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Best Countries to Study and Settle 2020

Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by Team College Learners

“So, where to study?” If you have this thought in your mind, you have come to the right place. Before thinking about which country to study or settle in, the first step is deciding what you want from a country. Take a good look at our list of best countries to study and settle in 2020.

Besides, on Collegelearners you can find updates on the best countries to study and settle in 2021, the best country for international students to study and work, best countries for international students, top countries for international students 2021, best countries to study and work.

Best Countries To Study And Settle 2020

1. Norway


Although all of the Nordic countries are relatively affordable study destinations, Norway is our pick as it remains free for everyone, from both within and outside the EU, at public universities, with the exception of a few specialized programs. Europe’s Nordic countries are known for their high quality of life and stunning natural beauty, and Norway is no exception. Another reason to study in Norway is the availability of English-taught programs at all study levels, plus a high number of locals proficient in English. However, as with the other Nordic countries, Norway comes with a high price tag in terms of living costs; you’ll need around NOK 139,680 (~US$17,200) per year.

2. Taiwan


Heading to Asia, Taiwan is another of the cheapest countries to study abroad. For example, at National Taiwan University – the nation’s leading university at 72nd in the QS World University Rankings® 2019 – tuition fees for undergraduates start at TW$100,920 (~US$3,300) per year for liberal arts programs, up to TW$124,200 (~US$4,050). The country offers more than 120 courses taught in English, at over 40 universities, and Taiwan is also a popular destination in which to learn Mandarin. Taiwan also offers a good quality of life with relatively low living costs; accommodation costs as little as TW$88,000 (~US$2,900) per year.

3. Germany


Known as ‘the land of ideas’, Germany is continuing to grow in popularity with international students, and it’s not hard to see why – it offers reputable universities, relatively low costs, and a high quality of life. There are no tuition fees charged at undergraduate and PhD level at all public universities, excluding those in Baden-Württemberg. Master’s students who have not studied their undergraduate degree in Germany will typically pay upwards of €20,000 (~US$23,450) per year, but you may be able to find a scholarship to help. To cover living costs, you’ll need at least €10,200 (~US$11,950) per year, but possibly more, depending on your lifestyle, location and spending habits. And there are a range of English-taught courses, particularly at graduate level.

4. France


Tuition fees in France are the same for domestic and international students, and for 2019/19 are set at €170 (~US$200) per year for bachelor’s (licence) programs, €243 (~US$285) for most master’s programs, and €380 (~US$445) for doctoral programs. Fees are considerably higher at the highly selective grandes écoles and grands établissements, which set their own fees. Living expenses will be highest in the capital, Paris, but you may find it worth the extra cost – after all, Paris was named the world’s number one student city four times in a row (and currently stands at fifth).  If you’re not yet a fluent French speaker, you can study in France in English, with the majority of English-taught programs found at postgraduate level.

5. Mexico


Full of interesting and unique culture to explore, Mexico is one of Latin America’s most-visited nations, and has lots to offer international students. Tuition fees vary, with private universities charging more, and average around US$6,300 per year for international undergraduate students in the capital, Mexico City, which was named one of the world’s top 100 cities for students. Living expenses are also reasonably low in Mexico, with all living costs adding up to around US$9,250 on a standard budget in the capital, or US$6,450 elsewhere. Although the main language of instruction is Spanish, Mexican universities are offering more English-taught courses to attract international students.

6. India


Heading back to Asia for the next of our list of the cheapest countries to study abroad, India is a fantastic option for students who want to combine affordability with cultural diversity. While Hindi is the most prominent of the 100+ languages spoken, English is often used as the language of instruction at Indian universities, especially at postgraduate level. Living costs are incredibly affordable; a one-way trip using public transport can cost as little as the equivalent of 29 US cents. Tuition fees vary depending on your study level and university, but are typically no higher than US$7,880 a year, and you should be able to live comfortably on as little as US$4,600 a year.

7. Argentina


The second-largest country in South America, Argentina boasts stunning natural beauty, with a diverse geography that makes it ideal for students keen on outdoor adventure and exploration. Argentina is also considered one of the safest countries in the region and is known for its fun-loving culture and passionate national identity. You can typically study for free at any state-funded (public) university, with tuition fees of around US$5,100 per year or more at private institutions. You’ll need around US$5,000 for living expenses, with rent costing as little as US$350 per month.

