A comprehensive guide on universities in Europe is what you need when deciding where to study on the European continent.
There are many articles on the internet about studying in Europe; however, you are not likely to find a guide as comprehensive as this one. We have approached this subject from the perspective of cost effectiveness relative to quality. We present options that are the best as long as quality and affordability is concerned.
The cost of studying abroad is determined by two things: the cost of living, and tuition fees. Some cities are quite expensive for students on a budget. Others can be less pricy, but the tuition fee for universities may be too high. What you need as a student with limited resources is to find a balance between these choices.
You need to study at a university of acceptable standard, affordable tuition fees, in a low-price destination.
We have combed the net to find this balance for you and divided our guide into parts for easy comprehension.
We have combed the net to find this balance for you and divided our guide into parts for easy comprehension. The first part of this article will illustrate some reasons why a European university may be the best option for you. The next section of the article will attempt to persuade you to go for low-priced or even free institutions. The third part of this article will present our choices of the best institutions for you as a function of cost and quality. Finally, we will discuss some of the best student cities in Europe which happens to be among the cheapest.
Table of Contents
WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT STUDYING IN EUROPE?
According to Eurostat, over 1.6 million international students went to Europe for studies in 2016 alone. With thousands of higher institutions, top-class universities and research facilities, it is no wonder that Europe is such a lure for international students, professionals and scientists all over the world. One of the major reasons is that European countries spend generously to improve the standards of education and support students.
Despite the financial crisis that hit Europe some years ago, the European Union is ready to invest more money in education than they did previously. With the presentation of the multi-annual financial framework by the European Commission, there is a proposition for 70% increase in funds for training and education. 17 billion EUR will be used to improve transnational learning mobility, cooperation, modernization of education and the implementation of education strategies in EU states.
The European university system is largely run on public funding so they can provide excellent quality at a low costs, many of which are even free for both international and EU students. It is common knowledge that private institutions are the costliest around the world, even though their quality does not always justify the cost.
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European countries invest highly in the education system to make learning affordable and maintain high standards. Enrolling in one of these schools will see you reap great benefits for a small amount. These schools are also available in many languages like English, French, Spanish and many more. Scholarships are also available to international students. As of 2009 there were 1.58 million full-time equivalent researchers in the EU-27 and this number was planned to increase by one million researchers by 2019.
Most European countries are also welcoming to non-EU students. They may be required in some cases to pay tuition fees higher than others though. Foreign students are also allowed to apply for most scholarship programs. Europe has over 16 billion EUR worth of scholarships every year. Whatever the level of education you are looking to get there are always low tuition institutions you can find in Europe. Many universities in Europe seat at the top of world university rankings despite being low-cost or even free.
Europe is home to the happiest countries in the world. According to the World Happiness Report by the UN, the top 7 of the top 10 happiest countries in the world are in Europe. The world UN research considered six variables: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support, and generosity. The top ten ranked high in all variables. Having a degree in one of these countries increases your chances of being employed there and probably leading a happier life than you would in your home country.
Scholarships in Europe will be a study full of adventure. Experience the diverse cultures, beautiful terrain and cities from the snowy north to the sun-soaked south and new delicious foods.
It is common knowledge, employers all around the world prefer employing graduates with some international experience, particularly employers in developing countries. And Europe has a good reputation for skills, knowledge and experience. Their schools are of higher standards than most of their peers in Asia, Africa and the Americas. For example, Germany leads the world when it is a question of training the best doctors. And it is arguably the cheapest study destination for international students when you weigh cost against quality.
So, a degree at European universities will mostly be respected. But how do you achieve that with a small budget? Attend a low-tuition university.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO FOR LOW-TUITION INSTITUTIONS
The internet is littered with lists of the top 5 or 10 or 20 etc. universities in the world. Please, do not swallow these reports hook line and sinker. Never use them as the sole criteria for choosing where to study. Some variables considered in ranking these institutions have next to zero effect on quality. I pointed out earlier that Germany leads the world in producing the best doctors. But can you believe that no German university ranks in the top ten universities for a medical degree in the world? Just see how ridiculous this is. So these rankings are not only about quality. Prestige features prominently too.
What you do with your education matters more than where you got it from. You can attend a less known college and still get an acceptable degree education. In fact the majority of degrees people have today are not from the elite universities. There is little advantage that an elite university may have over a less known institution.
Some see the prestige factor connected with going to elite universities as being important in business and politics, for the networking contact and opportunities it creates. This claim is highly controversial because in today’s world, companies are more interested in what you can do and not where you got your degree from. If your performance is below their requirement they will drop you even if you are a first-class graduate from Stanford.
