A guide to studying abroad for students from the European Union

By StudyLink

Image of three European Union flags flying on flagpoles

This article is a guide for students currently in the EU looking to study abroad. Please see our Europe directory if you are interested in studying in Europe.

The European Union region contains many countries with award-winning and top-ranked universities teaching a variety of courses across levels. In addition to the EU region of 27 European countries, the EEA, or European Economic Area, includes students from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Around 38 percent of all universities in the QS World Rankings 2022 are based in the EU. This makes it most likely that, as an EU student, you will find amazing universities in your home country. Of course, you may still want to experience life abroad as an international student or pursue a particular degree programme at a foreign university.

Top International Study Destinations for European Union Students

United Kingdom

Although the UK’s departure from the EU, known as Brexit, and the recent covid pandemic have led to a drop in the number of EU students pursuing degrees in the United Kingdom, the country is still home to over 150,000 EU-based students every year.

EU students prefer universities in the United Kingdom due to its closeness with their home countries, cultural diversity in cities such as Manchester and London, and multiple possibilities for scholarships and other financial assistance for EU/EEA students.

Tuition fees at UK universities usually range between 15,000-25,000 US Dollars per year. Living costs, meanwhile, can be expensive in the capital city of London at around 1,400-1,600 US Dollars per month, but in other British cities and small towns, a budget of 800-1,100 US Dollars per month will be enough.

The United Kingdom’s world-class educational infrastructure is its main attraction for international students. The country contains some of the world’s best universities including Oxford University, Cambridge University and King’s College London.

Find out more about Studying in the UK.


With nearly 175,000 EU/EEA students pursuing degrees in Germany every year, the country is by far the most popular European country for EU students abroad.

In German cities and university towns, you can expect to pay living expenses ranging between 900-1,400 US Dollars a month. Of course, the major reason for Germany’s popularity as a study abroad destination is the fact that since 2014, all German public universities offer free tuition for international students. Postgraduate and PhD students, too, are required to pay a relatively minor amount when compared to similarly ranked universities in the UK or USA.

Combine the fair tuition fees with Germany’s excellent living standards, urban infrastructure, public safety and multiculturalism and you can see why the country is a favourite among EU students.

Popular universities in Germany for EU students include the Humboldt University of Berlin, Heidelberg University and the University of Freiburg.

Find out more about Studying in Germany.


France is home to nearly 120,000 EU students at its universities which are primarily located in Paris and southwest France.

France offers excellent public infrastructure and transport, tourist-friendly cities and beaches as well as a vibrant entertainment and cultural scene. The De Gaulle airport in Paris is a major transport hub and connects you with all of Europe as well as many international destinations. The country’s train network, meanwhile, enables easy travel all over France and Western Europe.

Similar to Germany, EU/EEA students pay only a nominal tuition fee in France. EU students pay about 170 Euros per year for a bachelor’s degree and 243 Euros per year for a master’s degree at public French universities.

A monthly budget of 800-1,200 US Dollars will be enough for living expenses in most of France, although expensive rental prices in Paris mean that you need a budget of up to 1,500 US Dollars every month in the French capital.

The country is home to as many as 10 universities in the QS Global top 300 and is known for promoting research and partnerships with major employers as part of its degree programmes. Top-ranked French universities include Ecole Polytechnique, Sorbonne University and Sciences Po Paris.

Find out more about Studying in France.

United States

Despite increasing living costs, the quality of America’s educational infrastructure means that over 100,000 EU students continue to pursue world-class degree programmes in the USA every year.

USA universities offer a wide range of scholarships for EU students who require financial assistance, mainly either as university-specific programmes or degree-based scholarships. Many EU students work part-time alongside their degree programs at USA universities, where your student visa allows you to work up to 20 hours every week.

Living costs in large cities such as New York City and Chicago can often reach 1,600-1,800 US Dollars per month. As for tuition fees, they can range between 10,000 to 55,000 US Dollars per annum, depending on whether the university of your choice is a public or private institute.

