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10 of the Most Affordable Places to Study Abroad

10 of the Most Affordable Places to Study Abroad main image

This article is adapted from the QS Top Grad School Guide 2016-2017. You can read the most recent version of the magazine online here.

Believe it or not, it is indeed possible to study abroad on a budget! Some of the best places to study abroad are also ones where tuition fees are low, or even non-existent. Read on to find out more about 10 of the cheapest countries to study abroad, in no particular order…

1. Norway

Norway

Although all of the Nordic countries are relatively affordable study destinations, Norway is our pick as it remains free for everyone, from both within and outside the EU, at public universities, with the exception of a few specialized programs. Europe’s Nordic countries are known for their high quality of life and stunning natural beauty, and Norway is no exception. Another reason to study in Norway is the availability of English-taught programs at all study levels, plus a high number of locals proficient in English. However, as with the other Nordic countries, Norway comes with a high price tag in terms of living costs; you’ll need around NOK 139,680 (~US$17,200) per year.

2. Taiwan

Taiwan

Heading to AsiaTaiwan is another of the cheapest countries to study abroad. For example, at National Taiwan University – the nation’s leading university at 72nd in the QS World University Content® 2019 – tuition fees for undergraduates start at TW$100,920 (~US$3,300) per year for liberal arts programs, up to TW$124,200 (~US$4,050). The country offers more than 120 courses taught in English, at over 40 universities, and Taiwan is also a popular destination in which to learn Mandarin. Taiwan also offers a good quality of life with relatively low living costs; accommodation costs as little as TW$88,000 (~US$2,900) per year.

3. Germany

Germany

Known as ‘the land of ideas’, Germany is continuing to grow in popularity with international students, and it’s not hard to see why – it offers reputable universities, relatively low costs, and a high quality of life. There are no tuition fees charged at undergraduate and PhD level at all public universities, excluding those in Baden-Württemberg. Master’s students who have not studied their undergraduate degree in Germany will typically pay upwards of €20,000 (~US$23,450) per year, but you may be able to find a scholarship to help. To cover living costs, you’ll need at least €10,200 (~US$11,950) per year, but possibly more, depending on your lifestyle, location and spending habits. And there are a range of English-taught courses, particularly at graduate level.

4. France

France

Tuition fees in France are the same for domestic and international students, and for 2019/19 are set at €170 (~US$200) per year for bachelor’s (licence) programs, €243 (~US$285) for most master’s programs, and €380 (~US$445) for doctoral programs. Fees are considerably higher at the highly selective grandes écoles and grands établissements, which set their own fees. Living expenses will be highest in the capital, Paris, but you may find it worth the extra cost – after all, Paris was named the world’s number one student city four times in a row (and currently stands at fifth).  If you’re not yet a fluent French speaker, you can , with the majority of English-taught programs found at postgraduate level.

5. Mexico

Mexico

Full of interesting and unique culture to explore, Mexico is one of Latin America’s most-visited nations, and has lots to offer international students. Tuition fees vary, with private universities charging more, and average around US$6,300 per year for international undergraduate students in the capital, Mexico City, which was named one of the world’s top 100 cities for students. Living expenses are also reasonably low in Mexico, with all living costs adding up to around US$9,250 on a standard budget in the capital, or US$6,450 elsewhere. Although the main language of instruction is Spanish, Mexican universities are offering more English-taught courses to attract international students.

6. India

India

Heading back to Asia for the next of our list of the cheapest countries to study abroad, India is a fantastic option for students who want to combine affordability with cultural diversity. While Hindi is the most prominent of the 100+ languages spoken, English is often used as the language of instruction at Indian universities, especially at postgraduate level. Living costs are incredibly affordable; a one-way trip using public transport can cost as little as the equivalent of 29 US cents. Tuition fees vary depending on your study level and university, but are typically no higher than US$7,880 a year, and you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$4,600 a year.

7. Argentina

Argentina

The second-largest country in South America, Argentina boasts stunning natural beauty, with a diverse geography that makes it ideal for students keen on outdoor adventure and exploration. Argentina is also considered one of the safest countries in the region and is known for its fun-loving culture and passionate national identity. You can typically study for free at any state-funded (public) university, with tuition fees of around US$5,100 per year or more at private institutions. You’ll need around US$5,000 for living expenses, with rent costing as little as US$350 per month.

8. Poland

Poland

Another of the best places to study abroad on a budget is Poland, which also offers a high quality of education, along with plenty of fantastic culture and history to explore. You can study for free if you can speak Polish, and if you take the same entrance exams as Polish students and study your course in Polish. However, there are also many English-taught programs available, costing around €2,000-3000 (~US$2,340-3,500) per year. Living costs are also on the low side, as you shouldn’t need more than €6,600 (~US$7,700) per year. The capital city, Warsaw, was ranked within the top 20 cities for affordability in the latest QS Best Student Cities index, and 53rd overall.

