Studying in Europe? A Guide for Canadian Students

Studying in Europe? A Guide for Canadian Students
Last Updated: 19 Jul 2022

Are you a Canadian student looking to advance your studies abroad in Europe? Use this guide to kickstart your adventurous life as an international student.

If you're Canadian and planning to study in Europe, it's essential to realize the experience comes in many different flavors. The continent of Europe serves up an eclectic mix of history, rich culture, lifestyles, languages, study options, vibes and more. 

You have over 40 countries to choose from, so it's safe to say Europe is your oyster. That said, information about studying in Europe as a Canadian is generally generic unless you already have a chosen country and university. Still, browsing this guide is a practical first step that will point you in the right direction.

Crunch the Numbers Before Making the Big Move

The average tuition fees in Europe can be 5000 - 25,000 EUR/year ¹, while average living costs can go up to 10,000 EUR/year² depending on who you ask. As a non-EU citizen, you can expect to pay more than EU citizens. 

In a nutshell, European universities base their calculations on whether you're an EU national, your level of study (Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D.), program type and duration and type of higher education institution (private or public).

Once you have found your country of interest, you can deepen your research and learn more about the cost of specific programs and how it varies from institution to institution.

Don't forget to calculate the cost of living, which often includes:

  • Accommodation costs. Student housing is usually the cheapest option. However, you can still find affordable accommodation elsewhere, depending on the city.
  • Living expenses. Ongoing expenses include groceries, phone plans, clothes, home products, radio tax, internet and other related costs. Your food bill generally depends on what you eat and if you cook.
  • Health insurance. You'll need a recognized health insurance plan in case the unexpected happens.
  • Transport. In some countries, your semester fees cover public transportation, so transport costs tend to be affordable.
  • International money transfer costs. If you need to send money from Canada to Europe to finance your student life, relying on bank transfers can be costly. It's better to use a foreign exchange service like MTFX that offers competitive exchange rates and transfer fees.

Truth be told, you can't generalize the overall cost of being a European international student. Ultimately, the most accurate answer depends on where you end up and your choices. The internet is an excellent resource for conducting a more personalized cost-benefit analysis.

Why Study In Europe?

There are a host of reasons why more Canadians should study in Europe:

  • Quality education. Europe might not have as many world-class learning institutions as the USA, but it still has many high-ranking options. In addition, the curriculum is more focused and you can quickly dive into your specific program without the need for general education courses.
  • Less time to complete degrees. In general, European programs require less time to complete compared to other top options like America. You can easily find three-year degrees and 12-month MBAs, which helps lower costs.
  • Affordable tuition fees. Europe takes the cup in this department with generously low tuition fees and a low cost of living. Even as a non-EU citizen, you can save a pretty penny by studying in countries like Germany, Denmark and Finland. These countries have ridiculously low or free college tuition regardless of nationality or study level.
  • English taught-degrees. The number of English-taught degree programs keeps increasing. This eliminates the worry of not knowing the language of the country where you're studying.
  • Explosion of diversity. The schools are incredibly diverse and you get to rub shoulders with other students from all over the world. The relaxed and liberal atmosphere makes Europe ideal for individualist lifestyles.
  • Part-time work. You can earn money to support yourself and still have enough time to take regular trips to scenic locations. This translates to a better work-life balance.
  • Travel and exploration. Traveling in Europe is a seamless adventure because of the well-connected public transport system. The high-speed train network makes it convenient to travel around Europe on a budget.

More reasons to study in Europe include student benefits (cheap insurance, free local transport, student discounts, etc.), premium job opportunities and salaries, no IELTS requirements and more.

Best European Places to Study

Here's a glance at some of the best places to study based on select criteria.

