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Over the past 30 years our politicians, our local state and federal governments, to turn over the education of our children to private industry and they’ve helped to create a generation of new graduates starting off life buried under mountains of debt. Debt that is not in any way proportional with the wage scale which has barely budged in the same three decades.

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Students are starting to get the hint and are flocking to countries in Europe that offer free college educations not only to their own students, but to visiting students with student visas as well. So…start off in somewhere between $40,000-$100,000 in debt for what has now turned into a basic degree. Having a bachelor’s degree today is basically akin to having a high school diploma 60 years ago.

And in case you’re worried that the education you’re child is getting over there is inferior in some way you can rest at ease. While the United States does have a number of the top institutions, Europe combined has a more diverse collection of top universities.

Europe bested all regions with 312 schools out of the top 750, led by the University of Oxford. On the other end of the spectrum, Africa is the least-represented region, with only 10 ranked schools.

List of Countries that Provide Free College Educations

Germany

germanyGermany’s higher education landscape primarily consists of internationally well-ranked public universities, some of which receive special funding because the government deems them “excellent institutions.” What’s more, Americans can earn a German undergraduate or graduate degree without speaking a word of German and without having to pay a single dollar of tuition fees: About 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees are offered exclusively in English, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences. For some German degrees, you don’t even have to formally apply.

In fact, the German government would be happy if you decided to make use of its higher education system. The vast degree offerings in English are intended to prepare German students to communicate in a foreign language, but also to attract foreign students, because the country needs more skilled workers.

Finland

finlandThis northern European country charges no tuition fees, and it offers a large number of university programs in English. However, the Finnish government amiably reminds interested foreigners that they “are expected to independently cover all everyday living expenses.” In other words: Finland will finance your education, but not your afternoon coffee break.

France

franceThere are at least 76 English-language undergraduate programs in France, but many are offered by private universities and are expensive. Many more graduate-level courses, however, are designed for English-speaking students, and one out of every three French doctoral degrees is awarded to a foreign student.

“It is no longer needed to be fluent in French to study in France,” according to the government agency Campus France. The website studyportals.eu provides a comprehensive list of the available courses in France and other European countries.

Public university programs charge only a small tuition fee of about 200 dollars for most programs. Other, more elite institutions have adopted a model that requires students to pay fees that are based on the income of their parents. Children of unemployed parents can study for free, while more privileged families have to pay more. This rule is only valid for citizens of the European Union, but even the maximum fees (about $14,000 per year) are often much lower than U.S. tuition fees. Some universities, such as Sciences Po Paris, offer dual degrees with U.S. colleges.

Sweden

Stockholm i fullmŒnens skenThis Scandinavian country is among the world’s wealthiest, and its beautiful landscape beckons. It also offers some of the world’s most cost-efficient college degrees. More than 900 listed programs in 35 universities are taught in English. However, only Ph.D programs are tuition-free.

Norway

Alesund Town Norway

Alesund Town Norway

Norwegian universities do not charge tuition fees for international students. The Norwegian higher education system is similar to the one in the United States: Class sizes are small and professors are easily approachable. Many Norwegian universities offer programs taught in English. American students, for example, could choose “Advanced Studies for Solo Instrumentalists or Chamber Music Ensembles” or “Development Geography.”

But don’t expect to save money in Norway, which has one of the world’s highest costs of living for expats. And be careful where you decide to study. “Winters in general are quite different in different parts of the country, with the north having hard, arctic winters, and the southwest mostly having mild, wet average European winters,” the Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Education notes.

Slovania

slovenia-04About 150 English programs are available, and foreign nationals only pay an insignificant registration fee when they enroll. Slovenia borders Italy and Croatia, among Europe’s most popular vacation destinations. However, Times Higher Education, a weekly magazine based in London, did not list one Slovenian university in its recent World University Ranking.

Brazil

brazil-christ-the-redeemerSome Brazilian courses are taught in English, and state universities charge only minor registration fees. Times Higher Education ranks two Brazilian universities among the world’s top 400: the University of Sao Paulo and the State University of Campinas. However, Brazil might be better suited for exchange students seeking a cultural experience rather than a degree.

“It is worth remembering that most of USP activities are carried out in Portuguese,” the University of Sao Paulo reminds applicants on its website.

So I’m curious about parents out there who went to college in the United States and are currently raising a young child or even a teenagers. Knowing what you know now would you encourage your child to go to another country for their college education to avoid tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt on the day they graduate?

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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