The 10 cheapest universities in Europe

FairFX has calculated the cheapest and most expensive universities in Europe in a post-Brexit landscape

January 11 2018
European Union (EU) flags flying

Two Italian universities have been crowned the cheapest universities in Europe, according to new analysis by foreign exchange company FairFX. 

Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna have been named the cheapest for both EU and non-EU students because there are no tuition fees and the university covers living costs for all students. 

The analysis by FairFX aims to highlight how Brexit could affect the cost of studying at European universities that were included in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018. It is based on tuition fees, living costs and currency rates.

European students seeking an education in Britain currently pay the same as British students, which will continue in the 2018/19 academic year. However, it is unclear whether they would be treated as international students post-Brexit. Non-EU students currently pay more than £30,000 a year to study in the UK on average. 

For UK students looking to study in Europe, their fees will also depend on what is agreed in Brexit negotiations. 

The top 10 cheapest EU universities 2018

Value Rank

THE World University Rank

 University

 Country

Tuition fees

Living costs

 Total

How much more for non-EU students?

=1

184

Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

Italy

£0

£0

£0

£0

=1

=155

Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna

Italy

£0

£0

£0

£0

3

=155

TU Dresden

Germany

£457

£4,869

£5,326

£0

4

88

Free University of Berlin

Germany

£552

£5,754

£6,306

£0

5

=113

University of Göttingen

Germany

£650

£5,754

£6,404

£0

6

=165

University of Würzburg

Germany

£220

£6,197

£6,417

£0

7

79

RWTH Aachen University

Germany

£455

£5,976

£6,431

£0

8

45

Heidelberg University

Germany

£396

£6,197

£6,593

£0

9

125

University of Mannheim

Germany

£277

£6,418

£6,696

£2,655

10

82

University of Freiburg

Germany

£274

£6,640

£6,914

£2,656

FairFX also revealed the most expensive universities for EU and non-EU students – and every single one of the top 10 was located in the UK. The cheapest UK university was the University of East Anglia, costing £16,279 per year.

The most expensive universities to study at in the EU (for EU students) 2018

Most expensive Rank

World University Rank

 University name

 Tuition fee

 Average living costs

 Total

1

16

UCL

£9,250

£15,103

£24,353

2

=143

University of St Andrews

£9,250

£12,720

£21,970

3

=141

University of Birmingham

£9,250

£12,180

£21,430

4

8

Imperial College London

£9,250

£11,190

£20,440

5

1

University of Oxford

£9,250

£11,129

£20,379

= 6

36

King’s College London

£9,250

£11,000

£20,250

= 6

76

University of Bristol

£9,250

£11,000

£20,250

8

121

Queen Mary University of London

£9,250

£10,500

£19,750

9

=126

University of Southampton

£9,250

£9,953

£19,203

10

=80

University of Glasgow

£9,250

£9,792

£19,042

The costs of each university for both EU and non-EU students were also calculated to highlight what British students may end up paying after the UK leaves the EU in 2019. There were some significant differences, the largest at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, with a difference of £16,500. 

However, despite these costs, many universities in Europe worked out significantly cheaper than if a student chose to stay in the UK. 

The biggest differences in costs for EU v international students  

Post-Brexit Rank

World University Rank

 University

 Country

Average costs for EU students (tuition and living)

Average costs for international students (non-EU) (tuition and living)

Difference

1

=38

Karolinska Institute

Sweden

£7,197

£23,697

£16,500

2

103

Maastricht University  

Netherlands

£11,514

£27,222

£15,708

3

64

Wageningen University & Research

Netherlands

£9,566

£23,371

£13,805

4

90

University of Helsinki 

Finland

£7,614

£21,247

£13,632

5

=153

Technical University of Denmark

Denmark

£9,829

£23,108

£13,279

6

9

  Lund University 

Sweden

£7,647

£20,773

£13,126

7

=198

University of Gothenburg

Sweden

£7,197

£18,199

£11,801

8

68

Utrecht University

Netherlands

£9,743

£20,947

£11,204

9

=86

Uppsala University

Sweden

£7,255

£18,357

£11,102

10

=173

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Sweden

£7,746

£18,803

£11,057

The analysis also looked at the most affordable countries in Europe, and Italy came out on top because there are no tuition fees and no living costs for students. Other countries such as Germany and Finland, which do not charge tuition fees but charge admin fees, also come up high on the list. 

The most affordable countries to study in Europe

Rank

Country

Average tuition Fee

Average living costs

Average Total

How much more for non-EU students?

1

Italy

£0

£0

£0

£0

2

Germany*

£379

£6,811

£7,190

£699

3

Sweden

£0

£7,448

£7,448

£12,335

4

Finland*

£89

£7,525

£7,614

£13,632

5

Austria

£34

£8,543

£8,557

£1,270

6

Belgium

£776

£8,410

£9,186

£1,286

7

Luxembourg

£708

£9,552

£10,260

£0

8

Spain

£1,852

£8,676

£10,528

£2,694

9

Norway

£127

£10,411

£10,538

£0

10

Netherlands

£1,776

£9,250

£11,026

£8,838

*No tuition fees, just semester fees/student union fees

Read more: Students react to EU referendum results

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