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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® 2019.

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$170-280), to cover administration costs.

The exception is the state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany, which reintroduced tuition fees for non- students in autumn 2017. These students must pay €1,500 (~US$1,700) a semester (€3,000 or ~US$3,370 per year). PhD students and refugees aren’t affected, and the fees are reduced for those pursuing a second degree (to €650 (~US$730) a semester, which is €1,300 (~US$1,460) 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 the Technical University of Munich.

If you’re successful in finding a university where you can 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$9,800) per year for living expenses. However, you’ll probably need closer to €9,600 (~US$10,800) to live comfortably in Germany.

Two of the top destinations for study in Germany, Munich and Berlin, were also ranked within the top 25 most affordable cities to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2018.

For more information, download our free guide on How to Study Abroad in Germany, or 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 €170 (~US$220) per year at undergraduate level for EU/EEA/Swiss students.

However, France recently that it will begin charging non-EU/EEA students higher rates from the 2019/20 academic year. These students will therefore need to pay €2,770 (~US$3,100) per year for a bachelor’s degree. Luckily, the French government will be tripling the amount of available to international students, from 7,000 to 21,000.

Additional charges can bring the price of your studies 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$10,800) per year, though you should expect to pay more if you choose to live in capital city Paris.

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$35-70). 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 ISK 75,000 (~US$600) a year.

Denmark, Sweden and most recently Finland only extend their free higher education perks to students from within the EU/EEA 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$6,800-18,100) annually, while in Sweden they fall between SEK 80,000 and SEK 140,000 (~US$8,500-14,900) for most courses. In Finland, the recently introduced tuition fees currently amount to at least €1,500 (~US$1,700) per year, although most students will pay between €4,000 - 20,000 (~US$4,500-22,500) 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 per semester. International students from outside of the EU/EEA should expect slightly higher fees of around €726 (~US$815) per semester. Living costs will set all students back approximately €11,400 (~US$12,820) a year. Vienna, Austria’s capital city, was ranked 11th in the QS Best Student Cities 2018.

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 €906 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 fairly affordable for non-EU international students, at around €4,175 (~US$4,700) per year. You can live in Belgium with a budget of around €11,400 (~US$12,800) a year. Brussels, the capital city, was ranked 48th 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 €4,000-12,000 (~US$4,500-13,500) 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$1,700) 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 €900 and €4,000 (~US$1,015-4,500) per year for undergraduate programs. EU students are eligible for the same funding opportunities as Italian students, including loans, grants, scholarships and fee waivers. Milan is ranked 36th in the most recent QS Best Student Cities, while capital city Rome is 66th.

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$845-2,370) 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$12,170–14,900) a year in living costs. MadridBarcelona and Valencia are all featured in the QS Best Student Cities, with Barcelona the highest ranked at 31st.

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 2018, Argentinian capital Buenos Aires is 25th.

India

In India, international students will typically pay tuition fees of no higher than US$7,800 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 182 percent cheaper than in the UK, while rental prices are as much as 410 percent cheaper. Overall, you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$4,500 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 its top universities offering affordable programs. For example, National Taiwan University (NTU), the location’s leading university at 72nd in the QS World University Content, charged undergraduate students just TW$100,920-124,200 (~US$3,260-4,015) per year in 2017/18. In the QS Best Student Cities 2018, Taipei was ranked 20th in the world and joint 10th for affordability. 

This article was originally published in March 2015. It was last updated in March 2019.

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Thoriq D, Giada C & 439 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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327 Comments

Can you help me to studyabroad bachelor degree in pharmacy freely In US or Canada

Hi, I have Masters of Education [M.Ed.], PhD in Inclusive Education and Certificate in Early Childhood Education. How do I get a full funded scholarship for Masters in Inclusive Education or Masters in Early Childhood Education in the USA or CANADA. Am a Nigerian residing in South Africa

Since England is no longer part of the EU does that mean British citizens studying in France can no longer be getting those lower rates and will be considered international?

Hello!
I've just finished my graduation and want to do Masters in International Relations either in USA or UK and also I'm looking for 100% scholarship. So, is there any university in either of the country which provides scholarship to international students who wants to do Masters in International Relations?

Hi Shekhar, please refer to our recently published article on scholarships at the top universities for politics, it includes several UK/US based scholarships.  

Hi. I am interested in studying in one of the Norgic universities for masters in business, marketing or management. Any suggestions for me? Thanks

Hi Sue, you can visit our latest QS Business Masters Content for Management and Marketing where you should be able to narrow the results down by searching for your country of interest in the 'Location' search bar at the right hand side of the table - I hope this helps. 

Hello!
I'm currently studying in class 12 in India.My main courses are Biology, Chemistry and Physics and i want to persue medical for further studies. Basically I'm looking for top medical universities which provides 100% scholarship to international students.
Does Harvard Medical University and Oxford University provide 100% scholarship to International students?.
Is there any criteria to apply in medical Universities abroad for Indian students?.
Please do help me out with my above mentioned questions and extra guidance is truly appreciated.
Thank you.

Hi Hissey, as far as I'm aware, Harvard Medical School provides fully funded medical scholarships for international students; Oxford University may not - you can find more answers to your questions in our recently published articles on medical scholarships around the world and international scholarships for Indian students

Hi I am Rohit a Bangladeshi citizen who lives in Italy for more than 10 years, I haven't got the citizenship yet. Do I have the same benefits of the european students
?

These places are worthy for study purposes. Thanks for the information.

