Applicants for the Master programmes offered by IOB will be assessed academically by a selection commission composed of academic staff. The academic selection is based on five selection criteria:
- Appropriateness of the applicant’s field of study. Applicants need to be holder of a Master degree in Development Studies or related disciplines (economics, political sciences, sociology, international relations, etc.) Highly irrelevant degrees will be marked with a low score while a high assessment score will be assigned for highly relevant degrees. Applicants who already obtained a Master in development studies or a related discipline at a European University will only be accepted in exceptional cases. This does not apply to applicants who obtained their (undergraduate and graduate) degree under the European Bologna system as they need to be holder of a Master degree in order to be eligible.
- Quality of the education and results/grades obtained. Applicants need to have very good study results: first class (honours), great distinction, etc. - applicants with good/average results (second class upper division, second class lower division) can be admitted if they show additional assets. Applicants with a 4-year Bachelor are not automatically excluded but need to have additional competencies which can compensate for the lack of a master degree (for ex. a bachelor curriculum that includes several research-oriented courses and assignments, a highly relevant professional experience, having attended several relevant trainings/short courses). Furthermore, the applicant’s overall performance at Master/Bachelor level is assessed. A high score will be assigned to outstanding academic performances while a low score will be assigned to weak academic performances.
- Relevance of the applicant’s professional experience or, if applicable, relevance of experience in the South. This selection criterion does not apply to applicants without professional experience. The work experience of applicants with professional experience is assessed according to the relevance of this experience. The sector of employment, the professional position and responsibilities are taken into account.
- Motivation of the applicant. The ability of the applicant to outline a clear vision on how he/she will make use of the acquired knowledge is a crucial element for both academic and scholarship selection. The motivation letters should clearly elaborate on the motivation to attend the programme and how the acquired skills and knowledge will be used upon completion of the programme, including a description of future plans and aspirations and why the programme is important in this regard.
- Matching (does the content of the programme match the expectations of the applicant?). The overall quality of the application and the ability of the applicant to clearly understand the content of the programme and how this relates to his/her personal or professional career is assessed in this selection criterion.
Only applicants who obtain good scores on all 5 selection criteria will be admitted to the Master programme.
VLIR-UOS scholarship selection
Applications who successfully pass the academic selection are subsequently assessed by a joint selection commission of IOB and VLIR-UOS in order to select scholarship candidates. For each Master, 12 effective scholars and 12 substitute scholars will be selected.
The scholarship selection is based on the VLIR-UOS selection criteria: the IOB applies a gender and regional balance; professional experience is an important asset to award this scholarship and an outstanding motivation is highly valued. Preference will be given to scholarship applicants who have never received a scholarship before. Scholarship applicants who previously have been granted a scholarship from the Belgian government or an equivalent scholarship are not eligible to receive a VLIR-UOS scholarship.
Given the need to balance out the VLIR selection criteria, it is in theory possible that not the best scoring students get a scholarship. For example, if there are many high scoring male students from country X, it is probable that the best scoring might get a scholarship (if he is eligible). But it is also likely that a female from country X or Y (with a lower score) gets a scholarship too. Though this might seem unfair vis-à-vis the better scoring males, VLIR-UOS prefers positive discrimination in terms of gender in such a case. Added to this, since the pool of applicants changes from year to year, and since scholarships are awarded taking into account relative criteria (number of females, regional balance, etc…), the odds that a scholarship is awarded in year 1 for candidate X might be completely different in year 2. This explains why some students apply several times without success before they get accepted – even though their application file did not change in essence.