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by GK Strategy 29th November, 2018
2 min read

Opportunities to Study in Europe

Enrolling yourself into a university can be an excellent investment in your future career. But where to go to university is an important question with lifelong implications. It is a difficult decision to make. Once you have chosen your course you need to find the right educational institution, and it could be further away than you first imagine – perhaps even abroad.

More students are now studying abroad than ever before. Globally over 4.6 million students attended a university outside their home country in 2017, according to the latest IIE’s report. The US remained the world leading top destination last year, but China, Australia, Canada and Russia have gained a significant market share in terms of international students. Plus, despite Brexit, the UK has retained its second place position in the global rankings, and mainland Europe also offers a large range of options. In this blog, we will analyse the various opportunities to study around Europe – exploring the positives and negatives of each.

The UK

The UK continues to be one of the most attractive destinations for international students from across the world. Although England is amongst the most expensive countries to study in, EU students are currently eligible to apply for loans, several funds and grants to cover their tuition fees and living costs. For example, in the 2017/18 academic year, the maximum living loan was £8,430 for those who study outside London but this could be up to £11,000 in the capital. This is alongside a loan to cover fees. Furthermore, the UK’s Government offers a wide range of scholarships, such as the Chevening Scholarship for international students. However, this prestigious scheme is oversubscribed and there is fierce competition to become one of the lucky recipients.  

Recent policy developments have helped the UK potentially to become an even more attractive proposition for international students. The Universities Minister, Sam Gyimah, proposed a shortened 2 year-degree course earlier this month, which would cost 20% less than the traditional three-year course. In other words, instead of paying £27.750 for three years, the tuition fee would cost about £22,000, with the same number of lectures as a longer degree packed into a shorter time. This, alongside an increasing recognition among policy-makers in the UK of the value of higher education as an export and the desire to bring more students from overseas to British institutions, means the policy environment is likely only to become more welcoming to international students.  

Other countries in the UK set their own strategy on tuition fees as a result of devolved national administrations. In Scotland, for example, a subsidy given by the Student Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) ensures effectively free undergraduate degrees for Scottish and non-UK EU students, while Wales is the most affordable country to study in terms of living costs and tuition fees.

Elsewhere in Europe

The higher education system in Europe is mostly based on public funding so European universities are able to offer courses for low or even no tuition fees. There are many countries with no tuition fees for EU/EEA member countries; for example,  Austria. Similarly, France, Germany, Italy and Spain offer very affordable tuition fees, where public universities can charge you only between 200-1400 EUR/year.

When it comes to the Nordic countries, Scandinavian universities are the top of many foreign students’ wish lists not only due to their free tuition policies but also the growing selection of opportunities to study in English. Finnish institutions offer more than 450 degrees taught in English, more than 700 taught in Danish and over a thousand degrees taught in Swedish. Due to the highly advanced social support system and the appealing Scandinavian lifestyle, many students choose those countries to study.

What does the future hold for students in terms of mobility in Europe?

As Brexit looms, EU students are concerned that UK tuition fees could be significantly raised. Fortunately, so far, many UK universities have pledged to keep tuition fees fixed at the same rate for current EU students and they will also remain eligible for the same fees in autumn 2019 that are currently capped at £9,250 a year. Although Brexit-related uncertainty may be present in the minds of some students, the Government remains committed to ensuring that international students see the UK as an attractive destination.

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