25 Truths You didn’t Know about Tuition Free Universities

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You’ve probably read about tuition free universities in some countries around the world. And wonder if there is a hidden agenda. Why would a country offer education for free and still claim it offers quality education? Whereas people are taking loans to pay for tuition in other countries? Is there something no one is telling you?

Well today, we bring you 25 truths you probably didn’t know about tuition free universities. This post is brought to you by After School Africa and is available on video (Youtube). If you are new here, welcome. Consider subscribing to AfterSchoolAfrica on Youtube to continue exploring opportunities and watching videos like this one below:

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So what is the truth about tuition free universities? Let’s begin..

  • It’s not actually free because someone is paying for it

Top public universities in Germany receive 10 to 28million euro in funding every year. A variety of approaches are used by the government to fund higher education such as imposing higher taxes on citizens or making use of their significant resources to provide the finance for extensive social investment. It’s free because someone gets to pay for it.

  • It only applies to public universities and colleges

Private universities usually charge high tuition fees, but often offer more financial aid. If you are looking for tuition free schools, you should be looking in the way of public institutions.

  • You still get to pay some fees

While you may not get to pay for tuition, there are usually small fees to pay. This is usually referred to as administration fee, student body fee or course fee. But they are usually very small in comparison to other popular countries. For instance in Germany, administration fees at public universities would be about 170 to 300 euro.

  • You have to pay for your living cost

While you may get free education, you still have to take care of your living expenses. And living cost in most tuition free countries is not cheap. Depending on the country, this expense can hit your wallet hard. For instance, average cost of living in Germany is at €9,900 per year. Now, that’s expensive for most people.

  • But there are tuition free universities that also covers living cost

These are very few and highly competitive but they do exist. More on that a few point away.

  • Some countries have scholarships to cover for living cost

There are postgraduate scholarship programs to cover cost of living in some countries. You just have to qualify to be accepted.

  • It is difficult for countries to sustain free education for all

Most of the countries that offer tuition free education to international students are in constant debate as to whether it’s of benefit to the country. This is why some countries have stopped offering free education to foreign students. There is no guarantee that the countries that are still generous with their education system will remain so in the near future.

  • Almost all tuition free countries are in Europe

European countries offer the most tuition free option for foreign students.

  • Finland Used to be tuition free until 2016

Finland used to offer tuition free education for non-European Union students but the rule changed in January 2016. They believed lack of tuition fees has been the biggest obstacle to promoting education export for the country. Public universities in Finland continue to be tuition-free for students from EU countries. But, non-EU students enrolling in English-taught degrees are required to pay tuition fees.

  • Sweden used to offer tuition free education until 2011

Sweden also used to offer tuition free education to non-EU students. But they introduced tuition fees in January 2011.

  • Denmark used to offer tuition free education until recently

Higher education in Denmark is free for students from the EU and Switzerland and for students participating in an exchange programme. For other students, annual tuition range from 6,000 to 16,000 Euro. 

  • Norway still offers tuition free education to foreign students

Public universities in Norway are still free for both EU and non-EU students, at the time of making this video. But the cost of living in Norway is considerably high. So you still have to spend a substantial amount of money to get through your study.

  • Germany still offer tuition free education to foreign students

German public universities continue to offer free tuition education for international student. This has resulted to a growing number of international students going to study in Germany. Based on the latest official enrollment data, the number of international students attending German universities has increased to roughly 400,000 as of 2019.

  • From 2020, international students will need €10,236 Euros to study in Germany

Starting from January 2020, all international students who want to study in Germany have to deposit at least 10,236 euros to a blocked account in order to get their student visa. A blocked account is a unique type of bank account designed for international students to be able to provide reliable evidence they possess necessary financial funds to study and live in Germany. It can be opened prior to one’s arrival in Germany but can only be accessible after the student registers at the local residence authority in Germany.

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  • Some tuition free universities rank high in Global University ranking

Free university and college does not mean low quality, neglected education system. Most of the tuition free universities in Europe are ranked high in the global education ranking.

  • In most countries that offer tuition free education, undergraduate degrees are not tuition free

In most countries, tuition free education is only reserved for postgraduate degrees.

  • PhD in most European countries are tuition free

In most European countries, even in countries that have withdrawn their free education policy, you can undertake a PhD degree for free. You can even get paid through your PhD.

  • Some private schools in US are debt free

Private schools usually charge more for tuition, but often offer more financial aid. Some private schools like Harvard and Yale in the US are “debt-free,” which means that they won’t charge you more than what they think your family can pay.

  • Rather than offer free tuition, some institutions offer their courses free online

Due to the growing trend in Massive Open Online Courses, some universities in the US, UK and other top countries offer their courses online for free at open online learning platforms like edX, and Coursera. You can also sign up on Stanford Online, HarvardX, UC BerkeleyX and start taking courses online for free.

  • Most EU Countries offer tuition free education for EU citizens

While some countries have stopped offering free tuition education to foreign students, there public universities are still tuition free for EU and EEA students.

  • You can study at Public Universities in Brazil for tuition free but…

The catch is that you must be willing to take classes in Portuguese.

  • You can study in Czech Republic for free but…

The catch is that you must take classes in Czech language.

  • You can study in Greece for free but…

You should be ready to take classes taught in Greece.

  • Technical University of Munich is the highest ranking tuition free university

According to TopUniversities ranking, this university ranks number one in Germany and 55th in the world for 2020 ranking. And it offers tuition free education to international students. Since 1927, 17 Nobel prizes have been awarded in physics, chemistry and medicine to academics affiliated to the university; a proof that the best things in life are not always the most expensive.

  • These two Italian universities offer both tuition and living cost free education

The Italian universities of Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna both are ranked in the top 200 worldwide. Not only do these universities have free tuition and zero admin costs, they also offer an endowment to help cover the cost of living for their students.

And that’s it for today. Do you plan studying at a tuition free university? Let us know in the comment section below. If you found this video helpful, thumb up and share it with someone. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa, this is likely a good time to subscribe. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!


  • Ifeoma Chuks is a naturally-skilled writer. She has written and contributed to more than 6000 articles all over the internet that have formed solid experiences for particularly aspiring, young people around the globe.

    Content Manager

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