Hi, am Yoseph from Ethiopia and am currently studying management and would like to purse my MA in strategic leadership and management, and I would like anyone interested to suggest me the best possible educational institution to apply for.
Thanks

Hi Yoseph, here's a link to our latest rankings by subject for business and management

Hi, I am Jehad and I am currently doing my IGCSE's in Kuwait. I am going to do 6 subjects CIE (9-1) and WOULD REALLY LIKE TO GO TO A UNIVERSITY IN GERMANY, FRANCE OR ANYWHERE FREE as my parents are not able to afford medicine in other universities and I really would like assistance and help.
Thank You...

Hi Jehad, you can study medicine for free in Germany, but unfortunately medical training programs in the country are only available in German. Medicine is not offered in France for free, with fees varying depending on the program.

Hello, Is Portugal a good place to study for masters degree as an international student

Hello everyone.... Cerella from Kenya. Graduated in Bachelor of Environmental Planning and Management in2014 with a Second Lower from Kenyatta University.Currently am looking for Masters scholarship in Sustainable development/Research methods . Any assistance will be highly appreciated.

Hi Cerella, I don't know of any scholarships for your subject unfortunately, however you can find a range of scholarships for African students here

Hi! Sinapi from Rwanda. Am student in Business, Management and enterpreneurship , I would like to know in if i can get full scholarship in London's universities.

Hi Sinapi, you can find scholarships to study in London here.

Hi!!!! i am a student from sri lanka, i would like to know any universities in Germany to study aerospace engineering for free.
pls send the names and any links of such universities. i am waiting for a good ans

Hi, I am Jean Pierre Ngendahimana from Malawi, I would like to know if there is any assistance to study in Australia.. Thank you when I am still waiting for your good answer

Hi!, is there any way to study B-Tech in computer science in Australia with a low coast? I'm from India, got a diploma in computer science would like to finish my b-tech in Australia any suggestion would be appreciated !

Hi, I'm Hameedat from Nigeria. Please, I would like to study medicine in Germany for free,please help me out.
Thanks.

I have studied till 12 th class in India . I went for foundation program in the UK for arts and design in 2013 for a year , I completed the course but I failed , after that I did nothing, because I wanted to study abroad and my parents did not fund for me . Now is there any chance I can study abroad for free ?

Hey can i contact u in any way ...plz let me know

Hi Laura. i am from iran. i am 46 years old. i love studying medicine abroad for free tuition or with scholarship. may you please introduce me somewhere to study. by the way i have master of science in agriculture(plant disease field).

Hi Laura , I am from India. Thanks for information regarding study free at abroad. I am interested for free study at abroad. Can you also write about universitis in that country. Also can i have your email id for further contact.

Hie Laura
My name is Maud chinyama im from Zimbabwe help me to study in Taiwan for an undergraduate degree in Business Management for free.Thank you

Hi Laura! Could you please suggest few universities to pursue masters in the field of Computer Engineering/ Science in countries like Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Greece? I would prefer to know universities with either no tuition fees or very low tuition fees. Thanks in advance.h

Hello Laura
I am graduating next year October and would love to come study masters in supply chain in Norway for free.
I have advanced diploma in procurement and supply (CIPS)
I am in Botswana Africa
Help me to get a free tuition wich will cover my living expenses also.
You can also respond in my LinkedIn inbox.

Please help me

Hi, I am from Sri Lanka
I just finished Edexcel IGCSE as level
need college for free in Europe
to pursue business studies, finance, and accounting
which college do you suggest

Hi, I'm Vân from Vietnam . I have just graduated high school and would like to learn English course for free and I can work to help myself to pay living expense s. Please help me

hi! i'm from Russia. I would like to study in the USA or China. is there a way for a Russian student to study for free at the University? I'll graduate from high school in two years

Hey! Try subscribing linguamarina youtube channel shes also from Russia. And I think she could help with that

Hello, I'm from Ukraine. Do you know, what contries give scholarships for ukrainian students (with possibility to study in english)?

Hi, am from Pakistan. I have done Msc psychology and now want to do Ms in Neuro psychology on scholarship coz this program isn't being offered by any Pakistani university. PLZ guide me about this. I am waiting for your reply.

Hi Uroosa, here are links to our lists of scholarships to study psychology and scholarships for Pakistani students. Hope they're helpful!

Hello, I'm 18 years old and I send this message from Iran! I want to get an appendix for a bachelor's degree Please answer my questions?
Is the cost of German universities free of charge? I do not have the ability to pay for it, so I chose Germany. Can you guide me about this? Is German Language Requirement Required? Can I work to cover the cost of Harrow? Thankful.

Majority of German Universities have classes which are very low cost($100-$200) compared to us where classes are like $800 or $1000. You don't have to pay for tuition, most are free. Go to the link and scroll to german universities and there will be more info. http://www.scholars4dev.com/4031/list-of-european-countries-with-tuition-freelow-tuition-universities-colleges/

Hi Marzin, you can study in Germany for free at all public universities except those in the southwest state of Baden-WürttembergYou will need to prove your German language ability if you study in German; however, there are some English-taught courses available. You can work up to 120 full days or 240 half days a year as an international non-EU student in Germany.

Hi I wanna study masters in business and finance by scholarship in londons best Universities please sugges

Hi Neha, here's a link to our latest rankings by subject for business (we also have a ranking for finance). The results can be narrowed down to show only UK universities.

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 Thais, I'm not sure about universities with the lowest postgraduate fees but you can get an idea of how much it costs to study in European study destinations here. We also have a list of scholarships to study in Europe. In most cases you can work for around 20 hours or so a week during term time and full time during semester breaks such as Christmas and summer, but this varies between countries as they have different rules. To find out about studying in particular countries, please see our study destination guides

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