A good number of countries especially those that international students admire, are hardly affordable. Examples include the UK, Canada, the United States, etc. They are mostly European countries, so why not study abroad for free in these countries? In other continents, we have also checked some affordable destinations, sit tight and explore.
It’ll make you glad to know that this is not always the case. There are several nations around the world where students can study abroad for free or at a very affordable rate. What you need is to know where to look.
Where Can I Study Abroad for Free? Big Question Answered
1. Study in Germany for free
It just seems that the interest in studying abroad in Germany continues to grow. This is mainly due to the fact that at most public universities in Germany, there are no undergraduate tuition fees and this extends to both German and foreign students, regardless of nationality. To cover administration expenses, only a small nominal university fee of about € 150-250 (~ US$ 170-280) is paid.
The exception is the state of Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany, which in autumn 2017 reintroduced tuition fees for students from outside the EU/EEA. These students are expected to pay €1,500 (~US$1,660) per semester (€3,000 or ~US$3,320 per year for each semester. PhD students and immigrants are not affected, and for those seeking a second degree (to EUR 650 (~ US$ 720) per course, which is EUR 1,300 (~ US$ 1,440) a year the fees are reduced. It is likely that other German states, as they continue to invest in and develop university education, will suit and reintroduce fees in the future, so watch out.
The low cost of studying in Germany, coupled with its strong economy and excellent higher education system, makes the prospect of studying in Germany highly attractive to both students and their parents worldwide. More than 40 German universities are included in the QS World University Rankings among the world leaders, again beaten only by the US and UK, with the Technical University of Munich taking the highest position.
Of course, if you are successful in finding a university where you can study for free in Germany, you will also need to budget for the cost of living. You’ll need to show that you have about €10,236 (~US$11,330) a year for living expenses if you need a German student visa (with the average student spending €850 (~US$940) per month).
2. Study in France for free (or at low cost)
France may not be as well recognized as Germany for affordable higher education, but foreign students may be shocked to learn that, regardless of their nationality, they may also study for free (or at a very low cost) in France.
It is common practice that tuition fees do exist at public universities in France, they’re just a fraction of those paid in most countries, amounting to just €170 (~US$190) per year at undergraduate level for EU/EEA/Swiss students.
Non-EU/EEA students can however, start paying higher rates from the 2019/20 academic year with tuition going up to € 2,770 (~ US$ 3,065) per year for a bachelor’s degree. However from 7,000 to 21,000, the French government would triple the number of scholarships available to foreign students.
Additional fees, especially for more advanced programs such as medicine and engineering, will increase the price of your studies, but not dramatically.
Most programs providing the opportunity to study in France for free are taught in the native language, as is the case in Germany. There are however, an increasing number of possibilities for studying English, particularly at graduate level. Alternatively, prior to starting your degree, you can also attend a preparatory school to refine your French skills, but you will have to pay for this.
Living costs are still relatively inexpensive in France, amounting to about EUR 9,600 (~USD 10,620) per year but if you want to live in the capital city of Paris, you can expect to pay more.
3. Study in the Nordic countries for free
Northern European nations (known as the Nordic countries), known for their high quality of life, beautiful nature and liberal politics, also boast some of the world’s best higher education systems. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the Nordic nations, all offer free or low-cost study opportunities.
In Norway, university studies, irrespective of study level or nationality, are available free of charge to all students. Like Germany, only a semester fee would have to be charged, in this case about NOK 300-600 (~US$33-66). Most undergraduate programs are taught only in Norwegian, and in order to study at this level, foreign students need to demonstrate proof of proficiency in Norwegian. English language programs are becoming more common at master’s and PhD level, and free tuition still applies.
There are no tuition fees in Iceland paid at the four public universities in the country, with only a registration fee of around ISK 75,000 (~US$600) per year.
Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and most recently, Finland only apply their free higher education benefits to students from inside the EU/EEA and Switzerland, which means that students from Non-European regions must pay tuition for bachelor’s and master’s programs. However, PhD programs are completely funded in these countries, providing outstanding PhD applicants the ability to receive their degree without paying fees and receiving a salary. If they study in either Swedish or Finnish, non-EU/EEA students can also still study for free in Finland.