Campus experience in elite colleges is often better than their less expensive peers. Students in elite universities tend to come from a more sophisticated background. Some consider interacting with successful or wealthy people as having the positive effect of making you more likely to succeed in life. However, all these notions are very controversial. For example, in a 2004 study titled: Who Needs Harvard? Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale investigated issue of prestige for success. This study dropped an atom bomb on the notion that elite college attendance is essential to success in life. the lives of students who attended a moderate-cost university were examined. It turned out that such students have on average the same income as those graduates from elite universities. In few cases, the income varied by very little.
As far as success is concerned, it is the student not the school that matters, and Krueger famously wrote that, “that you go to college is more important than where you go.”
A PIECE OF ADVICE FOR ASPIRING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
To significantly reduce your cost, the first thing is to try and find a university that provides accommodation. Where this is not possible, you should look for student dormitories with the best deals. If this also is unavailable, you should then look for the best priced apartments. Secondly, try to find a roommate to split the rent.
You should also find accommodation within walking distance of the university to save on transport.
Also make sure to cook your own food whenever possible. If you don’t know how to cook, you should learn.
Do not spend money unnecessarily. Get a subscription on your phone and do not opt for “pay as you go plans”.
Also use free communication apps like Whatsapp, FB Messenger, and Viber etc. to make your calls whenever possible.
When you need to buy anything, like clothes, shoes, groceries etc. look for markets and stores with the cheapest deals. Make inquiries from the locals about these markets. Also use city transport card if that option is available.
OUR CHOICE FOR CHEAPEST UNIVERSITY TOWNS
A number of towns in Germany are quite cheap to live in as a student. We have a list of five such towns presented here. If you can find a cheap university in any of these towns, you can have a world-class degree almost for free. A student can live on less than 300 EUR in any of these towns that are home to some of the best universities in Germany. Public German universities are usually free for undergrads. You may only be required to pay semester contribution fees and other small fees, all of which does not amount to more than 300 Euros a semester.
CHEAP UNIVERSITY TOWNS IN GERMANY
Leipzig (264 euros)
Dresden (264 euros)
Jena (265 euros)
Halle/Saale (268 euros)
Kaiserslautern (270 euros)
UNIVERSITIES IN GERMANY YOU CAN ATTEND FOR FREE
COST OF LIVING IN BARCELONA FOR A STUDENT
If you are living is a shared room, the average accommodation cost is 250 EUR. If you do not want to share, then you will budget 500 EUR a month for accommodation away from the city center. Transportation costs between 70 and 90 EUR a month. Expect to spend 15-20 Eurosfor a three-course meal in the city. You will spend much less if you prepare your own food, which as a student on a budget, you should. Telecom will cost about 15 EUR and other miscellaneous expenses should amount to 30 EUR a month.
The cost of apartments in Barcelona depends on the neighborhood, size and sophistication. The overall cost of rent in Barcelona is relatively affordable. A one bedroom apartment can lease for less than 800 EUR and a two-bedroom apartment for less than 1200 EUR. Rent drops with distance farther from the city center, and you could find very affordable accommodations that are still close to public transport facilities.
Metro and buses are even cheaper if you buy a ten-trip pass for about 11 EUR. Food prices in groceries can vary slightly, but you can go to independent specialty markets in some neighborhoods to buy stuff like meats, fruits, vegetables, and bread from bakeries at much lower prices. Restaurants and cafes in the neighborhoods have full lunch packs including bread, desserts, and drinks for as low as 8 EUR. Milk and a dozen eggs would cost 1 to 2 EUR. Vegetables and fruits are rather cheap, going for 1 to 2 EUR a kilo. A chicken breast is usually about 5 – 6 EUR. Things are usually more expensive in city centers and tourist areas. Clothing can be very inexpensive particularly in stores like Primark and Zara. The cost of living in this city would be affordable for students who are tight on cash provided they are willing to shop around for the best prices.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN BARCELONA
COST OF LIVING IN DRESDEN
Dresden is considered as the city of scientific research due to the alliance of technical universities and more than 10 research institutes like Max Planck, Leibniz, Fraunlofer, and Helemotz etc. Some universities in the city are members of the TU9, an alliance of German Technical Universities. Students are particularly attracted to Dresden due to the presence of these institutions and the lower living cost is Dresden relative to other German cities.
In Dresden there are about 35 student residence halls with more than 6000 dorm rooms. Students pay between 75 and 245 EUR a month for a room depending on the layout. There is also the option of a student apartment community that will cost 150 EUR a month or higher. Getting an apartment in Dresden is much easier than in other German cities. TU Dresden alone has several student hostels.
