3 cheapest countries for international students

world's cheapest countries
Norway ranks among the world's cheapest countries for international students. Source: Odd Andersen/AFP

Living abroad is often expensive. From rent to tuition fees, these expenses add up if you’re seeking an education outside your home country. 

It may even feel futile to find the world’s cheapest countries for international students. Do they even exist? Looking at the cost of living in the most popular study destinations which often rank among the most expensive places to live, it may feel like there are no affordable countries. For example, Australia, the third most popular destination for international students, costs around US$42,093 on average — for a single year of study. 

Yet, it is possible to study abroad on a budget without compromising the quality of education you’ll receive — it just requires a little more research. With a little digging, we found the world’s cheapest countries for international students on QS World University Rankings

Taiwan has been voted the best place to live for expats for its culture, things to do and affordability. Source: Sam Yeh / AFP

The world’s cheapest countries for international students


Norway is one of the best choices for international students on a budget. The country is renowned for being one of the most progressive places to live in the world, with a track record of upholding human rights and cultural freedom for all its residents. It’s one of the reasons why Norway has been consistently ranked as the best country to live in by the United Nations. 

International students benefit from Norway’s policies, too. This is because public universities in the country do not charge tuition fees, regardless of your country of origin. A public education in Norway is free — making it easier for you to budget for other expenses, such as rent. 

Some of the top public universities in Norway include the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen. 


When it comes to the world’s cheapest countries, Taiwan ranks high on the list. Statistics show that the cost of living in Taiwan is approximately 23.24% lower than that in the US, with rent being 68.31% more affordable. This combined with its affordable healthcare system and comfortable lifestyle has earned the country the title of being the best place to live for expats

This is apparent in the cost of education, too. Tuition fees charged by both public and private universities in Taiwan are significantly lower than that of the most popular higher education destinations, typically charging around US$1,650 to US$2,500 per year. More than that, the country’s Ministry of Education frequently awards scholarships to international students, adding to the pull of pursuing a degree there. 

The top universities in Taiwan include the National Taiwan University (NTU), Taipei Medical University and China Medical University, Taiwan. 

Germany is an ideal location for international students for its progressive policies as well as affordable lifestyle. Source: David Gannon/AFP


Germany is quickly rising the ranks in becoming one of the best destinations for international students. It has one of the best standards of living in the world with a clean environment, low crime rates, cultural attractions, and a well-developed infrastructure. 

Outside of this, Germany is an excellent country to consider for its developing career opportunities, too. Four sectors dominate the German workforce — the automotive, mechanical engineering, chemical and electrical industries — making it an ideal destination for students interested in pursuing a career in engineering. 

The best part? All public universities in Germany do not charge tuition fees at the undergraduate and PhD-level, making it among the world’s cheapest countries for international students. There is a small catch, though: international students from outside the EU will need to get a residence permit before arriving in the country. 

Some of Germany’s top universities include Technische Universität München, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.