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Where Can You Study Abroad for Free?

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While university fees continue to rise in many parts of the world, some of you might be thinking that getting a recognized degree qualification, either in your home country or abroad, is simply impossible without having a four- or five-figure budget at your disposal, or without obtaining a scholarship.

You’ll be pleased to hear that this isn’t necessarily the case. There are many countries worldwide where students are able to study abroad for free or for a very affordable amount. You just need to know where to look.

Below you’ll find a selection of countries that offer low-cost or free tuition, with details on eligibility and what current (low) university fees you can expect. To find internationally renowned universities in these countries, visit the QS World University Content® 2018.

Study in Germany for free

Germany

Interest in studying abroad in Germany just seems to keep on growing. This is largely due to the fact there are no undergraduate tuition fees at most public universities in Germany, and this applies to both German students and internationals, regardless of nationality. Just a small nominal university fee is charged, of around €150-250 (~US$180-300), to cover administration costs.

The exception is the state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany, which reintroduced tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students in autumn 2017. These students must pay €1,500 (~US$1,800) a semester (€3,000 or ~US$3,600 per year). PhD students and refugees aren’t affected, and the fees are reduced for those pursuing a second degree (to €650 (~US$780) a semester, which is €1,300 (~US$1,550) a year. It’s possible that other German states will follow and reintroduce fees in the future, as they seek to invest in and improve university education, so watch out for this.

Germany’s low study costs, combined with its strong economy and excellent higher education system, makes the prospect of undertaking study in Germany extremely appealing for both students and their parents worldwide. More than 40 German universities are featured among the world’s leaders in the QS World University Content – again, beaten only by the US and UK – with the highest place taken by Technische Universität München.

If you’re successful in finding a university at which to study in Germany for free, you will of course still need to budget for living costs. If you need a German student visa, you’ll need to prove you have around €8,700 (~US$10,400) per year for living expenses. However, you’ll probably need closer to €9,600 (~US$11,500) to live comfortably in Germany.

Two of the top destinations for study in Germany, Munich and Berlin, were also ranked within the top 20 most affordable cities to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2017.

For more information on how to study in Germany for free, see the following articles:

Study in France for free (or at low cost)

France may not be quite as widely known as Germany for affordable higher education, but international students may be surprised to hear they can also study in France for free (or, at a very low cost), regardless of their nationality.

Although technically university fees do exist at public universities in France, they’re just a fraction of those charged in most countries, amounting to just €184 (~US$220) per year at undergraduate level. Additional charges can bring this price up, particularly for more specialized programs such as medicine and engineering, but not dramatically. If you’re looking to study at a leading grande écolehowever, expect fees to vary widely.

As is the case in Germany, the majority of programs offering the chance to study in France for free are taught in the native language. However, there are a growing number of opportunities to study in English, particularly at graduate level. Alternatively, you can also attend a preparatory school to perfect your French skills before beginning your degree, but you’ll have to pay for this.

Living costs in France are also relatively affordable, amounting to around €9,600 (~US$11,500) per year, though you should expect to pay more if you choose to live in capital city Paris. While Paris isn’t a cheap city to live in, rent is on average more than 50 percent lower than London (according to ). The French capital’s comparative affordability, combined with a huge selection of internationally ranked universities, means it continues to rank within the top five of the QS Best Student Cities index.

Find out more:

Study in the Nordic countries for free

Sweden

Known for their high quality of life, stunning nature and liberal politics, northern European nations (known as the Nordic countries) also boast some of the strongest higher education systems in the world. Nordic nations DenmarkFinlandIcelandNorway and Sweden all offer opportunities to study free or at low cost:

In Norway, university study is available free of charge to all students, regardless of study level or nationality. Like Germany, you will only need to pay a semester fee, in this case around NOK 300-600 (~US$37-74). The majority of undergraduate programs are taught only in Norwegian, and international students need to demonstrate proof of proficiency in Norwegian in order to study at this level. At master’s and PhD level, English language programs are far more common and free tuition still applies.

In Iceland, there are no tuition fees charged at the country’s four public universities, with only a registration fee of around €400 a year (~US$425).

Denmark, Sweden and most recently Finland only extend their free higher education perks to students from within the  and Switzerland, meaning that students from outside these regions must pay tuition fees for bachelor’s and master’s programs. However, PhD programs in these countries are fully funded, offering exceptional PhD candidates the chance to gain their degree without paying fees, and earn a salary. Non-EU/EEA students can also still study in Finland for free if they study in either Swedish or Finnish.

International fees at bachelor and master levels in Denmark, Sweden and Finland vary. In Denmark, university fees range from between DKK 45,000 and DKK 120,000 (~US$7,200-19,300) annually, while in Sweden they fall between SEK 80,000 and SEK 140,000 (~US$9,750-17,060) for most courses. In Finland, the recently introduced tuition fees currently amount to at least €1,500 (~US$1,800) per year, although most students will pay between €4,000 - 20,000 (~US$4,900-24,500) per year.

