ecology Scholarships for Developing Countries 2012-2013. This two-year programme in ‘Master of Biology – specialisation Human Ecology’ addresses students with a background in Sciences. ‘Human Ecology’ is a research master organised by the Faculty of Sciences and Bio-engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, Free University of Brussels). It provides students with strong fundamental and applied knowledge by bringing together expertise at the scientific, technological and policy level for taking an integrated look at human-environment interactions. Understanding of earth’s ecosystems and their services, of specific governances and policy contexts provide graduates with tools to contribute and to play a key role in dealing with human ecological challenges in their home countries.
Human ecology deals with the environment in which humans and human society develop. In this development humans change their environment thereby not only impacting the ecosystems but also themselves. Since the nineteenth century and increasingly since the last decades our environment has come to comprise the entire planet. Concern for the human environment has therefore become a global and development issue, which is well reflected in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to ensure environmental sustainability. Challenges are formidable and reflected in the view that a geological era, the Anthropocene, should be delimited. Greater research efforts are needed for obtaining a ‘safe operating space’ for human populations.
While the issues at stake are universal to humanity at a global level, a great majority of people face environmental deterioration and ecological vulnerability in their direct neighbourhood. Local people in developing countries depend highly on various ecosystem goods and services. The lacking (empowerment of) trans-national institutions, may lead to failures in dealing with global issues, because sovereignty is mainly exercised at nation-state level. This increases the need for a strong partnership on a common basis of knowledge, technology, objectives and policies. The global character of many environmental problems brings along a shared responsibility for capacity building. Sound, science-based policies must be developed.
This two-year international course programme of a truly international character gives a unique opportunity to bring together scientists, both students and lecturers, with the different backgrounds needed. Human Ecology trains students in biological and ecological expertises on particular ecosystems, on various (bio-)monitoring and survey methods within specific governance and policy contexts. The master programme with a total study load of 120 ECTS, equally spread over 2 years consists of 5 course types: compulsory courses, introductory electives, specialised electives, a master thesis and research management skills
1. Compulsory courses are on the major ecosystems, interactions with human activities (Biocomplexity, Forestry and Agroforestry, River and Lake Ecology) and vice versa impacts on humans (Mutagenesis and Carcinogenesis, Parasitology, Toxicology)
2. Introductory electives are refreshers on Mathematics, Statistics and Analysis of Biological Data (this depending on student background) and on topics in Governance and Policy. A Guided Self-Study deals with interdisciplinary environmental problems e.g. Biological Invasions. Introductions to Environmental Chemistry and to GIS allow broadening the scope.
3. Specialised electives are on Sustainable Biodiversity and Biological resources (e.g. Conservation Genetics, Restoration and Management), on Human Health and Risk (e.g. Genotoxicology and Public Health), on Monitoring Methods (e.g. Earth Observation and Remote Sensing) and on Environmental Policy (e.g. Law, Social and Economical Aspects of Nature Management, Biotechnology, Water Engineering, Globalisation, Risk Assessment)

4. A master thesis consists of an individual research project related to ongoing research of promoters and their research groups.
5. Research management skills concern Governance and Policy in Development and Cooperation, Bio-ethics, Scientific Presentation, Manuscript and Project Writing

Admission requirements

Human Ecology (specialisation of an International Master of Biology) is open to holders of a bachelor’s degree in biology, biochemistry and biotechnology, chemistry, geology, geography, geography and geomatics, bio-engineer science or environmental sciences.

For other bachelors in science, applied science and life sciences, equivalency will be evaluated based on scientific competences and skills of the students by the Steering Committee.

Adequate knowledge of biology (ecology, biodiversity, physiology, genetics and molecular biology), mathematics and chemistry at university bachelor level is an absolute requirement. Previous knowledge of statistics, geo- or soil science, law and environmental management is an advantage but not a prerequisite.

You can apply for a scholarship if you meet the following requisites:

  • You are a resident AND national of one of the countries on the country list (not necessarily the same country for residence and nationality). Please note that candidates must reside in one of these countries at the moment of application.
  • You are not older than 40 years* if you apply for a scholarship to follow a master programme. Or you are not older than 45 years* if you apply for a scholarship to follow a training programme. (* on 1 January 2012)
  • You have the required English proficiency.
  • Professional experience and employment perspectives are only required for a training programme, but can be an advantage to be selected for master programmes.
  • Earlier applications and scholarships: You do not apply for more than one VLIR-UOS scholarship a year. You have never received a master scholarship funded by the Belgian government before. You are only admissible for a training programme scholarship if you have not received a VLIR-UOS scholarship for a training programme before.

For selection we take into account the following criteria:

  • Motivation: it is essential that the candidate’s motivation demonstrates the possibility of transferring knowledge or creating extension activities, and having a specific developmental dimension.
  • Professional experience, preferably in a research institution, a higher education institution, the government sector (national/regional/local), the sector of social economy, or an NGO. Preferably expertise in development relevant matters.
  • Present employment/reintegration perspectives, preferably in a research institution, a higher education institution, the government sector (national/regional/local), the sector of social economy, or an NGO. Preferably with the possibility to generate an impact through the transfer of knowledge, extension activities or otherwise. Not in the commercial profit sector.
  • Previous scholarships: prioririty will be given to the application of a candidate for a master programme who did not already has been granted a previous master scholarship. For a candidate for a training programme, the selection committee assesses the opportunity of a VLIR-UOS scholarship award, taking into consideration the candidates’ previous study and scholarship curriculum.
  • Gender: in case of two equally qualified candidates of different sexes, preference will be given to the female candidate. The selection commission will aim at a parity or relative balance between the number of men and the number of women awarded a VLIR-UOS scholarship.
  • Regional balance: the selection commission will try to ensure that 50% of a programme’s scholarships are granted to candidates from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Social background: in case of two equally qualified candidates, preference will be given to candidates from a disadvantaged area within their country or an ethnic or social minority group, especially when these candidates can provide proof of leadership potential.

Nationality and place of residence
Only persons who are resident AND national of one of the following countries (not necessarily the same country for residence and nationality) are eligible for a VLIR-UOS scholarship. Please note that candidates must reside in one of these countries at the moment of application.

  • Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Laos, Nepal, Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Latin America: Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay
English proficiency
You need a proof of at least 1 year of comprehensive English-based instruction at a university or recognized equivalent. If not, a TOEFL test is required with a minimum total score of 550 on the paper based test (PBT), or 79 on an internet based test (IBT); or an IELTS test with a minimum overall band score of 6,5; or a proof of another test of similar level as TOEFLE or IELTS.
Professional experience and employment perspectives
Present employment or reintegration perspectives are required for a training programme. The candidate must be currently employed or have a written (future) employer’s guarantee of (re)integration in an employment where the acquired knowledge and skills will be immediately applicable.


– Allowance 800€
– Family supplement 62€
– Accomodation premium 200€
– 1 return ticket, economy class

How to apply

You will need to follow the correct and complete procedure below:
1. Apply on the website via the application form of the Flemish host university: fill in name, birth date, country, etc…
2. Receive a return e-mail from the Flemish host university.
3. Send a printout of your application file along with all required documents (diploma transcripts, motivation, etc…) to the International Office of the host university (not to VLIR-UOS!).

Then you have correctly applied and can your application be considered. Scholarship application deadlines are: 1 February 2012

Period: September 2011 – September 2013
Language: English
Number of VLIR-UOS Scholarships: 10
Promoter: Prof. L. Triest

Mrs P. Vanden Borre
T +32 2 477 49 25



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