If you do not eat out a lot and do not buy the expensive kind of foodstuff, you should live fine on 100 – 200 EUR a month. This would mean that you buy only the necessary food stuff. As for transportation, universities in Germany normally take a fee of 250 – 300 EUR each semester for a ticket that allows students to use buses and trains in the surrounding areas. This is the only fee charged by public universities for bachelor’s degree. Overall one should expect to spend about 550 EUR a month including utility and miscellaneous expenses if they are economical.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN DRESDEN
COST OF LIVING IN LISBON
Depending on where you live you can spend between 500€ and 1000€ a month to get by in Lisbon. Coimbra which is 50km from the sea is home to many institutions and a university city. You will need about 500€ to live in Coimbra. The minimum wage is 600€/month. A two-bedroom and two-bathroom flat known locally as T2 will cost about 600€ a month. So if you are willing to share the flat you can expect to spend 300€/ month. Coffee goes for 60 cents and a chicken and French fries can cost up to 11 EUR. The cost of transportation is between 35 and 40 EUR a month for bus, train, metro, etc. taxi will cost roughly the same so long as there is no heavy traffic. Utilities will cost about 100 EUR.
Food is very cheap for students in Lisbon. If you eat in the university you can get complete meals for 3 to 5 EUR. It is cheaper at the cafeteria, but largely depends on the school. In some cafeterias you can spend as little as 2.5 EUR a meal. Movies with one bag of popcorn will cost you about 15 EUR every month depending on frequency.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN LISBON
COST OF LIVING IN THESSALONIKI
Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, is home to the largest Greek city, The Aristotle University. The city is quite safe from terrorism and the crime rate is low. People here are mostly friendly.
A single person should expect to spend some $671.3or 611.25 EUR on monthly bases not including rent. You can look for a studio in the city center in old apartments, rents go for about 150 – 200 EUR. This can even get you living quite close to the university so that you can go to class on foot or pay little for bus. Living farther from the city’s main hub will even cost you less. In 2004 Erasmus students were provided with free housing (dorm rooms) and there was also free lunch and dinner Monday – Friday, decent Greek food of acceptable standards. After the 2010 economic crisis rent in this city dropped significantly. You can find a room for 100 EUR/month if you paid all 12 months in advance.
You can find homemade meals for 2 – 4 EUR. Hot dogs are not more than 1 EUR though it can be difficult to find a McDonald’s in Thessaloniki because the people aren’t too fond of plastic foods. In fact there is good reason to believe people here dislike plastic food. Fruits and vegetables are also cheap here. You can live well on 300 – 500 EUR monthly. This amount is half as cheap if you find a roommate. Thessaloniki is one of the most vibrant cities of Europe and a student’s city. There are up to 75000 students in this city.
Eating out in a restaurant can cost up to 10 EUR per person. You will pay about 0.7 EUR for a one-way bus ticket. A 1 – 3 takeaway of coffee will come at 2 – 4 EUR and fast food (gyros) should be between 2 – 2.3 EUR per sandwich. You will find fast food restaurants that are open 24 hours.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN THESSALONIKI
COST OF LIVING IN PRAGUE
Prague is one of the best student’s cities in the world. It is located in the Czech Republic and considered one of the most affordable cities in Europe. A student can live in Prague on 300 to 750 USD per month including meals, accommodation, public transport and leisure. How much you spend depends on your location, accommodation choices, lifestyle and spending habits.
Public universities in Czech are tuition free. You have only to take care of your accommodation, transport, reading materials, utilities, food and extra-curricular activities. Monthly expenses vary by individual. A student can live on a lot less if they contained their expenditure to necessities only. To lower the monthly costs, you can stay in a dormitory; prepare your own food, and living close to the school to reduce transport expenses. With the right skills you can also get a job.
A furnished flat with maintenance, heating, water, municipal services, electricity and internet will cost about $340 per student. Monthly transportation costs $23 for unlimited rides on buses, trams, and metro systems throughout prague. The transportation system is efficient, clean, reliable with metro being available at peak times every two minutes and trams coming round every 5 to 7 minutes all day and night.
Groceries will cost between $25 and $30 if you shop at a main market store like Tesco, Alberts, Lidl, Billa etc. this is quite affordable. The Czech Republic has one of the highest concentrations of grocery stores per capita and most are within walking distance. If you buy food from the local farmers you should spend about only half of what you would spend buying from other sources. Meals at restaurants are between 6 and 17 dollars with drinks included. It cost less during lunch time. For instance, some places in Prague sells a plate of appetizer (usually a soup) plus an entrée for under $5. If you stay away from tourist places, restaurant prices become even cheaper. Coffee costs from $1.6 to $2.5 and coffee vending machines are common in many buildings and usually sell at a fraction of the price.
