Quality education is an investment, but it doesn’t always need to come at such a huge price. In most European countries, governments invest heavily in higher education. As a result, public universities offer tuition fee-free programs to citizens and permanent residents. By reciprocity, throughout Europe, education in public universities is free of charge for EU/EEA students.
However, non-EU/EEA students can still find affordable and even free tuition universities in Europe with a little more research. This article enlists seven universities in Europe that offer free-tuition education to all nationalities.
Free Universities in Europe
1. University of Bergen – Norway
The University of Bergen is one of the oldest and highest-ranked universities in Norway. This free university in Europe has a wide variety of courses taught in English and is particularly known for courses in its areas of excellence: Marine, Climate and Energy Transition, and Global challenges.
More than 10% of its 18,000 are international students because it is a top-rated university and because it offers tuition-free education for all students regardless of citizenship. The only fee that students pay is a semester fee of 590 NOK, which goes to the Student Welfare Organization.
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration recommends a budget of around 123,519 NOK per year to cover expenses such as accommodation, food, transportation, learning materials, and other living expenses.
2. The Arctic University of Norway
The Arctic University of Norway is another free university in Europe. A fun fact is that it is the northernmost higher educational institution in the entire world, which means that international students can expect freezing temperatures in the winters and rarely any daylight. In addition to that, the Arctic University of Norway is also the sixth-largest university in Norway.
Due to its location, the university focuses on auroral light research, biotechnology, space science, fishery science, biotechnology, linguistics, telemedicine, epidemiology, and multicultural societies.
The university doesn’t charge any tuition fees whatsoever, but its students need to pay a semester fee of NOK 625 to The Arctic Student Welfare Organization.
3. University of South Bohemia – Czech Republic
By law, in the Czech Republic, programs taught in the Czech language are free of charge for all students regardless of nationality. Apart from their program in the Czech language, USB offers 30 programs in the English language and three programs in German.
The University of South Bohemia (USB) is a public university at České Budějovice. USB offers 230 degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level through its eight faculties – Faculty of Education, Social Sciences, Economics, Arts, Theology, as well as Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters.
4. Mendel University in Brno – Czech Republic
Named after the scientist Gregor Mendel, this university in Brno is the oldest specialized university in the Czech Republic. MUB is considered to be among the leading educational institutions in life sciences. This free university in Europe offers programs through its faculties and institute include the AgriSciences, Business and Economics, Forestry and Wood Technology, Horticulture, as well as the Faculty of Regional Development and International Studies.
Mendel University offers a wide range of programs in both English and Czech language. However, all degree programs taught in the Czech language are free, even for international students. Any student willing to become fluent in Czech can gain a reputable degree in this central European country. In addition, the Institute of Lifelong Learning offers an intensive Czech language course for foreigners, and the university has student clubs that run programs to support international students.
5. University of Iceland
The University of Iceland is a public university in Reykjavik, Iceland. Initially a civil servant’s school, it is now a modern comprehensive university with five schools overseeing 25 faculties. The university does not charge tuition fees but collects a non-refundable registration fee of 75,000 ISK.
While the university does not charge tuition fees, living costs in Iceland can be quite expensive. The university estimates the living cost of a single person in Reykjavík to be around 207,709 ISK per month. This amount is sufficient to cover housing and utilities (ISK 100,000 per month), food and daily expenses (ISK 50,000 per month), books and material cost (ISK (40,000 per semester), transportation (ISK 6,000 per month), and entertainment (ISK 30,000 per month).
6. University of Akureyri – Iceland
The University of Akureyri does not charge tuition fees but requires students to pay a non-refundable registration fee of 75,000 ISK every year. More than half of UNAK’s student body population of 2,540 are women.
This free university in Europe offers programs in social sciences, media studies, nursing, occupational therapy, teacher training, biotechnology, law, police science, modern studies, psychology, fishery studies, computer science, and business administration. The majority of the students attend the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
All bachelor degree programs are taught in Icelandic. The only programs taught entirely in English are Master’s programs in Polar Law, Natural Sciences and several courses related to Fisheries and Marine Sciences.
In 2019, UNAK became a full-fledged university and was granted permission to offer doctoral studies. Its graduate programs are offered in the fields of health sciences, social sciences, business administration, and resource studies.
7. University of Bonn – Germany
The German government fully subsidizes students in public universities; thus, there are no tuition fees for students at the University of Bonn. However, international students are only required to submit an administration fee of 300 euros per semester.
The University of Bonn is located in Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, and has a strong track record in research. The UB’s seven faculties include Law, Catholic and Protestant Theology, Arts, Medicine, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and the Faculty of Agriculture. Prospective students can choose from around 200 academic disciplines offered by these faculties.
Even though it is formally free to study in Bonn, some expenses need to be considered. Estimates of living expenses in Bonn suggest that a student will need around 800 to 1,000 euros per month to live comfortably in Bonn. The amount will cover accommodation (250-560 euros), food (200 euros), health insurance (110 euros), Books (40 euros), other daily expenses, including entertainment (170 euros).