Scandinavia is a term generally used to refer to a region of Northern Europe comprising Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Recently, the term has also been used to refer to Finland, and in some cases, Iceland.
The people of the Scandinavian region have a long shared history of cultural and language-based ties between them, and in modern ties, the governments of these countries have entered into multiple partnerships with each other on policies such as educational and economic agreements.
The Scandinavia region is well-known for being perhaps the world’s most liveable region, and each Scandinavian country places great focus on providing world-class public safety, transport and infrastructure levels for its residents. In recent times, Scandinavia has also become an increasingly multicultural area with welcoming and cosmopolitan urban environments.
Additionally, Scandinavia has been home to multiple large-scale industries relating to sea-trade and manufacturing for decades including oil and gas, shipbuilding and seafood. Financial services and technology, meanwhile, have now emerged as major Scandinavian industries as well.
International students can comfortably reach Scandinavia from their home countries via direct flights to major airports including Oslo Airport, Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Helsinki Airport. Moreover, Scandinavia’s central location means that most tourist-favourite European destinations including Paris, Rome and Amsterdam are just about an hour away by flight, while cities in Germany and Russia are a short drive away.
Scandinavia’s excellent public transport facilities mean that travelling within the region is also an easy task, with ferries and trains available on a frequent basis. So what are the Northern European region’s best cities and universities for international students, and what are tuition and living costs like in Scandinavian countries?
|QS World Ranking 2024
|QS Rank in Europe
|University of Copenhagen, Denmark
|Lund University, Sweden
|KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
|Technical University of Denmark
|University of Oslo, Norway
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city in Denmark with an urban population of over 800,000 residents. Copenhagen is a major financial centre for all of Scandinavia, and the city is home to plenty of key industries such as transport, trade and banking. Copenhagen is known for its well-maintained public facilities and transport options, and consistently places highly in the worldwide Global Liveability Index Rankings by the Economist magazine.
Top-ranked universities for international students in Copenhagen include the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark.
Founded in 1479, The University of Copenhagen is primarily located on three urban campuses in Copenhagen and a satellite campus in nearby Fredericksburg. The university caters to over 30,000 students including nearly 6,000 international students, and offers more than 200 degree programmes. The University of Copenhagen also offers world-class research & innovation facilities and is a member of many well-respected research organisations including IARU (International Alliance of Research Universities) and the League of European Research Universities (LERU).
The Technical University of Denmark offers world-leading engineering degrees to nearly 9,400 enrolled students including 2,300 international students. The university operates research projects on the physical sciences and industrial applications in agriculture, transport, manufacturing and other sectors of the Danish and European economy. The university’s main campus is located 15 minutes north of Copenhagen in the suburb of Lyngby.
Additional top-ranked Copenhagen universities for international students include the Copenhagen Business School, IT University of Copenhagen and Metropolitan University College.
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the largest city in Scandinavia with over 1.5 million residents. Stockholm is a centre for multiple industries including media, financial services, retail and manufacturing. Stockholm’s sizable foreign-born community of over 27 percent of residents makes it a cosmopolitan and welcoming city for international travellers and residents.
Top-ranked universities in Stockholm include the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University.
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, established in 1827, is a world-leading university with strengths in technical sciences and advanced engineering research. KTH currently offers degrees to 13,500 enrolled students of which about 2,700 are international students. The institute’s technical partnerships with top-ranked universities worldwide, alongside its strong global alumni network are excellent resources for you to secure ideal post-graduation employment. KTH operates world-class research facilities including the Centre for Cyber Defence and Information Security and the PDC Centre for High Performance Computing.
Meanwhile, Stockholm University is one of the largest universities in Scandinavia with over 70,000 enrolled students including almost 7,000 international admits. Stockholm University operates on seven campuses in and around Stockholm including the newly-opened Albano campus and Frescati, the university’s primary campus. Stockholm University offers over 80 degree programmes taught in English across various levels to international students.
Oslo is the capital of Norway with an urban population of more than a million residents. Oslo has been a major centre for economic activity and trade in the Scandinavia region for centuries. Modern-day Oslo has also become a European hub for banking, shipping and several tech-related industries.