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SOME UNIVERSITIES IN PRAGUE
STUDENT COST OF LIVING SANTIAGO
If you are going to rent a room in an apartment or a house you will spend on average $300 to $450. Groceries can cost up to $150 a month. Bills for water, electricity, cable, internet, cellphone etc. will cost between $100 and $200. Metro and bus transportation charge roughly a dollar. You will budget $50 for transportation every month.
Some people living in Prague earn only $1000 a month and managed to get by. This amount should be okay for a student on budget. You will have to spend more if you will want to have extras. You will spend less on food if you do not eat out. Restaurant prices in Santiago are comparable to those in the US.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN SANTIAGO
COST OF LIVING IN ISTANBUL
An international student in Istanbul should expect to spend about 400 to 500 USD a month on feeding, rent, clothing, leisure, transportation, telecom and internet. Books and administrative fees will be around 100 to 150 dollars a semester. This estimate is dependent on location, the type of degree and the frugality of the individual.
Housing will cost about $1200 for the whole semester. Food for the semester will amount to 5TL for student menu, 1.35TL for a loaf of fresh white bread, 1.5TL for a liter of water, 2 – 10 TL for a kilogram of vegetables & fruit, 2 – 4 TL for a kg of pasta & rice, and 2 – 5 TL for a cup of tea or coffee. Transportation will cost $300; books will cost $150 for the whole semester.A cinema ticket should be around 15 TL; haircut 15 TL, bus ticket will be 1.5 TL. The conversion rate of TL to dollar is: 1USD = 5.40 TL
Living with a roommate will cost a lot less with accommodation. You can find a good place to stay that charges less than $200 and you can share this with a roommate. You can also spend as little as $50 on food per month.
Overall, Istanbul is a very affordable city compared to other European cities and the western world. If cost of living factors heavily on your university selection criteria, you will want to give Istanbul a try.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN ISTANBUL
COST OF LIVING IN BUDAPEST
If you can find a dormitory as an international student, it will cost on average 100 EUR. You can also share a flat for approximately 300 EUR a month. You can also get a studio for 450 EUR a month, all depending on your choice. Most international students though will go for a shared flat as dormitories are difficult to secure and studios are rather expensive.
With regards to food, you are better off cooking your own meals. You get to spend between 150 and 200 EUR a month if you don’t eat out, otherwise be prepared to spend on excess of 250 EUR a month.
For transportation, you can get monthly student pass known as BKK for €11. Overall, if you can budget 500 EUR a month you will do just great.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN BUDAPEST
Central European University (CEU)
The SzentIstván University
Franz Liszt Academy
COST OF LIVING IN KRAKOW
The cost of food in Krakow is affordable. A good meal will cost about $6, a 33cl bottle of coke and water cost 1.07 and 0.89 EUR respectively. A liter of milk will cost 0.61 EUR and a loaf of bread sells for 0.76 EUR. A kilogram each of rice, Cheese, Chicken breasts and Beef will cost0.77, 5.41, 3.85, and 7.56 EUR respectively. One kilogram of apples, banana, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, and lettuce will cost 0.75, 1.04, 1.10, 1.41, 0.54, 0.62 and 0.67 respectively. To significantly reduce on the cost of food, the student can buy directly from local farmers or suppliers. There will always be markets or neighborhoods where things are cheaper than other places.
A one-way ticket will cost 0.88 EUR and a monthly pass, 20.83 EUR. A taxi ride can reach up to 1.62 EUR for distances exceeding one kilometer. Basic utilities like electricity, garbage etc. can cost a student anywhere from 50 EUR to 160 depending on the size of the apartment and consumption rate. Telecom and internet will cost an approximate 20 EUR a month. Clothes are also affordable in this city. A summer dress in a chain store can sell for 27 EUR or less, a pair of Nike running shoes or men’s leather business shoes will cost about 70 EUR each. A pair of jeans is sold for 50 EUR or less.
Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center is about 200 to 400 EUR a month. A three bedroom apartment will lease for like 600 EUR or less. A student can share with colleagues to greatly reduce the cost.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN KRAKOW
COST OF LIVING IN MINSK
In summary to live in Minsk a student will need like $400 a month. Inexpensive meal in a restaurant can cost up to $9, McMeal at McDonalds or its equivalent will cost about $5. A bottle of Coke or Pepsi of 0.33 liters is $0.8 and a similar quantity of bottle water is $.56. a litter of milk is $0.71, a loaf of bread costs $0.62, a kilo each of rich and local cheese are respectively $1.17 and $5.98. a dozen eggs will cost like $1.2. fruits like apple, banana, orange and vegetables like tomato, onion and lettuce cost between $1 – $2 a kilo.
