where to study abroad in Europe

March 22, 2024 •

7 min reading

Top 10 places in Europe to study abroad - 2024 rankings

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This article gives prospective students the low-down on where to study abroad in Europe - first published on educations.com.

This year’s international student survey reached 24,000 prospective students representing 230+ countries. Using the top reasons for studying abroad, ranked by students who prioritize finding the right destination country over program or school, we’ve created education rankings of the best countries to study abroad in Europe in 2024!

Our rankings of the best places in Europe to study abroad are based on multiple statistical indicators for each of these 7 factors:

  1. High-quality teaching
  2. Achieving career goals
  3. Personal development
  4. Culture and lifestyle
  5. Opportunities to network or make new friends
  6. Language learning
  7. Adventure

Top 10 places in Europe to study abroad - 2024

10. Austria

🌍 Ranked #15 in the world
💖 Personal development Ranked #9 in the world
🎒 Adventure Ranked #4 in the world

Returning to our European list this year is Austria. This scenic country in central Europe is an ideal study destination for outdoor enthusiasts and students with a passion for arts and culture. Austria has one of the highest standards of living in the world, a strong and vibrant economy, and a long-standing prioritization of intellectual pursuits. Austria’s universities are known for their excellent academics and high standards for research, and with courses taught in both English and German, Austria is a great choice for international students who want to broaden their language horizons.

For students of classical music, Austria is a must. The country’s rich musical and cultural heritage lives on in the capital, Vienna, where you’ll find classical music thriving alongside modern art and architecture. Outside the major cities, the stunning landscape offers the perfect escape from the rigors of study, especially if you enjoy skiing!

9. Sweden

🌍 Ranked #12 in the world
💖 Personal development Ranked #8 in the world
👩‍💼 Achieving career goals Ranked #5 in Europe

Sweden consistently lands on our Top 10 lists due to its reputation for high-quality higher education, high standards of living, and friendly, welcoming atmosphere for international students. With many programs taught in English and low tuition fees, Sweden is an attractive destination for students from abroad.

Like its neighboring Scandinavian countries, Sweden prioritizes well-being and work-life balance, and students in Sweden will find plenty of opportunities to experience the laid-back, outdoor lifestyle of this Northern country. Enjoy long summer days where the sun barely sets, cozy up during the dark winter nights, and enjoy a daily fika, or Swedish coffee break complete with traditional pastry favorites like vetebullar and småkakor.

8. Italy

🌍 Ranked #11 in the world
💃 Culture and lifestyle Ranked #1 in the world
🎒 Adventure Ranked #3 in Europe

Italy has been a top study destination for nearly a millennia. It is home to eleven universities founded before 1500, including the world’s oldest university – the University of Bologna –established in the late 12th century. In the early modern period, Italy was an essential stop on the Grand Tour, the capstone of a young, aristocratic man’s education.

This southern European country has long been a hub for innovation, creativity, and education. Now a center for visual arts, fashion, and design, as well as hospitality, innovation, and engineering, Italy offers a wide variety of experiences. Explore ancient Roman ruins, bask in the sun on the Amalfi coast, sample traditional Italian cuisine in Palermo, or find your style in Milan.

7. Denmark

🌍 Ranked #10 in the world
💖 Personal development Ranked #8 in the world
🎓 High quality teaching Ranked #6 in Europe

Denmark placed tenth on our list of Top 10 Places in the World to Study Abroad so it’s no surprise to see it here. Ranked as the second happiest country on the planet by the 2023 World Happiness Report, Denmark is also known for high-quality education in a safe, progressive, and friendly environment that prioritizes community and well-being - Hygge, is a way of life in Denmark. The cities are easy to navigate on foot or by bike, and the country has gained a reputation as a foodie destination, especially the capital, Copenhagen, which offers everything from traditional smørrebrød to Michelin-star New Nordic restaurants.

The country boasts stunning landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty – you are never more than 50 kilometers from the coast and the 444 islands that dot it. Denmark is also home to many well-preserved historical sites, such as the iconic Tivoli Gardens and the medieval town of Roskilde. Velkommen!

6. Switzerland

🌍 Ranked #9 in the world
💃 Culture and lifestyle Ranked #5 in Europe
👨‍💼 Achieving Career Goals Ranked #5 in the world

Nestled in the center of Europe and the Alps, Switzerland is a small country known for its discrete banking, long-standing commitment to neutrality, and stunning natural beauty. Switzerland is also a cultural crossroads, with influences from Italy, France, and Germany apparent in everything from its architecture to its multilingual citizens. Switzerland recognizes four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch, a minority language originating from Latin. Studying in Switzerland will give you an opportunity to experience the country’s high-ranking universities, as well as the breathtaking scenery. For outdoor enthusiasts, Switzerland’s mountains, lakes, and forests are never far away, and its cities, towns, and numerous castles offer inspiration for both architects and historians. Bainvegni!

