Millions of international students fly abroad for higher education every year. The main goal of this migration is primarily to learn advanced career-specific knowledge and increase their prospects of landing a better job.

When discussing the best educational hubs worldwide, Europe’s popularity is unparalleled. Europe accommodates a noticeable number of international students yearly owing to its consistently satisfactory student experience, world-class teaching faculty, and research programs. However, with so many options, students often need help narrowing down their education destination.

We have compiled this article to provide a clear layout of the ten best cities for international students to study in Europe and help you choose a destination that best meets your needs.

Top Cities to Study in Europe for International Students

Although there are many promising options, students need to consider the practicality of their chosen educational destination. For example, students should carefully analyze the accreditation of the program they wish to enroll in and the cost of the study program, among other factors like daily life expenses, future job opportunities, etc.

Keep reading to learn about the top ten European cities where you can consider studying as an international student.

1. London

London is a global hub, receiving millions of students worldwide. Besides making up 13% of the United Kingdom’s total population, London is home to many international students from other parts of the world. The city has 18 universities, a few of which have ranked highly in the QS World University Rankings. Cultural diversity and consistent delivery of Quality Education ensure a yearly influx of students from across the globe.

London offers its students various study programs, including engineering, business administration, data science nursing, arts and design, etc. Every course offered is accredited by universities worldwide, which contributes substantially to the well-established reputation of London’s educational institutes. Imperial College London and UCL (University College London) are renowned institutes in London. All universities have IELTS/ TOEFL requirements to ensure that students have substantial proficiency in the English language. Since the academic institute’s primary language is English, international students can quickly grasp the courses offered.

Depending on the institution, international undergraduate tuition fees range from £11,400 – £38,000, which, while high, is much lower than many US counterparts. For living expenses, including accommodation, bills, travel, and socializing, The London School of Economics (LSE) recommends a budget of about £1,100 to £1,300 per month (approximately US$1,470-1,740).

2. Munich

Ranking 5th in the QS top student cities 2024, Munich is another destination for international students to consider. With some of the oldest and most well-established institutes, Munich, Germany, attracts millions of students yearly. Additionally, except for a few universities or specialized study programs, no tuition fees are charged for undergraduate students at public universities in most of Germany, regardless of nationality. This facility makes Munich and Germany, in general, a primary attraction point in the education realm.

On the other hand, universities that charge tuition fees are significantly lower than those in different European countries, considering the quality of education students acquire. In addition, the government actively facilitates students who need to be financially strong enough to support their studies. The Technical University of Munich and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich are prestigious universities for those considering the city for higher education. Some prominent study programs include engineering, business studies, and natural sciences. Furthermore, the universities In Munich offer a variety of courses in English. Still, sufficient knowledge of the German language is also required as not all classes are taught entirely in English.

It should be noted that Munich’s living costs are relatively high compared to other cities in Germany. Students can expect an average expenditure of 1000 euros per month, most of which goes to paying room rent, which starts from around 550 euros for shared accommodation. Students can get cheaper accommodation in their university dormitories, which is typically difficult due to limited space and a long waiting list. The transportation system in Germany is relatively affordable, which can be further reduced if students carry a valid student identification card.

3. Paris

Paris is a Western European city with breathtaking scenery, food, and rich culture. The capital of France is home to several famous philosophers, theorists, businessmen, etc. Placed at number 6 in the QS ranking for top student cities in 2024, the city is considered an international hub of some of the most prestigious universities. Paris has nine universities in the QS World University Ranking, which speaks a lot about the city’s quality of education.

The educational institutes in Paris offer a variety of study programs, including Fashion Studies, Business Management, Culture and Arts, Luxury Brand Management, Mathematics, and many others. Some globally top-ranked universities include Université PSL and Université Paris-Saclay. Many French universities offer English-taught programs to international students, while some also require French language proficiency. Universities like Sorbonne University also offer French as Foreign Language (FLE) programs for international student wanting to improve their French language skills. Students should, therefore, inquire about the specific courses and requirements of their selected universities before enrollment.

