It’s an excellent problem to have. Choosing where to go to study is a freedom not afforded to very many people. Of course, the cost of studying abroad and sometimes even the effort it takes to organise can also be great enough to put off people who do have the chance.
But studying abroad can be a lot cheaper than people realise. Admittedly, popular study destinations such as the United Kingdom or the United States can get very expensive, but there are quality university experiences to be had across the globe. Here are just a few we’ve found.
There are lots of things to consider when it comes to paying for university. Where to live, what to study, what are wage expectations like, and so much more. In brief, the sheer number of variables makes it difficult to accurately list cheap places to study. That is also why various resources will maintain that completely different countries and even continents will be home to the most cost-effective universities.
But we can notice general trends when looking for cheap places to study:
1. English speaking countries tend to cost more
2. Countries with lower GDP tend to cost less
3. Although many popular countries maintain free education, the cost of living can be very high
With these broad trends, we can see that South-eastern and Central Africa, South Asia, parts of South America and Eastern Europe are all relatively cheap. So whereabouts provides both a good education while still remaining cheaper than most places? We’ve taken a look at each of these areas and tried to find somewhere in each that has these qualities.
Universities in Africa can be very cheap indeed, and we have picked Kenya as a representative for being both exceptionally cheap, as well as a fascinating place in which to study.
Nairobi, for example, is the third biggest city in Africa and is still growing. Kenya itself is known as the ‘cradle of humanity’, a moniker represented in the country’s rich and full culture.
Most courses are taught in English and are very comprehensive. Many students travel to Kenya for a year or more, often for charitable reasons, or just to explore the rich environments, meeting incredibly kind and generous people along the way.
India represents South Asia on this list, a cheap but enriching place to live.
India has typically been seen as a country that sends students to other countries rather than accepting their own, but that trend is steadily changing. With one of the largest economies in the world, India’s education sector is now catching up, encouraging both home students and those from abroad to its shores.
It is also possible to study in English here, and its engineering and technology courses are particularly well renowned.
Argentina is marked by its low living costs, good quality of education and relatively cheap course fees. Over 90,000 people come here to study every year. They can’t be wrong can they?
Eastern Europe is a very cost effective way to study in Europe, if that is what you are after. Romania, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Bulgaria, even Russia all offer very cheap university and living costs.
We have chosen Poland here as it is currently going through a strong economic growth, is a large country with much to explore, has fewer visa demands than most of the surrounding countries, is very central and offers great transfer links to the rest of Europe and has a rich cultural heritage dating back over 1000 years.
We made the point earlier that many countries with free education generally cost more in terms of living costs, rent, things like that. Sweden, Germany and Norway all fit into this category. Finland isn’t quite free for international students, there is a small base charge of around $1000 per year, but the living costs are so small compared to those other places, it is certainly worth taking a look at.
So, how much?
Of course, there are lots to consider when considering the price of studying abroad. The easy part is tuition. These numbers are freely obtained from universities and generally correlate with the perception of quality of the university. Just as an example, the three most expensive universities in the world in regards to fees are MIT, Harvard and Cambridge, often regarded as three of the best educational institutions in the world.
Trickier to puzzle out is the cost of living. Most universities associate themselves with towns and cities though they frequently reside just outside of city limits, or at the least on the outskirts. This means that the cost of living can vary considerably depending on your personal choices and preferences. Whether you want to live close to town or further outside for example. Are you able to get a job? These things can really affect cost.
The hardest cost to define is the personal. Yes, one city may overall be cheaper than another, but how much are you losing out on, culturally or spiritually, by living there rather than in a place that is a fraction more expensive? Perhaps the baseline cheapest institution is what you are looking for, but that isn’t always the best way to consider what is the cheapest.
Another thing to consider is the perception of value. Every year, lots of work goes into measuring the quality of each course of each university. This idea of ‘quality’ is difficult to accurately predict as it relies on so many variables. However, these measures do affect the perception of the university and therefore how you are treated as a graduate of said university.
For example, a degree from this institution gets you a job in which you earn $30,000 per year. However, from this other place, you get $35,000 per year. You saved initially, but the long-term losses far outweigh the savings.
We urge you when considering your choice of university to take all these points seriously. With that being said, we give you here a low to high estimate of study and living costs, per year, in each of these five countries. The price given is in USD.
Average Study Cost
1. Kenya $4,000-$9,000
2. India $4000-$10,000
3. Argentina $2000-$4000
4. Finland $2400-$2600
5. Poland $6000-$15,000
Now do note that these are general estimates and are not necessarily exactly equitable to how much studying in these countries will cost. But they’re a good place to start and we can learn a lot from them.
Pretty cheap, huh? Especially when you consider studying in the UK or US can be $10,000 per year just for tuition. Not to mention the astronomical cost of living there.
So where should I go?
We cannot help you with that, unfortunately. Choosing where to study is such a personal decision. One that requires a lot of introspection and research. Where have you always wanted to live? What language do you desperately wish to learn? What are you fascinated by? Once you have answered these questions you can start to think about where best to go abroad, but not before.
Studying abroad is a dream come true. It may not always feel like that, but it really is.
Of course, in reality, things like cost do make a very real difference. The five we’ve listed here are by no means an exhaustive list. You can find cheap places to stay and ways to reduce costs anywhere you choose to live. If you’re committed and resourceful enough, you will find somewhere that is both cheap and a dream come true.