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10 of the Most Affordable Places to Study Abroad

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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


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


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 Rankings® 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


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


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 study in France in English, with the majority of English-taught programs found at postgraduate level.

5. 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


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


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


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 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 Rankings) and the University of the Western Cape. You’ll need around R 120,000 (~US$9,150) per year to cover your living costs.


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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If you would like to compare popular study destinations and various programs in detail, we’d like invite you to join our first event digital events online where you will have the opportunity to speak to admissions directors from top ranked universities at the QS World Grad School Tour in India.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to 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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Hi, I'm from India
Can You Suggest me There is a course after 10th standard that I can do Any Countries ? Please

Hi Rems, You can view the QS World University Rankings by Subject here. This ranking shows the best universities to study a specific subject and there are course guides attached to each ranking, so hopefully it will help you find a course that interests you. 

Hi, I m Ali from Pakistan.
Can u suggest me cheapest or fully funded scholarships to study Entrepreneurship in Europe or any other countries?

Hi Ali, You can view the full list of entrepreneurship scholarships here. You can also view scholarships to study in Europe here

I am Vhare from South Africa .I would like to study in Los Angeles ,I was wondering if there were any cholarships available

Hi Vhare, You can view a list of scholarships to study in the US here

hi This is iqbal am planning to do my bachelor degree in some Europe country can U suggest me some universities where I can get 100% scholarships without ielts

Hi Ahmad, You can view the full list of scholarships to study abroad here

Hey, this is arpita. I'm from India. I'm planning to do my master's in sustainable architecture. can you advise any affordable colleges around Europe.

Hi Arpita, You can view the World University Rankings for architecture schools here, where you can filter by country. You may also want to take a look at the scholarships available for students wanting to study architecture.

my name is drashti .i am from india.i wanted to know for studying architecture in norway in englishis it possible ?yaa and doing job too. qualifications.........for bachelor and masters both deatails i wanted to know.can u pls help me ...

Hi, I'm finishing my A levels in June but due to financial difficulties I can't find good but Cheap Universities in Europe. I'm doing my A levels in Accounting, Business, and French though I'm a native English speaker... Please if anyone has any details or insights on this matter then do share with me. My major is Accountancy and my Minor is Business and French

Hi i'm from sri lanka.i'm looking for agricultuter degree in europe or new zealand.is there any cheap universities to study with part time job?

Hi Tharushika, You can find our guide to student jobs at university here and discover more about the scholarships available to study agriculture here.

Hello i am from pakistan . I have currently given my intermediate exams and gain the top position in my city in 11 grade . i wish to gain admission in undergraduate engineering program in any europeon country . Can you suggest me some universities where i can get 100% scholarship without ilets?

Feel free to ask me any question. I would love to answer you.

Hi Alishba, You can't get admission for undergraduate program in any European country without IELTS. IELTS is required to get admission in English Speaking Countries. If you want to study abroad on your own expenses without IELTS then you can look for China. Or you can study undergraduate program in Pakistan and then look for European countries for Masters.

Hi there im uttranshu i wanted to study abroad bachelors degree and im intrested in photography is there any courses in bachelors degree plus photography.

Im about to graduate with Bachelors degree in nursing, any thoughts or ideas where i can study medicine in a cheap yet wuality university abroad as an international student? Thanks and cheers guys.

Dear Sabrina Collier, where's Turkey?
One of the most strikingly beautiful, historically and culturally rich countries on Earth, Turkey is more affordable than almost all the countries on your list, and it has so many excellent, world-class universities with 100% English instruction such as METU, Bogazici, ITU, Istanbul University etc. Turkey is also extremely safe and welcoming and has an incredible range of high-standard lifestyle options.
I'm a METU graduate and a successful professional with an international career myself...
QS should provide students with useful academic information and consultancy and stay away from politics.

I wanted to know what are the requirements for masters in METU and ITU. I'll be grateful if you can help me with it.


Hello I'm an architecture student and want to go abroad for my masters what would be the best and affordable options for me


Hi, I'm Namitha from India. I would like to go abroad and study engineering after 12th. Is it wise to go ..if so can u pls suggest which country is best for free education ..

Hai I m Archana.. I have completed my bachelor degree in electronics engineering.. but now I would like to pursue masters in political science in Netherlands.. whether it's possible to apply without having background in political science.. I just want to know about the difference in hbo and wo masters degree?.. please convey my doubt..

I want to study Masters in Data Analytics but I'm confused with selection of country to study?

Hello friend,,
Can I apply for B.pharmacy in France.

Can I apply fr bachlore degree in Norway?

Bachelor Degree in what?

hello, i am a veterinarian from Egypt, i would like to have a master degree in norway , can you help me ?

Hi Abanoub, you can find a range of scholarships for Norway included in our list of scholarships to study in the Nordic countries

Hi am eunice from Ghana and would like to study post graduate medicine in norway. can you g
ive me guidelines on how to apply?

HI ;) I'm Anukul from Nepal and i would like to study in US for bachelors degree. Im looking forward for some help for the guidance to apply on different campus.

from which sector you are from

Good morning, I am living in Dubai and I would like to start master programs in Norway. I would like to hear student living in Norway to share their experience with me. Please feel free to getting in touch with me.

Hi I'm Prashant from India , looking forward to seek masters in Europe , can u help me out choosing a country between Norway and Germany in scenario with tuition fee living expenses and job salary .

Actually, it's like go further in Statistics and the best choice is fue Indican Statistical Institute in Kolkata le Cambridge University.

Hi, actually it depends on what you Will go through. If you want go further in science and engineering research, Hungary would be what you are looking for. Some years ago,, there we're famous mathematics schools in Budapest, Krakow and Erlangen. If your interest is more about a job i d Say Netherlands l or Germany.

Hi, well it depends on what you are looking for, and your subject interest. If you want to go further academically in science and engineering research, Hungary la a good option. I am not sure about Poland, but i know that famous mathematics schools were in Krakow, Budapest, Kiev, Praha que a placer James Erlang.

Hi :) I am Noémi from Hungary and I would like to study in the US. I'm starting my last year in my secondary grammar school, and i would like to continue my tertiary education in America, but we couldn't afford it, so i was wondering if you knew about foreign student programs that'd help me financially. I have good grades, speak english and italian, and am planning to learn more languages. Thank you :)

Hi am albertha d. Ricks am from Liberia and I want to studies in Paris France, but are done know how to apply to university can you help me

Hi Albertha, here's a link to our complete guide on how to study abroad in France.

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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