Want to study in Europe, but unsure about the costs? Read on to discover the average costs of tuition fees and living expenses in a range of European countries – and to find out about opportunities to study in Europe for free!
Bear in mind that the figures given below are averages. For exact tuition fees, check the details provided on your chosen university’s website, and remember that estimated living expenses will vary depending on the city you study in, and the kind of lifestyle you adopt.
Average tuition fees: Free for domestic/EU students; €726.72 (~US$780) per semester for international students at all levels.
Average living costs: €10,200-12,000 (~US$11,000-13,000) per year
Students from the European Union (EU) are able to study in Austria for free, unless you take more than two semesters longer than the standard amount of time to complete your course, in which case you’ll have to pay fees of around €363.36 (~US$400) per semester. There’s also a student union membership fee of €17.50 (~US$20) per semester, which all students are required to pay.
Average tuition fees: Maximum of €890 (~US$960) per year for EU students; €890-4,450 (~US$960-4,820) per year for non-EU students. These figures apply at all study levels.
Average living costs: €10,200-11,400 (~US$11,050-12,300) per year
There are many reasons to study in Belgium: well-respected universities, great opportunities for international networking, famously diverse cities, a range of regional cuisines and specialties, attractive countryside, overall high quality of life, and, of course, delicious Belgian chocolate. And as another bonus, tuition fees are on the affordable side.
Average tuition fees: Free for home/EU students at all levels; €6,000-16,000 per year for others (~US$6,500-17,350).
Average living costs: DKK 84,000 (~US$12,200) per year
Denmark can be an affordable option for study in Europe, especially for students from within the EU. Although most teaching is conducted in Danish, there are more than 600 internationally recognized programs taught in English, and 86% of the country’s residents can speak English.
Average tuition fees: Free for all until August 2017, when non-EU/EEA international students will pay a minimum of €1,500 (~US$1,600) per year.
Average living costs: €9,600 (~US$10,400) per year
Finland is a little more affordable than fellow Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Denmark in terms of living costs, and public universities are currently free for all (except for small number of specialized postgraduate courses). There are plenty of things to do while you study here, and the country boasts an extremely high quality of life, with considerable (and reasonably equally shared) wealth.
Average annual tuition fees: €189 (~US$200) for most undergraduate programs at public universities; €256 (~US$280) for most master’s programs, and €391 (~US$425) for doctoral programs. Private universities charge considerably more.
Average living costs: €9,600 (~US$10,500) per year
The most popular international tourist destination in the world, France is also a popular study abroad destination, offering relatively affordable tuition fees and living costs. Tuition fees are the same for domestic and international students, and are considerably higher at the highly selective grandes écoles and grands établissements (great schools and establishments), which set their own fees. Living expenses will be higher in the capital, Paris, but you may find it worth the extra cost – after all, Paris has been named the world’s number one student city four times in a row!
Average tuition fees: Free for all students at undergraduate and PhD level; €10,000+ (US$10,800+) per semester for most non-consecutive master’s programs.
Average living costs: €8,000 (~US$8,700) per year (according to German student visa requirements)
Germany is one of the world’s most popular non-Anglophone study destinations, offering world-class universities and a high quality of life. Undergraduate programs are free for all students at public universities. Those studying at master’s level who completed their bachelor’s degree elsewhere are classed as ‘non-consecutive students’, and will usually pay tuition fees. PhD programs are free for at least the first six semesters. All students pay around €250 (~US$270) per semester to cover administrative costs.
You can read a more detailed breakdown of the costs of studying abroad in Germany here.
Average tuition fees: Free for EU/EEA students at undergraduate level (with a fee of €3,000 for student services); from €10,000 (~US$10,800) per year for non-EU students at undergraduate level. From €3,800 (~US$4,175) per year for EU postgraduate students, and from €10,500 (~US$11,400) per year for non-EU students at postgraduate level.
Average living costs: €7,000-12,000 (~US$7,500-12,870) per year
Ireland’s varied selection of higher education institutions combines with historic cities, beautiful countryside and unique culture to make the country a highly attractive study destination. If EU students want to study in Ireland, they’ll only need to pay a charge of €3,000 to cover non-tuition student services.
Average annual tuition fees: €850-1000 (~US$920-1,100) at undergraduate level at public universities; €1,500 (~US$1,600) at postgraduate level.
Average living costs: €14,400 (~US$15,600) per year
Although private universities in Italy charge up to €16,000 (~US$17,300) a year, public universities in Italy are markedly cheaper. International students are eligible for the same scholarships and grants as local students, assessed by academic merit or financial need. This applies to scholarships, student loans, housing assistance, meal tickets and fee waivers.
