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Where Can You Study Abroad for Free?

Where Can You Study Abroad for Free? main image

 

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.

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 reputed universities in these countries, visit the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15.

Study in Germany for free

Interest in studying abroad in Germany just seems to keep on growing. This is largely due to the fact that there are no undergraduate tuition fees at 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$160-270) to cover administration costs.

These low study costs, combined with Germany’s strong economy and excellent higher education system, makes the prospect of undertaking study in Germany for free extremely appealing for both students and their parents worldwide.  Indeed, in a recent HSBC report on ‘The Value of Education’, Germany came third – behind the US and UK – in terms of perceived quality of education among surveyed parents. More than 40 German universities are featured among the world’s leaders in the QS World University Rankings – again, beaten only by the US and UK – with the highest place taken by Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.

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. You should allow around US$10,520 a year to cover living costs and university fees. Two of the top destinations for study in Germany, Munich and Berlin, are also ranked as two of the most affordable cities to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2015.

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 again, international students may be surprised to hear that 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 €180 (US$250) per year to cover course administration. 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 école, however, 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 this you’ll have to pay for.

While it is possible to study in France for free, living costs can be substantial, particularly in the ever-popular capital. That said, despite its notoriety for high living costs, Paris is still fairly affordable, with living costs amounting to around €9,600 (US$10,430) per year. According to Numbeo, cross-channel rival London eclipses Paris in all aspects of expense, with consumer prices marked 20% higher and rental prices a whopping 80% higher than in Paris. The French capital’s comparative affordability, combined with a huge selection of internationally ranked universities, means it continues to top the QS Best Student Cities index.

Find out more:

Study in the Nordic countries for free

Known for its 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. And for many students, it’s possible to study abroad for free in four out of five Nordic countries!

While Iceland does charge tuition fees, fellow Nordic nations Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden all offer opportunities to study free of charge. However, there are certain requisites students must fulfill.

In Norway, university study is available free of charge to all students, regardless of study level or nationality. 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, however, English language programs are far more common and free tuition still applies.

Denmark and Sweden, meanwhile, 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 and master’s level programs. PhD programs in both countries are fully funded, offering exceptional PhD candidates the chance to gain their degree without paying fees, and earn a salary.

In both Denmark and Sweden, international fees at bachelor and master levels varies. In Denmark, university fees range from between DKK 45,000 and DKK 120,000 (US$6,550-$17,500) annually, while in Sweden they fall between SEK 80,000 and SEK 140,000 (US$9,400-16,500).

But what about living costs? Well, this is the catch, as the costs of living in Northern Europe are among some of the highest in the whole of Europe. This is largely due to the healthy economy of the region overall 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! Three Nordic capitals were this year ranked among the world’s top 50 student cities: Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm.

Find out more:

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

What about other places to study in Europe for free or at a low cost? There are a number of places in Europe which offer affordable and 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 up to two semesters for free at any degree level. After this time, students pay a fee of just €360 (US$390) per semester. International students from outside of the EU or EEA should expect slightly higher fees of around €730 (US$790) per semester. Living costs will set all students back approximately between €850 and €1,000 (US$920-1,080) a month. Vienna, Austria’s capital city, was ranked 20th in the QS Best Student Cities 2015.

Belgium

There are two main speaking communities in Belgium, each with their own stance on university fees. The cost of higher education for EU students in the Flemish-speaking part of the country is approximately €610 (US$660) a year for full-time study, while the French-speaking part offers fees of €830 (US$900). 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 €1,900 to €3,850 (US$2,050-$4,170) a year. You can live in Belgium with a budget of around €600-800 (US$650-$860) a month. Brussels, the capital city, was ranked 47th 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 CRK 27,270 (US$1,080) per semester. Living costs are more affordable than in many countries in Western Europe, at around CRK 8,800-18,850 (US$350-750) a month. The Czech capital city, Prague, was this year ranked 49th in the QS Best Student Cities.

