Using the Course Fee Tables | Top Universities

Using the Course Fee Tables

By Staff W

Updated March 5, 2016 Updated March 5, 2016 publishes the first truly international comparison of university tuition fees, as part of the QS World University Rankings 2011/12, providing you with an easy format to compare both the cost and rank of universities all around the world.

There has never been a better time, or more compelling case for students to embark on international study either at undergraduate or postgraduate level. In QS's survey of over 15,000 graduate employers around the world, 68% said they actively preferred students with international experience over those without.

Although many more people would like to attend top-ranked universities like Cambridge or Harvard or MIT, not everyone can afford it. Scholarships are available for the best and the brightest, but with Cambridge University charging US$14-16,000 for a domestic undergraduate course from 2012 and Harvard charging US$38-40,000, many students have to look at alternatives to realize their international study dream.

Understanding the data tables

The course fees table is drawn from data submitted by university administrators, as well as publicly available course fee information on university web sites and government web sites around the world.

We recognize that many universities charge differing prices for each course and differing prices for domestic and international students. In order to make the course fee data intelligible, we have decided, in consultation with our Academic Advisory Board, to summarize average fees for arts, humanities and sciences excluding the professional courses which are often considerably more expensive, like medicine, architecture or the Master of Business Administration.

We distinguish between domestic and international course fee, and undergraduate and postgraduate course fees, which differ significantly. We present the data in US$ using an exchange rate form 1 January 2011 to convert from local currency, to ease direct comparison.

The data has been verified as best we can, but fees change frequently and we will be updating the course fee data regularly as we receive new and updated submissions from universities, so we do encourage you to keep coming back to check the numbers. Planning your international studies can take a year or more and a lot can change in that time.

Domestic and international course fee comparison

The domestic and international course fee comparison requires further explanation. In the US, universities are allowed to charge 'in-state' fees which are heavily subsidised and out of state fees, which in our tables are marked as "international".

In the European Union, all EU candidates are eligible for the domestic fees charged by an EU university and so all EU students should refer to the 'domestic' prices when looking at an EU university. There are a few exceptions – for example, Scottish universities offer free education to Scottish students and EU citizens but they charge fees to the rest of the UK students.

Best value universities for EU citizens

Although the US, Canada, UK and Australia have charged fees for many years, there are still quite a few highly ranked universities which are offering free university education. The Scandinavian countries are particularly attractive destinations for undergraduate study, partly because they have a number of highly ranked institutions, but also because many of their courses are taught in English.

Check out the universities of Copenhagen, Aarhus, Uppsala, Lund and Helsinki, all of which rank in the top 100 in the world in 2011 and which offer free Undergraduate and Postgraduate education to domestic and EU citizens.

For Postgraduate study, the UK is still hard to beat with four universities in the top ten in the world – Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, UCL - all charging just $4-8000 for postgraduate courses for EU citizens.

In Paris, École normale supérieure ENS, ranked 33rd, and Ecole Politechnique ranked 36th both offer undergraduate courses for less than a $1000 and Postgraduate courses for less than $8,000.

In Germany, the highest ranked universities are; University of Heidelberg at 53rd and Technical University of Munich at 54th in the world, each charging less than $2000 for domestic and EU citizens. University of Amsterdam at 63rd, charges within the $2,000- $4,000 range whilst Catholic University of Leuven at 68th charges less than a $1000.

Best value universities for international students

For non-EU citizens looking for free university education, some of the Scandinavian universities are available free to all, but have limited places just for the best international candidates, whilst others like Copenhagen do charge for international students. By contrast Austrian Universities, like Vienna University of Technology, ranked 155th in the world, charge less than US$1000 per annum for international students willing to study in German.

Looking further afield, Saudi Arabia is becoming an increasingly attractive study destination. Government subsidies result in all students, domestic and international, studying for free and in many cases, postgraduate students receive a monthly grant to cover basic living costs as well. King Saud University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Mines and King Abdul Aziz University all appear in the top 400 universities in the world.

Several North African universities have course fees of less than a $1000 per annum for international students, with University of Cairo leading the way in terms of QS World Rankings. Latin American universities also offer very low cost courses for Spanish speaking candidates and are gradually improving their world rankings, with University of Campinas and University of Buenos Aires amongst the most highly ranked in the top 300 in the world.

Switzerland and Japan are home to many world-class universities. ETH Zurich, ranked 18th in QS World University Rankings, charges less than $2000 for domestic and international students alike, as does EPF Lausanne, ranked 35th in the world. University of Tokyo is the second highest ranked Asian university at 24th in the world and charges just $6-8000 for international students.

Broad spectrum of choice

The EU also boasts a plethora of world class universities offering exceptional value. In Paris, École normale supérieure ENS and École Politechnique offer international students the same value as domestic students, with undergraduate courses for less than US$1000 and postgraduate courses typically $6-8000, or less. Even the British universities, whose fees have been well publicized for being on the increase for domestic students, offer great value for international students.

The University of Cambridge offers undergraduate courses for international students for just US$18-20,000, roughly half the cost of Harvard, MIT or Yale, its closest rivals. The UK boasts the second most universities in the QS Top 100, after the US, and apart from a few London-based institutions, undergraduate and postgraduate curse fees never exceed US$24-26,000.

Asia and Australia boast a wide range of course fees. Asia's top ranked university at 22nd is University of Hong Kong, which charges $14-16,000 for international students. Perhaps even better value is South Korea's Seoul National University, which charges $4-6,000 per annum and China's top ranked University of Peking at 46th, which also charges $4-6,000 per annum.

Singapore's National University of Singapore charges $18-20,000, whilst Australia's top Ranked Australian national University at 26th in the world, charges $28-30,000 for postgraduate courses for international students.

North America has long charged high fees for international students. Yet Canadian universities represent good value. McGill University, 17th in the world, charges $18-20,000 for undergraduate and $14-16,000 for postgraduate courses for international students.

Although US universities are the most expensive in the world, they also feature most prominently in QS World University rankings and some in the top 50 are less expensive than others. UCLA, ranked 39th, and University of Wisconsin Madison, ranked 41st, charge just $24-26,000 for postgraduate courses for international students, whilst university of Pennsylvania, ranked 9th in the world, charges just $26-28,000 for a basket of its postgraduate courses (excluding professional degree programs like The Wharton MBA).

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in March 2016

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