Average tuition fees: Free for all at public universities (with a few exceptions in the case of specialized programs).
Average living costs: NOK 120,000 per year (~US$13,600)
Tuition at public universities in Norway is free for all students, with fees charged only for a few specialized programs, typically at postgraduate level. You may be required to pay a small semester fee, typically around NOK 300-600 (US$34-68).
Average annual tuition fees: RUB 311,000-614,000 (US$3,900-7,700) at all study levels
Average living costs: RUB 630,670-727,200 (US$7,920-9,120) per year
The largest country in the world, Russia is full of interesting cultural, historic and natural settings to explore. Living costs are surprisingly low (with the notable exception of capital city Moscow, where they are notoriously high), and tuition fees are not terribly expensive. You might also be able to find a scholarship to study in Russia, with funding offered by the Russian government to support talented international students.
Average annual tuition fees: €680-1,280 at undergraduate level in public universities; €1,320-1,500 (~US$1430-1,620) at postgraduate level.Non-EU students will pay slightly more.
Average living costs: €10,600-13,200 (~US$11,800-14,400) per year
Spain offers a wide range of great locations for students, and attracts many with its winning combination of good universities, attractive lifestyle, and the fact that Spanish is one of the world's most spoken languages. It’s also not too bad in terms of costs, with the capital, Madrid, achieving a high score in the ‘affordability’ category of the QS Best Student Cities. Valencia is an even cheaper option, ranking among the top 10 cities for affordability.
Average tuition fees: Free for home/EU students at all levels; SEK 90,000-150,000 (~US$10,500-17,500) per year for others.
Average living costs: SEK 95,970 (~US$11,200) per year
As in Denmark, tuition in Sweden is free for students from within the European Union. PhD programs in both countries are also fully funded, offering exceptional candidates the chance to gain their degree without paying fees, and while earning a salary.
Average tuition fees: CHF 1,266-2,200 (~US$1,250-2,200) per year at all study levels. International students may have to pay an additional charge of CHF 500 (~US$490) at undergraduate level and CHF 100 (~US$98) at postgraduate level.
Average living costs: CHF 18,000-28,000 (~US$17,750-27,600) per year
With ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in the top 10 of the QS World University Rankings®, and EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) close behind, Switzerland is home to some of Europe’s leading universities. While tuition fees are reasonable, the cost of living is relatively high.
Average annual tuition fees: €1,984 (~US$2,150) for EU students at all study levels, for most courses. Non-EU students pay an average of €6,000-12,000 (~US$6,500-13,000) at bachelor’s level and €8,000-20,000 (~US8,670-21,660) at postgraduate level.
Average living costs: €9,600-13,200 (~US$10,400-14,300) per year
The Netherlands is well-established as a popular study destination for students from around the world. It’s known for its tolerant and liberal ethos, and boasts a wealth of great student cities – none of which are more than a bicycle ride (the nation’s preferred mode of transport) away from some picturesque countryside. Fees are relatively low for EU students, with an average cost of living is similar to many Western European countries.
Average annual tuition fees: £9,000 (~US$12,700) for domestic/EU students at undergraduate level; ~US$17,000 for international students outside the EU. International students should expect to pay ~US$14,150-18,400 for most master’s degrees.
Average living costs: £12,000 (~US$17,060) per year
While the UK capital is home to an impressive selection of universities, bear in mind that living expenses in London are much higher than those in the rest of the UK, so you’ll need to budget more to study there. For more affordable options, you may wish to consider universities in Scotland – where EU students (excluding those from England, Wales and Northern Ireland) can study for free at undergraduate level. Tuition fees are also lower in Northern Ireland, with a cap of £3,790 (~US$5,400) per year at undergraduate level for EU students.
Get a more detailed breakdown of the costs of studying abroad in the UK here.
Study in Europe for free (if you speak the local language)!
If you want to study in Europe for free, you may wish to put some effort in and learn a new language; in many countries, you can access free or very cheap university courses if you’re able to study in the local language.
In Germany, English-taught programs are uncommon at undergraduate level (more common at postgraduate level). So if you want to take advantage of the country’s free undergraduate education, you’ll need to either learn German or be quite open-minded about what you study.
In some countries, you can study for free only if your course is taught in the local language. In this case, you may also need to sit the same entrance exams as local students, as is the case in Poland. If international students are not able to study in Polish, they pay tuition fees of around PLN 9,000 (US$2,170) per year.
Another example of a country in which you can study for free in the local language is the Czech Republic. However, students who wish to study in English can still do so fairly cheaply, at around CZK 108,334 (~US$4,300) per year. Living costs are also much more affordable than in many Western European countries, at around CRK 105,600-226,200 (~US$4,200-9,000) per year.
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