Top-ranked Oslo universities for international students include the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
The University of Oslo is well-known for its world-leading faculty and research quality in a variety of disciplines, from law to maritime science. The university is home to over 21,000 enrolled students including 4,000 international admits. The University of Oslo offers more than 1,000 University student exchange programmes every year through organisations such as the Erasmus group.
Situated half an hour south of Oslo in As, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences offers degrees focused on agricultural sciences to about 6,000 enrolled students of which international students form a sizable community of 1,200 admits. Primary research themes at the Norwegian University include Environment and the Climate, as well as Food Science. The university operates 17 research centres including the Bioenergy Innovation Centre (CenBio).
With an urban population of 1.25 million residents, Helsinki is Finland’s capital city and its centre for politics, finance, culture and education. Major Finnish industries such as automobiles, electronics, and chemicals are mainly based in Helsinki.
Helsinki offers great connectivity to mainland Europe due to its location on the southern coast of Finland. English is spoken by over 70% of the country’s residents and this allows international students and visitors to comfortably explore the stunning Scandinavian country.
The University of Helsinki is Finland’s largest university with a total enrolment of over 30,000 students including about 1,500 international students. The university primarily operates on 4 campuses based in various Helsinki neighbourhoods – City Centre, Kumpula, Meilahti and Viikki. The University of Helsinki offers the Bachelor’s in Science degree programme in English for international undergraduate students. For international postgraduate students, the university offers 36 Master’s Programmes in English.
Located half an hour west of Helsinki in the Espoo suburb, Aalto University is home to about 20,000 students including an international community of nearly 5,000 students. Aalto University’s primary campus in the Otaniemi neighbourhood of Espoo is located near the offices of some of Finland’s largest businesses and employers, and this proximity allows Aalto University’s international students to work with world-leading firms while continuing their academic degrees. Aalto University offers more than 100 Master’s degree programmes in English for international students.
Additional top-ranked Helsinki universities and institutes for international students include the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and Arcada University of Applied Sciences.
Tuition costs for international Non-EU/EEC students seeking English-taught degree programmes in Scandinavian countries usually range between 5,000 to 25,000 US Dollars per annum, with Finland’s universities being relatively more affordable and Swedish universities generally the most expensive. But Norway’s top-ranked public universities offer free tuition for international students, and only charge a minor semester fee of between 100-150 US Dollars. This makes Norwegian universities a highly appealing option for international students seeking financial assistance.
Meanwhile, average living costs in Scandinavia for international students can vary between 750 to 1,400 US Dollars per month. Living costs in Norway’s Oslo and Copenhagen in Denmark, in particular, are relatively expensive and can reach up to 1,500 US Dollars per month.
Each Scandinavian country’s current student visa rules allow international students to work for at least 20 hours a week alongside their academic degrees during the semester, with Sweden and Finland allowing you to work unlimited hours. During academic breaks, you will be allowed to work full-time. Many international students work at research facilities, campus facilities and other venues throughout Scandinavia in order to offset their academic and living expenses.
Scandinavia is well-known for its stunning natural beauty and unique sights such as the northern lights near the North Pole. The region’s spectacular fjords offer great views of rugged coastlines and towering mountain ranges, while the countryside provides you with beautiful outdoor spaces for hiking, rock climbing and many other fun activities.
The entire region’s major cities are well-connected and you can make exciting road trips to explore many iconic landmarks on weekends away from your top-ranked Scandinavian university. Scandinavian cities, on the other hand, are lively, safe and full of interesting entertainment, recreation and food spots. The large number of parks and outdoor spaces in most of these cities offer you an additional way to relax and take your mind off academics.
Below are a few of Scandinavia’s must-see landmarks for international students:
International students from all over the globe are increasingly thinking of Scandinavia because of its high urban liveability standards, excellent public transport and infrastructure, safety levels, world-class education and relatively affordable tuition & academic expenses.
We suggest that you read our in-depth articles exploring major Scandinavian cities to identify your ideal Scandinavian top-ranked university and better understand its specific admission requirements for international students.
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