9. Malaysia

Malaysia

Malaysia is undoubtedly one of the cheapest countries to study abroad, particularly in terms of living costs. Its capital, Kuala Lumpur, came first for affordability in the QS Best Student Cities 2016, and most students will only need about MYR 14,400 (~US$3,550) per year to live comfortably in Malaysia. In terms of tuition fees, you’ll pay an average of US$4,000 per academic year, but some courses are even cheaper. Malaysia is also home to a number of branch campuses of international universities, such as the UK’s University of Nottingham or Australia’s Monash University, offering the opportunity to gain a degree accredited by these institutions at a lower cost.

10. South Africa

South Africa

Concluding our look at some of the best places to study abroad on a budget, South Africa is renowned for its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and turbulent history. Another great choice for students with a love of the outdoors, it’s also reasonably inexpensive, with low costs of living and tuition fees. Fees vary, but come to an average of US$6,000 for international undergraduates studying at the University of Cape Town (South Africa’s highest-ranked university in the QS World University Content) and the University of the Western Cape. You’ll need around R 120,000 (~US$9,150) per year to cover your living costs.

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To find out more about the best places to study abroad on a budget, check our article ‘Where Can You Study Abroad for Free?’ and our list of the 10 Most Affordable Cities for Students, based on the QS Best Student Cities. If you need help with finding a scholarship, check out our complete guide on How to Find Scholarships to Study Abroad.

This article was originally published in November 2016. It was updated in July 2018.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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21 Comments

Hello I am Joyce From Liberia, a high school graduate with diploma. I want to study abroad but lack of fund.

Hi Joyce, here's a link to our page linking to scholarship listings for different study destinations, subjects and student groups. Hope it's helpful!

Hi,I am Aderick Anacleth from Tanzania a bachelor degree holder, am searching for full funded scholarship in masters studies specifically in economics and public administration or MAED, in USA , UK,

Hi Aderick, please take a look at our lists of scholarships to study in the US and the UK. You could also download our guide on How to Find Scholarships to Study Abroad

hi i'm henri from rwanda i have advanced diploma in mechanical engineering then i need to continue my study to get bachelor degree and i need to continue my study in morocco,egypt,scandanavia countries,japan,south korea with scholarship becouse i don't have much badget

thx

Hello, I'm Aissaoui Wael from Tunisia , i'm looking to continue my bachelor's programm degree in Engineering in DEUTSCHLAND but i need some help because i dont' have enough money to attend my goal , sooo please help me please ! That's my dream to study in Germany !

Hi Aissaoui, you can study your bachelor's degree for free at any public university in Germany (except those in Baden-Württemberg). You can find scholarships to study in Germany here

I want to study in Denmark..but I cant afford it...so what can I do now for study there?

Hi Rahmat, I would recommend checking our list of scholarships to study in the Nordic countries.

hi, I've just completed my high school and i'm looking for colleges who take students with low grade...

I'm from India... Looking for MBA or management course .. can anyone suggest me .. for which country should I go for..

Hi, Shilpa. Even I am trying to go to europe this year for doing MBA and I have applied at Turiba university in latvia and my local friend suggested me that university, then I searched it and it's pretty reasonable on every aspect. So, Yeah for this fall semester last date was 15 of july but I had word with them and they said that they can push it to 20th for NON EU applicants. You can actually go and check them out, If you want to. BTW, annual admission fees is also really low for a european university just 3000 euros

please i need help. i want to go to college but i lack the funds.....will really appreciate any help offered....

Hi Moyosore, you could look for a scholarship to help with your costs - you can browse our range of scholarship listings here. QS also offers its own scholarships

Hi i got an offer letter from Canada .. I can not afford it.i need help.. Is it possible to get scholarship

Hi Donna, we've listed a range of scholarships to study in Canada here, and I'd also recommend checking your university's official website for scholarship opportunities, if you haven't already. Good luck!

It's great to see that India has made it up in the top 10. Also, being from India, if I have to look for affordable options, my choice would anything among Toronto. Singapore or California.For me colleges offering scholarship would attract me even more. So my one stop solution for all this has been a site called we make scholars. This website will give you a detailed insights of all the universities broad, the scholarships they offer and many other information. You can get complete information from the link mentioned below:
https://www.wemakescholars.com/university/university-of-toronto/scholarships

I am no any comment because I need your help please I want to study in aboard but I have no money power so I request to u please help me my name is Abhay Kumar, Qualification-12th passed (I.sc(math)

I also have a same issue

Hi Abhay, you could try searching for a scholarship - we've listed a wide range of these here. For advice on scholarship applications, please download our free guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad.

Hi... Please the high school I finished from have three school sections per academic year (first term, second term and third term) The third term is the last term before proceeding to the next class. Now a university require the final transcripts for each year of a secondary school, does this refers to only the third term of each class.