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Comparison of tuition costs of higher education around the world

March 26, 2010

Studying at university is an expensive investment. Tuition fees have a disincentive effect on the poor and middle-income students. There has been a general trend towards marked increases in tuition in recent years, even in countries where tuition fees have generally been much lower than average. For example, Canada has seen its tuition fees more than double in the last ten years.

Tuition fees can vary between courses, institutions, and whether the students are resident or international. This hub compares tuition costs of full time undergraduate programmes in America (Canada, United States), Europe (UK, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands), and Australia.

United States

The tuition cost in USA varies from $5000 to $30000 per year. About $9000 for resident students and $20000 for international students.


Canadian universities are cheapest among UK, USA, Australia. Average domestic tuition is around $9,000, and international tuition around $25,500.

In recent years, the high-tax Europe has been considering reforming higher education and moving towards a system that charges users. Austria is intensely debating university tuition in the parliament. Six German states call on the parliament to terminate the piece of legislation that exempts college students from paying tuition. In addition, universities in Belgium are beginning to charge an enrolment fee of 500 euros which is same for EU and non-EU students (non-EU students are charged additional 500 euros for social security), while Holland and Italy charge an enrolment fee of 1,000-1,500 euros. Dutch universities charge students of certain departments such as business departments tuition as much as 5,000 euros and students of graduate schools tuition as much as 8,000 euros.


In UK, the maximum tuition fee amount that can be charged to EU students is £3,145 a year (increasing yearly by no more than the rate of inflation). Average tuition for domestic students is around £3000, and for international students about £10,000 a year.


€12000 (Euro) per year for international students. EU students pay € 900 registration fee.


France has 82 universities, teaching 1.5m students. All are public; none charges tuition fees; undergraduate enrolment charges are a tiny €165. All lecturers are civil servants. Universities cannot select students, who can apply only to ones near them. The results speak for themselves. Not a single French university makes it into the world’s top 40 universities.

In France, there is no difference in tuition fees between European and Non-European students. Therefore, policies officially search to improve the quality of the foreign students they receive, making a selection based on excellence and discipline of study. They intend to avoid a “mass phenomenon” of unwanted students in French universities who are not highly motivated and who mainly seek to obtain a visa and to stay in France. In Britain, there is a will to attract a large number of overseas students who pay high tuition fees and who supply important funding to British higher education.


Germany universities now charge 1000 euro enrolment charge per year, regardless whether the students are from EU or non-EU countries.

Australia had free education until 1988. Across the English-speaking world, Australia imposes mid-range fees. Nowadays, most full time degree and post graduate degree cost between AUD 10000 to 20000 per annum.

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