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 around the world where students are able to study for free or at 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.
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.
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.
Study in Nordic countries
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 Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway 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.