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How much does it really cost to study abroad in 2024?

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When studying abroad, many decisions have to be taken into consideration. One of the main aspects you need to think about are the costs involved. When you begin working out the costs of studying abroad, several factors must be considered, such as:

To help you plan your studies abroad, we have taken a look at these costs for international students to give you an idea of how much it would cost you to study abroad.

Please note – we have provided all costs normalised to US Dollars for comparison using the exchange rate at time of writing. Costs in this article were correct as of late 2023.

Type of course and duration

Most undergraduate degree courses are 3-4 years in duration, whilst postgraduate courses vary between 1-2 years for a masters degree, and 4-5 years for a PhD. Universities may request tuition fees annually, or by semester, term or even by groups of credits. Bear this in mind when calculating the tuition fees you will be required to pay.

Tuition fees may vary between universities within the same country. Studying at a top-ranked university can often increase tuition fees dramatically compared to a lower ranked university. Similarly, geographical location within a country may also influence tuition fees.

Undergraduate, Postgraduate and MBA tuition fees will vary, with taught masters courses tending to be more expensive than undergraduate degrees, whilst an MBA tends to be the most expensive.

Finally, the subjects that you wish to study can also have a big influence on your tuition fees. Studying subjects like clinical medicine can be very expensive compared to subjects within creative arts. As an example, international students studying an undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow in the UK will pay tuition fees of £19,920 per year for most courses, but tuition fees go up to £53,460 per year for clinical programmes in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences.

Your nationality and study destination

Many universities vary tuition fees based upon your country of origin, for example if your country is deemed to be a poor or developing nation, you may pay a lower tuition fee.

For example, the University of Padua, located in Italy, charges Non-EU citizens €2,739 annually for degrees in the Sciences, whilst Non-EU citizens from developing countries are charged €1,046.00 annually for the same programmes.

If you are a student from an EU/EEA country moving to another EU/EEA country, your tuition fees may be lower than if you were studying in or coming from a non-EU/EEA country, or they may even be completely free – for example EU/EEA citizens studying in Denmark do not pay tuition fees.

International student tuition fees

We have put together some rough guidelines for tuition fees as an international student in various study locations below, based upon a selection of courses from various universities in each country listed:

Please note: tuition fees are always charged in local currency, and these have been converted to US Dollars for easy comparison below:

LocationTypical annual undergraduate tuition fees for international students in US DollarsTypical annual masters tuition fees for international students in US Dollars
UK$17,600 – $44,000$18,200 – $46,500
USA$60,000 – $82,000$30,000 – $60,000
Australia$7,660 – $63,850$7,660 – £32,000
China$3,500 – $9,500$3,800 – $10,260
Canada$32,225 – $66,650$32,950 – $43,950
New Zealand$16,500 – $24,750$20,000 – $32,400
Singapore$13,220 – $51,410$36,720 – $51,410
Germany*$268 – $21,450$268 – $12,886
France*$182 – $2,975$260 – $4,050
Italy*$1,075 – $21,480$1,075 – $21,480

* Some European countries or universities offer free tuition fees for international students, with only nominal registration or semester fees required.

Costs of international student accommodation and food

Aside from the costs of tuition fees, you also have to consider the general costs of living as an international student. The majority of these costs include the basic necessities of accommodation and food.

Accommodation costs can vary depending on whether you will be living in on-campus accommodation provided by the university, or private rented accommodation.

Those universities that provide on-campus accommodation will offer accommodation across several price points, often offering different levels of facilities and locations relative to the university.

For example, The University of Derby in the UK offers halls of residence options costing from £115 per week with shared bathrooms, to options with private toilet and shower facilities costing from £148 per week.

More expensive options will offer amenities such as en-suite bathrooms, whilst cheaper options may include shared bathrooms or more basic kitchen offerings. UK universities offer their halls of residence on contracts of around 38~42 weeks per year, although this can often be extended if you require residence all year round. Expect to pay more for accommodation at higher ranked universities and universities in locations where property is at a premium, such as London and Cambridge.

On-campus accommodation options in US universities will consist of single rooms, doubles or larger dorms, with pricing reflecting what option you pick.

Australian full-time residency on-campus options tend to span between 36-42 weeks with the option of up to 50 weeks, with differing styles of housing available with options such as shared or private bathrooms.