International fees differ in Denmark, Sweden and Finland at bachelor’s and master’s levels. University fees range from DKK 45,000 to DKK 120,000 (~US$6,670-17,800) annually in Denmark, while they dropped from SEK 80,000 to SEK 145,000 (~US$8,200-14,870) for most courses in Sweden. The recently imposed tuition fees in Finland are currently at least EUR 1,500 (~US$1,700) per year while the majority of students would pay between EUR 6,000-18,000 (~US$6,640-19,900) per year.
But what about the cost of living? Oh, this is the catch, as the cost of living in northern Europe is some of the continent’s largest. This is mainly due to the region’s stable economy and the strength of the Nordic currencies, so it may not be so bad to pay more for living when their environments are tidy and the inhabitants are happy.
Other places to study in Europe for free (or at low cost)
What about other places to research for free or at a low cost in Europe? There are a number of European countries which without compromising quality, offer affordable or free universities. For more examples, see below.
One of other countries where students can study in Europe for free (or at a very low cost) is Austria. When it comes to the expense of higher education, EU/EEA students enjoy the same rights as Austrians and can study for free at any degree level. Students pay a fee of only €363 per semester after this time. International students from outside the EU/EEA can expect fees of about EUR 726 (~USD 803) per semester to be marginally higher.
Living expenses would set back about €11,400 (~US$12,600) a year for all students. In the QS Best Student Cities 2019, Vienna, Austria’s capital city, was ranked 13th.
In Belgium, there are two big language groups, each with its own stance on university fees. EU students, however can pay a maximum of only EUR 906 a year. And while the key advantages of being able to study in Europe for free are only for EU students, fees for non-EU foreign students are still reasonably manageable, at about EUR 4,175 (~US$ 4,620) per year.
With a budget of about €11,400 (~US$12,600) a year you can live in Belgium. In this year’s QS Best Student Cities, Brussels, the capital city, was ranked joint 43rd.
3. Czech Republic
Students who speak Czech can study abroad at any public university for free in the Czech Republic. At about EUR 4,000-12,000 (~US$ 4,425-13,275) per year, students who wish to study in English can also study reasonably cheaply.
The cost of living is more affordable than in many western European countries, at about US$9,000 per year. In the QS Best Student Cities, the Czech capital city, Prague, is ranked joint 35th.
All students from within the EU/EEA, with the exception of certain master’s programs, are free to study abroad in Greece at public universities and schools. At approximately EUR 1,500 (~US$ 1,660) per year, foreign students from outside the EU are also registered for low-cost higher education.
One of the lowest costs of living in the European Union is provided in Greece.
While it is recognized that private universities in Italy charge reasonably high tuition fees, public universities in Italy are considerably cheaper, costing undergraduate programs between EUR 900 and EUR 4,000 (~USD 995-4,420) per year. EU students are eligible for the same funding opportunities, including loans, grants, scholarships and fee exemptions, as Italian students. In the new QS Best Student Cities, Milan is ranked 40th, while the capital city of Rome is 70th.
In Spain, EU students are not expected to pay high education fees, while foreign students are able to study at public institutions for between EUR 750 and EUR 2,500 (~US$830-2,760) per year. Fees are paid on a per-credit basis and at graduate level, can be higher. Try and budget between €10,800 and €13,200 (~US$11,940-14,600) a year on living costs to live in Spain. In the QS Best Student Cities, Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are all included, with Barcelona ranked the highest at 21st.
Other places to study abroad for free (or at low cost)
Although Argentine students all enjoy free university entry, international students can expect to pay a small, nominal fee to enroll at the country’s public universities. Argentina’s private institutions, on the other hand, will charge upwards of US$5,000 a year. Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, is 31st in the QS Best Student Cities 2019.
In India, tuition fees of no more than US$7,300 per year are usually charged by foreign students, while private university and graduate fees appear to be more costly. For most students, living expenses in India are likely to be very attractive. According to Numbeo, consumer prices are 163% cheaper than in the UK, while rental prices are as much as 391% cheaper. Overall, you should be able to survive on as little as US$4,300 a year comfortably. It’s worth noting, however that foreign students are not permitted to work during their studies in India.
In Taiwan, tuition fees provide great value, with competitive programs provided by its top universities. For instance, in 2017/18, Taiwan National University, the leading university in the QS World University Rankings, charged undergraduate students only TW $ 100,920-124,200 (~ US $ 3,200-3,965) per year. Taipei was ranked 17th in the world and 14th for affordability in the 2019 QS Best Student Cities.
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