National systems for student fees and support systems in Europe – Eurydice report

Eurydice has published a report that looks into student fees and support systems across Europe for 2016/2017 study year. The report provides an overview of key developments in Europe in this area, as well as more detailed national case studies.

Tuition fees and student support are a national issue, but under EU legislation, countries must accept other EU national on same terms as own nationals. However, behind this main logic the content of student fees and student support includes a multitude of practices. Furthermore, the report highlights that there is a significant difference in the amount of public funding provided (see also EUAs Public Funding Observatory for more information).

The data shows that there are four countries with no fees for students, and twelve countries that have universal fees. The report also analyses the relationship between fees and support, arguing that relationship to be crucial in understanding the reality students are facing. Countries are divided into four specific types, distinguishing between high and low (or no) share of fee paying students in the system, and high and low share of those getting grants. 

The report also shows variation regarding the principles for charging student fees – whereas some countries charge fees for full time students, other charge for part time studies, for non-state subsidised, or for those with poor performance or slow progression. Furthermore, different variations of these exist. In 13 of 42 countries there are fees for both full-time and part-time students. In general, there is substantial variation in the share of students who pays fees – from none in Germany, Greece, Finland, Sweden and Norway, to all students in Bulgaria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Switzerland, Iceland, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. UK clearly stands out as the most expensive country for studying.

Regarding support, the report distinguishes direct (grants, loans) and indirect (tax allowance, or tax incentive to parents) forms of student support. All of the 42 systems studied have some form for direct student support. For the study year 2016/2017, Spain, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia there are only grants available for students, whereas in Iceland and UK (excl Scotland) there are only loans, with the remaining of the systems having some form of a mix between grants and loans. While most countries have direct support for the students, only half of the systems have indirect arrangements.

In addition to these general remarks, the report includes an individual report for each of the 42 systems studied. You can download the report here