There is one of the many benefits of Portuguese citizenship that is often unknown to native Portuguese or recent citizens. That is free higher education in some European countries. Yes, there are European countries where higher education is provided free of charge to citizens of the European Union.
If you are moving to Portugal with children and settling here for a long time, this information will be helpful to you. From the article, you will discover in which countries a citizen of Portugal can study at a university for free, how to choose an educational institution, and what level of daily expenses you should expect. Read it carefully because there will be something interesting here for those not yet sure that the family will receive Portuguese citizenship.
So, the list of countries where the Portuguese and other Europeans don't pay for higher education.
Most study programs in Austrian universities are offered in German, but the number of programs in English is growing steadily. For example, state universities already had 13% of the total number of such programs, according to 2019 data. By the way, only state universities are free.
You can choose a program on StudienWahl.at. Use the teaching language filter if you only want to see programs in English. After finding the program, follow the link to the university website to learn about the requirements for the applicant and the admission procedure. All required papers will need to be sent directly to the university.
Universities may submit entrance examinations or screen out underperforming students for some programs (for example, architecture, biology, computer science, medicine, etc.) during the first year.
The cost of living for a student in Austria is estimated at about 950 euros per month (data from the Ministry of Education booklet for foreign applicants).
Bachelor's programs at public universities are free for EU citizens in Greece. Master's programs at state universities are often free for this group too.
For admission, you need to choose a program:
You can choose courses that are conducted in English. Unfortunately, there is no possibility to filter search results by university type (state or private).
You need to apply for admission on the Exams-Foreigner website
It is essential to consider that not all educational institutions provide a hostel, and finding housing without knowing Greek isn't easy.
The student must count on costs of 500-750 euros per month.
Over 500 educational programs are available in English. In Denmark, you can find a university for any duty: research-oriented universities, sciences and business academies.
You need to choose a program and a university on StudyInDenmark.dk website. By clicking on the links, you can go to the university's website, where you can read the detailed requirements for each program. Then, you need to apply for admission on special portals:
You can submit multiple applications for different programs at different universities at once.
Denmark is an expensive country to live in. Count on student expenses in the range of 750-900 euros per month, and it isn't less than 1.200 euros per month in Copenhagen.
In Slovenia, EU citizens don't pay for education if they study full-time programs at state universities or private universities (in case of funding their program from the state budget). However, this condition doesn't apply to people who have already obtained a master's degree and want to study more.
You can find a list of universities with programs in English at StudyInSlovenia.si.
By clicking on the links, you can go to the universities' websites, where you can get acquainted with the content of the courses, conditions and admission schedule. You need to apply for admission here.
The student should expect monthly outgoings of at least 450 euros, but more likely, it will be about 750 euros. Examples of prices in the country.
Bachelor's and master's programs in Finland are free for citizens of EU countries, but postgraduate studies are free for everyone.
You can find the educational program at Opintopolku.fi.
There are 2 ways to apply:
- Apply for admission on the same portal. Residents of Portugal can use Chave Móvel Digital for authorization on the portal. You can submit a maximum of 6 applications at the same time.
- Submit your application directly to the university. There is no limit on the number of such applications.
The choice of admission method depends on the university's preferences.
Living expenses will range from 700-900 euros per month, depending on the city of residence and the student's habits.
Sweden is consistently ranked among the best countries for higher education, but the Swedes themselves don't attach much importance to this. The philosophy of this country is the quality of life and respect for all. Therefore, competition is not a value, including in acquiring knowledge.
There is a wide variety of programs in English, which the Swedes study too. In English, you can learn almost any specialty except those related to medical practice (clinician, dentist, nurse).
You can find a program and apply for admission on the Universityadmissions.se portal. Applicants for undergraduate studies can choose up to 8 alternatives simultaneously, and 4 for graduate students.
In terms of expenses, you need to foresee about 800 euros per month. At least that much money is required to be available in the bank account of those who apply for a student residence permit in Sweden. Living in Stockholm is likely to cost more.
I didn't include countries where education is not free but very cheap (for example, France) and countries where education is free, in case of obtaining studentship.
Now a bonus for those who have patiently read up to this moment - countries with free higher education for everyone, regardless of citizenship. So if you are not making long-term plans for Portugal, take note.
Is education free in Germany? There is no short answer to this question. The government abolished tuition fees for foreign students in all state universities in 2014. But after that, fees were again introduced for students from other countries in some parts of Germany. However, this fee remains relatively low.
However, all you have to pay at most state universities is a small amount intended to cover administrative and public transport costs, 150-250 euros per semester. But private universities always charge foreign students.
You can find an educational program on the DAAD.de website. Conveniently, the website allows you to choose options in a specific language and options without paying.
The application for admission is submitted directly to the universities of interest to you. One can also use the Uni-Assist.de website, a centralized portal for the admission of international students operated by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), although not all universities publish their classes there.
Expect living expenses of at least €850 per month.
Public universities in Norway don't charge education fees to students, regardless of the student's country of origin. This is a unique opportunity to achieve a free degree from a high-quality university and one of the many reasons Norway has become an attractive destination for international students.
As in Germany, the student will have to pay a certain semester fee, which varies from university to university (50-100 euros). As for living expenses, Norway is expensive, so you should foresee at least 1,050 euros per month or about 12,500 euros per year.
Where is the best place to study
Why study in another country if there is an opportunity to enter a Portuguese university? Will a diploma from another EU country be more prestigious than a Portuguese one? This question has come up at least once while reading this article.
In most cases, free study abroad will cost more than paid study in Portugal, where the student has already adapted themselves. Sure, foreign education will distinguish a candidate in the Portuguese labor market, but it would be naive to expect that it guarantees a graduate a salary of 5,000 euros in Portugal. Furthermore, everyone has heard about the rich student traditions in Portugal. Most likely, these traditions will be less exciting in some other countries.
It seems to me that when we arrange any education, first of all, we should think about its effectiveness and not about its prestige. It is about how it will help the child develop, not about honoring traditions. About the world of opportunities that will open before the child, and not about a diploma.
Therefore, the choice of education should be approached as consciously as possible. You can find many different rankings of European universities on the internet. I recommend focusing not on general ratings but on ratings concerning scientific directions. Naturally, this search should be done, having an understanding of which direction the child thinks about.
For example, on the EduRank.org website, you can create a selection of universities only in a scientific occupation (for example, biology) or in a more specific direction (for example, bioinformatics). And look for those countries where education is free in the resulting list. In the direction of bioinformatics, for example, you can see:
- University of Copenhagen (Denmark) - 7th place,
- Karolinska Institute (Sweden) - 10th place,
- Technical University of Denmark - 16th place,
- A university from Portugal appears in this list for the first time at 67th place.
If a child admires this topic and is determined to study seriously, can you imagine what prospects a university from the top ten of the list will open for this child?
Summing up, I want to note that the objective of this review was by no means to convince you that it is critical to get an education outside of Portugal. But I suppose you need to know as much as possible about the possibilities that European citizenship opens up, which, by the way, is much easier to obtain in Portugal than in any other country. So I wish you and your children to make a knowledgeable choice!