Personal safety is an important factor when choosing a host country to study abroad. After all, you will be thousands of kilometers away from home, in a new and unknown environment. The good news first: Europe is generally a safe destination for international students.
Safe countries to study abroad in Europe - the key facts:
Nonetheless, there might be some differences from country to country. Let’s have a look at a few of the safest countries in Europe and how safe they really are for international students:
The Finns are known to be easy-going, following the motto “live and let live”. For international students, there is almost no place more peaceful than Finland. That is true for the large cities like Helsinki (the capital) or Tampere, but even more so for the smaller towns up in the North of the country.
So perhaps the only thing you need to be afraid of are Finland’s cold winters. Minus 20 degrees Celsius/centigrade aren’t uncommon, so make sure to get a proper winter coat on arrival!
Sweden has long been a top destination for students from all over the world, and its corporations and startups have also been attracting experienced professionals for work. Over the past decades, Sweden’s big cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg have grown into multicultural hubs with large communities of expats.
As in Finland, all you need for protection is good winter clothing. It’s not only the low crime rate that makes Sweden the perfect choice for those seeking a safe destination: The Northern European country also has the safest traffic, with Europe’s lowest number of traffic deaths.
Germany is a large country with hundreds of universities that offer more than 1,000 degree programmes taught in English. In the self-proclaimed “nation of poets and thinkers”, international guests are more than welcome. Even in large cities like Berlin or Frankfurt am Main, there is no reason not to feel secure - although theft might occur if you’re too careless, so perhaps use two locks on your bike.
Safety is your main concern, and you are worried about life in the big city? Then you can find plenty of world-class universities in peaceful smaller towns with virtually no crime or violence, for instance in Saarbrücken, Heidelberg, Freiburg or Lüneburg.
Not a year goes by in which Vienna, the capital city of Austria, does not top the rankings of the world’s most liveable cities. It’s not a surprise, really, with such a high standard of living at modest cost, a welcoming and tolerant environment, and an extremely low crime rate. The same is true of other cities in Austria, as well.
To complement these advantages, Austria’s higher education system enjoys an excellent reputation - with affordable tuition fees for foreign students.
There is no doubt that the United Kingdom is one of the most popular study-abroad destinations: Hundreds of thousands of students from around the world study in the UK, and the country’s universities rank high in international league tables.
Although the UK is generally a safe country, there are some regional differences. Generally speaking, smaller towns like Nottingham or Falmouth are usually safer than large cities like Manchester or London.
Irish universities promise “the warmest of welcomes” and that is exactly what you can expect: a friendly, cosmopolitan environment that invites students from all over the globe. In fact, not only is Ireland one of the safest places to study abroad, the small nation is also regularly voted as one of the friendliest countries.
Combined that with the fact that its universities and institutes of technology are known for high-quality education, and you’ll understand what makes Ireland so popular with foreign students.
Which countries are safe to study in? The table below shows the rank for each European country in the “Personal Safety” category of the Social Progress Index (SPI). The SPI looks at various statistics like crime rates, traffic safety and political stability. As a reference, we also included the United States in the table:
|Personal safety rank in Europe||Country||SPI score|
|—||United States of America (USA)||70.3|
Even though it’s safe to study abroad and there is nothing you need to fear, there is one thing you need to watch out for - before you actually travel to your host country. When you look for student accommodation in certain cities where it’s difficult to find apartments (like Stockholm or Paris), you might come across fake online rental listings published by scammers. Read our guide on identifying student apartment scams and you’ll know how to safely avoid online fraudsters!
Yes! As you can see, European countries rank highly among the safest in the world. So when you study abroad in Europe, there is nothing to worry about. Go for it and we are sure you will have the time of your life!
This article was last updated on 14 January 2019.