10 safest countries in the world for international students

safest countries in the world
Being safe also means being accepted into a community where diversity is celebrated. Source: AFP

When you’re young and investing hundreds of thousand of dollars into your education, you should aim to live and study at the safest countries in the world.

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not only earns you a university qualification but helps you grow as a person too.

While these are big benefits, it is not an easy decision to decide which country and which city you’d like to spend some of the most critical years of your life in. 

It’s important that you choose the right destination — and much of this is due to one key fact: you’ll be alone and have to do everything yourself without the help of parents, family, teachers and friends back home.

As such, you should pick a country where you know or can learn the language, culture and the average cost of living quickly.

And aside from choosing the best university and course, you also have to consider what are the safest countries in the world.

After all, you will be thousands of kilometres away from home, in a new and unknown environment. 

While the world is becoming safer, certain countries are safer than others.

safest countries in the world

Safety doesn’t just mean a lack of crime. It extends to a feeling of being welcomed, no matter who you are. Source: AFP

The safest countries in the world need more than just safe spaces

Every year, the World Peace Index releases a list of the safest countries in the world for international students.

As you would expect, the analysis ranks these countries based on the absence of violence or the fear of violence when assessing a nation’s level of peace.

But safety extends beyond crime too.

It includes the tolerance and acceptance of a community where diversity is celebrated. Where students from various backgrounds can engage freely with others, fostering cross-cultural understanding and lifelong friendships.

Safety also includes reliable public transportation and well-maintained campuses and public spaces. All this combined allows students to fully immerse themselves in their university and host country with peace of mind. 

The safest regions in the world to study abroad 

Europe is generally considered the safest region in the world.

Of the world’s top 20 safest countries, 14 are in Europe. And 29 European countries are in the world’s top 50. Almost all countries in Europe are safer for international students than the US.

While it is the most popular study-abroad destination and a dream country for many, the US, unfortunately, does not make the list of safest countries in the world.

According to the World Peace Index, the US ranks 131 of 163 countries. The national murder rate increased by nearly 30% between 2019 and 2020. 

10 safest countries in the world for international students

safest countries in the world

Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world. Source: AFP

1. Iceland 

Located on the North Atlantic Ocean, Iceland is the most peaceful and secure country in the world, with a point of 1.124, according to the latest ranking from the Global Peace Index.

It excels in safety, security and militarisation. It also boasts low crime rates and a tight community. 

Here, international students will find top-quality universities offering academic programmes across a wide range of fields, from agriculture and environmental studies to arts and design.

If you choose to study in Iceland, you will have the opportunity to explore the country’s beautiful landscapes, such as waterfalls, geysers and volcanoes, with little worry about much else.

safest countries in the world

Denmark is not only one of the safest countries in the world but also the world’s second happiest. Source: AFP

2. Denmark 

Over the years, Denmark has maintained a reputation as one of the most socially and economically developed countries in the world, with high standards of living, friendly communities and low crime rates.

All of this combined has placed it second on the Global Peace Index with a score of 1.31. 

But Denmark is not just somewhere you go to stay safe. The country is known for its excellent and innovative education system, with qualifications recognised worldwide. 

Around 1,500 international students travel to Denmark annually to experience the country’s peaceful environment and world-class institutions. 

The country boasts five universities in the QS World University Rankings 2023. This includes the University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark, Aarhus University, Aalborg University and University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

While they’re not learning from the best minds in the world, students are making the most of living in the second happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report.

safest countries in the world

In Ireland, one of the safest countries in the world, it’s safe, serene and smiley all year around. Source: AFP

3. Ireland

Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world, ranking third on the Global Peace Index with a score of 1.312.

Though a small country, it is big in warmth, earning the title of the fifth friendliest country for international students. 

Here, you will find universities that are renowned for their high-quality education and strong educational system. The country boasts eight world-class universities, which include Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and University of Galway. All of which offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes for international students to explore their passions. 

The country is home to a rich history and vibrant cities, such as Dublin and Galway, which allow students to explore stunning landscapes like the River Liffey and Connemara.