In European countries such as Germany, France and Italy, private accommodation is much more common. Your university will be able to recommend agencies to help find you rented accommodation, but think of this well ahead of time to make sure you find a place in time for your studies. This may not provide you the dormitory experience that you can expect in the US, Australia or the UK, but you may still be able to arrange flat-shares with other students.

Food costs will vary depending on whether you plan to take up meal plans provided by your university, or opt for a mixture of self-catering and eating out, which is much more common in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Meal plans are common in US & Canadian universities and sometimes mandatory for those living on campus. An example meal plan at a Canadian university is that of the University of Alberta, which costs CAD 5,524 for a 7-day access, 8-month contract.

We have put together some rough guidelines for accommodation and food costs an international student can expect to pay in various study locations below:

LocationTypical annual on-campus accommodation fees for international students in US DollarsTypical on-campus meal plan costs for international students in US Dollars
UK$6,033 – $18,040Sometimes included in catered halls of residence costs, self-catering is popular. Budget $125 – $200 per month.
USA$6,000 – $16,800$6,500 – $7,980 per year
Australia$4,590 – $12,750Self-catering is the norm, budget $50 – $180 per week
China$1,975 – $3,950Budget $200 per month for self-catering food costs
Canada$5,125 – $14,645$4,200 – $5,130 per year
New Zealand$6,870 – $12,540Self-catering is the norm, budget $47 – $88 per week
Singapore$2,110 – $5,940$475 per semester
GermanyPrivate: $3,850 – $11,565Self catering is the norm, budget $215 – $268 per month
FrancePrivate: $5,140 – $11,565Self catering is the norm, budget $215 – $268 per month
ItalyPrivate: $3,212 – $8,995Self catering is the norm, budget $215 – $268 per month

See also: Study Abroad Accommodation Options

Other costs to consider as an international student

Further costs to consider as an international student are as follows:

Health Insurance costs for international students

Health cover is mandatory in some form no matter your study abroad destination.

If you are a citizen of an EEA country traveling to another EEA country, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover medical expenses.

Some countries will allow you to register on their National Health Services, such as the UK (the NHS), Italy (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale) and France (Social Security). Most other countries will expect you to have private health cover. In some countries this will be arranged automatically by your university. In others, the onus is on you to make your own arrangements.

LocationHealth insurance requirementsTypical Health insurance costs In US Dollars
UKThose applying for a student visa to study in the UK are required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of GBP 470 per year for the duration of their visa, which entitles the student access to the NHS.$585
USAStudents of US universities are required to carry health insurance during their studies. Most universities therefore operate insurance plans for their students, costing between USD 3,000 – USD 3,600 per year.$3,000 – $3,600
AustraliaOverseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is a requirement as part of your study visa and must be purchased to cover the whole period of your studies. Example fees of AUD 1,995 for 36 months work out to an effective per annum fee of AUD 665.$427
ChinaA comprehensive medical insurance plan is a requirement of studying in China. Plans cost from 800 RMB – 1,200 RMB per year.$109 – $164
CanadaInternational students in Canada are required to carry health insurance. The UHIP not-for-profit scheme premiums start at CAD 756 per academic year for one person.$553
New ZealandInternational students are required to have health insurance. As an example, a Studentsafe inbound policy costs NZD 750 per year.$441
SingaporeHealth insurance is mandatory for student residents in Singapore. Universities may enroll you automatically onto compulsory cover, expect to pay around SGD 115 per semester, effectively SGD 230 per year.$168
GermanyHealth insurance is mandatory in Germany and will cost around EUR 120 per month, an effective annual cost of around EUR 1,440$1,540
FranceHealth insurance is mandatory for those living in France. It is free for an international student to register for Social Security for coverage of your healthcare expenses. If you are a EEA-citizen or are living in a country member of the EEA, you will be covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for medical expenses. Your university will be able to recommend private insurance cover, expect premiums of around EUR 420 per year for basic cover. Free/$450
ItalyIf you are a EEA-citizen or are living in a country member of the EEA, you will be covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for medical expenses. Non-EU students must either voluntarily enroll in the National Health Service at a cost of EUR 149,77 per calendar year, or arrange for private health insurance. You will be expected to arrange any private health insurance yourself.$160

Costs of student visas for international students

If you are an international student traveling to a country that requires you to obtain a student visa, you will also have to budget for this. For example, most international students coming to study in the UK will need to secure a student visa.

