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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 Rankings® 2020.

Study in Germany for free


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-EU/EEA students in autumn 2017. These students must pay €1,500 (~US$1,660) a semester (€3,000 or ~US$3,320 per year). PhD students and refugees aren’t affected, and the fees are reduced for those pursuing a second degree (to €650 (~US$720) a semester, which is €1,300 (~US$1,440) 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 Rankings – 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 €10,236 (~US$11,330) per year for living expenses (with the average student spending €850 (~US$940) a month).

Two of the top destinations for study in Germany, Munich and Berlin, were also ranked within the top 30 most affordable cities to study in the QS Best Student Cities 2019.

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$190) per year at undergraduate level for EU/EEA/Swiss students.

However, from the 2019/20 academic year non-EU/EEA students will begin paying higher rates, with fees going up to €2,770 (~US$3,065) per year for a bachelor’s degree. However, the French government will be tripling the amount of scholarships 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$10,620) 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


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$33-66). 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$6,670-17,800) annually, while in Sweden they fall between SEK 80,000 and SEK 145,000 (~US$8,200-14,870) 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 €6,000 - 18,000 (~US$6,640-19,900) 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)


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.


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$803) per semester. Living costs will set all students back approximately €11,400 (~US$12,600) a year. Vienna, Austria’s capital city, was ranked 13th in the QS Best Student Cities 2019.


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$4,620) per year. You can live in Belgium with a budget of around €11,400 (~US$12,600) a year. Brussels, the capital city, was ranked joint 43rd 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$4,425-13,275) 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 joint 35th in the QS Best Student Cities.


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$1,660) per year. Greece offers one of the lowest costs of living in the European Union.


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$995-4,420) 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 40th in the most recent QS Best Student Cities, while capital city Rome is 70th.


EU students aren’t required to pay high education fees in Spain, while international students are able to study for between €750 and €2,500 (~US$830-2,760) 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$11,940 – 14,600) a year in living costs. MadridBarcelona and Valencia are all featured in the QS Best Student Cities, with Barcelona the highest ranked at 21st.

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



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 2019, Argentinian capital Buenos Aires is 31st.


In India, international students will typically pay tuition fees of no higher than US$7,300 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 Numbeo, consumer prices are 163 percent cheaper than in the UK, while rental prices are as much as 391 percent cheaper. Overall, you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$4,300 a year. However, it’s worth noting that international students aren’t allowed to work in India during their studies.


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 69th in the QS World University Rankings, charged undergraduate students just TW$100,920-124,200 (~US$3,200-3,965) per year in 2017/18. In the QS Best Student Cities 2019, Taipei was ranked 17th in the world and 14th for affordability.

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

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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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Hi! I'm Abhinav and I'm 15, doing my 10th grade. I would like to study in abroad for really less expense or no expense if possible.

Hey, myself kajal and I'm from India, I'm in the final semester of my graduati9n from Panjab University Chandigarh in anthropology Honors. I want to pursue my master's in anthropology by full scholarship can yu suggest some european universities.

Hi My name is Deepti, I am from India ... I am graduate in BCom from Delhi university correspondence and post graduate diploma in international business from symbiosis distance learning .. I have also done 2 years diploma in fashion technology from YWCA ... I want to purse masters in fashion technology with full scholarship in European countries or Scandinavian countries ... can you suggest which approved university suitable for me to pursue further studies ... please explain the complete process

There are also a lot of free universities in Poland in Europe

Which universities can you provide with the list also which courses they offer do they provide free education in fashion technology

Hi, my name is Mahnoor. I have recently completed my bachelors and i want to do masters in marine science subject. Kindly help me find a full scholarship in any country

Hello,am a graduate in Business and information technology (degree) please I dont ave money to further my education,am looking for a fully funded masters in information technology, computer science, information system, M I S to further my career.. please help me out
Were can I get it

Hi, My name is Mithat. I am living & from Turkey. I'm about to graduate from Yildiz Technical University and I study Political Science and International Relations. I want to do master's in Europe and I want to it in Management or Business fields, preferably in English and for a minimal tuition fee, without fee if possible. Any help would be appreciated.

Hello, my name is Marie Simms. I am currently a freshman at GMU, but I am looking into options early. I plan to complete my bachelor's degree in music education here at GMU. I was wondering if there were any masters music ed degrees in Europe for a free to nominal cost. I always have trouble finding music education as a degree offered at universities. If anyone could help at all, it would be greatly appreciated

Hi I'm Thompson from Ghana. I have a bachelor's degree in Economics and I would like to do my master's degree in any of the Nordic countries but I'm financially constrained at the moment. Can Please help find scholarships in these countries that will enable me do master's degree in Economics and econometrics or mathematics economics or quantitative economics.