The tuition fee for international students can vary depending upon the type of institute they enroll in, for example, France’s highly selective grandes écoles and grands établissements (great schools and establishments), Private Universities, Business schools, etc. Still, the average cost of tuition in France is roughly €10,000 per year. However, this cost shouldn’t discourage students from studying in Paris as scholarship programs or exchange student programs help substantially in supporting a student’s study tenure. For those who cannot afford these programs, the French government also actively supports higher education in the French cities.

The cost of living in Paris is high but can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. The living rent can range between 950 euros-1250 euros. Additionally, transportation costs can be around 124 euros, while depending on your eating habits, the cost of food for a single person can be around 200 euros.

4. Berlin

Berlin is our next pick for the top European cities for international students to study in. The capital of Germany is known for its picturesque landmarks and museums and ranks 8th in the QS Best Student City Ranking 2024. Like other cities in Germany in the ranking list, Berlin is a source of attraction for international students due to affordable education costs and the availability of English Language programs, especially at the postgraduate level.

Berlin’s educational institutes offer a variety of courses, such as those in international business, engineering, management and organization, social sciences, and journalism. Freie Universitäet Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin are two of the top three ranked universities in Berlin. Furthermore, like Munich, the public universities in Berlin don’t charge tuition fees, even to international students. Instead, students pay a contribution fee of €200 to €300 per semester to cover things like registration, enrollment, etc.

The cost of living will depend mainly on your lifestyle and personal requirements. Students must keep a budget of about 300 and 700 EUR per month for renting an apartment. Student dormitories are usually cheaper but can be hard to get due to limited space. Transportation is more affordable when you use public transport, which can cost around 85 euros per month. Students should keep a budget between 300 and 600 euros for food and other utilities.

5. Zurich

Zurich is the next city on our list, tied for 8th place with Berlin as the top-rated European town for students. Offering sightseeing attractions and contemporary art spots, Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and is considered the economic center and hub for most Swiss universities. Zurich has two prominent universities ranked in the top global rankings and is rightfully another desired educational destination for many international students.

International Students can access various study programs, including Engineering, Arts and Humanities, Geophysics, Earth and Marine Sciences, etc. The top universities in Zurich include ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and the University of Zurich (UZH). As for the language used in the universities, although there are English-taught master’s programs, However, most bachelor’s programs are conducted in German.

A student’s average living cost in Zurich is around CHF 2000. Although the cost is high, students are compensated with low tuition fees. Students pay a tuition fee between 400 and 3,700 EUR/year in public universities, while the cost is higher for private universities. Students have to pay around CHF 690 for rent, while food costs up to CHF 450.

6. Vienna

Vienna, the Capital of Austria, is a city of sovereign traditions and rich cultural heritage. Ranked 12th in this year’s Best Student Cities ranking, Vienna is home to Austria’s two highest-ranked universities, the University of Vienna and the Vienna University of Technology. The city offers a good quality of life and cultural indulgence to many international students from across the globe. By providing some of the lowest tuition fees, it scores 75 in affordability and has earned its spot as one of the sought-after destinations for international students.

Vienna’s educational institutes offer journalism, political science, engineering, and computer science studies, among many other programs. Additionally, the language of instruction for most programs in Vienna is German; hence, proof of German language proficiency is required for admission to all bachelor/diploma programs.

International students not residing in an EU/EEA country are charged 726.72 Euros and some Students’ Union fees. Accommodation costs vary depending on the size and location. It is possible to rent a dormitory room for 250 to 400 euros per month and a private apartment for 500 to 1,000 euros or more. The average grocery bill can vary between 200 and 300 euros, while for transportation, students can get a 2.40 euros ticket daily or even an unlimited monthly transportation pass for 51 euros.

7. Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. The cosmopolitan city attracts many tourists worldwide with hilly landscapes and monumental memorial spots. Edinburgh takes the 16th spot in the QS ranking for top student cities and has been ranked the UK’s second-best student city in a row after London. With English as its primary language of instruction, the educational institutes in Edinburgh depict a multicultural student mix, encouraging more international students to choose the city as their academic destination every year.

Scotland’s capital offers various study programs, such as Computer Science, Business, Art and Design, and Humanities. The Prominent Universities of Edinburgh include the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. The tuition fee in Edinburgh Educational institutes can vary between £16,500 and £21,715, depending on the program you enroll in. For undergraduate students from Scotland, university fees are entirely subsidized by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

Edinburgh is one of the most expensive cities in the UK and for international students, the cost of living can go up to a maximum of £920 – 2,257 per month. The rent in Edinburgh is higher than in London and can cost a student around £500-700 per month for private accommodation. If you can get a room in student accommodation, you will automatically save money as that costs around £370 or more per month. Furthermore, food can cost around £260, while students can expect an expense of around £50-57 when traveling.

