Tuition-free universities in Europe

The desire to see the world and explore opportunities is what brings about the thought of studying abroad. Studying abroad helps you learn new languages, appreciate other cultures, overcome the challenges of living in another country and gain a greater understanding of the world. 

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There are several benefits to studying abroad, but saving money is not one of them. Studying abroad is nearly always more expensive than in one’s home country. However, the cost of studying abroad is heavily influenced by how you plan it.

Tuition fees are only a portion of the overall cost of studying abroad. A student in a high-cost-of-living country must first consider living expenditures, lodging, insurance, airplane tickets, and a variety of other factors. This may be quite a burden for the ordinary African household. As a result, students and parents consider cheaper options such as scholarships, tuition-free programs, and even studying in their home country.

Scholarship opportunities are very competitive and limited, making tuition-free programs the best option for any student who wishes to study abroad. Tuition-free programs strive to make excellent education more accessible while also promoting equity. This is achieved by giving educational opportunities to individuals who might otherwise be unable to pursue further or vocational education due to financial or other constraints.

What does tuition-free mean?

Tuition-free is a concept that allows students to get an affordable education because the tuition is free, with exceptions to other expenses needed to study abroad. This means that the institutes offer free tuition but not a free diploma or degree. A tuition-free college charges minimal processing and examination fees to help keep its institution sustainable.

Many European countries, like Germany, already offer free college, and they do so for all students regardless of family income level. But free is a relative term since tax payers absorb that cost. Taxpayers in Europe pay higher taxes than in most countries, which allows those countries to offer additional social services.

As an international student, your parent’s income may not be the deciding factor in the quality of education you receive if you decide to study in a European country. There are world-class tuition-free universities that are open to international students in European countries. 

Countries that offer tuition-free universities in Europe


International students flock to Norway in a bid to obtain high-quality education for little or no money. The Norwegian government funds education with public money, thus international and local students, can attend state universities for free. The disadvantage of studying in Norway is that living expenditures may be costly, with NOK 8,900 (about 1,200 GBP) required merely for sustenance each month. This will cover housing and board, clothes, healthcare, transportation, and other incidental costs.

Undergraduate admissions are coordinated by the Norwegian Universities and College Admission Service (NUCAS). Students must simply pay a semester fee of 30-60 EUR for the student union. The student union fee covers health and counseling services, sports, and cultural activities, all held on campus.

At private universities, both national and international students will have to pay tuition fees. Compared to other European countries, private universities in Norway are cheaper, with tuition fees ranging between 7,000 – 19,000 EUR/year.


Up until 2010, Sweden had been one of the few European nations countries that had no tuition fees. It did not matter what your nationality was, as Swedish taxpayers would foot the bill. But in 2010, the Swedish parliament passed a law to charge tuition and application fees for non-EU/EEA students.

At the same time, scholarship programs were offered, falling between SEK 80,000 and SEK 145,000 ($8,200-14,870) for most courses. Even though there are no tuition free universities in Sweden anymore, a large number of these institutions offer full scholarships (tuition waivers, etc.) for international students.


Tuition fees for undergraduate education programs in Germany have just lately begun to be charged by institutions. Currently, only four of the sixteen Federal States-Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Hamburg, and Lower Saxony-charge tuition rates are as low as 500 Euros every semester. All other federal states just ask for a minor semester contribution of about 50 Euros and do not impose tuition costs.

For master’s programs, tuition is levied. The prices here range from 650 to 3,000 Euros each semester. You can study abroad for free at public German institutions for both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. This is typically true for foreign students worldwide, whether they are from the EU/EEA or not.

The only expenses charged are “administrative fees,” which range from 100 to 350 EUR per semester and include student services, bus tickets to the institution, student cafeterias, and other amenities. The exception is the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. It agreed to impose tuition fees for non-EU/EEA nationals by the end of 2017. If you pursue a Master’s or Ph.D. in a topic unrelated to your prior studies, you will also have to pay tuition at any German public institution.

Private universities in Germany impose higher tuition fees ranging from 1,000 to 40,000 EUR per year. Living expenditures in Germany range between 750 and 1,100 EUR a month, but can be more in larger cities such as Frankfurt or München.


Most colleges in Denmark offer free education (for citizens, EEU, people with certain visa types, etc.). The two major universities (which are one of the best in Europe) are the University of Copenhagen and the University of Kiel. All Danish citizens are also offered tuition aid/scholarships.

International fees at bachelor and master levels in Denmark range from between DKK 45,000 and DKK 120,000 (the US $6,670-17,800) annually,


In Finland, each university will have its fee structure. Public universities in Finland are divided into regular universities and universities of applied sciences. They are all tuition-free for students coming from EU/EEA countries and Switzerland.

Non-EU/EEA students enrolling in English-taught degrees are required to pay tuition fees. Still, study programs taught in Finnish or Swedish are free for all international students. The minimum tuition fee set by the Finnish government is around 1,500 EUR/year for Bachelor’s and Master’s programs, but most study programs charge tuition above this amount.

Tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students who enroll at public Finnish universities range from 5,000 to 15,000 EUR/year, however, private universities usually charge higher fees.

Make sure you also take into account the cost of living while studying in Finland. The average expenses range between 700 and 1,300 EUR/month and they also depend on your spending habits. Of course, costs can be higher in Helsinki.


Although education in Austria is not free, tuition and fees are relatively inexpensive! Tuition is practically non-existent for EU/EEA nationals and 1000 Euro each semester for non-Europeans. The University of Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Innsbruck, and Vienna University of Technology are among the best universities in Austria.


Education in Greece is also free for EEU nationals (for most programs). International tuition/fees are quite low as compared to many other countries (like the US, Canada, UK, and Australia).


It 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 (the US $190) per year at the undergraduate level for EU/EEA/Swiss students.

However, from the 2019/20 academic year, non-EU/EEA students will begin paying higher rates, with fees going up to €2,770 (US $3,065) per year for a Bachelor’s degree. However, the French government will be tripling the number of scholarships available to international students, from 7,000 to 21,000.

Additional charges can bring the price of your studies up, particularly for more specialized programs such as medicine and engineering, but not dramatically. 

The majority of programs that provide the opportunity to study in France for free are taught in the local language. However, chances to study in English are increasing, particularly at the graduate level. You may also attend a preparatory school to improve your French abilities before commencing your degree, but this will cost you money.

Living costs in France are also relatively affordable, amounting to around €9,600 (US $10,620) per year, though you should expect to pay more if you choose to live in the capital city, Paris.

Before making a decision, acquire thorough information about several programs and ask numerous questions. After all, the most cost-effective study abroad program is the one that benefits you the most, not the one that is the cheapest.

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