Hi I'm Nikhil Kumar from India. I'm interested in doing masters in digital marketing with a nominal fee. Please do suggest me the right country with my course demand.

Hello,my name is Numan, i am living & from Pakistan. i have done Masters in Sports & Physical Education I will like to apply for any country that can offer me free scholarship to study M.Phill in Sports & Physical Education. Can you help me please. thanks

Hi i am neeraj. I have just completed higher education and i want to study medicine and i need help for getting free scholarship on medicine in any European countries

Hi am Winner from Nigeria. i just finished high school and was wondering if there is any school especially in the usa, uk, canada or australia that offers scholarship to study medicine for international students as the cost for studying medicine is very expensive. i was hoping you could give me some schools to check upon in these countries because i am really in need of financial aid and it is my dream to study abroad. and meanwhile i love what you do, we need ,ore people like you to help people like us find what places that suits us, keep up the good work. thanks

Hi Winner, you have to check online for different universities in USA, CANADA or Uk. Then on their website, you can check for financial aid

I'm glad to be able to receive information from I also appreciate your outstanding support, but I would ask for the chances for students those are seeking of master degree.

Hy am Precious and am from Nigeria,and an undergraduate.... I really need ur help of any scholarship available for business administration in US,U.K,Australia, Canada....... I will really appreciate ur assistant

Hi Precious!

Thank you for the nice article. What about Slovenia? Is education free for foreigners?

Hello.Anybody to please help me get an undergraduate scholarship in music.I am a grade 8 on ABRSM flute practical.Am 29 years old now.Any country will do.Thank you

Hi Mwinda, here's a selection of scholarships to study at some of the world's top performing arts schools, and you might also like to consider applying for the QS Undergraduate Scholarship, which awards up to US$10,000 to study an undergraduate degree at any QS-ranked university. Hope this helps, and best of luck with your applications!

Am a Nurse in Nigeria, just had my BNSC from Babcock University Nigeria. Interested in going for my MSC in Nursing and need a scholarship program from UK, US , Canada, Australia, Germany, Austra Ireland . Thanks

Hi Stella, here's a link to our list of nursing scholarships around the world, which includes most of the locations you mentioned - for Austria and Ireland, please have a look at our list of scholarships to study in Europe.

Hello,my name is queen, am living in UAE but am from Nigeria. I will like to apply for any country that can offer me free scholarship to study nursing degree programme. Can you help me

hi queen n im from India.Im not sure whether u get free education or not but surely u can pursui your masters at a very low cost and u can contact me on [email protected]

interested in studying Languages/ Linguistics/ Cultural Studies in Europe. Currently in Australia but hold EU citizenship. Which universities would offer courses for these area of studies and for free of cost?

Salut, Joyce de nationalité Congolaise diplômé d'un Bac A4 , j'ai besoin d'une bourse au Canada ou aux USA afin de continuer mes études.

Joyce, salut. We have a list of scholarships to study in Canada here, and scholarships to study in the US here - bonne chance :)

Just wrote my class 12 characters exam...(India)..

Looking forward to some engineering universities abroad with affordable tution and living expenses....

Really need help..also tell me about some scholarship programs conducted by foreign universities in India..
I am abhimanyu from Kerala ..India...
Thank you

Hey Abhimanyu!! Updates? Where are you studying now? I've the same dream as you so any updates?!

Hi! I'm from Namibia and interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in the USA, Uk or Germany with free tuition fee. Please advice me on which universities are the best choice and also have cheap but comfortable living expenses.

Hi Cynthia! I am specialized to help African students, get in touch with me at [email protected] and we discuss your case.

Hi. Unfortunately, the US and the UK do not offer free/low tuition. However, you may be eligible to study for free at public universities in Germany - you can read more about this in our guide on 'How to Study Abroad in Germany'. 

Hi! I'm from India I'm interested in studying masters in one of the Australian universities for free tution fee please suggest me about the living expenses and tution feeling Australia

Hi Yathish, our guide on 'How to Study Abroad in Australia' should be able to provide you with tuition fee figures and information about the living costs and funding. 

Hi! Please I need a college that the tuition fees is free in Australia or Canada. Thanks

Im nearly 95% sure there is no place in Australia where tuition fees are free, only Hecs loans can help with covering the cost.

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?

yeah maybe, but it's still a lot cheaper than the money hungry education selling UK university limited companies

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 Rankings 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. 

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.