As for transportation a one month pass will cost you $15 with taxis being more expensive at $0.27 to the kilometer. Utility bills amount to $50 a month; telecom and internet bill can reach $30 a month.
Clothes and shoes are generally expensive in this city. You may have to take enough clothing to last you through the semester. A pair of modern leather shoes cost up to $100. A pair of jeans can cost up to $60, nike running shoes cost about $93.
Accommodation is comparatively affordable. An apartment outside the city center will cost $250 to $300 for one bedroom. A three bedroom flat outside the city center will lease for $430. If three students can share such an apartment, each will pay less than $150 a month, which is quite reasonable for a European city. In the city center, students who share a three-bedroom apartment will pay about $200 a month.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN MINSK
Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus International
COST OF LIVING IN BUCHAREST
A rough estimate of the average cost of living for a student in Bucharest is somewhere in the area of 200 – 600 EUR monthly.
Food should cost between 100 – 150 EUR a month, insurance will be between 30 – 40 EUR, clothing will clock 20 EUR, and transportation is just a paltry 8 EUR a month using metro monthly ticket. Bus is free. You can expect to spend 10 EUR on telecom and internet, and another 50 EUR on extra-curricular activities.
Accommodation can be a bit tricky to find. If you study at a state university and have good grades, you will most likely be given a shared-room on campus. The cost for this is normally 30 – 40 EUR a month. A shared room in a privately-owned student dormitory will cost you 120 to 150 EUR. If you are unable to find a room on campus or a dorm, then you will have to rent a room somewhere. It normally does not exceed 200 EUR. Typically, you can get a good one for 150 EUR. Aside from this you will have to foot the maintenance bill like 50 to 70 EUR, and internet, 10 EUR or more. But internet is really cheap here.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN BUCHAREST
COST OF LIVING IN SOFIA
Sofia ranks as one of the best student cities in the world. As a student, it is best to live in a dormitory. Dorms cost about 15 -30 EUR per month, and you get to live among fellow students. You can also rent a studio for 150–200 EUR a month. This will get lower if you opt to live in the suburbs, but it might cost you more on transport. Wherever you live, it is advisable to find a roommate to split the cost.
Transportation in Sofia is also cheap. You can get yourself a city transport card by presenting your university’s document, the cost can go as low as 20 LEV for the city network and even subway.
Food in a decent restaurant will cost 2.5 to 3 EUR. 33cl of Coke sells for about 85 cents, and the same volume of water costs 60 cents.A liter of milk can be bought for 1.05€, a loaf of bread for 0.57€. a kilogram each of rice, local cheese, chicken breasts and beef round will cost 1.1€, 1.76€, 6.07€, 5.09€, and 7.41€ respectively. You will also spend 1.09€, 1.25 €, 0.62 €, 1.37 €, 0.61 €, 0.62 €, and 1.12 € respectively for a kilogram of apples, banana, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, and lettuce. Shop from places like Kaufland, Fantastico, Lidl for cheaper prices. Places like Billa and 345 are rather expensive markets for food items.
If you want to buy clothes find out where the Illiantsi market is and go there. They offer the same things like in the center of Sofia, but for half the price.
SOME UNIVERSITIES IN SOFIA
COST OF LIVING IN LVIV
to live well in Ukraine a student needs on average $1200 to $1500 annually apart from tuition and accommodation fees. This is a lot cheaper than in most European cities. The amount you spend depends on your neighborhood and lifestyle and also the tuition of your university and course.
For stationaries, a bundle of 1000 papers costs $3 to $5. Writing materials are dirt cheap in Ukraine. A good pair of jeans will cost 10 – 20 USD, shirts cost 5 – 15 USD and T-shirts would normally sell for 5 – 12 USD. Food in Ukraine is equally cheap. For $5 a student can buy either of 4kg of potatoes, 4kg of onions, three-dozen eggs, or 3 liters of milk. A kg of beef or chicken will cost $3 to $5. For $1 you can buy at least two big loaves of bread.
When it comes to transportation, there are lots of deals for students. For example, a student could buy a travel pass to use the subway trains and electric buses throughout the month for just $20. A student card allows you to claim 30 to 50% of the amount spent on trains and buses while travelling across Ukraine. Students can also obtain the International Student Card to enjoy a discount of 10 to 30% on air travel.
Tuition in Ukraine varies according to course. One of the most expensive being MBBS will cost between $4500 and $6000 in yearly tuition. If you are going to live in student hostels, cook your own food, use the cheapest travel options, you can get by on just $300 a month.