Cost of studying diverges for domestic and international students

06 October 2016

The variation in the cost of living and studying for domestic and international students around the world has been highlighted in Savills latest World Student Housing report.

While Boston and New York are the most expensive cities for both domestic and foreign students, San Francisco is $1,150 per month cheaper for domestic students than for international students according to Savills, given lower fees for Californian students at public universities. International students in Tokyo, Seoul or Bristol are likely to find these locations relatively more affordable, although they can still expect to pay more than their domestic counterparts. For true parity, international students need to look to Shanghai, Berlin, Beijing and Munich if they wish to pay the same as domestic students.

Click here to see the monthly cost of international and domestic student living and study.

The research assessed the costs of living, purpose-built accommodation and tuition for students studying at top ranking institutions in major student cities around the globe.

Overall, mainland European and Asian cities tend to be the most affordable destinations for both types of students, while US, Western European and Australian cities are the most expensive. Students in a high ranking US institutions can expect to pay between $3,000 and $4,000 per month in tuition fees and $1,000 to $1,600 for private, purpose built accommodation and additional monthly living costs. London, Sydney and Melbourne then follow, given high fees for international students ($2,000 to $2,400 per month) and comparatively high accommodation costs. Based on purpose-built student accommodation costs alone, however, London is the most expensive city globally ($1,600 per month), just ahead of New York ($1,580 per month). 

By contrast, mainland European cities are notable for their affordability.  Living and studying in Berlin, Lyon and Munich is of comparable cost to studying in Beijing and Shanghai – but with even lower tuition fees.  Both domestic and international students pay a nominal monthly fee for tuition, the cost of living is low, and private purpose built student accommodation tends to cost less than $500 per month. 

Marcus Roberts, director of Student Investment and Development at Savills, comments:
“Many students still choose to study in the US, UK and Australia despite the expense due to the fact that courses are taught in English and that these locations are home to many institutions that appear at top of the rankings tables. The old order, however, is changing. With greater commercial focus, more courses taught in English and alignment to the bachelor system, European universities are on the rise. France, for example, has seen the number of institutions in the QS Top 700 increase from 19 to 26 since 2012, Germany has the third most ranked institutions globally with Spain the tenth. China, meanwhile, has overtaken Japan to take fifth position.”

Paul Tostevin, associate director of Savills World Research and author of the report, adds:  “Certain cities have a clear affordability advantage, offering huge potential when it comes to attracting mobile students seeking a lower cost education. Although at the moment the majority of students are still heading to more expensive institutions we expect the trickle of students choosing value over traditional reputation to increase – particularly when so many of the universities in these cheaper cities now have the credentials to rival the old bastions of education.” 


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Key Contacts

Marcus Roberts MRICS

Marcus Roberts MRICS

Director - Europe
Residential Capital Markets

Margaret Street

+44 (0) 20 7016 3799


Paul Tostevin

Paul Tostevin

Associate Director
World Research

Margaret Street

+44 (0) 20 7016 3883