Study in Europe offers so many advantages for international students from around the world. The chance to explore a new country, experience a new culture, and meet new people often comes with a lower price tag, too. Higher education in countries like the UK and the US can be incredibly expensive, forcing students to take out loans to attain their degrees.
Universities in Europe are among the best in the world, with some recognized as the best in their fields. This added to the potential to learn a new language (although many European universities offer English-medium studies), making studying abroad an attractive option.
Whether you’re moving to Spain, Italy, or Germany, the prospect of studying in a new country can be daunting. That’s why we wanted to help you with that choice. We’ve looked at international student percentages, cost of living, safety, visas, and nightlife to find the best European cities for students studying abroad.
The Top 10 Cities in Europe For International Students
We’ve looked at the percentage of international students, desirability and demand, safety, nightlife, cost of accommodation,
We’ve looked at the percentage of international students, desirability and demand, safety, nightlife, cost of accommodation, cost of beer, and post-study work visa availability to reveal the best European cities for students to study abroad.
Why our Top 3 Cities are favorites for students studying in Europe
1 > Maastricht, Netherlands – 7.70 student score
Our top spot goes to the Netherlands’ Maastricht, with a student score of 7.70 out of 10. Maastricht is a fantastic option for students who are looking to study abroad in Europe. It’s one of the safest in Europe and one of the most popular, with the second-highest number of searches. Maastricht is home to Maastricht University, which is regularly ranked as one of Europe’s leading universities. Not only are half the students here international, but half of the courses are taught in English, making it an excellent option for people from the UK.
2 > Prague, Czech Republic – 7.60 student score
The second best city to study abroad in is the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, with a student score of 7.60 out of 10. Prague is a safe city with cheap beer and plenty of bars and nightclubs. Prague is home to several universities, one of which is the Anglo-American University, which was the first private university in the Czech Republic to be taught in English.
3 > Valencia, Spain – 6.99 student score
Completing our top three is Spain’s very own Valencia, with a student score of 6.99 out of 10. Valencia universities are among the most desirable for soon-to-be students, with over 10,000 Google searches in the last year. Valencia also offers cheap local beer. The main university in Valencia is the European University of Valencia, where 50% of the students are international. And Spain’s excellent post-study work visa (Jobseeker Visa) means international students can aim to live in Spain after their studies.
Study In Europe – Best Cities For International Students Index
The Most Desirable City To Study in Europe
We’ve looked at the total Google searches over the last 12 months for each city in our list to reveal the most searched city to study abroad in.
1 > Dublin, with 27,000 searches
The most searched-for city when it comes to studying abroad is the capital of Ireland, Dublin, with 27,000 searches last year. University College Dublin is one of the main universities in Dublin. It’s one of Europe’s leading universities; almost a third of its attendees are international students.
2 > Barcelona, with 24,700 searches
Barcelona takes second place, with 24,700 searches for universities in the Spanish city. Universitat Internacional de Catalunya is the main university in Barcelona, boasting an impressive 34% of international students in attendance. The cost of living in Barcelona is higher than in some other Spanish cities; however, it’s a gorgeous city with some phenomenal architecture and lots of bars and nightclubs to enjoy.
3 > Maastricht, with 24,200 searches
Maastricht is narrowly behind, completing our top three with 24,200 searches over the last year. The Dutch city is behind Barcelona by just 500 searches, with an average of 1,900 searches per month. Maastricht is an option many international students have taken, making up 50% of the university’s total students.
Percentage of International Students In European Universities
We’ve looked at European universities to find out which ones have the highest percentage of international students.
1 > Paris University of International Education – 100% international students
Unsurprisingly, Paris University of International Education takes the top spot, where all students are international. Based in the capital of France, the Paris University of International Education is primarily a business school offering distance-taught education. Full study tuition costs just €3,300, which is considerably cheaper than UK universities, which typically cost more than £9,000 for just one year.
2 > Cesar Ritz Colleges Switzerland – 99% of international students
The university with the second highest percentage of international students is Cesar Ritz Colleges Switzerland, with international students making up 99% of the total attendance. The university is based in the Swiss municipality of Montreux. Cesar Ritz Colleges is a hospitality school and the sixth best in that category. The university is named after Cesar Ritz, who was a pioneer in the hospitality industry. It was he who coined the famous phrase, “The customer is never wrong.”