Greece

All students from within the EU or EEA are able to study abroad for free in Greece at public universities and colleges at all levels, with the exception of some master’s degree programs. And if this doesn’t sound like enough, you can also get your course textbooks for free! International students are also eligible for low cost higher education, at approximately €1,500 (US$1,630) 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 up to €16,000 (US$17,360) a year, public universities in Italy are markedly cheaper, charging between €850 and €1,000 (US$920-1,080) 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 €1,200 (US$1,300) a month. This year, Milan was ranked 36th in the QS Best Student Cities.

Spain

With the same education rights as Spanish students, EU students are not required to pay high education fees. International students, meanwhile, are able to study in Spain for a price of between €680 and €1,400 (US$740-1,500) a 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 €900 and €1,100 (US$970-1,200) in living costs. Barcelona and Madrid are both featured in the QS Best Student Cities 2015 ranking, at 19th and 39th respectively.

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

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 of ARS 43,800 (US$5,000) a year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2015, Argentinian capital Buenos Aires was ranked 24th.

 

India

In India, international students at undergraduate level will often pay a combined yearly amount of between Rs 75,350 and Rs 332,400 (US$1,200-$5,300) to cover both their tuition fees and their accommodation. While government institutions charge fairly similar fees, graduate degrees tend to be more expensive and private schools charge significantly more. Living costs in India are, for most students, likely to be very appealing. According to Numbeo, consumer prices are 236% cheaper than in the UK, while rental prices are as much as 471% cheaper.

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 76th in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15, last year charged undergraduate students just NTD 50,460-62,100 (US$1,600-2,000) for the year. In the QS Best Student Cities 2015, Taipei was ranked 25th in the world and the most affordable city for students in 2015.

Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker

Laura is a 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. View her past articles and blog posts here.

87 Comments
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hello .. i'm saeid, i have finished my school and want to study in english civil engineering in europe .. which best countries that is good option fr me with a low cost?

Hi:) I am from Azerbaijan.My main field is geology.I want to get a master degree in petroleum geology in US.But I have some financial problem.So i need scholarship.Can you help me?

Hi Camila, please take a look at our list of scholarships to study in the US. Hope this helps.

Hi,

Could anyone please let me know about Latvian universities. Cause i want to do my bachelor degree in Business administration. Apparently i got the attention of latvia in the internet (since it was mentioned cost effective). But i dont see any elaborated details about universities in latvia..

If someone could suggest me another country (low/reasonable course fee)where i can persue my degree, will be a immense support.

I'll very much appreciate your support on this and looking forward to here from u guys

Thanks
Nisha

hi sabrina .i am from Albania . i want to do my bachelor degree in germany , bachelor degree in TECHNOLOGY . but when i see cost of living and fees in germany it is high for me . is there is any way to get this expenditure . please help me

Hi Fadriel, you can study your bachelor degree for free at any public university in Germany, and you may be able to find a scholarship to help with your costs of living - we've listed scholarships to study in Germany here. :)

any advice about study business law in English

Hi, which low tuition or free tuition universities in Europe provide masters degree in international relations and what are their requirements .

Which of the free or low cost universities have international relations as a program in English? Thank you in advance for your help!

hi
i want to study in europe but i just can speak english
i want to find some university that i can study medicine and it should be free
which country or which university you offer me ?

Hi Elias, you may want to consider one of the European countries listed in our article 'where can you study abroad in English?' as some of these are also free. 

Hello, I am currently in grade 12 and I’m studying biology, chemistry, physics, psychology and english in the CBSE curriculum (Indian). I am currently doing my grade 12 in Dubai but I'm an Indian citizen. I'm an international student & I don't know any of the lungs above. I'm looking for universities to join next year for bachelors of veterinary medicine. Do universities in these places offer English courses? Do I have to take an entrance exam to join next year & is it in the country's language? Are there any more details needed? Thank you for your time.