8. Lausanne

Lausanne is the second city in Switzerland to be included in the QS top student cities, taking the 19th spot. The city is known for its prestigious educational institutes and research facilities and is a staple destination for students aspiring to study abroad. The Swiss city has two universities ranked among the top international universities and is, therefore, number eight in our list of top European cities for international students.

The educational institutes in Lausanne offer a variety of study programs, such as Business Administration, Hospitality and Management, Graphic Design and Illustration, etc. EPFL(Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne) and the University of Lausanne are prominent universities that offer a variety of courses to students. As for the language of instruction, although most universities offer Masters and Doctoral degrees in English, most bachelor’s degrees are taught in German, so some proficiency in the German language is essential for international students.

The tuition fee for educational institutes depends upon the course you undertake and the university(public or private) you enroll in. For public universities in Lausanne, the fee can range between 5,000 CHF and 24,000 CHF per semester. The rent in Lausanne can cost students an average of CHF 600-800. The utility cost can count up to CHF 300, whereas for food and transportation, students should keep a margin of around CHF 1000 (approx CHF900 for food and CHF 80 for transport).

9. Stockholm

At number 22 in the QS Best Student Cities, 2024 is the capital of Sweden, Scotland. Known for its beauty, culture, and innovation, the Swedish city offers high-quality life and education and is ranked 18th in the world for desirability reflecting its desirability among local and international students. Sweden is known for its openness towards the international community and its education system is no exception as it takes in a significant number of international students every year.

Some of the courses offered by the universities in the Swedish capital include Computer Science, Information and Communication Technology, mathematics, etc. Prominent universities include the Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University. The good news for international students is that the educational institutes in Stockholm and Sweden generally offer over 1,000 English-taught programs. You do not need sufficient proficiency in Swedish, as courses are available in Swedish, Swedish as a second language, English, or modern languages.

The tuition fee can vary between SEK 90,000 and 140,000, depending on your program. Swedish students should budget at least 10,314 monthly SEK to cover all living expenses. In addition, you can expect to spend a lot of your budget on accommodation, which probably costs around 4,700 SEK per month. Students can expect an expenditure of SEK 2,700 on food, while transportation can cost around 650 SEK.

10. Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, is our last but certainly not the least recommended student city in Europe. With a focus on problem-solving, vocational training, and child-centered teaching, the Netherlands has one of the finest education systems in the world and ranks 24th in the QS ranking for top cities. Through their autonomous problem-solving teaching methods, multicultural interactions, and internationally recognized degrees, Dutch institutes offer students a unique educational experience to many international students.

Amsterdam’s educational institutes offer a variety of programs, such as Economics and Business, Web Development, Fashion Design, and Communication Sciences. The top Universities in Amsterdam include the University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA), and Tinbergen Institute, among others. One thing to remember is that the Netherlands’ higher education system consists of HBO and WO, which have specific requirements. Any international student considering enrolling in Amsterdam should familiarize themselves with the Tertiary (higher) education system and their selected institute’s specific requirements to avoid unforeseen concerns.

Many of the institutes in Amsterdam require IELTS and TOEFL tests and decent proficiency in the English language for the students. Many universities offer English programs and courses, making it easier for students to blend into the education culture.

The tuition fee can range between €5,060 and € 14,300 per year, while private institutes can cost up to € 30,000 per year. A monthly budget of €900 to €1,600 usually covers basic needs like housing, food, insurance, and transportation. Rent can cost between €450 – €1100 and can be slightly lowered when arranged by your university. Furthermore, food can cost around €350 per month. You need a budget of €70 – €100 for transportation unless you commute from outside of Amsterdam.

All the cities quoted in our list are ranked high globally and offer some of the best education systems and study programs. Hopefully, you got a better picture of the different aspects of the ten best cities in Europe for international students planning to study abroad.

 

We hope that you found this article on the best cities to study in Europe for international students informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe for International Students to explore your study options!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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