For most countries, you can check if you require a student visa on government websites:

Generally you can apply for a student visa for the country in which you will be studying when you have satisfied the following requirements:

  • You have been offered a place on a course by a higher education provider that is approved by the government.
  • You can show that you have sufficient funding for your studies.
  • You can show that you have appropriate health cover arranged for the period covering your studies.
  • You can show that you have sufficient language skills for the country in which you will be studying.

The visa application process will differ from country to country, but it is always best to begin your application as soon as possible. For the UK, the earliest you can start the process is 6 months before your studies commence.

The costs of applying for a student visa differs from country to country, we have shown a selection of these costs for long stay student visas on the table below:

LocationCost for an international student visaCost of student visa in US Dollars
UKGBP 363 if applying from outside the UK
GBP 490 if extending or switching existing visa to a Student visa from inside the UK
$452.6 / $611
USATotal costs per application amount to ~USD 510, though costs may vary depending on applicant circumstances$510
AustraliaTotal costs per application amount to AUD 710$456.34
ChinaAn X1 student visa costs between USD 70 – USD 185 depending on the nationality of the applicant$70 – $185
CanadaA study permit costs CAD 150$110.83
New ZealandStudent visas cost from NZD 375$221.94
SingaporeTotal costs per application amount to SGD 90$66.12
GermanyStudent visas cost EUR 75 – EUR 80$80.46 – $85.83
FranceStudent visas cost EUR 99$106.21
ItalyStudent visa applications cost EUR 50$53.64

See also: International Study Visas

Transport costs for an international student

Depending on your study destination and chosen university accommodation, you may not need to budget very much for travel. If you do need to travel, cycling may be a popular choice, which has the added benefit of a healthy daily routine. If you are going to be reliant on public transport such as buses, underground, trams, trains or taxis during your studies, be prepared to allocate some budget towards this.

LocationTypical monthly student public transport budget Typical monthly student transport budget in US Dollars
UKVaries depending on location. Expect to budget GBP 100 per month if living in London, or GBP 50 for most other locations.$63 – $125
USAMay vary between states, but expect to budget between USD 40 – USD 100 per month for public transport.$40 – $100
AustraliaExpect to budget AUD 30 – AUD 80 per month for public transport, depending on your location.$19 – $51
ChinaAs an example, expect to pay RMB 150 per month, depending on your location, to cover subway travel costs.$20
CanadaBudget CAD 80 – CAD 150 per month for a transportation pass.$58 – $110
New ZealandBudget up to NZD 37 per week if public transportation is a requirement.$22
SingaporeSingapore has excellent public transport links. Expect to budget SGD 50 per month as an international student, depending on how far you need to travel.$37
GermanyBudget around EUR 100 per month for public transport, depending upon distances and services required.$107
FranceThe Imagine R pass allows students under the age of 26 unlimited travel on all modes of transport, starting at EUR 350 per year in Île-de-France (region surrounding Paris). Similar passes are available cheaper than this in other regions of France.$31.30
ItalyBudget EUR 20 – EUR 45 for a monthly travel ticket depending on mode of transport.$20 – $48

Utilities costs for an international student

It is likely that utilities such as electricity, water and gas will be factored into the costs of your on-campus accommodation already, along with other essentials such as internet access. Private rental agreements may also cover these utilities. If you are renting privately, costs may be shared if you are in a shared accommodation. Here are some rough guidelines should you need to consider these costs:

LocationUtilities for international studentsTypical monthly student utility costs in US Dollars
UKLondon, budget GBP 150 per month, elsewhere budget GBP 80 – GBP 100 per month for electricity, gas, water, internet and a TV license (required to watch live TV in the UK)$186 / $100 – $125
USAIf renting privately, utilities may cost up to USD 200 – USD300 per month$200 – $300
AustraliaFor electricity and gas, budget AUD 160 per month$100
ChinaBudget up to RMD 350 per month for utilities$48
CanadaIf renting privately, expect to budget CAD 200 – CAD300 per month$146 – $220
New ZealandBudget between NZD 200 – NZD 300 per month for utilities$118 – $176
SingaporeSGD 40 – SGD 100$30 – $73
GermanyIn student dorms, budget up to EUR 40 per month. For private accommodation, budget up to EUR 250 per month.$43 / $268
FranceBudget EUR 100 – EUR 200 per month for utilities in France$107 – $214
ItalyBudget up to EUR 150 per month for utilities$160

Mobile phone contracts costs for an international student

As a student living abroad, you are likely to require a mobile phone contract in your new country to help you keep in touch with friends and family. Options such as pre-paid cards for tourists are popular, but you can also find sim-only contracts that may represent good value, depending on which country you are moving to. Some countries such as Germany may require proof of your identity when setting up a new sim card. Also bear in mind that your current mobile phone may not be compatible with sim cards in your new country. Using a laptop with a webcam for calling home over WiFi and picking a mobile plan with just enough data for everything else may be your cheapest option, depending on your mobile habits.

