Best universities in Europe 2016: Where can you get value for money?

See the top 20 of the best universities in Europe ranking for 2016 and compare tuition fees across the different countries.
March 10 2016

View the full list of the 200 best universities in Europe


A ranking of universities in Europe released today shows that top university choices stretch far beyond the UK, Germany and other usual suspects.

Twenty-two different countries in Europe are represented in the top 200 ranking, with UK universities taking almost a quarter of the places.

ETH Zurich in Switzerland, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and LMU Munich in Germany are the only non-UK universities in the top 10, but below that threshold the ranking is significantly more diverse.


- The 78 best universities in the United Kingdom
- See the best universities in France
-
 Top universities in Germany
- Best universities in the Netherlands


Italy has the third highest number of universities in the ranking, behind the UK and Germany. Its top entry is Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, which has only 462 full-time students, 5 per cent of whom are international.

Sho Takahashi – a PhD student from Japan researching ancient Greek art – chose to study at Scuola Normale Superiore after taking a seminar with a visiting professor in Japan.

He says: “I always feel that here I am so close to ancient Greece and Rome and enjoy the atmosphere. It is not only the books in the library, but also the field studies. When I studied in Japan, I needed a lot of money and time for field trips. However, now Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa provides me many opportunities for my research.

“The lectures for ancient Greece are always stimulating. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand the lectures because the professors speak Italian. However, they are so kind; I can ask them anything whenever I have any question. So I can learn many things in Pisa.”


Looking for advice on financing university?


Although Italy charges all students tuition fees, the average annual cost of studying, €1,500, is far less than it is in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and even the Netherlands, even for students outside the European Union.

Of the countries with more than one university in the top 200, only Germany and Norway offer free tuition to EU and non-EU students alike. Together, their universities occupy 40 places in the top 200.


Tuition fees for EU and non-EU students

Country

Universities in top 200

Annual fees for EU students

Annual fees for non-EU students

UK*

46

€11,612

€15,611, or  €18,320 for lab-based degrees

Germany

36

Free

Free

Italy

19

€1,500

€1,500

France

15

€189 at state universities, or €1,500-€6,000 at private universities

€189 at state universities, or €1,500-€6,000 at private universities

Netherlands

13

€1,984

€5,000-€25,000

Sweden

11

Free

€9,700

Switzerland

9

€1,500-€6,000

€1,500-€6,000

Belgium

7

€374-€836

€374-€836

Republic of Ireland

6

€3,000

€10,000-€16,000 for arts, humanities and business

€10,000-€21,600 for STEM

€37,128-€52,000 for medicine

Denmark

6

Free

€10,000

Finland

6

Free

Minimum €1,500 from 2017

Russian Federation

5

€2,406-€6,765

€2,406-€6,765

Spain

5

Up to €1,800

Up to €1,800

Austria

5

Free

€1,453

Norway

4

Free

Free

*Universities in Scotland offer free tuition to Scottish and EU students, while students from the 'rest of the UK' pay tuition fees set by the institution, as do non-EU students. The Welsh government offers a non-repayable tuition fee grant to EU (non-UK) students.

Note: Tuition fee data are from a variety of sources as of March 2016. Some countries indicate average fees while others reveal the range of fees. (€1 = $1.09 or £0.77)


With more than 5,000 degrees taught in English at top universities in mainland Europe, there are plenty of economical options for mobile students beyond just the UK.

The most expensive degrees in Europe are always in clinical or laboratory-based subjects, but studying at a top university in Europe, like the specialist medical school Karolinska Institute in Sweden, could offer great value for money.

The bachelor of biomedicine costs less than €2,000 each year for non-EU students and is free for EU citizens. Medical student Arvin Chireh found unexpected advantages arising from the prestige and reputation of the university.

He explains: “What surprised me, and what I had not expected, were the extra benefits and opportunities provided at a top-rated research university. I eventually became interested in research, which I had not anticipated, and was lucky to be at a school with state-of-the-art research in almost any medical field. The chances to enter a funded PhD programme are also great.

“Furthermore, I took the opportunity to travel abroad several times during my studies, once on research purposes, which was partly facilitated by the prestige of my school and the international networks among my local professors.”

Tobias Jones, from the UK, chose to study for his Master's in Middle Eastern studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

He explains: "I chose Leiden University because it was recommended to me by my professors at St Andrews, who knew the Middle Eastern Studies programme was very good. I also fancied a change of scenery after living in the UK for 10 years, and the Netherlands and Leiden seemed like a great place to start. The very cheap fees certainly aided my decision making process!

"The experience here has been amazing. I have enjoyed the courses on offer, and they were quite different in style to much of what I had done in the UK. The culture here is very enjoyable, and I have met many people from around the world with fascinating life stories and focuses in their research. The city certainly provides stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of London too."

He feels that Leiden has unique features that make it particularly appealing to prospective students, saying: "I do think that Leiden as a university city really thrives. Students studying in canal-side parks, or having a beer on a terrace while bikes whizz past and boats trundle along one of the canals really makes you feel like you are part of something special. Other universities will have their own amazing aspects, but Leiden is unique and I have no regrets about choosing this university over others in Europe"

For the full top 200, see the best universities in Europe 2016.


20 best universities in Europe 2016

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2015-2016 results

Europe rank 2016

University

Country

World University Rank 2016

1

University of Oxford

UK

2

2

University of Cambridge

UK

4

3

Imperial College London

UK

8

4

ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Switzerland

9

5

University College London

UK

14

6

London School of Economics and Political Science

UK

23

7

University of Edinburgh

UK

24

8

King’s College London

UK

27

9

Karolinska Institute

Sweden

28

10

LMU Munich

Germany

29

11

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Switzerland

31

12

KU Leuven

Belgium

35

13

Heidelberg University

Germany

37

14

Wageningen University and Research Center

Netherlands

47

15

Humboldt University of Berlin

Germany

49

16

Technical University of Munich

Germany

53

17

École Normale Supérieure

France

54

18

University of Manchester

UK

56

19

University of Amsterdam

Netherlands

58

20

Utrecht University

Netherlands

62

Data are drawn from the World University Rankings 2015-16 © THE data@timeshighereducation.com.  

Reader's comments (1)

• Studying abroad is an expensive investment but could be very valuable with right planning • Studying abroad is more than just financial investment, it is investing in you and your future • Tuition fee at the university is only one of the factors to consider, what else? • The ranking of the university is important as a guide, there are other factors to consider too • English language opens up more employment opportunities • Choosing a suitable topic and research project is very important in what you like to do after your study • Look at “Iran Education and Development” LinkedIn group under Manager’s choice for more useful guidelines

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Related articles