Most international students say that they enjoyed their time at a top-ranked foreign university and a new culture. But a comfortable and safe lifestyle is just as important as world-class academics for you to experience your university degree to the fullest.
Europe is filled with top-ranked universities for international students. But, not all European cities are completely safe or immigrant-friendly, and choosing the wrong European city for your degree can sometimes lead to an unhappy university experience.
Studying abroad and adjusting to a new way of life can sometimes be very difficult, and the safest European cities for international students are places where you have complete peace of mind while focusing on your academic journey. So which European city is best for international students, with regard to your personal safety, urban infrastructure and an immigrant-friendly atmosphere?
There are plenty of reasons why you should consider applying to Europe for your university degree, but the two major factors are world-class universities and a relatively inexpensive lifestyle compared to universities elsewhere in the world.
A quick scan of the QS World University Rankings 2022 reveals that 395 of the world’s top 1,000 universities are situated in Europe. That’s nearly 40% of the world’s top-ranked universities located in an area the size of Canada!
Most large-scale European cities benefit from a strong network of academics and international student communities, because most large cities such as Paris & Madrid are home to multiple world-class universities with tens of thousands of international students.
Living and studying in this kind of environment provides you with great comfort away from home, as well as ease of living when it comes to factors such as intra-city transport and frequent support from fellow international students.
It is always advisable to remain careful and alert to your surroundings while exploring a foreign city, no matter where you are. In addition, knowing the basics of the local language in European cities is always a huge benefit, as you can easily communicate with locals and receive help in case you are facing a problem.
Ranked by Numbeo as the city with the 3rd lowest crime rate overall in Europe, Munich is a major city in south Germany with a population of 1.6 million residents and an immigrant population of about 10-15% or 150,000-225,000 immigrants. Munich is an extremely safe city for international students, and was recently ranked 2nd by QS World Rankings on its list of best student cities.
Munich is home to two top-ranked universities for international students – Technische Universität München and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, ranked 50th and 64th respectively on the QS World Rankings.
Additionally, Munich will appeal to international students because of the city’s well-developed urban infrastructure which lowers transportation costs, as well as the extremely low tuition fees. Since 2014 in Germany, tuition fees for undergraduate students at public German universities have been abolished. International undergraduates at public universities in Munich such as Technische Universität München and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München can study for free, and must pay only a minor semester fee.
Other world-class universities and institutes in Munich for international students include the Munich Business School, the University of Television & Film, and the University of Ingolstadt. International students will also feel especially comfortable while settling into their Munich university, because international students make up nearly 25% of the total student enrollment at universities in and around Munich.
Copenhagen is another city with top-ranked universities for international students which features as one of the safest European cities. Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark and is located in northern Europe, part of the Scandinavia region which is generally considered as having the best urban infrastructure and living standards in the world.
With nearly 200,000 of Copenhagen’s 850,000 residents being immigrants, you will feel comfortable in immigrant-friendly Copenhagen while also staying safe because of Denmark’s strict policing and extremely quick response to criminal incidents. But you must note that while the crime rate takes into account major incidents, petty theft and pickpocketing are things you need to be careful of in any city. So while you will definitely be in good hands during your time in Copenhagen, it is advisable to always remain alert while outdoors and in public spaces.
Major institutes and universities for international students include the University of Copenhagen, ranked 79th worldwide in the QS World Rankings 2022. The Copenhagen Business Academy, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and the IT University of Copenhagen are some of the other world-class institutes for international students in Copenhagen.
Average tuition fees for international students at most Copenhagen universities are between 12,500 – 20,000 US Dollars per year. Living costs will be quite high for international students in Copenhagen, but in return you get complete peace of mind while exploring one of Europe’s most enjoyable as well as safest cities.
Vienna is the national capital and largest city in Austria, and an immigrant-friendly region with nearly 400,000 foreign-born residents. In addition to Vienna’s rich history and cultural attractions, the city is well-known for its high standards of living.
The Economist Intelligence Unit recently ranked Vienna as the world’s most liveable city, and it often ranks in the top 5 world cities for quality of life and safety in most rankings. Vienna also has an extremely well-integrated transport network which allows international students to move freely in buses and trains throughout the city.
For a city of nearly 2 million residents, Vienna is extremely safe due to active policing by the Austrian government. In addition to a remarkably low crime rate for major crimes, Vienna also has very rare incidences of racially-motivated crimes, making it a safe city for international students to explore.
Vienna is home to two universities for international students within the QS Worldwide top 200 – the University of Vienna and the Technische Universität Wien. Other universities with large communities of international students in Vienna include the Vienna University of Economics & Business, and the Medical University of Vienna.
International students must keep in mind that Vienna is also one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, and you should make sure to research possible scholarships that you can apply for while studying at a Vienna university. Thankfully for international students, tuition fees at top-ranked Austrian public universities such as the University of Vienna are quite low at only about 2,000 US Dollars every year. This will help offset your high living costs during your time enjoying the peacefulness and safety of Vienna and the Austrian countryside.
Geneva is Switzerland’s second-largest city with a population of about 250,000 residents. Similar to Vienna, Geneva is a relatively expensive city to live in, but is also one of the safest cities for international students in Europe.
Unlike other major cities such as Zurich in Switzerland, Geneva has an extremely low percentage of major crimes, but you should always remain careful of pickpockets and petty theft while in public places such as airports and the railway station.
Major universities for international students in Geneva include the University of Geneva, the Geneva University of Music and the International University in Geneva. With nearly 40% or 100,000 of Geneva’s residents being foreign-born, you will be safely surrounded by an immigrant-friendly and supportive community during your academic journey in Geneva. Additionally, tuition fees at top-ranked public universities are very affordable for international students and range between 1,500 and 4,000 US Dollars per year.
READ MORE: Study in Geneva
For international students who are especially concerned about safety and low crime rates but also discouraged by the high living costs in cities such as Vienna and Geneva, studying in Prague is the perfect choice because of its combination of inexpensive living costs and high levels of safety.
A city of 1.3 million residents in Eastern Europe, Prague is a historically important city with the best of European lifestyle outside the classroom, top-quality educational infrastructure and a sizable international student community.
The Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks the Czech Republic, of which Prague is the capital city, as the world’s sixth safest country overall. This shows the extremely high level of security and peace of mind that you can enjoy while studying in Prague.
As for the universities, Prague has multiple top-ranked institutes for international students such as Masaryk University, Czech Technical University and Charles University. As many as 3 Prague universities make the QS Global 500, providing proof of Prague’s highly-developed educational infrastructure for international students.
In terms of living costs, international students should expect to pay a low figure of anywhere between 350 to 650 US Dollars every month.
READ MORE: Universities in Prague
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