The cheapest universities for international


The cheapest universities for international – The following is an excerpt from the QS Top Graduate School Guide 2016-2017. The most recent issue of the magazine is available online here. 

It is feasible to study abroad on a budget, believe it or not! Some of the best places to study abroad also have inexpensive, if not non-existent, tuition fees. Continue reading to learn more about ten of the cheapest nations to study in, in no particular order… 

Norway is number one. 

Although all of the Nordic countries are reasonably inexpensive study locations, Norway is our top selection since, except for a few specialized programs, public universities in Norway remain free to all students from within and outside the EU. Norway, like the rest of Europe’s Nordic countries, is noted for its great quality of life and magnificent natural beauty. Another advantage to studying in Norway is the abundance of English-taught programs at all levels of study, as well as a large number of native English speakers. Norway, like the rest of the Nordic countries, has a high cost of living; you’ll need roughly NOK 139,680 (US$17,200) a year to live comfortably. 

Taiwan is number two. 

If you’re looking to study abroad in Asia, Taiwan is another affordable option. For example, tuition rates for undergraduates at National Taiwan University, which is ranked 72nd in the QS World University Rankings® 2019, start at TW$100,920 (US$3,300) a year for liberal arts programs and go up to TW$124,200 (US$4,050). Taiwan has more than 120 English-taught courses at over 40 universities, and it is also a popular destination for Mandarin learners. Taiwan also offers a high quality of life at a low cost of living; annual housing costs as little as TW$88,000 (US$2,900). 

Germany is number three. 

Germany, sometimes known as the “Land of Ideas,” continues to gain appeal among international students, and it’s easy to understand why: it has prestigious universities, affordable fees, and good quality of life. All public universities, except those in Baden-Württemberg, do not collect tuition fees at the undergraduate and Ph.D. levels. Master’s students who did not complete their undergraduate degree in Germany should expect to pay upwards of €20,000 (US$23,450) per year, though you may be eligible for a scholarship. You’ll need at least €10,200 (US$11,950) per year to cover living expenses, but you may need more based on your lifestyle, region, and spending habits. There are also a variety of English-taught courses available, especially at the graduate level. 

France is number four. 

Domestic and international students pay the same tuition fees in France, which are set at €170 (US$200) a year for bachelor’s (license) programs, €243 (US$285) for most master’s programs, and €380 (US$445) for doctoral programs in 2019/19. Fees at the extremely selective grandes écoles and grands établissements, which determine their fees, are significantly higher. The capital, Paris, will have the greatest living costs, but you may find it worthwhile – after all, Paris has been crowned the world’s number one student city four times in a row (and currently stands at fifth). If you don’t speak French fluently, you can study in English in France, with the majority of English-taught programs available at the postgraduate level. 

Mexico is number five. 

Mexico is one of Latin America’s most-visited countries, with a diverse culture to discover. It also has a lot to offer international students. Tuition rates vary, with private universities costing more, however for international undergraduate students in Mexico City, which was rated one of the world’s top 100 cities for students, the average annual tuition is roughly US$6,300. Living costs are also quite inexpensive in Mexico, with a standard budget in the capital amounting to roughly US$9,250, or US$6,450 elsewhere. Although Spanish is the primary language of teaching, Mexican universities are increasingly offering English-taught courses to attract international students. 

India is number six on the list. 

Returning to Asia for the second entry on our list of the cheapest countries to study abroad, India is an excellent choice for those seeking affordability as well as cultural diversity. While Hindi is the most widely spoken of the country’s 100 or so languages, English is frequently used in Indian colleges, particularly at the postgraduate level. The cost of living is extremely low; a one-way trip on public transportation can cost as little as 29 cents in the US. Tuition prices vary by study level and university, but should not exceed US$7,880 per year, and you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$4,600 per year. 

Argentina is ranked number seven. 

Argentina, South America’s second-largest country, has spectacular natural beauty and a diversified terrain that makes it excellent for students interested in outdoor adventure and discovery. Argentina is also known for its fun-loving culture and strong national identity and is regarded as one of the safest countries in the region. At a state-funded (public) university, you can usually study for free, while private universities charge roughly US$5,100 a year or more. For living expenses, you’ll need roughly $5,000, with rent as low as US$350 per month. 

Poland (number 8) 

Poland is another great country to study abroad on a budget, as it offers a high-quality education as well as a wealth of culture and history to discover. If you speak Polish and take the same entrance examinations as Polish students and take your course in Polish, you can study for free. There are, however, several English-taught programs available, ranging in price from €2,000 to $3,500 (US$2,340 to $3,500) a year. Living expenses are likewise on the modest side, with an annual budget of €6,600 (US$7,700). In the 2017 QS Best Student Cities survey, Warsaw, the capital, was ranked in the top 20 cities for affordability, and 53rd overall. 

Malaysia is number nine. 

Malaysia is unquestionably one of the most affordable nations in which to study abroad, especially in terms of living expenses. In the QS Best Student Cities 2016, Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, came out on top for affordability, with most students only needing roughly MYR 14,400 (US$3,550) a year to live comfortably. Tuition expenses are around US$4,000 per academic year, however, certain degrees are even less expensive. Malaysia also has several branch campuses of overseas universities, such as the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and Monash University in Australia, which provide students with the option to earn a degree from these schools at a lesser cost. 

South Africa is number ten. 

South Africa is known for its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and stormy history, and it concludes our look at some of the greatest destinations to study abroad on a budget. Another excellent option for those who enjoy the outdoors, it is also fairly priced, with minimal living and tuition prices. International undergraduates studying at the University of Cape Town (South Africa’s highest-ranked university in the QS World University Rankings) and the University of the Western Cape pay an average of US$6,000 in fees. To pay your living expenses, you’ll need roughly R 120,000 (US$9,150) a year. 


Check out our post “Where Can You Study Abroad for Free?” and our list of the 10 Most Affordable Cities for Students, based on the QS Best Student Cities, to learn more about the best destinations to study abroad on a budget. Check out our comprehensive article on How to Find Scholarships to Study Abroad if you need assistance getting a scholarship. 

The original version of this essay was published in November of 2016. It was last updated in July of this year. 

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