  • Affordable places to study. Countries that offer free or almost-free education for Canadian students include Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic. Check the CZK/CAD exchange rates.
  • Best countries for Master's programs. Countries like Germany and Austria are your best bet due to the low cost of living and availability of high-ranking institutions. The UK is another great option, though more expensive. It offers many one-year Master's courses and you can study in English.
  • Places that offer financial aid. Besides the countries that already provide free education, most universities offer scholarships. For instance, the Netherlands offers the popular Erasmus+ program. A quick search on financial aid can unearth more options.
  • High-ranking universities. Great Britain has the highest number of internationally ranked universities, followed by countries like Germany, Spain, The Netherlands and France. The top 10 ranking universities³ in Europe include Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Edinburgh, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Glasgow, Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Wien, The University of Manchester and The London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Places with beautiful scenery. Countries like France, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria are unrivaled in their natural beauty. For gorgeous architecture, consider Italy, Greece and England.
  • Places with a great lifestyle. Generally, the European lifestyle is worth experiencing in any country. You can expect fantastic food scenes, great people, an exciting nightlife and no shortage of things to do.
  • Diverse international community. Germany, France, Spain and Italy have the largest international bodies in Europe.

The question of which European place, city or country is the best to study is staggeringly broad. Again, it largely depends on your unique circumstances. After all, what's best for someone isn't necessarily best for you.

Consider the program you want to study, your ability to meet the admission requirements, your second language skills and your budget. 

Climate, job market and politics also factor into the equation. 

How Do You Apply?

For many countries, the application process is relatively straightforward. Here's a step-by-step guide you can follow:

  1. Choose the country to study in Europe.
  2. Look up places to study in the country, check the admission requirements and fees, and get to know what the universities are like to narrow your options.
  3. If possible, travel and tour the campuses to get first-hand experience of the student life.
  4. Contact your preferred university and ask how to apply.
  5. Apply to your chosen university and secure admission.
  6. Explore scholarship opportunities in your destination country.
  7. Fulfill the visa or study permit requirements.
  8. Research international travel procedures before booking your accommodation and flight.

Life Hacks for Canadian Students In Europe

Make the most of your European experience with these life hacks.

Online Payments Are Your Best Friend

Gaining entry to a European university as a Canadian student comes with certain obligations, such as paying your tuition fees. That brings its own headaches of dealing with currency exchange and bank transfer fees.

Online payments are your best friend if you want to pay fees and cover expenses the easy way. 

Bank transfers are expensive due to non-competitive exchange rates and high fees, while cash is a last-resort option if you want to avoid carrying around large sums of money.

With an MTFX secure online account, you can make money transfers from Canada to Europe anytime, anywhere. In addition, the live rate calculator allows you to check the CAD/EUR exchange rate, which is typically 3-5% lower than what you get at the banks. 

You can't beat saving over $1,000 per $30,000 transferred while enjoying more reliability and convenience.

Learn the Local Language

You may not speak the language of the locals, but learning the lingo is necessary if you want to gel with the native community. The easiest way to learn a new language is to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and scene.

Consider Student Life

You'll be spending several years studying in one place, so be sure to pick somewhere with a student life that resonates with you. Studying in Europe should be fun. The best student life provides opportunities for personal growth and allows you to thrive socially. It's worthwhile to look at student life in particular countries and universities to find options that suit your personality and interests.

Planning to study in Europe?


Study in Europe As a Canadian – FAQs

Any downsides to studying in Europe?

You may not have as many options when looking for English language courses. There are also different sets of tuition fees for non-EU citizens (you often have to pay more).

Can you get financial aid if you want to study in Europe?

There are many international scholarship opportunities⁴ for Canadians to explore. This helps you avoid paying more tuition even if you're not an EU citizen.

Do I need a visa to study in Europe?

Yes. The only occasion you might not need a visa is if you're traveling to the Schengen area for not more than 90 days. As a non-EU citizen planning to study in Europe for a long time, you need to apply for a visa at the high commission or embassy of your destination country. 

General requirements include an offer of admission, proof of finances, proof of accommodation and paid health insurance.

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