Study Overseas to Get a Degree – It May Be Cheaper Than Attending a Singapore University

study overseas free universities in berlin cheaper than singapore

Going to university in Singapore is getting pretty damn expensive. We’ve reached the point where studying abroad can cost you the same amount of money or even less, even taking into account overseas living costs.

How is that possible, you might ask? Well, many European universities are free to attend or charge ridiculously low tuition fees.


Tuition fees of Singapore universities AY2018/2019

With public universities in Singapore charging annual tuition fees of $8,200 to $13,050 a year for Singaporeans and private schools often costing much more, the amount of money you save by studying locally is decreasing rapidly.

Here’s a snapshot of how much it costs to take a Business degree in Singapore.

Annual fees for Singapore citizens Annual fees for Singapore PRs Annual fees for international students
NUS Business degree $9,600 $13,450 $20,550
NTU Business degree $9,400 $13,200 $20,100
SMU Business degree $11,450 $16,000 $24,500

You’ll also have to bear in mind the fact that the cost of living in Singapore rising, so even with a roof over your head courtesy of your parents you’ll still be paying quite a bit for food and entertainment.

A $10,000-a-year degree course and living expenses of $800 a month will add up to $18,000 a year.

In comparison, studying at an overseas university offering degree courses free or at a low price can cost a comparable amount.

For instance, a year at the University of Vienna or the Free University of Berlin can cost you less than $20,000.

In addition, if your visa gives you the right to work a certain number of hours a year, a part-time job will probably earn you more than it will in Singapore, because minimum wage. In addition, you’ll gain the life-changing experience of being able to live overseas.

If you’re a particularly forward-looking young student, studying and becoming proficient in German, French or Spanish can open doors to you later by making you eligible for a wider range of cheap degree courses. There are limited spaces for international (non-EU) students and you’d have to choose the right degrees to study

Take note though, while most free foreign universities conduct masters courses in English, the same can’t be said for bachelor’s degrees.

Here are four overseas universities where you can get a degree at a reasonable price.


1. University of Vienna (Universität Wien), Austria

Tuition fees: Tuition fees at the University of Vienna are spectacularly low at 726.72 euros (SGD $1,133) per semester, meaning you pay just SGD $2,366 a year.

Living costs: Austria is a relatively inexpensive country to live in, and estimated living costs for students in Austria, including rent, are about 950 euro (SGD $1,481), which works out to about SGD$17,772 a year, about the same as what a Singaporean student ends up paying for a year of studies and living costs.

Two-way flight from Singapore to Vienna: As low as $500, with one stop-over.

Courses: Most of the bachelor’s courses are taught in German, but there is a fairly wide range of master’s courses conducted in English, including economics, environmental science and biology.

Total cost per year: SGD$20,638 SGD to $25,313 SGD


2. Free University Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin), Germany

Tuition fees: As the university’s name suggests, most of the courses are free of charge.

Living costs: The estimated living costs in Berlin, according to the university, are around 800 euros (SGD$1,247) a month, including rental of 400 euros, food and pocket money. A year in Berlin will therefore cost you SGD$14,964 a year. This obviously depends on your spending habits. This means you will end up spending less than if you were studying in Singapore.

Two-way flight from Singapore to Berlin: $747 via Scoot. Scoot has recently introduced direct flights to Berlin that are considerably cheaper than full fare airlines.

Courses: The catch is that you need to be able to speak German to take most of the courses. There are, however, several masters courses that are conducted English, including chemistry, English studies, European law, sociology and anthropology.

Total cost per year: SGD $15,711


3. University of Oslo, Norway

Tuition fees: Most universities in Norway don’t charge tuition fees.

Living costs: Most people don’t consider studying in Norway because of the frigid winters and the high cost of living. While Norway is notoriously expensive, a modest student budget has been estimated at 52,500 NOK (SGD$8,396) for a five-month term, which includes the cost of rent, food, school supplies and some spending money. This works out to SGD$20,150 a year, which is about 30% more than what a Singapore university student would incur. However, bear in mind that students are allowed to work 20 hours a week, and McDonald’s workers in Norway earn about 95 NOK (SGD15.20) to 140 NOK (SGD$22.30) an hour. This means that as a student in Norway, getting a part-time job can defray your costs considerably.

Two-way flight from Singapore to Oslo: As low as $600, with 1 stopover

Courses: The University of Oslo conducts a ton of courses in English at bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate level, with many in humanities, social sciences and sciences.

Total cost per year: At least SGD $21,480


4. JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Tuition fees: Universities in Finland are absolutely free.

Living costs: On average, the university estimates that the average student needs about 750 euro. This amount includes rent, food, accommodation and pocket money. In a year you’ll need SGD $14,028 SGD to $22,448, depending on your spending habits. You are allowed to work up to 25 hours per week during the school term and unlimited hours during the holidays.

Two-way flight from Singapore to Helsinki: Direct flights from as low as $670 via Finnair.

Courses: The university’s English bachelor’s degree courses include international business, logistics engineering and nursing, while its English Master’s degree courses include international business management and IT.

If you’re thinking of heading overseas to study, regardless of how much it costs, you should most definitely do your homework first when it comes to financing. We’ve made it simpler with MoneySmart’s Education Loans Calculator so that you can quickly compare the available loans and make the best choice for your education.

Are you thinking of getting an overseas degree? Tell us about your plans in the comments!


Header image credit: svenwerk via Flickr