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10 Cheapest Universities in Europe for International Students

Ever dreamed of getting your degree abroad in Europe but been too worried about costs to consider it? Yeah, studying overseas is no small investment – between tuition, rent, food, and everything else, it can feel super overwhelming!

Well fear not, my friend, because I’m here to tell you that there are still affordable options to earn a world-class education on that continent.

In this post, I’m breaking down 10 of the most budget-friendly universities in Europe that won’t break the bank.

You’ll be surprised – places like Scandinavia and Eastern Europe have lots of schools where tuition is low or even free for all students. Some also offer extra scholarships specifically for internationals.

Whether you’re thinking of doing a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD, there are cheap programs for every level. I’ve done all the homework so you don’t have to. Just quality places that will give you an amazing education without emptying your wallet.

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By the end, you’ll feel way more confident about choosing an affordable path to your European degree dreams. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in and check out where you can study over there without stressing about money the whole time!

Why Study in Europe?

When it comes to world-class higher education, Europe should definitely be on your radar. Studying abroad on the continent has so many benefits:

Diverse Cultures

From Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, Europe offers a wealth of culturally rich countries right on your doorstep. Immerse yourself in new languages, traditions, food and perspectives.

Launch Your Career

A European degree sharpens cross-cultural skills and independence highly valued by global employers. Build career-boosting international experience for your resume.

Travel Opportunities

With over 50 countries and open travel between Schengen members, you have an entire region to explore cheaply on weekends and breaks. Make lifelong memories.

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Self-Reliance

Living abroad teaches self-reliance as you navigate through a new culture and education system. Thrive with increased self-assurance from conquering challenges.

Build Global Connections

Make friends from around the world to expand your networking beyond borders. Alumni networks further support your success locally and internationally.

Affordable Living

As you’ll read, free or low-cost tuition in places means Europe is far from being for the wealthy alone. Stretch your funds further here than other study destinations.

So in short – Europe offers world-class learning experiences to kickstart your future, all within budget if you choose the right programs.

10 Cheapest Universities in Europe for International Students

1. University of Helsinki, Finland

Location: Helsinki, Finland 

Address: Fabianinkatu 33, 00014 Helsinki

Tuition Fees: No tuition fees for bachelor’s and master’s programs. PhD students pay a nominal annual fee of €300-€2000.

Popular Programs: Business and economics, engineering, sciences, arts and social sciences. Helsinki offers 290 master’s and 130 doctoral programs in English. 

About: With 29,000+ students, the University of Helsinki is one of the top schools in Northern Europe. It’s located right in central Helsinki with easy access to the harbour, parks and nature areas. International students can enjoy snowy winters, midnight sun summers and Finnish sophistication. Scholarships up to €10,000 are also offered.

2. University of Tartu, Estonia  

Location: Tartu, Estonia

Address: Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia

Tuition Fees: All bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programs are free for EU/EEA citizens. Non-EU students pay €7,000/year maximum for bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Popular Programs: Biology, medicine, psychology, physics, computational logic. Degrees are offered in Estonian and English.

About: Founded in 1632, the University of Tartu is the oldest and largest university in Estonia. The historic buildings sit on a pleasant campus surrounded by greenery. Living costs are very low in Tartu compared to other European cities. The university offers need-based scholarships up to €3,000/year as well as NAFO scholarships up to €8,000/year for African and Asian students.

3.  University of Lisbon, Portugal

Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Address: Alameda da Universidade, 1649-004 Lisbon 

Tuition Fees: No tuition fees for EU/EEA students. Non-EU undergrads pay €880-1500/year, masters pay €2000-3500/year.

Popular Programs: Law, economics, engineering, natural sciences, medicine. Degree options in English, Portuguese and other languages.

About: Founded in 1290, the University of Lisbon is the largest university in Portugal. Its majestic buildings are spread across the hilly landscape overlooking Lisbon. The cost of living is low and the city offers great nightlife, cuisine and a mild climate near the coast. International students can apply for merit-based scholarships.

4. University of Latvia, Latvia  

Location: Riga, Latvia

Address: Aspazijas bulv. 5, Riga LV-1050, Latvia

Tuition Fees: No tuition fees for Bachelor’s and Master’s programs for all students. PhDs pay €2000-4000/year.  

Popular Programs: Economics, mathematics, engineering, sciences, IT, European and business studies. Over 400 accredited programs in English.

About: Established in 1919, the University of Latvia has around 20,000 students studying across four campuses in Riga. Riga is a beautiful coastal city on the rise, with a medieval Old Town, art museums and affordable cost of living. International students may be eligible for merit scholarships and can work part-time to support themselves.