8. Poland


Another of the best places to study abroad on a budget is Poland, which also offers a high quality of education, along with plenty of fantastic culture and history to explore. You can study for free if you can speak Polish, and if you take the same entrance exams as Polish students and study your course in Polish. However, there are also many English-taught programs available, costing around €2,000-3000 (~US$2,340-3,500) per year. Living costs are also on the low side, as you shouldn’t need more than €6,600 (~US$7,700) per year. The capital city, Warsaw, was ranked within the top 20 cities for affordability in the latest QS Best Student Cities index, and 53rd overall.

9. Malaysia


Malaysia is undoubtedly one of the cheapest countries to study abroad, particularly in terms of living costs. Its capital, Kuala Lumpur, came first for affordability in the QS Best Student Cities 2016, and most students will only need about MYR 14,400 (~US$3,550) per year to live comfortably in Malaysia. In terms of tuition fees, you’ll pay an average of US$4,000 per academic year, but some courses are even cheaper. Malaysia is also home to a number of branch campuses of international universities, such as the UK’s University of Nottingham or Australia’s Monash University, offering the opportunity to gain a degree accredited by these institutions at a lower cost.

10. South Africa

South Africa

Concluding our look at some of the best places to study abroad on a budget, South Africa is renowned for its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and turbulent history. Another great choice for students with a love of the outdoors, it’s also reasonably inexpensive, with low costs of living and tuition fees. Fees vary, but come to an average of US$6,000 for international undergraduates studying at the University of Cape Town (South Africa’s highest-ranked university in the QS World University Rankings) and the University of the Western Cape. You’ll need around R 120,000 (~US$9,150) per year to cover your living costs.

best countries for international students

In 2019, over 5.3 million students chose to reap the huge benefits of studying abroad. However, this figure is expected to hit nearly 8 million by 2025 if the current rate of growth continues.

International students are always on the lookout for the best countries to study abroad. Thankfully, our world is full of a fantastic array of destinations. Whether you’re looking for big cities or small towns, hot weather or cooler climates, there really is somewhere for everyone.

Despite the endless options available, a handful of countries continue to get the lion’s share of international student enrollments. If you’re looking for some inspiration, or are just interested to see where your fellow students are flocking, here’s a list of the 10 most popular countries to study abroad in:

RankCountryInternational student population

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

1. USA

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
1,095,2995.5%China, India & South Korea

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

For decades, the US has reigned supreme as the world’s most popular study abroad destination. The country’s prestigious institutions dominate global university rankings, attracting students from across the world with an appetite for academic excellence.

With over 5,500 universities and colleges based in the nation, the US is home to an unbeatable variety of programs. Whatever your interests and career aspirations, you’ll find a subject that suits your needs.

Diversity is at the heart of US identity and the country is a melting pot of different cultures, religions, races, and ethnicities. No matter your background, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

2. UK

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
496,57020.9%China, USA & India

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

The UK has a rich history of higher education, and many of the world’s oldest and most admired universities are located here. British universities are also renowned for their cutting-edge research projects and facilities, putting you at the forefront of innovation and discovery.

Another advantage of studying in the UK is the language skills you’ll develop. English is a global language that’s vital to global business and diplomacy, and becoming fluent will open up many international career prospects.

Much like the US, the UK is proud of its vibrant and multicultural society. The country has a long tradition of welcoming people from different cultures and backgrounds, so it’s reassuring to know that you’ll be living in an inclusive and welcoming environment.

3. China

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
492,1851.2%South Korea, Thailand & Pakistan

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

Thanks to its rapidly-improving educational reputation, China is hot on the heels of the UK. Chinese universities are quickly climbing the global rankings, promising you a superb educational experience at a significantly cheaper cost.

China’s economy is booming and is on course to overtake the US in the coming years. By studying in the heart of this economic superpower, you’ll open up outstanding career opportunities.

Immersing yourself in Chinese culture is also the best way to build your Mandarin fluency. Mandarin is the world’s most widely spoken language, and it’s becoming ever more important in international business and politics. By getting to grips with the language, your employability will skyrocket.

