Paying off student debt can often be a nightmare. Tuition fees in top universities of the UK and the USA have skyrocketed just like a real estate boom in the first decade of the 21st century. Recently, the increase in tuition fees has led to a significant drop in the number of applicants to the UK universities.
- 1.RWTH Aachen, Germany
- 2. Politecnico di Milano, Italy
- 3. ParisTech, France
- 4. Ghent University, Belgium
- 5. University of Glasgow, UK
- 6. University de Montpellier, France
- 7. TU Munich, Germany
- 8. University of Vienna, Austria
- 9. University of Oslo, Norway
- 10. PSL University, France
- 11. University of Twente, Netherlands
According to a report by BBC, the students in England have become an outlier in their country and they find it cheaper to get a quality education in neighboring Scotland, Welsh and Northern Ireland that are home to some of the excellent universities like the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow. However, this article is not about the hefty tuition fees charged by universities. This is about the first step – applying to an awesome university without paying hefty application fees.
I remember the dilemma I had while applying to various universities. Sending applications to a university in the USA, Canada, or Switzerland costs a fortune. On average, application to an American university costs around $75 and add to that the extra charges (around $50) for sending the GRE and TOEFL scores. I spent around INR 50,000 (USD $730) for applying to just 6 US universities in 2017.
Thankfully, there are some top European universities with no application fees.
Do you know that most universities in Germany don’t charge an application fee for applying to the STEM fields? However, it can be hard to find a lot of English-taught courses in German universities.
Here is a list of the top 11 European Universities with no application fees for international students.
1.RWTH Aachen, Germany
RWTH Aachen is the leading engineering university in Germany, often being counted among the top 30 universities in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in the world. It has a vibrant student population of over 45,000 students. The university is located in several patches of the Aachen city and has several industrial collaborations.
Some of the courses are also taught in partnership with the neighboring University of Bonn, the University of Cologne, and the University of Maastricht.
Times Higher Education ranks RWTH Aachen at #87 in the 2019 Overall University Rankings of the World.
RWTH Aachen is a top German university with no application fees. You just need to send the notarized hard copies of your transcripts and course details during application by post. Most of the other application process is online.
If you are keen to pursue MS in Germany in STEM fields, this university must be on your list. Aachen is one of the most affordable cities in Western Europe with proximity to Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Bonn, Brussels, Eindhoven, and Maastricht.
Since 2010, several English taught courses are offered in RWTH Aachen for post-graduate Master’s students. I studied Biomedical Engineering here during the first year of my Erasmus CEMACUBE Biomedical Engineering programme.
Some of the English courses in cutting-edge fields like M.Sc. in Smart Production Engineering and M.Sc. in Robotics are available in RWTH Aachen.
2. Politecnico di Milano, Italy
If you are a chemistry or chemical engineering enthusiast, you would know about Ziegler-Natta catalyst. The catalyst is used for polymerization, especially for the production of polypropylene. Well, Giulio Natta, the Nobel Prize awardee who co-developed the catalyst, is an alumni of Politecnico di Milano.
Politecnico di Milano is the best engineering university in Italy. It has a very high employer reputation in Europe and has consistently ranked among the top 25 universities in the world in ‘Engineering and Technology’.
It has a main campus in Milan and several satellite campuses spread across Italy. Politecnico di Milano is one of those top-notch European universities with no application fees.
3. ParisTech, France
ParisTech is not one university or college. It’s basically a cluster of 10 Grande Ecolé engineering colleges in Paris. There are more than 30 Grande Ecolés in France and around 20 of them are in Paris.
Grande Ecolés are prestigious colleges in France just like the Ivy League in the US, IIT in India, and the C9 League in China. Just like SAT for US Ivy League Schools, Gaokao for Chinese C9 League universities, and JEE Advanced for IITs, getting into the French Grande Ecoles at the Bachelor level requires one to give entrance exams. Students usually go through the preparatory classes (classes préparatoires) to crack the exam.
However, admission to the Master’s level courses doesn’t require any exam. Each of the ParisTech schools has its own admission application process.
Each of the 10 engineering colleges in ParisTech is well-known for its specialized stream. For example, Agro ParisTech has specialized courses in agriculture, agrotech, and forestry. Chimie ParisTech is popular in France for its chemistry-related courses. ENSAE ParisTech is famous for its economics and finance courses.
ParisTech graduates are highly regarded in France. Most of the campuses are located in Central Paris or on the outskirts of Paris. A countable number of courses (rare) are available as far as Bordeaux, like the Aerospace specialization. Mines ParisTech and ESPCI ParisTech are also members of PSL university.
No doubt, the Paris Tech universities feature in this list of top European universities with no application fees.
4. Ghent University, Belgium
Ghent University, established in 1817, is the second-best university in Belgium in terms of research output and innovation after KU Leuven. It has consistently ranked among the top 150 World Universities in the QS World Rankings in the last decade. Contrary to KU Leuven, Ghent University is one of the world-class European universities with no application fees for international master’s students.
Although a lot of courses are in Dutch, there are ample Master’s courses in English without an application fee, ranging from law to engineering.
Bioscience Engineering and Biomedical Engineering are niche areas of research in the university and it is considered one of the best universities in Europe in this field.
Speaking from my personal experience, I didn’t join the KU Leuven university (the top Belgian University) for MS in Biomedical Engineering in 2018 because of the lack of a post-study work visa availability in Belgium. However, now that Belgium has granted Non-EU students a one-year post-study job search visa (from 2021 onwards), you should definitely consider Ghent University while applying to different European universities.