Hello please Collins is my name. I want to study engineering in usa or Canada but I need scholarship to fund my education and tuition and I am a good soccer player. Can i get a school that will admit me and give me a free education and pay my tuition fees as I learn and play soccer for the college or university. I want to learn and play soccer as well. If I can get colleges or universities that provide scholarships for international soccer players in the USA And Canada

Hi Collins, please take a look at our list of scholarships to study in the US and scholarships to study in Canada. :)  

Hi,i study Finance in my third year,but the problem is my low GPA,can i get scholarship for example in Italy
Thanks

Hi Babek, there are some scholarships to study in Italy listed in this article. Hope this helps.

Hi, i completed my civil engineering with aggregate of 73% and i want to take admission for MS program.I am a very poor student and i am not able to pay my dues for the MS program. Kindly guide me in your best way so i can complete my studies.

Hi im interested in studying engineering course in Germany this winter.. may i know how can i apply for it? Thanks

Hi Yong, please take a look at our article on how to apply to study in Germany. You can find the exact requirements of how you can apply by browsing your chosen university's official website. Hope this helps!

Hi,
I just finished my foundation in Mechatronics Engineering and hope to further my study in UK or other English-based countries. Is there any way that i can get full scholarship or sponsorship for both tuition fees and accommodation fees? Besides, can i work part-time for my daily needs (eg: Foods) ?

Hi Lalyr, full scholarships which include financial aid for both tuition fees and accommodation are quite rare, but not unheard of. Please take a look at our list of scholarships to study abroad - from there, you can browse our scholarship listings for English-speaking countries, including the UK. We also have a list of scholarships for engineering students. Depending on the country you study in and your student visa, you should be able work part-time to help boost your finances, but it's not recommended to rely on it to fund living costs. Hope this helps.

Hi
I Am Rehman from Pakistan
I am currently holding an MBA degree from a reputed University in Pakistan (COMSATS Institute of information and technology) My specialization is in finance.
I just wanted to know the right place where i can find a university offering PhD in finance with no tuition fee or free of cost education. Also offering scholarships or paid positions.
Thanking you in anticipation
.

Hlo
I am Steven . I would like to study Mechanical Engineering to Top Up Final Year directly in UK , USA , Switzerland , New Zealand such English Mother language Europe Countries . I can't afford too much money . Is there any College for scholarships ? And where Accomodation fees & Food fees are easily paid by part time jobs . College just like that . pls advice me

Hi Steven, you might be able to find a scholarship - you can browse all of our listings from here, and have a look at our guide on how to find scholarships if you're unsure. I wouldn't usually recommend relying on income from a part-time job to fund your living expenses (though it can certainly help!) but some scholarships are available to help with this too. Hope this helps!

Hi,I am Furqan Ali
Kindly guide me for which country or university is best for islamic finance.

Hi Furqan, we don't currently rank Islamic finance, but please take a look at our rankings by subject for finance.

hi,
I am doing MBA from IQRA University PAKISTAN. Can i transfer it to any other university in U.S or U.K.

Hi Furqan, you might be able to transfer, but this would depend on the university. I'd advise you to contact the institution/s you're interested in to find out if they accept transfer students. To find out more about studying an MBA in the US or UK, you might like to browse our sister site, TopMBA.com. Hope this helps!

Hi, I'm Moses:
I am seeking scholarship for undergraduate degree. I am a Liberian student with a diploma in architectural drafting. I want a foreign scholarship so that I can get a better education because the education here is not up to standard that will enable me obtain a BSc or master degree. I look forward to your response and I am thankful for the information provided by this site.

Hi Moses, we have various listings of scholarships to study abroad, including scholarships to study Architecture. Hope this helps.

Continuing from my older comment:
I want to go with full scholarship with living costs covered. Thank you

Hi, I'm Kevin from Indonesia. I'm a tenth grader and I would like to study abroad in Australia, Germany (English based language), generally Europe. And I'm interested in Engineering, Architecture, Statistic Science. Could you help me with this problem?