Here are some rough SIM-only costs to show what to expect when shopping for mobile deals as an international student:

LocationMobile phone SIM only contracts/pay monthly deals for international studentsTypical mobile contracts in US Dollars
UK£15 per month – 40GB data$18.70
USA$15 per month – 15GB data$15
Australia$35 per month – unlimited data$22.50
China400¥ up front, 40¥ per month – 120GB data$55, $6
Canada$60 per month, 15GB data$44
New Zealand$40 per month – unlimited data$24
Singapore$15 per month, 50GB data$11
Germany20E 4/weeks – 20GB$22
France20E per month – 250GB$22
Italy25E per month – 50GB$28

Costs of socializing as an international student

As a student living abroad, you will also be keen to get out and explore your new country and make new friends. We have put together some basic costs to expect when you head out for a cup of coffee, catch a film or go for a quick meal.

Prices may vary based upon state/location within a country. All prices have been converted to US Dollars for easy comparison.

LocationPrice of a cinema ticketPrice of a cup of coffee (tall latte)Price of a high street pizza
UK$12.40 – $17.50$5.30$12.50 – $25
USA$10 – $20$3.25$12 – $20
Australia$6.40 – $19.20$4$7.70 – $12.85
China$5.20 – $6.85$4.25$20.50  – $30 *
Canada$7.35 – $11$3.85$8.10 – $14.7
New Zealand$9.45 – $13$3.35$8.25 – $14.20
Singapore$8 – $16.15$4.90$5.90 – $13.20
Germany$7.50 – $17.15$4.50$7.50 – $16.10
France$10.70 – $16.10$5.35$7.50 – $16.10
Italy$6.40 – $9.10$2.85$5.30 – $20

* Note – pizza is more of a specialist food type in China, traditional takeaway meals are available at much cheaper prices

How exchange rates can impact international students

When you are budgeting to study abroad, you should consider the relationship between your home currency and the currency of the country you will be studying in. Exchange rates can fluctuate over time, to the extent that an option that might once have appeared expensive may now seem affordable, or vice versa. It is best to have some contingency budget in place should you be negatively affected by an exchange rate swing.

The effect that a swing in exchange rates can have on your budget as an international student is shown in the table below, which compares 5 year highs and lows of currencies against the US Dollar. Please note, the US Dollar has been picked as an example to compare against during this time period and you should compare the currencies that are relevant to you and your study choices.

NationLowest US Dollar value of currency in last 5 yearsHighest US Dollar value of currency in last 5 years
UK1 GBP = 1.08 USD1 GBP = 1.41 USD
Australia1 AUD = 0.57 USD1 AUD = 0.78 USD
China1 RMB = 0.136 USD1 RMB = 0.158 USD
Canada1 CAD = 0.68 USD1 CAD = 0.83 USD
New Zealand1 NZD = 1.38 USD1 NZD = 1.81 USD
Singapore1 SGD = 0.69 USD1 SGD = 0.76 USD
The Eurozone1 EUR = 0.96 USD1 EUR = 1.22 USD

As an example to show how exchange rate fluctuations can impact your finances, we can use this hypothetical situation:

  • Your home country is France and you will be studying in the USA. Your annual tuition fees are $35,000.
  • If the exchange rate was 1 EUR = 0.96 USD, your annual tuition fees would cost you EUR 36,458.
  • If the exchange rate was 1 EUR = 1.22 USD, your annual tuition fees would cost you EUR 28,688.
  • This represents a difference of EUR 7,770, depending on whether the exchange rate for these circumstances was favourable or not.

Scholarships and bursaries for international students

Your budget for studying abroad can be eased if you are able to secure additional funding in the shape of a scholarship or bursary. Scholarships may be offered by governments, non-government organizations and universities. They may cover differing amounts of your tuition fees or other costs. Bursaries tend to be awarded as one off contributions to your study abroad costs.

To qualify for financial assistance for your studies abroad, you usually have to show you meet certain criteria, such as excellence in your studies, or certain personal circumstances. The range of options is wide, so start searching early for scholarships applicable to you in order to give yourself the best chance of securing funding.

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