But what about living costs? Well, this is the catch, as the costs of living in northern Europe are among some of the highest on the continent. This is largely due to the healthy economy of the region and the strength of the Nordic currencies, so paying more for living when the streets are clean and the people are happy perhaps isn’t so bad. Four Nordic capitals have been ranked among the world’s top student cities: CopenhagenHelsinkiOslo and Stockholm.

Find out more:

Other places to study in Europe for free (or at low cost)

Belgium

What about other places to study in Europe for free or at a low cost? There are a number of European countries which offer affordable or free universities, without any need to sacrifice on quality. See below for more examples.

Austria

Another country where students can study in Europe for free (or at a very low cost) is Austria. EU/EEA students enjoy the same rights as Austrians when it comes to the cost of higher education, and can study for free at any degree level. After this time, students pay a fee of just €363 (~US$434) per semester. International students from outside of the EU/EEA should expect slightly higher fees of around €726 (~US$870) per semester. Living costs will set all students back approximately €11,400 (~US$13,650 a year. Vienna, Austria’s capital city, is ranked 16th in the QS Best Student Cities 2017.

Belgium

There are two main language communities in Belgium, each with their own stance on university fees. However, EU students will pay a maximum of only €835 (~US$1,000) a year. And while it’s just EU students who get the major benefits of being able to study in Europe for free, fees are still very affordable for international students, ranging from €890 to a maximum of €4,175 (~US$1,065-5,000) per year. You can live in Belgium with a budget of around €11,400 (~US$13,640) a year. Brussels, the capital city, was ranked 45th in this year’s QS Best Student Cities.

Czech Republic

Students who speak Czech are able to study abroad for free in the Czech Republic at any public university. Students who wish to study in English can also study fairly cheaply, at around €3,800 (~US$4,550) per year. Living costs are more affordable than in many countries in western Europe, at around US$9,000 per year. The Czech capital city, Prague, is ranked 30th in the QS Best Student Cities.

Greece

All students from within the EU/EEA are able to study abroad for free in Greece at public universities and colleges, with the exception of some master’s programs. International students from outside of the EU are also eligible for low-cost higher education, at approximately €1,500 (~US$1,800) per year. Greece offers one of the lowest costs of living in the European Union.

Italy

Although private universities in Italy can be known to charge fairly high tuition fees, public universities in Italy are markedly cheaper, charging between €850 and €1,000 (~US$1,015-1,200) per year for undergraduate programs. EU students are eligible for the same funding opportunities as Italian students, including loans, grants, scholarships and fee waivers. Living costs in Italy are also not as high as you might expect, at around €12,000-18,000 (~US$14,350- 21,530) per year. Milan is ranked 33rd in the most recent QS Best Student Cities, while capital city Rome is 65th.

Spain

EU students aren’t required to pay high education fees in Spain, while international students, are able to study for between €750 and €2,100 (~US$900-2,500) per year at public institutions. Fees are charged on a per-credit basis and can be higher at graduate level. To live in Spain, you should expect to spend between €10,800 and €13,200 (~US$12,900 - 15,800) a year in living costs. MadridBarcelona and Valencia are all featured in the QS Best Student Cities 2017, with Barcelona the highest ranked at 23rd.

Other places to study abroad for free (or at low cost)

Argentina

Argentina

While Argentinian students all enjoy access to free universities, international students should expect to pay a small, nominal fee to enroll at public universities in the country. Private institutions in Argentina, on the other hand, can charge upwards US$5,000 a year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2017, Argentinian capital Buenos Aires is 42nd.

India

In India, international students will typically pay tuition fees of no higher than US$7,300 a year, though private university and graduate fees tend to be more expensive. Living costs in India are, for most students, likely to be very appealing – according to , consumer prices are 178 percent cheaper than in the UK, while rental prices are as much as 386 percent cheaper. Overall, you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$5,000 a year. However, it’s worth noting that international students aren’t allowed to work in India during their studies.

Taiwan

Tuition fees in Taiwan offer great value, with the nation’s top universities offering affordable programs. For example, National Taiwan University (NTU), the nation’s leading university at joint 76th in the QS World University Content, last year charged undergraduate students just TW$100,920-124,200 (~US$3,400-4,200) per year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2017, Taipei was ranked 16th in the world and 16th for affordability. 

This article was originally published in March 2015. It was updated in December 2016 and again in January 2018.

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Feruz M, everson k & 392 others saved this
Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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283 Comments

Hello! My name is Thais, I'm from Brazil. I would like to know about free/low cost postgraduate programs and if it's allowed to work part time with student's in european countries to help with the living expenses.
Thank you!

Hi am from Nairobi I want to study free international relations in austria if possible thank you

Hi Zineyra, I'm afraid you will need to pay tuition fees of €1,453 a year to study in Austria - however, you could potentially offset your costs with a scholarship. We've listed some scholarships to study in Austria here.

hi everyone . i just wanna about studying English teaching abroad. which countries are for free or fully funded in master. thank you all for answering.