5. University of Basel, Switzerland

Location: Basel, Switzerland  

Address: Petersplatz 1, 4003 Basel, Switzerland

Tuition Fees: CHF 850-1500 per semester for a Bachelor’s, CHF 1000-2500 for a Master’s (EU citizens pay less).

Popular Programs: Biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, economics, law. 250+ programs in English.

About: Established in 1460, the University of Basel is a prestigious research university located near the French-German borders. While Switzerland has a high cost of living, this is one of the few Swiss universities with tuition fees comparatively lower than private schools in home countries. The international office provides guidance on visa procedures. 

6. Charles University, Czech Republic

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Address: Ovocný trh 3-5, 116 36 Praha 1, Czech Republic  

Tuition Fees: Free tuition for all Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programs for EU/EEA students. Non-EU students pay €7000-9000/year.

Popular Programs: Social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, medicine, law, mathematics/IT. English programs include Medicine, Psychology etc.  

About: Founded in 1348, Charles University is the oldest and largest university in Prague. Prague has a fascinating historic city centre and lower living costs than in Western Europe. Scholarships up to €2,000/year are offered based on academics, financial need or talents like arts/sports.

7. University of Tartu, Estonia

Location: Tartu, Estonia

Address: Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia

Tuition Fees: All bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programs are free for EU/EEA citizens. Non-EU students pay €7,000/year maximum for bachelor’s and master’s programs.  

Popular Programs: Biology, medicine, psychology, physics, computational logic. Degrees are offered in Estonian and English.

About: Founded in 1632, the University of Tartu is the oldest and largest university in Estonia. The historic buildings sit on a pleasant campus surrounded by greenery. Living costs are very low in Tartu compared to other European cities. The university offers need-based scholarships up to €3,000/year as well as NAFO scholarships up to €8,000/year for African and Asian students.

8. University of Cyprus, Cyprus 

Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Address: Kallipoleos 75, 164 46 Nicosia

Tuition Fees: No tuition fees for all EU/EEA citizens. Non-EU students pay €2,000/year for a bachelor’s and €3,000/year for a master’s.

Popular Programs: Sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences. Degree programs taught in both Greek and English.  

About: Founded in 1992, the University of Cyprus has strong research centres in areas like marine sciences, archaeology and cultural heritage. Cyprus offers a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle at relatively low costs. The university provides several partially/fully-funded scholarships each year for international master’s students.

9. University of Malta, Malta

Location: Msida, Malta  

Address: Msida MSD 2080, Malta

Tuition Fees: No tuition fees for all undergraduate and postgraduate programs for all students.

Popular Programs: ICT, health sciences, media & design, social wellbeing, business & finance. English is the language of instruction.

About: Located in the capital Valletta, the University of Malta has around 11,000 students. Malta is a scenic island nation with a mild climate ideal for year-round studying outdoors. Accommodation at university residences start from just €50/month. Scholarships worth up to €4,000/year are offered based on academic merits.

10. Vilnius University, Lithuania

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Address: Universiteto g. 3, LT-01513 Vilnius, Lithuania 

Tuition Fees: Free tuition for all citizens of EU/EEA/Switzerland. International students pay €2,000-5,000/year depending on field/level of study.

Popular Programs: Law, political science, humanities, economics, medicine. Degree options in Lithuanian, English, German, Polish and Russian.

About: Established in 1579, Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe. The city of Vilnius has a charming medieval Old Town and affordable cost of living. International students can earn merit scholarships covering 50-100% tuition fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is language proficiency required?

Many top universities now offer full degree programs taught in English. However, knowing some of the local languages can help you integrate better.

How much should I budget for living expenses?

Expect to spend €700-1000 per month as a minimum on rent, food, transport etc. But costs differ in each city/country. Some offer student housing from €200-500 monthly.

What kinds of scholarships are available? 

Schools provide academic, merit, talent and need-based scholarships. Also check DAAD (Germany), Erasmus Mundus (EU), NAFO (West Africa) etc. Awards can cover 30-100% tuition. 

How difficult is the admissions process? 

Admission is competitive for top programs. Requirements include transcripts, statements, letters, and language scores. Early application is advised like Oct-Dec for the following academic year.

Can I work part-time while studying? 

Many EU countries allow students to work part-time, usually 10-20 hours weekly any job. Some schools also have on-campus job opportunities. Non-EU students may need a student residence permit to work.

What are my career prospects after graduation? 

EU students gain the right to work anywhere in Europe with no visa hassles. Non-EU can often find jobs with their EU university degree and then apply for mid-long-term national residence permits.

Conclusion 

I hope this list has given you a starting point to explore affordable, quality education opportunities across Europe. Of course, there are many other excellent public universities throughout the continent that won’t break the bank as well.

Do your research on program costs, living expenses, scholarships and post-study work policies for your shortlisted countries. Most of all, don’t let a budget hold you back from achieving your dream of studying abroad.

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