Harvard University, Yale University and Stanford University are some of America’s and the world’s best universities, with over 350 USA universities in the QS Global top 1,000.

Find out more about Studying in the USA.


Canada is emerging as a favourite study abroad destination. In fact, seven of the top 10 fastest-growing international student populations in Canada in the last year were European.

Canada’s well-planned cities, similarities with Europe, welcoming multicultural communities and the country’s attractive post-graduation work permits (PGWPs) are some of the reasons why it is popular among EU students.

Top-ranked universities in Canada include the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the University of Toronto and McGill University.

Living costs average between 500-700 US Dollars per month in most Canadian cities, and the tuition fee is typically between 20,000-30,000 US Dollars per year.

Find out more about Studying in Canada.

Most Popular Courses for EU Students

EU students apply for a wide range of degree programmes at universities abroad, from engineering and business to agriculture, fashion design and the fine arts. Below, in descending order, are the five most popular courses pursued by EU students in various countries abroad:

How to Study Abroad as an EU Student

Every university abroad will have a set of specific application requirements for EU students. But there are some general requirements which you should make sure to complete if you want to study abroad from the EU.

The minimum GPA required for admission abroad, for instance, is a US GPA of 3.0. Of course, highly ranked foreign universities might require higher GPA scores.

Below are a few more required documents you should keep in mind for an applications checklist for abroad as an EU student:

  • Language Proficiency Certificate: Most countries accept TOEFL or IELTS scores, with a minimum TOEFL score of 80-85 and IELTS score of 6.0-6.5. Certain countries may require a different language test, such as France which requires Def/Dalf
  • International Passport
  • At Least Two Recommendation Letters: These can be academic or professional
  • Bank Statements
  • Birth Certificate
  • Secondary School Transcript or University Transcript
  • A Valid Student Visa for the Foreign Country
  • Healthcare Documents, such as Insurance

The Student Visa Process

The student visa process for EU/EEA students depends on the country you are planning to study in abroad.

For universities in the EU/EEA region, for instance, you will not require a student visa to enrol for a degree programme. For studying in the USA, on the other hand, you will require an F1 Student Visa from the American embassy in your home country. Meanwhile, you will need a ​​Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the United Kingdom. 

We recommend that you begin the student visa application as soon as you receive an offer from your preferred foreign university, because student visa applications can be a long process. Canada, for example, is taking a few months to process student visas. 

We also suggest that you connect with reliable and certified local education agents in your home country, as they can help you manage the visa application process and ensure that your document checklist is completed on time.

For more information about student visas, see our International Study Visas article.

Fees and Funding

In addition to France and Germany, several other EU/EEA countries offer free tuition for EU students. These include Norway, Iceland, Poland, Greece and Hungary. EU students who require financial assistance should definitely research and identify universities in each of these countries.

As for financial assistance for studying elsewhere abroad, EU students can make use of multiple scholarships provided by the European Union as well as other organisations for European students. These include the Erasmus+ Master’s Degree Loan, which enables EU students to borrow up to €12,000 for a one-year Master’s degree programme or €18,000 for a two-year Master’s degree programme to study in one of the 33 EU/EEA countries.

Euraxess and Scholarshipportal are some of the major online portals where you can find plenty of relevant scholarships for studying abroad as an EU student.

Study loans are yet another way for you to meet your financial needs for studying abroad. Study loan applications requirements depend on the bank or lender, with most banks requiring either collateral or a co-signer who can guarantee that you will return the loan amount. Moreover, some banks may only give you a student loan for studying abroad in a specific country or set of countries such as the EU countries.

For more information about tuition fees and scholarships, see our Funding and Scholarships for International Students.

Wherever you decide to study abroad as an EU student, it is important that you begin early and have a clear idea of when the deadlines for essays, college applications and student visas are.

Find out more about Studying in Europe.

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