10 reasons to study in Europe

1. Diversity and choice

A little something for everyone

Europe is steeped in history and rich cultural diversity, and studying there provides ample opportunity to immerse yourself in a multitude of experiences, depending on your tastes. Whether you aspire to visit the incredible array of historical sites, follow in the footsteps of a myriad of notable historical figures, eat your way around the countryside, or simply soak up the atmosphere of a region where culture, history, and innovation intersect, Europe is an excellent choice for study.

Diverse people

Europe is home to approximately one-ninth of the world’s population. There are 87 ‘distinct peoples’ in Europe, 33 of which form the majority population of a particular country, and the remaining 54 constitute ethnic minorities. Europe is also home to the highest number of migrants of any region in the world. These are just a few reasons Europe offers an abundance of cultural diversity within a relatively compact geographic area, which means you’ll get to meet lots of interesting people.

Foodie paradise

Croissants in Paris, fettuccine al Pomodoro in Rome, patatas bravas in Barcelona, bratwurst in Berlin, poffertjes in Amsterdam, gyros in Athens. It is worth studying in Europe for the food alone. If you love to sample delicious local cuisine, then you will be spoilt for choice across the region. Even if you’re not a foodie, the sheer volume of culinary options means you’re bound to find something you love!

Historical landmarks

Have you ever wanted to admire the view from the Eiffel Tower, lose yourself in the Louvre Museum or gaze down the Champs-Élysées from atop the Arc de Triomphe? Or you might prefer to explore the Colosseum of Ancient Rome, admire the architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica or toss a Euro into the Trevi Fountain. Perhaps you see yourself taking a gondola ride along the canals of Venice or following the footsteps of great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle in Ancient Athens? Or is it the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland that call to you? Maybe it’s the ancient castles in countries like Germany, France, Spain, Hungary and, well, basically any European country because there are a lot of castles in Europe. You get the point – even if you’re not a history aficionado, it’s effortless to appreciate Europe’s beauty and grandeur.

2. The proof is in the numbers

European universities perform consistently well…

Europe offers an incredible diversity of universities that can cater for even the most particular needs. Some European universities, established as early as the 12th century, are among the most prestigious in the world. Others, less than 50 years old, are on the rise as emerging institutions of excellence. Facts and figures are essential when making a life-changing decision like studying abroad. Here are a few that demonstrate why studying in Europe is an excellent choice: According to The Shanghai Ranking, European universities accounted for more than a quarter of the highest performing universities in the world in 2018. In terms of emerging institutions, 16 European universities were featured in the QS Top 50 Under 50 rankings for 2018, a list which celebrates the world’s leading young universities.

…and so do European cities

Europe is one of the safest regions in the world, offering a high standard of living, and recent figures reinforce this fact. European countries (excluding the UK) make up 19 of the top 30 countries in the 2018 Legatum Prosperity Index. Furthermore, 14 of the world’s safest 20 countries are in Europe, and the region’s popularity among students is evident, with QS ranking 16 European cities (not including the UK) in its list of the Top 50 Best Student Cities for 2018.

3. Quality institutions

History and prestige

Europe boasts many of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. In fact, the oldest university in the Western world, the University of Bologna in Italy, was established in 1088. In 2019, European universities account for roughly 38 percent of all universities featured among the world’s best – a total of 381 European institutions to be exact – providing international students with a vast offering of reputable options for their higher education.

Quality across the board

Through the Bologna Process, European nations are working together to streamline higher education frameworks in order to ensure comparable standards and quality are observed, regardless of which country students choose for their studies. This process assures international students a certain standard of competency whether choosing to study at bachelor, masters or doctoral level.

Nobel Laureates

International students will be in good company studying at European universities, many of which have produced or are affiliated with a substantial number of Nobel Laureates. To give you an idea, collectively the University of Paris, University of Gottingen, University of Munich, University of Copenhagen, ETH Zurich Humboldt and the University of Berlin claim responsibility for or affiliation with an incredible 263 Nobel Laureates.

World-class business schools

If you’re seeking an MBA, Europe is home to several highly reputable and competitive business schools. In fact, in the 2019 QS rankings for top MBA programs in the world, three European universities featured in the top ten. These include IE Business School in Spain, HEC Paris, and INSEAD Paris.

4. Value for money

It’s more affordable

International students studying in Europe will enjoy relatively low tuition fees compared to countries like the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. In certain countries, like Germany and Norway for example, international students can effectively study for free. Countries like Poland, Austria, Greece, and Hungary also offer degrees with only modest tuition fees starting from about 1500 Euros per year.

Scholarships galore

Many universities across Europe also offer scholarship opportunities for international students, ranging from partial to full scholarships. The Erasmus Mundus Scholarships, for example, are awarded by the European Union to selected students attending one of the Mundus Joint Programmes at Masters or Doctorate levels. In addition, most countries offer a range of scholarships for international students studying within their borders, such as the Eiffel Scholarships in France, the Greek Government Scholarships for foreign students, Bocconi Scholarships in Italy, and the Holland Scholarship offered in the Netherlands to name but a few. For eligibility information, you will need to make further inquiries with the institution or organization awarding the scholarship.

Affordable cities

If the cost of living is an important factor in your decision to study abroad, some of Europe’s least expensive countries are invested in attracting international students and may provide the solution you’re looking for. Poland, for example, ranked as one of Europe’s most affordable countries, has consistently increased its offering of English-taught courses, no doubt one of the reasons its international student population has grown by over 500% in the past decade. Hungary, Greece, Portugal, and Germany also get a mention as some of Europe’s most affordable countries.

5. Language lover rejoice

Hello, Bonjour, ciao, hola!