Best regards,
Kevin

Hi Kevin, we have listings of scholarships to study in Australia, Germany and Europe, as well as scholarships to study both Architecture and Engineering, all of which can be found from here, so hopefully you'll be able to find a full scholarship from one of these pages! You might also like to browse our rankings by faculty for Engineering and Technology and/or our rankings by subject for statistics. If you're not sure about how to go about studying abroad, our Studying Abroad FAQ can help. Good luck! :)

Hello,
I'm Makara, Cambodian. Currently work at AMK Micro-finance in Cambodia. Cambodia is one of the poorest country in the world, thus I'd like to study at other country for free/lowest expense. I do need your help/assist to tell me how to study in the US for free?

Hi Makara, you might be able to find a full scholarship to study in the US - we have a list of scholarships for students from developing countries and a list of scholarships to study in the US. Our Scholarships FAQ also contains lots of information. Hope this helps! 

Hi, I am from Afghanistan, I have BSc degree (95%) and IELTS 6 . I would like to study my masters degree in Geomatics Engineering or GIS & Remote Sensing, please guide me which country is good for me and I need universities to accept without entry exams because I graduated 6 years ago and I don't like to review my BSc to be ready for difficult exams.
I can set aside US$ 20000 to US$ 25000 for tuition and living cost of 2 years.
Thanks

Hello,
I'm currently attending in US university and interested to transfer to any state university in Germany. But also, I heard that most university taught in German instead of using English.
Is there any universities which taught in English for undergrad? Thank you!

Hi Michael, that's correct - undergraduate programs in English are quite rare, but not unheard of. For more information, please see our article on studying in English in Germany. Hope this helps.

Hello
i'm from Philippines i graduated highschool in the year 2010 and i already have my certificate.now i was searching for an opportunity to study abroad but im still doubtful because of my shortcoming in finance.If there's a chance i would like to takea part time job while attending to college. Thank you! I appreciate any information and help

Hi Carl! Here's a blog post with lots of helpful tips on how to get a part-time job whilst at University. :)

hey,
i have done my bachelors degree in field of commerce from india and wanted to do masters in field of economics , business or social science in low cost. so please help me out with good scholarships and future jobs aspects too.

Hi Ayush, please take a look at our list of scholarships to study business. We also have many scholarship listings for particular countries, regions and student groups, which you can browse from here. We also have lots of careers advice here. 

Hey,
I graduated high school few months ago and would like to know if i can apply for free tuition bachelor degree in european countries. I have my WASSCE(high school graduate certificate) from Ghana. Reply Asap, thanks!

Hi Kwasi, as well as considering the European countries suggested in this article, you might like to consider applying for a scholarship to study in Europe. We also have a list of scholarships for African students. Hope this helps!

Hello,
I'm from Argentina, I've finished hIgh school three years ago and I am planning to study abroad. I want to know if I can study and work in Australia and what requirement I should fill. Also, I want to know if I can finish the subject that I choose or if I'm only allow to stay there for a certain period of time.
If anyone can help me I'd appreciate it.
Thanks in advanced!

Hi Laura,
Khawaja Hamad here,
I'm 29 years old from Pakistan.
I've done graduation in 2005,
Later I worked as a teacher of English, been teaching English more than 10years.
Literally wanna know that which is the most affordable and low costs university for me to study and afford my living there?
Please do help me out because I've wasted lots of time and money as well hankering after local agents

Hello Laura,
I am planning to apply at Fontys University for Applied Science in Netherlands for BSc. Mechatronics.
Please let me know if their degree is recognised worldwide and if I will be able to pursue my Masters in any other country.

Thank you,
Naweed

Hi Naweed, I can't see any reason why Fontys' BSc in Mechatronics would not be recognised worldwide to enable you to study a master's in a different country. However, I would advise you to check their official website and perhaps contact their admissions office if you cannot find the information you need. 

hello, I am architect and I have master degree and I would like study aboad , so I need help.

HI, i would love to know if its possible to work while studying in any school in Norway? thanks.

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