5. The Netherlands

🌍 Ranked #8 in the world
👨‍💼 Achieving career goals Ranked #1 in Europe
💖 Personal development Ranked #4 in the world

It is no surprise to see the Netherlands in our Top Ten – both for the world and Europe. This small country is a powerhouse of international education with world-class universities, numerous programs taught in English, and affordable higher education. From the busy cities of Utrecht and Rotterdam to the more peaceful student towns of Groningen and Leiden, you will find that people in the Netherlands are quite diverse, environmentally conscious, and very accepting of others. Dutch cities – and its countryside - are a cyclist's dream, with more than 30,000 kilometers of cycling paths. Hop on a bike to explore the museums, canals, and vibrant nightlife of the capital city, Amsterdam, or venture further afield for all of this country’s hidden gems. Welkom!

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4. Spain

🌍 Ranked #7 in the world
🎒 Adventure Ranked #2 in Europe
💬 Opportunities to network or make new friends Ranked #1 in the world

Rising two places this year is Spain, a country known for its vibrant and welcoming culture. Spain has a long and storied history of conquest, diversity, and heritage that is reflected in its art, cuisine, music, languages, literature, and traditions. Even a quick glance at the menu of a tapas bar will give you a glimpse of the eclectic experiences Spain has to offer.

The country is a haven for students of art, architecture, and design, with the works of masters like Goya, Gaudi, Calatrava, Dali, Campo Baeza, and Picasso providing inspiration. Spain is also rising as a tech and innovation center – the country launched its Spanish Smart Cities Network in 2011, and Barcelona was named the European Capital of Innovation in 2014. With each region and city offering unique cultural experiences, the most challenging decision about studying in Spain might be which city to choose – and what to study once you get there. ¡Vamos!

3. France

🌍 Ranked #5 in the world
🎒 Adventure Ranked #1 in Europe
🎓 High-quality teaching Ranked #2 in the world

For many people, the glamour and charm of Paris sums up the appeal of France, and while Paris is certainly the country’s crown jewel, studying in France is so much more than just a stroll down the Seine.

With more than 3,500 public and private higher education institutions – ranging from universities and Grandes Ecoles to specialized schools for everything from art to medicine – your opportunities for excellent higher education are nearly limitless in France. Couple that with France’s cultural clout, and you have the ideal study location for someone looking for a top-ranked degree and an international experience to last a lifetime. Whether you settle in Paris or Provence, studying in France will offer you a wealth of opportunities to explore. Bienvenue!

2. United Kingdom

🌍 Ranked #3 in the world
💃 Culture and lifestyle Ranked #4 in Europe
🎓 High-quality teaching Ranked #1 in the world

The UK is never far from the top of our lists and for good reason. As home to some of the most renowned and prestigious universities in the world, the United Kingdom is a go-to choice for international students. Living and studying in the UK gives international students the opportunity to learn and explore in a country steeped in culture and history.

The UK may occupy a small area compared to some of the other countries on this list, but it packs a lot into that space. The four countries that make up the United Kingdom boast prehistoric monuments, medieval ruins, modern architectural marvels, bustling cities, quaint villages, and a vibrant arts and culture scene, with each country adding its own unique personality and history to the mix.

Whether you go surfing on the coast of Wales, dance the night away at a Hogmanayceilidh in Scotland, explore geological wonders in Northern Ireland, or amble in the picturesque Cotswolds of England, the UK will not disappoint.

1. Germany

🌍 Ranked #1 in the world
🎓 High-quality teaching Ranked #3 in the world
👩‍💼 Achieving career goals Ranked #3 in Europe

Germany made a meteoric rise to the top of both our Top 10 Places in the World to Study Abroad, and our Top 10 Places to Study Abroad in Europe!

And no wonder. Between its incredible reputation as a higher education powerhouse and the low cost of tuition and living, Germany stands out among the countries of the world as a destination for international students. Couple that with the country’s high standards of living, cultural opportunities, and safe, efficient infrastructure, and you have the ideal study location.

Use your time in Germany to take in the cultural heritage and diverse natural beauty of the countryside. Enjoy the festive and historic Christmas market in Braunschweig, indulge in some German beer and schweinebraten at a Bavarian Oktoberfest, explore fairytale castles and medieval abbeys in the Black Forest, or dive into the global film scene during the Berlinale, the world’s largest film festival. Enjoy!

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