4. New Zealand 

New Zealand is growing in popularity among international students due to its breathtaking landscapes, high quality of education and welcoming environment. 

It also attracts a high number of international students every year as it is one of the safest countries in the world. With a score of 1.313, New Zealand ranks fourth on the Global Peace Index

The Code of Practice for Pastoral Care for international students states that all students are entitled to be treated fairly, and educators must follow all the regulations set in place. Educators are required to sign this document before beginning the enrollment of students.

The country is also home to eight world-class universities that provide a high standard of education across various disciplines. The top universities in New Zealand include The University of Auckland, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University. 

safest countries in the world

Austria is one of the most beautiful countries for international students to study in. Source: AFP

5. Austria 

Fifth on the list of the safest countries in the world is Austria. It is located in Central Europe and boasts low crime rates and a healthy economy. The country is fifth on the Global Peace Index with a score of 1.316, making it an excellent place to study, live and work. 

To complement these advantages, Austria has an excellent higher education system with affordable tuition fees — yes, even for international students.

Like most European countries, Austrian students, nationals of all European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) member countries, generally do not pay tuition fees at public universities. For students outside these countries, you can expect to pay 726.72 euros (US$789.90).

Here’s another bonus point for Austria: though the locals speak several dialects of German, English is still widely spoken by the majority of its population. 

6. Singapore 

Apart from being the setting of hit film “Crazy Rich Asians,” Singapore is just as famous for its political stability, high living standards, extremely efficient public transport system, clean environment and low crime rates.

It is currently the safest country in Asia and sixth in the world. 

According to the Global Peace Index, Singapore has a point of 1.332 thanks to the country’s zero tolerance for physical and mental abuse and strict laws in place for the safety and security of international students. 

Although small, this is a country that punches above its weight when it comes to education. Top universities, such as the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University, are often ranked among Asia’s best. 

But that’s not all that makes this country a top choice for many students. Did you know that a number of international universities have branches in Singapore? The list includes James Cook University, INSEAD and Curtin University. 

safest countries in the world

Today, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with a national policy that prohibits Japan from establishing a military or solving international conflicts through violence. Source: AFP

7. Japan 

Aside from delicious seafood, anime, and cherry blossoms, Japan is known for its exceptionally safe environment. Though the country has been through its fair share of violence in the past, today, it is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. 

Its high levels of public safety, cleanliness and order have placed it ninth on the Global Peace Index with a score of 1.336. 

Japan is one the most advanced countries in the world of technology, making it a popular choice for students wanting to pursue higher education in engineering, technology and science.

From ancient temples and tranquil gardens to bustling metropolises like Tokyo and Osaka, there is something for everyone. Japanese universities, like Singapore’s, are consistently ranked in Asia’s top 10.

8. Canada

Canada is home to many prestigious universities like McGill University, University of Toronto and University of British Columbia.

If studying in Canada is your dream, safety is something you do not have to worry about. Ranked 11th on the Global Peace Index, it is one of the safest countries in the world. Here, crime rates are not only low, but declining

Canadians are well known for their warmth and kindness making the country an excellent choice for international students. 

9. Finland 

It is almost impossible to find a more perfect study-abroad destination for international students than Finland. 

Not only does the country rank under 15 on the Global Peace Index with a score of 1.399, but Finland has been voted as the happiest country in the world for six consecutive years, according to the World Happiness Report

The benefits of studying in Finland don’t stop there. Here, international students can pursue a degree at one of the country’s top nine universities and experience world-class education all at an affordable price. 

10. Sweden 

Peaceful, friendly, stable — that’s what it’s like to live in Sweden. 

But its low crime rate isn’t the only reason that Sweden is the perfect choice for students seeking a safe study abroad destination.

The country is among the top countries with the safest traffic in the world, boasting a low number of traffic deaths. 

Many of Sweden’s big cities, like Stockholm and Gothenburg, have grown into multicultural hubs welcoming students from all around the world. Here, you will find opportunities for everyone, as the country has much to offer in terms of education, work and leisure.