Need information regarding masters in International Relations in europe. Low cost universities prefered

want to know about MS Sociology in china,, how to get scholarship,, i am from pakistan ,, need help please

Hi Fazal, we've included options for studying in China in our list of scholarships to study in Asia. You could also check our list of scholarships for Pakistani students

Hi.I heard that studying in english in Finland became paid since 2017. I need to know about free Master's degree education in Sweded detailed. Is it possible even?

Hi Omar, that's right, tuition fees for non-EU students are now in effect in Finland. You also need to pay tuition fees in Sweden if you're a non-EU student. However, you could get a scholarship to help fund your studies - we've listed a range of scholarships to study in the Nordic countries here

Hi Laura, i want to study abroad most likely in the United States or its neighboring town. i already hold a bachelors degree in Microbiology but will want a fresh undergraduate program on Medical/Health sciences at a low cost tuition fee. your help is heartily welcomed. Kind regards

Hello, please take a look at our lists of scholarships to study in the US and scholarships to study medicine

hi i am from iran how can i study dentistry for free in europe?

it seems that there is no way for us to study for free in Europe :(

hi....!!! My Name IS Kaleem Ullah Iam From Pakistan I want to study Bs Computer science or Informatio technology in Gemany or any other europeon country on free education....Any one who help me .......

Hi Kaleem, to help get you started you could check our latest rankings by subject for computer science (and can narrow the results to show only universities in Europe or any European country). You could also read some of our study destination guides for Europe to get more of an idea of what it's like to study in that country. Hope this helps.

hi
I'm Nirjhor from Bangladesh. I wanted to study in Canada. Undergraduate , What ar the steps for applying

Hi Nirjhor, our complete guide on How to Study Abroad in Canada should help to get you started.

Hi I'm Winifred from Nigeria, want to study nursing abroad on scholarship need help.

Hi Winnifred, you can find a range of nursing scholarships to study abroad here.

Hi, can you advise re Bachelor of Dentistry Fees for International Student (Egyptian) the most affordable Fees in Europe, where to find

hello,I am Godwin from Tanzania i entirely high school , i look for scholarship to study abroad for chemical engineering ,i need help.

Hi Godwin, we've listed a range of engineering scholarships here.

Hi, am Bih Alvine.. Please want to study abroad but lack finances please which school can I be advice to go to

Guys, if you really cannot afford even smallest tuition fees and costs of living in Scandinavia are too high for you, check out Polish universities. It's really cheap to live in Poland and you can study (full-time) for free. The best universities are in Warsaw (University of Warsaw, Warsaw Medical University, Warsaw University of Technology) and, since it's the capital, Warsaw is pretty diverse culturally compared to other Polish cities.

Hello Marta, thank you for the info. do you know if international students are allowed to work so that they can cover the basic expenses?

Wow... this is really good to know.
So how is the living expenses like?

hay my amiable friend i am mithlesh yadav and i need for assist for this knowledge therefore i am doing besech to you this knowledge is very notable for me ok please

I want to study abroad tuition fee are OK but living is too expensive. any option for students to study with little expenses

I want to study by getting a scholarship in any Medical Schoolin some European country. Am from India.

I want to study abroad. Tution fee are ok but living expenses are out of budgets. Any option for poor childrens to study abroad for little expenses

Check out Polish universities.

i have done graduation with 55% can i take admission in top universities like harvard or stanforf for mba

Hello Laura. I must say that after reading your article I cant agree with you more. you have mentioned the most important fact that this generation is looking for. Your ideas for improving the education system will not only brighten the students future but also bring changes o this world with a brighter future for everyone. thanks you for this much needed article.We will try our best to follow your given guideline.

can advice on studying in Ukraine , pls contact me if you are interested

Hi Nila, I'm interested... link me up.

I am interested, please get in touch

I'm interested. Please shoot me a mail. thanks.

i wanna study in Ukraine too plz some advise

Hi Asad, please take a look at our guide on studying in Ukraine, which we've just updated. :)

And how can I contact you..?

Hello dear I want to do my masters in automobile engineering ,whats ur advice... I need a good university abroad

Thank you for giving informative article. I am student from Kazakhstan and I am interested in studying abroad, so with help of your article I think I found some places to go.

hello thanks ,i have read true your post and advice,my name is obi chuks kingsley am from nigeria,madam i dont know if i can work as an agent to you,as will have so much student here who will like to travel outside the country to study,but dont know how to go about it.....i hope to here from u this my line and also wassapp me on it hope to here from thanks and God bless you

Hi I am a grade 11 learner I want to apply help me please

hey can anyone guide how to apply for there universities , plz i need a urgent help

Wow! I want to learn in Paris!

Wow!! Awesome!!! I want to learn abroad this year but i need a helper...

Hi Laura,
I'm Sudanese medical doctor, having a master in public health and I'm wondering if I could a scholarship for a master in infection prevention and control.
Your advice and guidance would be very appreciated.

Hello, I am an accounting student, and I would like to change my major and study for free.
Is it possible to change majors? Do you have any country to recommend?

hello... dear friends am looking for university to take my art and design needs your help