5 people from Europe share what it’s like to get free higher education

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5 people from Europe share what it’s like to get free higher education

Higher education isn’t cheap deal in many countries, especially in the U.S. where citizens all together hold more than $1.3 trillion in college loan debt. However, there are some countries that major part of the education system is paid by the government.

Some countries leave graduates with a zero debt and cover the entire cost of a higher education; some are asking just a small amount of money. But is it a good idea to free students from education fees? We asked this question for five people from different countries to find out what it is like to get free higher education.

Scotland

Tuition fees

Higher education in Scotland is for free only for EU-EEA countries. Additionally, you need to buy books and pay for your living costs. However, if you are under 25 years old, you can apply for a 'Young Students’ Bursary' which does not need to be paid back.

How do students feel about that?

According to the statistics, the cheapest universities to attend in the UK are Scottish. Apart from lower tuition for international students and free education for EU-EEA countries, students in Scotland also enjoy affordable living costs that range at just around 700 – 750 GBP per month. That makes a huge difference to studying, since you will not need to cover the tuition fee after graduation.

How about drawbacks?

Because of European law, the Scottish government is providing free tuition at Scottish universities for students from other EU countries but not for those from other parts of the UK. It is possible to discriminate between students from different parts of an individual member state but not to discriminate against those from other parts of the EU.

Germany

Tuition fees

On period of 2009-2015 studies in Germany cost US$592 per 6 months. For now the university is almost "free."

How do students feel about that?

Andrej Guminski, Research Associate at Research Association for Energy Economics told that his friends who studied in the high ranked the UK and USA universities had to pay significantly more for their university. However, during their discussions about studying experience appeared that the curriculum in Ivy League schools or highly ranked UK universities and German university where Andrej studied was very similar.

“Although I paid considerably less, I had access to the same quantity and quality of knowledge through my lectures as they did. From my perspective, this was obviously a very satisfying conclusion.” – Andrej told Business Insider.

How about drawbacks?

According to Andrej, the professor and student ratio was generally much higher in his university than highly-ranked and expensive universities that his friends attended. German student added that there was less project works as well. 

France

Tuition fees

Public universities are free; however you need to pay for about US$237 of fees for healthcare.

How do students feel about that?

According to Business Insiders, people in France are “happy and grateful” to not have to think about debts after graduation. Another good advantage is that while not paying huge loans, you can focus on the studies that are interesting to you rather than the most gainful ones.

How about drawbacks?

Despite the almost free education, many students in France are working to be able to cover their basic living expenses. This can affect their success compared to students whose parents can help pay for it.

How about drawbacks?

Free education enable some students to changes their programme again and again. In this case, some people abuse this system and become an 'eternity students' which means a person who never finishes his studies but continuously keeps changing study course every year. 

Sweden

Tuition fees

In Sweden students need to pay only for their study material (literature and specific tools). However, they get about $200/month from the State if you study full-time to cover those costs. 

How do students feel about that?

It is easier to figure out what you really want to do if there is no rush to care about big debts after the graduation. Swedish students can get an extra job if they want, but in the same time they can study a bunch of courses for a couple of years without choosing exactly Bachelor programme they want to study. In this case, they can try themselves in different areas and later be more certain about the future decisions.

How about drawbacks?

Students from Sweden graduate later than British or American students. Therefore, they are getting first job, creating families and having kids later in life.

Denmark

Tuition fees

Studies in Denmark are completely free. There are only additional expenses for the books you need.

How do students feel about that?

The equality is important in this social democratic country. Free higher education means that everybody has the same opportunity to get a university degree no matter if they were born in rich or poor family.

Students are free to choose a program that is not a necessarily the practical or profitable but which is the most suitable to them. Also, students here can change easily the programme or university if they feel not in their shoes after a few first semesters.