The proximity of ethnically diverse countries means even the most enthusiastic language aficionado will be immersed in their language of choice. Multilingualism and the protection of language diversity are major political goals in Europe today. There are about 225 languages spoken in Europe, although the European Union recognizes 24 official languages across its member states. So if learning a second, or third, or fourth (you get the idea!) language is on your list of life goals, then you’ll be spoilt for choice studying in Europe.

English is widespread

If you’re relying on your English skills for study abroad, then you’ll still find plenty of opportunities to practice. The availability of university degrees offered in English continues to grow across European institutions. At research universities in the Netherlands, for example, one in five programs at the bachelor’s level, and three in four at the master’s level are offered in English. Germany has demonstrated the most dramatic improvement in this respect, now only second to the Netherlands in its offering of degrees taught in English. This year, nearly 2000 of the 18,000 post-secondary courses offered by German universities are conducted in English. Ultimately, most European countries host universities that offer some degrees in English in an effort to attract international students.

6. Welcome to Europe!

International student numbers are on the rise

The number of international students in Europe continues to increase, as universities work to employ attractive scholarship programs and increase their offerings of courses conducted in English. France, for example, has seen a 12.2% increase in international students between 2012-2017. Germany – where 12% of the student population is foreign – has already exceeded its 2020 target of attracting 350,000 international students to the country. And in the Netherlands, international students also make up 12.2% of the higher education student population. Plus, in 2016 France, Germany and Italy appeared in the top ten countries to receive international students.

Help is on the way

Given many European countries view increasing international student numbers as an important objective, universities are working to be more internationally competitive. Part of this process involves providing assistance to international students in transition to their country of study, as well as ongoing support throughout the continuation of their degree. CampusFrance, for example, is the dedicated point of contact for all administrative procedures preceding a student’s arrival in France. In Germany, the Studentenwerke offers assistance in helping international students become accustomed to their new environment, including airport collection, tutorials, advice and administrative support. Most European countries have similar organizations in place, to encourage international higher education admissions by simplifying and demystifying the transfer process.

7. Spoilt for choice

An institution to suit your needs

Diversity is tantamount to the European experience, and the vast offering of institution types is no exception. There are state and private universities, specialized institutions, medical universities, science and technical colleges and art schools. Each international student’s distinct aspirations will inform which type of higher education institution is most conducive to the realization of their goals, increasing the likelihood they will receive a more specialized and relevant education.

Catering to all qualification levels

The Bologna process has streamlined higher education frameworks across most of Europe, so regardless of which country an international student chooses, there are standard options available for study. Europe employs the LMD system (where the ‘L’ stands for ‘Licence, the French equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree). This gives international students the choice of studying a Bachelor’s Degree (usually 3-4 years), Master’s degree (additional 1-2 years, usually 5 years total), or a Doctorate (additional 3 years after Masters, 8 years total). Additionally, there are vocational and technical degree programs, and language courses to ensure students meet the minimum entry requirements (usually proficiency in the local language, or quite commonly, English for which students may be tested).

8. Post-study opportunities

Benefits beyond the classroom

It is fairly well understood that studying abroad bodes well for graduates eager to acquire their first professional opportunity. International study demonstrates a willingness to take risks, strategic decision making, worldliness, and maturity. As declared by Forbes magazine, ‘Studying abroad offers a wealth of experience beyond the classroom.’

Reputability = employability

Universities in Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, and Austria all featured in recent QS Global Employability University Rankings. The rankings, compiled from data provided by recruiters and managing directors of international companies, demonstrate the scope of reputability among European higher education institutions.

Not ready to leave?

Many students choose to study in a particular country with the intention (or at least the hope) of being able to gain employment there upon graduation. Each European country is different, but there are options available if you wish to remain after graduation. In the Netherlands, for example, 25% of international students remained in the country five years after graduating. Some European countries, such as Germany, France, and Estonia, offer temporary visas or residencies for certain graduates or post-graduates to work in the country upon completion of their degree. Switzerland and Sweden also offer short-term stay back options that could enable graduates time to obtain permanent, ongoing employment in their country of study. Of course, if you’re choice of European university is premised on your being able to stay in the country after graduation, take the time to research the exact requirements of that particular country before commencing study. Visa legislation is subject to change, so making sure you’ve obtained the most current information is essential.

9. Get out there and see Europe!

One of the best things about studying in Europe is that you’ll get the opportunity to see a lot of it. Traveling throughout Europe is cheap and easy. Flights on regional carriers are inexpensive and relatively quick, and the European rail system (Eurail) provides ample opportunity to see the countryside as you travel from city to city. The fast trains travel up to 300kmh, so two hours of travel will see you zip from Paris to Brussels on the Eurail, but if you prefer the air, in the same amount of time you could also fly from Berlin to London. So if you need a break from all that study, perhaps a weekend in Tuscany or a quick getaway to the French Riviera is in order. Whether you prefer to travel by air, rail or you believe that nothing beats a good old-fashioned road trip; Europe enables you to see a lot without traveling too far. Just remember to check any visa requirements before embarking!

10. Multiculturalism

Europe is synonymous with multiculturalism. The region’s inherent diversity stems largely from the number of countries that are located in close proximity to one another, but Europe also enjoys high rates of migration. Furthermore, the interconnectivity of European nations via efficient transportation systems means people are often on the move. Within the academic community specifically, there is a focus on attracting the best minds through foreign student enrolments. This combination of factors ensures that, as an international student, you will have ample opportunity to engage and interact with people from a multitude of geographic, cultural, social and economic backgrounds. It also increases the likelihood of you finding a peer group that consists of people from similar cultural backgrounds and life experiences to your own, the familiarity of which aids in the process of becoming accustomed to your new environment.

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