Studying in Europe can be expensive. European universities with free application fees let you save up to hundreds of euros — money which can be spent on exploring the likes of Paris, London and Berlin instead.
From food to rent and tuition, expenses add up for international students. More often than not, money is already going out before you even start uni – i.e. you have to pay to apply for university. It costs around 70 pounds to apply to UK unis. Many universities across the EU charge around 60 euros too. These fees can be costly for those applying to multiple universities at once. Generally, this fee is non-refundable.
European universities with free application fees
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge needs no formal introduction. Known as the fourth oldest university in the world, the University of Cambridge was started by students from Oxford who settled in Cambridge upon escaping riots of “town and gown.” Since then, it has become the birthplace of some of the brightest minds in history such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
But this illustrious reputation comes with an acceptance rate of 21%. This means only one out of five people get accepted.
The university is making efforts to widen access for postgraduate students both across the region and internationally. Those looking to pursue a master’s degree can apply for an application fee waiver. However, this waiver is only given to students that meet specific requirements as below:
- UK applicants from low-income households
- Applicants with asylum seeker or refugee or humanitarian protection status
- Overseas applicants from any of the following countries
- Applications to the Postgraduate School of Life Sciences
Programmes offered at the Postgraduate School of Life Sciences (which combines the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Clinical Medicine) include MPhil in Biological Sciences, MPhil in Biological Science (Genetics) by thesis and MPhil in Basic and Translational Neuroscience.
University of Oxford
Similarly, the University of Oxford is a prestigious university that was ranked #1 in Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2022. At 17%, the university has a lower rate of acceptance than the University of Cambridge.
The city of Oxford was given the name Oxenaforda – meaning Ford of the Oxen and it was where the Oxford dictionary was born.
Choose from more than 350 graduate courses across many disciplines. This includes taught courses and research courses available for full-time and part-time study, and at every level from diploma to doctorate.
Like the University of Cambridge, postgraduate students can apply for free to the University of Oxford. This waiver only applies to those who meet the specific requirements below:
- Applying from a low-income country
- Refugees and displaced persons
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds
- Graduate Access Programme applicants
- Applying for readmission (for current Oxford postgraduate students)
- Applying to related research courses
Undergraduate students would have to pay 75 pounds for each course you apply to.
Read here for more information on applications for international students.
ParisTech includes a cluster of 12 of the most prestigious “Grandes Écoles” in science and engineering. These refer to specialised institutions of higher learning in France. Officially known as École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, MINES ParisTech, is one of the founding members of the cluster.
A ParisTech education is built on four common values: excellence, openness, innovation and solidarity. Main programmes include mathematics and applications, earth sciences and engineering, industrial engineering, to name a few.
The university takes pride in its facilities. It has 85 laboratories and a library that is home to one of the oldest and largest scientific and technical collections in France.
Ghent University, Belgium
View this post on Instagram
At Ghent University, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes cater to both Dutch and English speakers, with programmes spanning biotechnology, aquaculture, microelectronics and veterinary medicine. Though most of their undergraduate programmes are in Dutch, there are some English courses that international students can apply for.
Apart from that, Ghent University is the first European university to have a global campus in Incheon, South Korea. It has been accredited by both the Ministry of Education (Korea) and by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium).
Ghent University is one of the few European universities with free application fees. You don’t have to pay anything, but may have to submit a copy of your diploma together with a translation of it into Dutch, French, German or English, among others.