High tuition fees and accommodation costs often shatter the dream of pursuing higher studies abroad for many.
For that, students sometimes look for a country that offers education without tuition fees.
Once knowledge was free in many European countries. Currently, very few offer it free for Non-EU students.
Let us start a tour of the countries providing free education.
Encompassed by mountains, glaciers, and deep coastal fjords, the Scandinavian country offers free education to all international students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
However, most international students can not avail the undergraduate study opportunity as almost all the courses are in Norsk.
One must have proficiency in this language to be eligible for that. Hence, international students mostly line up to pursue a post-graduate degree in Norway.
Norwegian universities open applications in August every year with no charge.
Application procedure and required documents
A student needs a Norwegian Grade C or 60% marks in their Bachelor's program to pursue a Master's degree.
The application procedure is relatively simple. One can visit this site to find the required information: https://www.studyinnorway.no.
The list of necessary documents are : certificates and transcripts of Bachelor's Degree, SSC and HSC (O'levels and A'levels), IELTS certificate, motivation letter (study plan included), two recommendation letters (one from
the subject instructor and another from the Principal / Dean), bank solvency paper, passport.
Norway is one of the most expensive countries to live in as "the country almost imports everything," said Samiul Ehsan, a research assistant and master's student at the University of Stavanger.
Maintaining a regular life costs from Tk50,000 to Tk60,000. However, this can vary depending on cities and the individual's lifestyle.
Students in Norway pay around 36% out of their total living cost on accommodation.
The most popular options are student housing and renting or sharing an apartment, with a rent of €300-700 per month.
IELTS is mandatory. One must have a minimum band score of 6.5, but in some cases may qualify with a band score of 6.
Norwegian universities do not accept English as a "Medium of Instruction" certificate.
"Most Norwegians are fluent in English. Though they prefer Norsk, they are not restricted to speak in English," said Ehsan, a Bangladeshi student.
So, language struggle is not that big a problem here compared to Germany. One can easily communicate in English.
Since most universities offer free-tuition education hence, there is no scholarship for international students.
Students are required to show around Tk12 lakh as proof of bank solvency. And upon receiving an offer letter, the money needs to be sent to the university account before obtaining the visa. However, universities return the money later.
"Almost everyone gets a part-time job here," said Ehsan. Students can work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session and full-time during holidays.
Trying to scuttle around the 20-hour work rule can result in serious consequences; however, a student can face expulsion from the country for disobeying the rules.
International students can stay in here for one year after graduating from a Norwegian university or university college to look for subject-related full-time employment. After living for three years with a job visa, they can apply for permanent residency.
However, "settling in Norway can be tough as not many full-time jobs are available here. It is not unlikely that you might have to go back after completing the study," said Ehsan.
For this, he recommended having a back-up plan if one cannot manage a full-time job within one year.
In recent years, Germany has become a popular international study hub, mostly for its tuition-free policy and excellent education quality.
An increasing number of Bangladeshi students are pursuing their higher studies in the European country.
Unlike Norway, student can pursue undergraduate programmes here, however, undergraduate programmes taught in English are still uncommon. Only 233 such programmes were offered in Germany in 2019.
Easy application procedure
Application procedure is comparatively easy and one can apply by themselves.
Students studying in Germany strongly recommend avoiding agencies as one can fall into traps and face troubles after going to the country.
Most German universities follow a two-semester system which includes winter semester (June- July) and summer semester (December-January). However, some universities have a different set of deadlines.
A few universities have aligned their academic calendar with the international academic year. Instead of winter and summer semesters, their academic year is divided into the fall semester (August to January) and spring semester (February to July)
"There are two ways to apply to German universities. Students can either directly apply through the university website or uni-assist – a platform assessing international student applications for approximately 170 German universities," said Bangladeshi student Sheikh Minhaj Liaqat who is doing his masters in micro and nano systems at Technische Universität Chemnitz.
Generally, two to three semesters of study in the student's home country, coupled with, in some cases, work samples or aptitude test scores are sufficient to secure university admission in Germany, if the applicant is non-European.
"As far as I have seen, Germany accepts graduates from almost all Bangladeshi universities," said Minhaj.
Universities require a decent International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score, at least a total band score of six, or German language skill test scores.
It is best if students have some basic knowledge of the German language.
Otherwise, language could be a barrier to studying in Germany as one needs to know German to get odd jobs or work in shops in supermarkets.
Also, Germans do not like when someone speaks in other language instead of trying to learn Germany.
"In supermarkets," said Tabib Ibne Mazhar, currently pursuing MSc in data science at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, "all product names are written in German, and I had to face difficulties just to find salt."
"Living expenses could vary depending on your lifestyle and where you live. In a big city like Berlin or Munich, the cost will be higher but is still affordable. Overall, the living cost is reasonable here compared to that in the US or Canada," said Mazhar.
"For instance, I live in Aachen, a city near Germany's borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, where you can get by with €100 a month for food if you cook your meals at home," he added.
Minhaj said, "I live in the eastern part of Germany where one can manage within €500 per month. In the western part of Germany, it will take €750-850 per month."
Rules for working while studying
Students from outside the European Union member states are permitted to work for either 120 full days or 240 half days per year.
Self-employment is permitted only upon request and on a case-by-case basis, depending on what the immigration office – Ausländerbehörde – approves. Without this, non-EU students cannot indulge in gainful employment or freelancing during their studies.
The rules, however, are stricter for students who are in language or preparatory courses.
They are only allowed to work during lecture-free periods, and only if they obtain permission from both the Federal Employment Agency and the Ausländerbehörde.
Students after graduation can stay in the country for up to 18 months and have gainful employment without restrictions.
Those that land a job in a field related to their degree – and that pays a minimum wage – are entitled to get the EU Blue Card, a residency permit that since 2012 has been available to international graduates and highly skilled workers in Germany.
It is valid for four years and allows holders to bring their spouses and children to Germany and apply for permanent residency after 33 months. It also opens pathways for citizenship and migration to other EU countries.
An applicant, however, must demonstrate adequate German language skills and find well-paid skilled employments for that.
There are some scholarships for international students. The most popular among them are DAAD, KAAD, Erasmus Mundus, and Deutschlandsti- pendium.