Top 10 European Cities for International Students in 2023

By StudyLink

London

With over 380 universities featured in the QS World University Rankings, Europe is widely thought of as the number one university destination for international students from all over the globe.

The continent is particularly liked by international students because of its highly-developed transport networks, well-connected airports and excellent shared educational infrastructure built over centuries. Additionally, the increasingly multicultural and cosmopolitan nature of European countries adds to the appeal of a European university degree for international students.

Students from countries such as India and China are sure to feel welcome in most European countries – the number of Indians in Europe today, for example, is near the 3 million mark! Europe is also known for its highly-developed urban environments with low levels of crime and high public safety in most areas.

With as many as 44 European countries offering universities for international students, the process of selecting your ideal European study destination can often be a tricky one. Where some cities offer excellent infrastructure and entertainment venues, others may offer far more affordable living expenses. This list will help you to compare the most popular student cities around the world, giving you more information to make your decision.

In order to most accurately select the top 10 European student cities for international students, we will be referring to the annual QS Best Student Cities ranking, which judges European cities with a minimum population of 250,000 residents and a minimum of 2 universities. The qualifying cities are then ranked according to six indicators:

The QS Best Student Cities rankings assess each of the important aspects of European student cities for international students including immigrant-friendly environment, entertainment and outdoor urban spaces, public transport and related infrastructure, and the overall quality of the European city’s universities for international students.

London: #1 QS Student Cities Rank

London is the capital of the United Kingdom and a truly global city, with nearly 40% of the city’s 9.5 million residents being foreign-born immigrants. Sizable international student communities at each university ensure that you will always feel comfortable and supported during your time in London. Global companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook regularly recruit international students at London universities.

London is home to 18 universities in the QS Global University Rankings, including Imperial College London, University College London and the London School of Economics & Political Science.

Undergraduate tuition fees for international students in London vary between 25,000-30,000 US Dollars per year and are higher for specialised programmes, such as Medicine courses, at about 38,000-40,000 US Dollars per year, while Postgraduate tuition range between 20,000 and 35,000 US Dollars per annum. Imperial College London estimates that international students should consider a budget of 1,600-2,000 US Dollars per month as living expenses.

Other universities in London include:

Munich: #2

Munich is the capital of the German state of Bavaria and a major European centre for automobiles and defence equipment manufacturing. The most notable attraction of Munich for international students is the fact that since 2014, German public universities have charged zero tuition fees from international students for undergraduate courses. Nearly every fourth student in Munich is a foreign resident, and this makes Munich a diverse city with well-developed public infrastructure.

Life in Munich for international students means access to stunning outdoor spots such as the Alps mountain range. Universities in Munich include the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and Technical University of Munich.

Munich ranks in the QS top 15 worldwide for employer activity and is home to multiple large-scale companies such as Accenture and BMW. For postgraduate degrees, international students pay a one-time enrollment fee of about 3,300-16,700 USD depending on the programme selected. As for living costs, LMU Munich estimates that you should budget between 900 and 1,200 US Dollars every month.

Other universities in Munich include:

  • Munich University of Applied Sciences
  • Munich School of Philosophy
  • University of Television and Film Munich
  • Catholic University of Applied Sciences, Munich
  • European Business College Munich, New European College
  • University of Music and Performing Arts Munich
  • Academy of Fine Arts, Munich

Berlin: #5

Berlin is the capital of Germany and the largest city in the European Union with nearly 3.7 million residents. Berlin is a hub for world-leading employers in multiple industries including media, biotechnology and construction. With nearly a million Berlin residents being foreign-born immigrants, the city is truly multicultural and immigrant-friendly. Berlin offers world-class urban infrastructure, transport and public safety levels.

International undergraduates at public universities in Berlin must pay only a minor semester fee of 300-400 US Dollars per year. The Berlin School of Business and Innovation estimates that international students should budget 800-900 US Dollars every month for living costs.

Berlin offers multiple universities including Humboldt University and the Technical University of Berlin. Berlin’s premier universities offer world-class research facilities and faculty quality, as well as numerous technical partnerships with large-scale corporations such as the EU. Berlin is also home to the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, a world-leading medical school which operates one of Europe’s largest university hospitals.

Other universities in Berlin include:

  • HTW Berlin – University of Applied Sciences
  • Berlin University of the Arts
  • Berlin School of Economics and Law
  • Hertie School
  • Bard College Berlin
  • Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences 
  • SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences
  • Steinbeis University Berlin
  • European School of Management and Technology
  • Berlin International University of Applied Sciences
  • International Psychoanalytic University Berlin
  • BBW University of Applied Sciences
  • Berliner Hochschule für Technik
  • Touro College Berlin

Zurich: #7

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and is a global centre for financial and banking services. Zurich is consistently highly ranked in global liveability index ratings, and offers a well-connected urban environment and high public safety levels. International students must be prepared to pay at least 2,000 US Dollars every month as living expenses at Zurich universities, as the city is one of the world’s most expensive urban areas.

Zurich has two universities in the QS Global Top 100 – ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. Both Zurich universities are well-known for their academic quality and strengths in research & innovation. There is a sizable international community of about 13,000 international students at the two Zurich universities.

Tuition fees for international students at Swiss public universities usually range between 500-3,800 US Dollars per year, whereas Phd degree programmes cost between 200-1,000 US Dollars per year. Meanwhile, private Swiss universities can charge up to 40,000 US Dollars per year for certain degree programmes.

Other universities in Zurich include:

  • Zurich University of the Arts
  • Zurich School of Education
  • Kalaidos University of Applied Sciences
  • Swiss Finance Institute
  • Swiss Finance Institute
  • University of Applied Sciences Zurich

Paris: #9

Paris is France’s capital city with a population of just over 2 million residents. Paris is one of the world’s economic centres and is also home to a vibrant art, music and fashion community. The city offers an endless list of cultural landmarks and nearby recreational spots for international students to enjoy away from the classroom.