5. University of Glasgow, UK
The University of Glasgow ranks high for humanities, basic science, life sciences, biology and clinical medicine. However, I wouldn’t rank it among the top 100 universities when it comes to engineering.
40% of the student population is international. Hence, you can expect the student population to be quite diverse. It is located on the west side of the city with a lot of bars and shisha lounge nearby.
6. University de Montpellier, France
Montpellier in the south of France is an amazing student city. Nearly 20% of the population in the city are students. The location- ‘South France’- is enough to excite someone, given the proximity to the sea beaches and an excellent climate throughout the year.
The university has several collaborations with CNRS, the government research agency in France as well as industries. If you are aiming for MS in France, this university should be on your list of colleges.
7. TU Munich, Germany
TU Munich is the second most funded university in Germany. It is known for its proximity to industries and has carved out a name for its ’employer reputation’.
TU Munich has the top-ranked Computer Engineering postgraduate programs in Germany. Times Higher Education has consistently ranked it among the top 50 universities of the world in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
8. University of Vienna, Austria
The University of Vienna has magnificent architecture just like many other buildings in the city of Wien or Vienna. It is the largest university in Europe with more than 90,000 students currently enrolled.
I asked one of my friends studying medicine at the University of Wien or the University of Vienna the reasons for choosing the university. According to her, she didn’t have to crack any tough entrance exam for studying medicine at the ”UniVie” (as it is called popularly), and the university doesn’t charge any tuition fees.
As the icing on the cake, the University of Vienna does not charge any application fee either.
However, just like many German universities, it does not offer any English language courses at the Bachelor’s/ undergraduate level (as of 2021). You can find a handful of engineering and science courses at the Masters’s or Postgraduate level in English. My friend is studying medicine in German over there.
So, if you are planning to study at the ”UniVie”, you have to explore the curriculum and see if it offers English language courses in your area of interest. You can amplify your post-study work opportunities after studying in Austria if you can speak at least B1 level of German.
Vienna has consistently ranked as one of the top expat-friendly cities in Europe. The University of Vienna has also consistently featured in the QS World top 200 universities. I would definitely recommend this university to an international student.
9. University of Oslo, Norway
The University of Oslo is one of the European universities with no application fees, even for international students. There are more than 50 Master’s degree programmes at the University of Oslo that are now offered in English.
I know people usually have high opinions of Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, especially about the quality of life and sustainable economic development. However, these countries are a bit cold (I am not talking about the weather here) for international students. Further, the cost of living is very high in Oslo.
It is not very easy to make friends with the local Norwegian students. So, if you are planning to study in a Nordic country, it would be better to study in a university with a high diversity of international diaspora and preferably in a big city.
Compared to other Norwegian universities, the University of Oslo has a very vibrant international community. As per 2016 statistics, international students accounted for nearly 15% of the student population. Here are the testimonials of some international students studying at this university.
The University of Oslo doesn’t really vibe with my personality and criteria for studying. However, if you are an international student at the University of Oslo or planning to study here soon, DO NOT live in the student housing outside of the city. Places such as Kringsjå are not anywhere near the campus or the heart of the city. You may end up feeling very isolated. Make all efforts to find a residence as close to the university and the heart of the city as possible.
10. PSL University, France
PSL University was established in 2019. It is a collegiate system of university just like the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. It has 11 associate member colleges/institutes/grand Ecoles.
Some of the top-notch French institutes/colleges/grand Ecoles which became a member of PSL are Paris Dauphine University, Curie Institute, École normale supérieure, and Mines Paris Tech.
FYI, the University of Oxford consists of 39 colleges like Worcester College, Exeter College, Hertford College, Kellogg College, St. John’s College, etc.
PSL University ranks debuted in the top 50 universities in both the Times Ranking and QS World University ranking. PSL University boasts of 28 Nobel laureates and 10 Field Medal winners.
11. University of Twente, Netherlands
Most of the Dutch universities are ranked among the top 250 universities of the world. However, most of them have an application fee for their Master’s program. The University of Twente is one of the top-ranked Dutch universities with no application fees in many of the programs.
Note: The University of Twente had no application for Engineering and Technology-related Master’s program until 2021. Starting from September 2022 intake, the University of Twente will charge €100 application fees for both the EU and Non-EU students for Engineering, Applied Mathematics, and Computer Science related courses. However, there are several Double Degree EIT sponsored courses that don’t have an application fee.
The University of Twente is the only Dutch university that allows students to stay on campus, just like in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and American universities.
I have observed that campus universities foster a better startup ecosystem. This is true for IITs as well as several American universities. This Dutch university is no exception.
The University of Twente has a great start-up ecosystem. It is Netherland’s most entrepreneurial university. Every year around 15 to 25 spin-offs are born in Twente. Some of the successful startups include the likes of Demcon, Takeaway.com, Booking.com and Thuisbezorgd.
- I wrote this article in 2018 when I was applying to European universities.
- University of Twente did not have an application fee for any of its courses in 2018. However, starting from 2022, it has introduced an application fee of €100 for Engineering and ICT courses.
- The management courses in some of these universities may have an application fee. So, check for updates.
- All the universities in European Union are part of the Bologna Process which facilitates credit transfer and semester exchange between European universities. So, do check that out.
I hope you find this answer useful. Please comment if you find any discrepancy in the information. I am committed to improvising the content.