3 > Constructor University – 84% of international students
Our top three is completed by Constructor University, with 84% of its students coming from international backgrounds. Constructor University is based in the German city of Bremen and is an English-speaking campus University. The University has 1,600 students from 110 nationalities.
The Cheapest Rental Accomadation For Students In Europe
We’ve compared the market for 1-bedroom apartments in each city for an indicative look at accommodation prices. While many international students studying in Europe may live on campus, the apartment costs will get you started.
Braganca has the cheapest rent for a one-bedroom apartment at just €260 per month.
1 > Braganca, Portugal – €260 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center
Braganca takes the top spot for its cheap rent. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost you just €260 per month, cheaper than any other city on our list. Braganca leads the way regarding its cost of living, making it an incredibly attractive option for students on a tight budget for their studies in Europe.
2 > Varna, Bulgaria – €333 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center
The Bulgarian city of Varna takes second place, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costing just €332.74 per month. Varna is another attractive option for students on a budget, with an average pint costing less than €2.
3 > Ilmenau, Germany – €350 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center
Completing our top three is Ilmenau, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costing €350 per month. Ilmenau’s cost of living is one of the cheapest around, ranking second for the cheapest pint factor. It is a great option for those with limited funds to cover their education costs.
The Cheapest Beer For Students in Europe
While we know our prospective international students are very diligent, they will need to let off some steam. We wanted to find out which cities on our list have the cheapest beer. We’ve looked at the cost of a domestic beer in a restaurant.
Braganca has the cheapest local beer, at just €1.25.
1 > Braganca, Portugal – €1.25 per pint
Portugal’s Braganca is home to the cheapest pint, at just €1.25. Not only is a pint cheap in the north-eastern municipality of Portugal, but there are plenty of bars and nightclubs to enjoy them in, too, with 35 per 100,000 people.
2 > Ilmenau, Germany – €1.50 per pint
Ilmenau takes second place, with a pint setting you back just €1.50. However, Ilmenau isn’t blessed with as many places to enjoy a cheap pint, with just 5 bars and nightclubs per 100,000 people.
3 > Iasi, Romania – €1.61 per pint
Iasi completes our top three at just €1.61 per pint. The Romanian city has 18 bars and nightclubs to enjoy your cheap pint; that is 5.66 places to head out per 100,000 people when accounting for the population.
Can You Work After Your Studies In Europe?
A post-graduate visa is one that allows you to stay in the country once you’ve completed your studies whilst looking for a job. Post-graduate visas vary from country to country; however, most will allow you to stay in the country for around nine to 12 months to secure a job or start a business. Most of the countries in our list offer this, including Spain, the Netherlands, and Sweden; however, there are four countries that do not. Those countries are Cyprus, Portugal, Poland, and Turkey.
Why Is Spain A Great Choice For International Students?
In our overall list, four Spanish cities made the top 10. Spain was also the only country to have more than one city feature in the top 10. The average percentage of international students in these four Spanish cities was just under 40%. Spain has an excellent student visa, a lower cost of living than the UK or the USA, and an amazing lifestyle. Generally speaking, the cost of living is higher than in some of the cities on our list; however, Spanish cities were safe, with lots of bars and nightclubs to enjoy.
A big drawcard is the range of educational opportunities for international students in Spain. You can come for a short course to learn how to speak Spanish or complete a doctoral dissertation.
Overall, Spain was also the most desired country for studying abroad. When combining the number of searches for each country, Spain had 15,000 more than any other country, showing Spain to be a trendy choice among prospective international students. Spain is also one of the countries that offer a post-graduate work visa, meaning if you become accustomed to the Spanish lifestyle and weather, you can stay on once you’ve completed your studies.
- We created a seeding list using Times Higher Education.
- We looked at the top European universities with the highest percentage of international students. We then took the city each university was based in until we had 50 cities.
- We then used Numbeo to find safety scores, the cost of domestic beer in a restaurant (1 pint), and the cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center.
- We then used Tripadvisor to find the number of bars and nightclubs in each city. We used World Population Review to work out the number of bars and nightclubs per 100,000 people.
- Finally, we used Google Keyword Planner to find the total number of searches in the UK for “universities in [city].” Figures show the total searches between May 2022 and April 2023.
- We converted euros to dollars and pounds using xe.com.
All Study in Europe Index data is accurate as of 09.06.2023.