6 best European countries for international students to live their best lives

best European countries
France is one of the best European countries for international students to work and study. Source: AFP

Picturesque landscape. Diverse cultures. Delicious food. 

Studying in the best European countries offers many benefits that shape academic journeys, personal growth, and cultural enrichment. 

Europe’s world-class institutions boast academic excellence, providing students access to excellent education and cutting-edge research opportunities. 

The diverse range of programmes across disciplines ensures students can design their educational path to align with their goals. 

Beyond academics, Europe’s rich cultural scene provides an immersive experience. Living in a continent filled with history and diversity encourages students to explore, learn, and broaden their horizons. 

With many popular European tourist spots nearby, weekend getaways to neighbouring nations become a reality — allowing students to witness the seamless blend of ancient traditions and modern innovation. 

Whether it’s wandering through the romantic streets of Paris, savouring the art and history of Amsterdam, or soaking in the vibrant energy of Barcelona, there is so much to explore. 

From savouring delicious food to participating in festivals and events, living in Europe promises a well-rounded, transformative experience like no other.

Italy, UK, Poland: Oldest universities in Europe

Did you know that Europe’s contributions were crucial in shaping the concept of a university that we know today? 

Here are some of the oldest European universities still around today:

  • University of Bologna in Italy, 1088
  • University of Oxford in the UK, 1096
  • Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, 1303
  • Jagiellonian University in Poland, 1364

These universities remain highly esteemed, with several ranking among the top institutions in the world. According to the QS World Universities Rankings 2023, five European universities reached the top 10. 

best European countries

In Europe students are able to work while completing their course. Source: AFP

Is it possible to study and work in Europe?

You can!

Though balancing your studies with a job can be challenging, it’s entirely possible.

While many countries offer great options for studying abroad, securing employment may pose challenges.

Some students seeking to combine education and work in Europe opt for internships, as they provide a well-rounded blend of practical experience within a structured overseas work environment.

Home to 44 countries, Europe has much to offer — from the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, excellent academic programmes, beautiful landscapes, different climates, cultures, and traditions.

As such, it is no surprise that thousands of international students travel to Europe every year to begin their work and study abroad journey. 

best European countries

The UK has been a top choice for international students for many years now. Source: AFP

6 best European countries for international students

1. UK

A list of the best European countries for international students would not be complete without the UK.

The UK isn’t just the best country in Europe but also one of the best in the world for international students.

Home to many world-class universities, including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, the UK is a top choice for thousands of international students every year.

The UK attracts learners from around the globe with its esteemed universities, diverse academic offerings, and rich culture.

With its historical landmarks, thriving arts scenes, and diverse communities, the UK is the perfect place for academic and personal growth.

From the bustling streets of London to the picturesque landscapes of Scotland, the UK offers an enriching experience beyond academics.

You can go castle hopping in Wales, search for the Loch Ness monsters in Scotland, or visit William Shakespeare’s home in England.

best European countries

In Denmark, people bicycle in all types of weather and at all times of day. Source: AFP

2. Denmark 

Denmark is known as one of the cosiest countries in the world.

Much of this has to do with its cultural practice of “hygge.” This Danish word reflects the values of the society where people believe in equality and the well-being of everybody. It means to surround yourself with things and people that are good.

Experience this as you explore through town and take in the rich history and culture through one of Denmark’s main forms of transportation — bicycles.

Visit the iconic Little Mermaid statue based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, have a fun-filled day at the Tivoli Gardens amusement park, and explore the Aarhus Art Museum.

Other benefits of the Danish education system are its study costs, teaching quality, and career support services.

With institutions in Denmark providing 1,300 courses and over 700 degrees, the best part is that most of these programmes are taught in English.

What’s more, the Danish education system shares excellent links with the industry, helping students gain critical skills.

best European countries

Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte (R) rides a wooden bicycle during the Bogota Bike Fair ‘Bicigo’ to officially open the Netherlands stand in Bogota on November 29, 2018. Source: AFP

3. The Netherlands

The Netherlands has earned its reputation as one of the best European countries for international students. Hundreds of international students travel to the country to pursue higher education every year.

Renowned for its world-class universities and English-taught programmes, the country offers diverse educational options catering to a global student community.

Though Dutch is the official language, the country boasts over 2,000 university programmes taught in English. The emphasis on a student-centred teaching style and an innovation-driven curriculum train students to become field experts.

What sets the Netherlands apart is its commitment to the professional development of students.

Not only do they have the chance to work part-time during their studies and full-time during breaks, but the country also extends post-study work options enabling graduates to explore career prospects. It provides a residence permit for students to stay on for one year after graduation.

The Netherlands is also known for its beauty, with canals, picturesque villages, and cities bursting with culture. Here, you will find fields filled with vibrant tulips and well-preserved windmills as you cycle through the village.

best European countries

Study in the land of pizza, pasta and gelato for an excellent study abroad experience. Source: AFP

4. Italy

While you may travel to Italy for the pizza, pasta and gelato, you will stay for a lot more than that. The country has much to offer — from excellent world-renowned universities to breathtaking landscapes

Renowned for its historical significance, Italy offers a unique blend of ancient ruins, art masterpieces, and architectural wonders that create an immersive learning environment for students. Think about exploring the iconic Colosseum in Rome and the historic canals of Venice. 

Italy is also one of the best places in Europe for its rich history. Take a step back to ancient times as you visit the Colosseum in Rome and the preserved ruins of Pompeii. 

The allure of Italy isn’t solely rooted in its cultural offerings. The nation boasts many esteemed universities that consistently rank among the top in Europe. 

These institutions provide high-quality education at an affordable price compared to other European countries, making it a top destination for those seeking quality education without a hefty price tag. 

Whether indulging in delectable Italian cuisine, immersing oneself in the vibrant local lifestyle, or embarking on an educational journey, Italy is undoubtedly one of the best European countries for international students. 

best European countries

Macarons are delightful French pastries that are small, round, and meringue-based. Source: AFP

5. France

Travel to the “Country of Romance” and experience a study abroad and work experience like no other. France is a dream come true for any history, cuisine, or art enthusiast.

Oui, France is one of the best European countries for international students looking to study and work abroad.

It is known for its excellent universities, culture, and extensive history in academia and the arts.

Renowned institutions such as the Sorbonne and École Normale Supérieure have long attracted learners with prestigious programmes across various disciplines, including arts, sciences, engineering, and humanities.

Beyond academics, France’s unique blend of historical landmarks, world-class museums, and culinary delights fosters an immersive learning environment, allowing students to absorb not only knowledge but also a profound appreciation for the arts and culture.

Imagine studying in a country where you could spend your free time indulging in delicious pastries like pain au chocolat and macarons while sipping on hot chocolate by the Eiffel Tower.

best European countries

Swizerland is known to be one of the most beautiful countries to live in. Source: AFP

6. Switzerland

If you want to experience the beauty of the wilderness, explore picturesque towns and cities, and indulge in world-renowned cuisine, Switzerland is for you.

Besides being one of the best countries to study abroad, Switzerland is also famous for being one of the most beautiful countries to study and work whether you want to take in the stunning views or go skiing in the Alps.

Renowned for its world-class universities and research institutions, Switzerland provides students access to cutting-edge programmes across various fields, including science, technology, finance, and international relations.

The country’s emphasis on innovation and research is reflected in its state-of-the-art facilities and collaboration with industry partners, creating a fertile ground for intellectual growth and practical learning.

The availability of scholarships, grants, and part-time job opportunities adds to the appeal of Swiss education.