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A guide to free English-taught education in the EU

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Primary and Secondary

Education in all EU nations is free to citizens from all other EU nations. Finland and Germany rank highly for educational attainment.

English taught studies

Universities: A substantial number of subjects at most universities throughout the EU are being taught in English. It’s possible to study for an English-taught degree even if you choose to study in a non-English speaking country as most universities facilitate this.

Primary & Secondary Schools: Most classes will be taught in the national language although some German and Scandinavian schools have a number of English-taught classes.

If your preference is that the first language of the school is English, then England, Scotland and Ireland would clearly be your European choices. All three have free education at primary and secondary levels. Free University education for EU citizens is only available in Scotland and Ireland. In England University education comes at a high and ever increasing cost and the impact of Brexit on higher level education for EU citizens in England is, as yet, unknown.

According to Ireland’s Minister of State, Eoghan Murphy, the quality of secondary education in Ireland and Scotland is ranked higher than the EU average. University level education is also ranked higher in Scotland.

University Education: Undergraduate and Post Graduate

Studying for a free University degree in Europe offers a whole new experience far more than simply saving money. The cultural mix and different research methodologies, social sciences and language could give extra focus and breadth to your chosen degree subject.

Free post-graduate courses are offered at Universities in Finland, Norway and Denmark with Finland being rated as having the best education in the world, winning top marks in the 2014 World Economic Forum. Although by 2016 this accolade had been won by some Asian countries, Finland remains rated at No 4 worldwide.

Scandinavian countries are attracting a modest but growing number of British students according to recent information from Statistics Finland. Both undergraduate and post-graduate education is free in Scandinavia but the downside of studying there is the relatively high cost of living and the sometimes hard to navigate systems of bureaucracy in Sweden when it comes to basic necessities such as finding accommodation or setting up bank accounts etc. It could be argued that there is much to offer with the Swedish experience with some students opting to spend their money on living expenses instead of increased tuition fees, whilst receiving an education as good as in the UK, if not better.

Germany abolished tuition fees for universities in 2016 in order to encourage more high level education accessibility for all. According to a recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings the standard of University education is high with 12 German Universities having high ratings.  They also offer a huge variety of around 900 English-taught degrees available in a broad range of subjects at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Tuition Fees at Universities in Europe in 2017.

Tuition is free in Austria for students from EU-EEA countries and Switzerland.

There are no fees for tuition at Universities in Denmark for students from EU-EEA member countries and Switzerland.

There are no charges for tuition at public Universities at present for students of any nationality.

France is a highly popular choice for study and has comparatively low tuition fees – EU and non-EU students at public universities are charged between EUR200 and EUR 650 per year dependent upon which level i.e. undergraduate or postgraduate and choice of subject . For instance, medical students can expect to pay an average tuition fees of around EUR 452  per year, while  engineering students would expect  to pay around EUR 620 per year.

In Germany there are also top level universities with either low or zero tuition fees. Students have to pay an administration fee of between 100 and 200 EUR per semester which covers the public transport and other student services.

University education in Norway is free of charge for everyone, with a fee of the equivalent of EUR 32 – 64 per semester payable at state universities. Students are given a Student Card which offers benefits such as healthcare and free transport and reductions on some cultural events and activities.

Tuition fees are set by the various regional governments in Spain for undergraduates. Public universities would charge around EUR680 to EUR1400 per year with a postgraduate degree costing between EUR 1350 and EUR1500 per year.

Tuition is free for EU students at Sweden’s 53 universities and university colleges.

For EU-EEA members, public universities charge from around 580CHF (approximately EUR 535) each semester for undergraduate and Master’s degrees and around 216 CHF (approximately EUR200) each semester for a PHD.

Europe wants to be the best
Whatever the recent financial crises, the European Union will be investing more funds into education. In its multi-annual financial framework (2014 – 2020) the European Commission proposes 70% funds increases for training and education: 17 billion euros that will be supporting transnational learning mobility; cooperation between institutions; modernisation of education and implementation of education policies in the Member States.

EU students at undergraduate level have free tuition fees except those who have to repeat a semester/year and those students taking a second undergraduate degree. The Higher Education Authority will pay tuition fees for Irish/EU members’ first time degrees if they have been residents of the EU for a minimum of 3 years of the 5 years before entry at university level.

Which citizenship should you target?

There are a few options, but all except one have issues such as:

  • The need to reside for a number of years before you can become an EU citizen
  • There is no certainty that residency will evolve into citizenship.

If you can afford to park substantial funds for 3 years, and want certainty of obtaining EU citizenship with the flexibility of not yet needing to reside in any one country in order to enjoy the right to live, work and study anywhere in the EU until the time is right for you, then the Cyprus citizenship by Investment programme clearly is for you.

You might not yet be ready to choose which EU country to move your family to. With the Cyprus EU programme, you can obtain citizenship in 3 months without the need to live in any EU country. Moreover, Cyprus doesn’t oblige you to give up your primary citizenship.

The downside is initial cost. Although the cost can be reduced to €500,000 after 3 years, the initial investment is €2,000,000 into Cyprus property. This covers citizenship for your family: husband, wife and children up to the age of 28.  The applicant’s parents can also be added for a €500,000 investment in property.

If ever you decide to surrender your Cyprus citizenship, you will be able to sell up your property assets and repatriate your funds. There is no inheritance tax in Cyprus.

The upside is the simplest and speediest application process out there and the invaluable comfort which comes with Residency Invest’s 100% success record. So certain are they of success, Residency Invest waives charging any advance processing fees.