If you fail to qualify for fully-funded university scholarships, consider enrolling in universities that are tuition-free or charge low tuition fees or those offering tuition fee waivers. Countries like Norway, Austria, Germany, Finland, and Sweden offer different types of free/low tuition schemes and tuition waivers for international students.
Tuition Free Universities in Norway »
Norway is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers, and deep coastal fjords. Oslo, the capital, is a city of green spaces and museums. It has a total area of 385,207 square kilometers (148,729 sq mi) and a population of 5,425,270 in January 2022.
The country shares a long eastern border with Sweden at a length of 1,619 km (1,006 mi). It is bordered by Finland and Russia to the northeast and the Skagerrak strait to the south, on the other side of which are Denmark and the United Kingdom.
According to Studyinnorway.no, Norwegian state universities and university colleges as a rule do not charge tuition fees to all students including international students. This applies to all levels, including undergraduate studies, Master’s programs, and Ph.D. programs. However, students will have to pay a semester fee of NOK 300-600 each semester.
Note that some state universities and university colleges may have tuition fees for a few specialized programs which are typically at the Master’s level. Most private institutions have tuition fees for all their programs and courses. But the fees are usually significantly lower than those of comparable studies in most other countries. Also, foreign students don’t pay higher tuition fees than Norwegian students.
Cost of Studying in Norway: You should take into consideration that living expenses in Norway are higher than in many other countries. Living expenses would amount to NOK 90,000-100,000 per year.
Tuition Free Universities in Austria »
Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked country in the southern part of Central Europe, situated in the Eastern Alps. It is a federation of nine states, one of which is the capital Vienna, the largest city and state by population.
The country is bordered by Germany to the northwest, the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia to the northeast, Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. It occupies an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi) and has a population of 9 million people.
According to studyinaustria.at, if you are an non-EU/EEA student, federal/public universities in Austria only charge about 726.72 Euros per semester for tuition fees plus 20.20 Euros per semester for student union membership fee “ÖH-Beitrag” and the student accident insurance fee.
An exemption from paying tuition fees or a full/partial refund of the tuition fees is possible in special cases (e.g. for holders of certain scholarships, for participants in exchange programs and university partnerships, for students from certain countries). Further information is available at the website of the university directly.
Cost of Studying in Austria: The cost of living for students in Austria is approximately 800 Euros per month which covers accommodation, food, and personal expenses.
Tuition Free Universities in Germany »
Germany officially the Federal Republic of Germany is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south; it covers an area of 357,022 square kilometers (137,847 sq mi), with a population of almost 84 million within its 16 constituent states.
Germany borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the west. The nation’s capital and largest city are Berlin and its financial center is Frankfurt; the largest urban area is the Ruhr.
According to internationale-studierende.de, study-in.de: As of October 2014, all Universities in Germany except Baden-Württemberg* will not charge any tuition fees for bachelor’s and consecutive master’s degree programs for all students including international students.
In some Federal States, Universities will charge a semester contribution (about 50 euros) and/or administration fees (about 50 euros). This tuition fee structure can change in the future, you should check this page for updated information on tuition fees in different federal states in Germany.
Currently, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg is charging tuition fees (for Bachelor’s, Master’s, Diplom, and state examination degree programs) of €1,500 per semester for non-EU citizens.
Unlike undergraduate studies, most Master’s studies in Germany come with tuition fees, but they’re not as high as in other countries.
On the other hand, doctoral studies at German universities are in principle free. Ph.D. students are charged tuition only after completing their first six semesters but they are required to pay a semester contribution of approximately 150-200 euros per semester. Doctoral students usually work on a research project (paid Ph.D. position) or receive a scholarship.
Cost of Studying in Germany: On average, German students spend about 500-800 Euros on accommodation, transport, food, and miscellaneous expenses.
Tuition Free Universities in Finland »
Finland, officially the Republic of Finland is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east, with the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland across Estonia to the south.
Finland covers an area of 338,455 square kilometers (130,678 sq mi) with a population of 5.6 million. Helsinki is the capital and largest city, forming a larger metropolitan area with the neighboring cities of Espoo, Kauniainen, and Vantaa.
According to studyinfinland.fi: Tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students has been introduced from autumn 2017 onwards for English-taught Bachelor’s or Master’s programs. Only Doctoral level studies will remain free of tuition fees, regardless of your nationality.
Finnish universities and UASs offer scholarship options for gifted non-EU/EEA students admitted to their fee-charging Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs. EDUFI Fellowships are available to cover living expenses for Doctoral studies for up to one academic year.
Cost of Studying in Finland: Estimated living expenses of a single student in Finland average around 700-900 Euros per month.
Tuition Free Universities in Sweden »
Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north, Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge tunnel across the Öresund.
At 450,295 square kilometers (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest Nordic country, the third-largest country in the European Union, and the fifth-largest country in Europe. The capital and largest city are Stockholm. Sweden has a total population of 10.4 million, and a low population density of 25.5 inhabitants per square kilometer (66/sq mi).
According to studyinsweden.se: Application and tuition fees apply for those who are not citizens of an EU/EEA/Nordic country or Switzerland studying at the bachelor’s or master’s level. However, the Swedish Institute and a significant number of Universities offer full and partial scholarships in the form of tuition waivers for international students.
Ph.D. positions in Sweden are usually offered as paid positions by universities or external funding bodies. This means that if you are offered a position as a Ph.D. candidate, you will not pay fees and will receive a monthly salary.
Online Tuition-Free Universities »
There are now some Universities offering online degrees/courses for free. The first such University is the University of the People which is a tuition-free, non-profit, accredited online university dedicated to opening access to higher education globally. University of the People offers online Associate and bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration, Health Science, and Computer Science, as well as an MBA program
This was followed by an initiative of MIT and Harvard called edX which is a learning platform that gives students from any country the opportunity to take free online courses offered by three premier Universities in the US – Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley and about 50+ Universities and institutions.