Finishing high-school and deciding to study a Bachelor’s abroad is so exciting. But many prospective international students who want to study in Europe are discouraged by the non-EU/EEA tuition fee policy.
Based on this policy – employed by many countries – people from the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) enjoy the same tuition fees that apply to local students. If you’re from any other country, you’ll have to pay higher tuition, sometimes 2 or 3 times higher.
There are some exceptions, of course. In this article, we’ll address these exceptions as well as other ways to reduce tuition costs if your heart is set on studying abroad on the Old Continent.
1. Study in countries with no tuition fees
The good news is that some European countries offer Bachelor’s programmes that are free for all international students, regardless of their nationality. Some of the nations where public universities are free for all students are:
Free doesn’t mean low-quality, in this case. Many universities from these countries are present in the global rankings created by TopUniversities, Times Higher Education, and the U.S. News. Here are only a few top institutions where you can study for free:
- University of Oslo, Norway
- University of Bergen, Norway
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
- LMU Munich, Germany
- Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany
- University of Heidelberg, Germany
- Reykjavík University, Iceland
Although public universities like these don’t charge tuition fees, there are other expenses you need to cover, like the student union fee (sometimes called ‘administration fee’). It costs between 50 – 350 EUR per semester depending on the country and university where you study.
Also keep in mind that Scandinavian countries have a higher standard of living, so you’ll spend more on accommodation, food, and other living costs.
2. Study in countries with low tuition fees
Don’t worry if you cannot find the perfect Bachelor’s course in a country with no tuition fees. There are other European states where public universities charge very low tuition when compared to the UK or the US.
Here’s a list to get you started, but don’t limit yourself to these examples:
- Bachelor’s degrees in Austria – around 730 EUR/semester
- Bachelor’s degrees in France – between 170 – 650 EUR/year
- Bachelor’s degrees in Spain – between 150 – 3,500 EUR/year (doesn’t apply to all programmes and fees can vary based on degree types)
- Bachelor’s degrees in Switzerland – between 400 – 3,700 EUR/year
Good to know: the low or no tuition fee policy we’ve mentioned in the sections above only applies to public universities. If you choose a private institution, you will pay tuition fees, which are often quite high.
Learn more about tuition fees in Europe.
3. Find a Bachelor’s degree with low tuition in any country
Just because many European countries have higher tuition fees for non-European students, it doesn’t mean you cannot find affordable undergraduate programmes. It is a simple process:
- Use the helpful filters on our website – Bachelorsportal.com
- Identify the low-tuition programme you’re interested in
- Check if the low-tuition applies to non-European students
In the example above, we were even able to find free programmes in the UK.
Take the time to play with the filters, compare programmes, and don’t forget to double-check if the low tuition applies to international students like you.
4. Look for European scholarships and grants
A typical way of studying in Europe without going broke as a non-EU/EEA student is to apply for scholarships and grants which can cover tuition fees and living costs.
Scholarships are merit-based, awarded to students who excel academically, have a certain talent (like being a musician or an artist), or are very good at sports. Grants are need-based; they are offered to students who cannot support themselves during their Bachelor’s studies.
Some European universities offer grants and scholarships that target students from specific countries outside the EU (usually developing nations), so be sure to check that on the university website. Maybe your country is among them.
The university website is often the best place to look for scholarships or grants. If you cannot find information there, contact one of their representatives or try to find the official website for international studies in that country. Here are a few examples:
- Scholarships in Austria
- Scholarships in Denmark
- Scholarships in Germany
- Scholarships in the Netherlands
- Scholarships in the UK
5. Find countries with low living costs
Another way to make your Bachelor’s studies affordable is to look for countries that have both reasonable tuition fees and living costs. Some options that you should definitely check out are:
- Austria – for students, the average cost of living is about 1,000 EUR/month
- Greece – living expenses in Greece are between 500 and 700 EUR/month
- Spain – living here is very affordable, costing you between 650 and 1,000 EUR/month
- Poland – living costs are between 400 and 700 EUR/month
There you go. Now you know the basic steps that will help you study abroad in Europe without paying an arm and a leg. It might take a bit of research until you find the ideal programme, but it will be worth it.
Studying abroad can be a wonderful experience, which will help you mature and find new friends and opportunities. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up settling down in a European country after you fall in love with the local lifestyle.