Paris universities that are ideal for international students include the Sorbonne University and Sciences Po Paris. The city offers a wide mix of social science-focused universities as well as universities specialising in scientific research.

Tuition fees for international non-EEA students at public French universities are about 2,800 US Dollars per year for undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and about 4,000 US Dollars per annum for doctoral courses. At private French universities, tuition fees range between 3,000 to 20,000 US Dollars per annum. The French Government’s online ‘CampusBourses’ portal allows you to identify all relevant scholarships for international students at Paris universities. The American Business School Paris estimates that international students will require between 1,000-1,200 US Dollars per month for living expenses.

Other universities in Paris include:

  • PSL Research University Paris
  • Pantheon-Sorbonne University
  • University of Paris
  • Arts et Métiers ParisTech
  • L’institut Agro
  • École Normale Supérieure
  • Pantheon-Assas Paris II University

Edinburgh: #12

Edinburgh is a city located in Scotland in northern United Kingdom with a population of over half a million residents. For hundreds of years, Edinburgh has been a centre for excellence in education, especially in fields such as medicine and engineering.

The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier University are some of the Scottish city’s universities for international students. Edinburgh residents enjoy plenty of outdoor parks as well as entertainment venues spread throughout the city, as well as the scenic Scottish highlands located nearby. The city is well-connected to London and other major British cities by air, road and rail.

Undergraduate tuition fees for international students in Edinburgh universities can vary between 25,000-30,000 US Dollars per year. Tuition fees are higher for specialised programmes such as Dentistry courses at about 38,000-40,000 US Dollars per year. Postgraduate tuition fees usually range between 20,000 and 35,000 US Dollars per annum. As for living expenses, the University of Edinburgh estimates that you should budget between 900-1,150 US Dollars monthly.

Other universities in Edinburgh include:

Vienna: #14

Vienna is the capital of Austria, a central European country known for its world-leading public infrastructure and stunning natural beauty. With an immigrant population of over 40 percent of Vienna residents, the Austrian city is a multicultural space which welcomes international travellers in large numbers every year.

Vienna was ranked as the world’s most liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2022. Recently, Vienna has also taken steps to become a start-up hub and business-friendly venue. Vienna universities include TU Wien, the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna.

For international students from outside the EU/EEA region, tuition fees in Vienna vary between 750-7,500 US Dollars per year. Private universities charge more, at up to 20,000 US Dollars per annum. As for living expenses, the University of Vienna estimates that international students should budget between 1,000 and 1,300 US Dollars every month.

Other universities in Vienna include:

  • Vienna University of Economics & Business
  • University of Applied Sciences Campus Vienna
  • University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
  • University of Applied Arts Vienna
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences
  • Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
  • Sigmund Freud University
  • Modul University Vienna
  • Diplomatic Academy of Vienna
  • Lauder Business School
  • Webster Vienna Private University
  • Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna

Lausanne: #19

Lausanne is a hilly city located in Switzerland with an urban area population of just over 1.3 million residents. Despite being a relatively small city, Lausanne offers excellent public transport and urban infrastructure, as well as the high public safety and living standards that Switzerland is well-known for. Universities in Lausanne for international students include the IMD Business School, the University of Lausanne and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.

Just as in Zurich, Tuition fees for international students at Lausanne public universities range between 500-3,800 US Dollars per year, and you can expect to pay between 200-1,000 US Dollars per year for PhD degree programmes. Living expenses in Lausanne, meanwhile, are on the expensive side and usually range between 1,500-1,800 US Dollars per month.

Other universities in Lausanne include:

  • The École Hôtelière de Lausanne
  • Business School Lausanne
  • International Academy of Sport Science and Technology
  • Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration 

Amsterdam: #21

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and is known for its stunning buildings, large-scale canal system, and world-famous cultural landmarks. Amsterdam is also a financial centre for Europe.

Ranked as the ninth best city in the world to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) 2022, Amsterdam offers world-class public infrastructure and educational facilities. Amsterdam’s universities for international students include the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The city offers excellent connectivity with major regions all over Central and Western Europe, as well as major foreign cities through the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

International students from non-EEA countries pursuing undergraduate degrees can expect to pay between 6,000 and 15,000 US Dollars per annum, while Master’s degree programmes cost between 8,000 and 20,000 US Dollars per year. As for living costs, the University of Amsterdam estimates that international students will require a minimum budget of 950-1,050 US Dollars per month.

Other universities in Amsterdam include:

  • Amsterdam University College
  • Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • Amsterdam University of the Arts
  • Protestant Theological University
  • Rietveld School of Art & Design
  • Pieter Nieuwland College
  • People’s University of Amsterdam
  • Institute of Management and Economics
  • Bredero College

Stockholm: #23

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the largest city in the Scandinavia region of Europe. Stockholm regularly features near the top of most rankings for living standards and urban infrastructure, and is well-known for its high levels of public safety.

Stockholm is a centre for multiple business sectors including media, financial technologies and manufacturing. With 27% of Stockholm’s residents being foreign-born, Stockholm is an immigrant-friendly city.

The KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Karolinska Institute are some of Stockholm’s universities for international students. Typical tuition costs for international students at Stockholm universities range between 8,000-25,000 US Dollars per annum. As for the matter of living expenses, Stockholm University estimates that international students should budget between 850-950 US Dollars per month.

Other universities in Stockholm include:

  • Stockholm School of Economics
  • Konstfack University of Arts, Craft & Design
  • Royal College of Music
  • Royal Institute of Art
  • Swedish Defence University
  • Swedish Institute of Dramatic Art
  • Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College
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