Where Can UK Students Study Abroad Cheaply Or For Free?


With tuition costs in the UK at an all-time high and travel costs dropping, more and more Brits are looking into studying abroad. Facing average annual costs of £22,715, it’s hardly surprising that students are looking elsewhere to finish their education. But which countries will stretch a student loan the furthest? Let’s start with a look at Europe.

1. Germany

Germany is the EU country with the largest number of international students outside the UK, and British students are descending in their thousands. Not only is Germany packed with fascinating culture, great food and world-class cities: All its undergraduate degrees are entirely free at public universities. Munich and Berlin are the top choices for British students. Berlin is cheaper to live and justifiably famous for its nightlife, while Munich is smaller, prettier, and surrounded by stunning countryside.

2. Scandinavia and Finland

The cost of living in the Nordic countries might be some of the most expensive in Europe, but tuition certainly isn’t. Norway offers free tuition to every single student at every level, regardless of nationality. However, there is one hitch: You will be expected to speak Norwegian to a certain level as most undergraduate courses are taught in the language. English language programmes are more common at Masters or PhD level. Denmark and Sweden offer free tuition to all EU students, while outstanding PhD students not only get free tuition, but they can actually be paid a salary for their research. The Nordic capitals of Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki were all ranked in a 2015 “Top 50 Student Cities” survey.

3. France

While not technically gratis, France charges an administration fee of just €180 per academic year, making it as good as free to British eyes. Paris is one of the world’s most popular student cities, and despite appearances, it can be a reasonably affordable place to live especially when compared to its near neighbour, London.

4. Greece

Not only does Greece have year-round great weather, it also boasts one of the lowest costs of living of any EU country. Undergraduate degrees are tuition-fee free and are known as “first cycle” degrees. They are generally four-year courses.

5. Spain

Spain has an excellent university system. It is good value at around €1000 a year for state universities, and is the country is very popular with international students. Barcelona and Madrid both attract large numbers of students from outside Spain, and offer much lower costs of living than the UK.

If you are interested in studying in the EU, take a look at the Erasmus Plus scheme which can place you with a European university for a semester or longer - and you might even be eligible for a monthly grant of up to €300.

Studying Outside Europe Cheaply

  • Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, and Mexico City are currently the joint-holders of the title of most affordable student city. The survey looked for a balance between academic excellence and reasonable costs of living.

  • India is an interesting possibility - it is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and is proving increasingly attractive to international students. It has one of the largest higher education systems in the world, with thousands of institutions to choose from. International student fees hover around ?£6,000 per year, but the cost of living is so cheap that it balances it out - a one-bedroom apartment will cost you less than £90 a month.

  • Argentina has a completely free higher education system - although getting a visa can be a time-consuming process. There is currently a strained relationship between the UK and Argentina, but its universities still attract a certain number of British students each year.

Wherever you decide to study, make sure you use Wise when sending money abroad in order to avoid hefty bank fees. For more information around the financial implications of studying abroad, read our guide to the costs of studying outside the UK.

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