4. Canada

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
435,41521.4%India, China & France

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

Students travel to Canada from far and wide to gain an internationally recognized education. The country boasts an impressive higher-education system, and many of Canada’s universities feature in global rankings.

Beyond the classroom, you’ll enjoy exploring the country’s rich and varied landscapes. From snowy mountains and sandy beaches to celebrated student cities like Vancouver and Toronto, pupils never run out of places to visit.

Canada consistently ranks as the world’s best country for quality of life too. With great safety statistics, friendly communities, super healthcare, and a thriving job market, it’s no surprise your fellow international students are drawn to the nation.

5. Australia

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
420,50128%China, India & Nepal

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

Australia has the highest percentage of international students relative to its overall student body. Besides the golden beaches and guaranteed sunshine, students are dazzled by the country’s first-rate universities and colleges.

In Australia, it’s possible to study almost any subject you can think of thanks to the rich variety of programs. Tuition fees are lower than most other English-speaking countries, so studying here won’t break the bank either.

Australia is a country founded on the principles of diversity and multiculturalism. This forward-thinking nation welcomes individuals from all backgrounds onto its shores, which can reduce the chances of experiencing a culture shock.

6. France

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
343,40012.8%Morocco, Algeria & China

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

France is a great option if you’re looking to gain a world-class education at a reasonable price.

Although tuition fees in France are amongst Europe’s cheapest, you won’t be skimping on the quality of your education. France has a longstanding reputation for academic excellence and is famed for producing some of the world’s most influential scientists, artists, philosophers, and designers.

As well as having access to the great student cities of Paris, Toulouse, and Lyon, you’ll love how France acts as a gateway to the rest of Europe.

7. Russia

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
334,4978.6%Kazakhstan, China & Turkmenistan

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

Russian universities are quickly scaling the heights of global rankings thanks to their world-leading programs in sciencetechnologyengineering, and mathematics (STEM). Job opportunities in STEM subjects are growing at around twice the rate of other sectors, so Russia has established itself as the ideal destination if you’re a career-oriented pupil.

Studying in Russia also gives you the chance to be immersed in a truly academic environment. Russia has the world’s most highly-educated population, with over half of Russian nationals holding a university degree.

One major advantage of studying in Russia is the scholarship opportunities available. Each year, the Russian government grants thousands of scholarships to international students. This scheme has seen the country’s popularity grow immensely.

8. Germany

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
282,0029.9%China, India & Austria

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

The removal of tuition fees at public universities has helped Germany to secure its place among the world’s most attractive study abroad locations. Besides a few administrative and enrollment costs, you can receive a top-notch education for free.

The quality of the country’s educational institutions has also helped to boost Germany’s popularity. German universities are regularly shortlisted for awards in teaching and research, so you’re sure to have an enriching educational experience.

Due to Germany’s location in the heart of Europe, you’ll also have unbeatable connections and travel opportunities to the rest of the continent.

9. Japan

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
208,9015.7%China, Vietnam & Nepal

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

Japan has some of the world’s highest educational standards, and its universities are renowned for their programs in maths and science.

An increased number of English-taught programs, coupled with the country’s low tuition fees and living costs, has seen Japan’s international popularity soar.

The Japanese government’s drive to attract more foreign students seems to have paid off too. Studying here means you’ll take advantage of the country’s generous scholarship schemes and the international support services implemented by most universities.

10. Spain

No. of international studentsOverall % of international studentsMost represented countries
120,9917.6%Italy, France & USA

(Source: Project Atlas, 2019)

Spain is packed full of fantastic universities and colleges. Whether you choose to study in the city or on the coast, the country’s institutions offer an outstanding array of English and Spanish-taught programs at a reasonable price.

Outside of the classroom, you’ll enjoy Spain’s distinctive culture, delicious cuisine, and fascinating heritage.

Other destinations

Don’t worry if none of the countries above takes your fancy, there are plenty of alternative study abroad destinations waiting to be discovered.

The following nations fall just outside of the top ten in terms of popularity, but that’s not to say you won’t fall in love with them:

  • The Netherlands
  • Poland
  • New Zealand
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Chile

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