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Study abroad : Destination Guides

The best universities in Europe

Want to study in Europe? Our guide looks at the best universities in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland to help you compare and decide.

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World-leading universities, expert lecturers and internationally renowned, Europe is a diverse part of the world offering a range of unique study abroad experiences for international students. As European universities are recognised around the globe for high-quality education and research, qualifying a top institution in Europe can boost your employability prospects and provide you with a fulfilling educational experience. 


What makes studying in Europe even more appealing is the proximity to other countries, allowing adventurous students to travel during university. Here, we round up the best universities in Europe to help you decide on your next steps.


Best universities in Germany 


Low tuition fees, steeped in history and an excellent education system, it's no surprise why Germany is such a popular study destination. Almost 320,000 international students travel to Germany for their studies each year. Could you be next? Take a look at the best universities in Germany, sourced from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 (THE).


  • (1st) LMU Munich 
  • (2nd) Technical University of Munich
  • (3rd) Heidelberg University 
  • (4th) Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • (5th) University of Tübingen


With over 380 recognised universities in Germany, of which 48 are ranked among the best in the world. So, you have plenty of choice when it comes to finding a university in Germany. What makes Germany a particularly desirable destination is that tuition fees are much lower for international students at German institutions. Compared to countries like the USA and Canada, where international study is a bigger investment, Germany offers a more affordable alternative.


Best universities in the Netherlands 


Many universities in the Netherlands teach in English which makes this destination attractive to international students who are looking to learn this global language. Plus, the Dutch government subsidizes tuition fees, making the cost of university more affordable than in other English-speaking countries like the UKUS, and Australia.


International students in the Netherlands can also work up to 16 hours per week and full-time during holidays. So, you can support yourself, gain work experience and meet new people through working while you study in the Netherlands.


Top universities in the Netherlands include:


  • (1st) Wageningen University & Research
  • (2nd) University of Amsterdam 
  • (3rd) Leiden University
  • (4th) Erasmus University Rotterdam 
  • (5th) Utrecht University


The Netherlands attracts more than 85,000 international students to its universities each year. In addition to top-quality education, the Netherlands is also known for its beautiful scenery, lakes, windmills, tulips, and castles, making this a unique destination to explore.


Find out how to apply to a university in the Netherlands.


Best universities in France


With the country’s capital placing 7th in the Best Student City rankings (QS 2019), it is a good indication of France’s appeal among international students. The top five universities in France are based in Paris. However, universities in Marseille, Lyon and Montpellier also rank within the top 10. 


So, besides top-quality education, what makes France such a desirable location among international students? Perhaps it’s the multiculturalism, fashion, lifestyle, food, and art? Find out more about studying abroad in France with these leading institutions:


  • (1st) Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris
  • (2nd) École Polytechnique
  • (3rd) Sorbonne University
  • (4th) University of Paris
  • (5th) Paris-Saclay University


With a history of prominent philosophers, writers, poets and artists, France is an inspiring country to live and study in. It seems international students agree with us as the country attracts 358,000 to its universities each year (Study in France 2018-2019). 


Want to discover more about studying in France?


Best universities in Switzerland


From snow-topped mountains to high standards of living to the worlds finest cheese and chocolate provider, Switzerland offers international students a memorable study experience. Plus, Zurich, the capital city, ranks 8th for the best places to study abroad (QS 2019). 


The Swiss education system is also highly esteemed for its ground-breaking research, high-quality teaching, and international outlook. There are also four official languages in Switzerland, so it is the perfect place if you’re looking to improve your French, German, Italian or Romansch.

So, let's take a look at the institutions coming out on top in Switzerland:


  • (1st) ETH Zurich 
  • (2nd) École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • (3rd) University of Zurich
  • (4th) University of Basel
  • (5th) University of Bern


If you’re interested in learning more about studying in this small European country, check out our other guide on three fields to study in Switzerland.


Best universities in Italy 


A country is known for its love of food, warm weather, laid-back lifestyle, and rich cultural heritage. These are just a few of the reasons why Italy is a major study destination for international students. Italy is the perfect location for anyone interested in the artshistoryfashionarchitecture, archaeology, and design. 


Italy is home to several prestigious institutions including the University of Bologna which is thought to be the world’s oldest institution. Tuition fees at public universities are also more affordable than in other top study destinations. You can expect to pay between EUR 500- 4,000 per year depending on the course and university (Study.eu 2021).

Let’s take a look at the top universities in Italy:


  • (1st) University of Bologna 
  • (2nd) Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa
  • (3rd) Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
  • (4th) Sapienza University of Rome
  • (=5th) University of Padua
  • (=5th) Vita-Salute San Raffaele University


Hopefully, you’ve found what you were looking for, but if not, our course matcher tool can find you a programme and university according to your preferences and qualifications.


You can also follow the latest in international education with our regularly updated news bulletin.


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