With an average saving of £6,000 per year, should more UK students opt to study in Europe?

University students studying together in classroom.

2024 study reveals the UK’s tuition fees are a staggering 65% more expensive than in Europe

Xpatfone, a UK-based virtual phone number provider, empowering students to maintain their UK numbers abroad without incurring roaming charges, has conducted a comprehensive study, aiming to compare the costs of studying in the UK versus Europe and identify the top European universities that excel in cultivating the next generation of business leaders.

On average, studying in Europe £6,000 a year cheaper than studying in the UK

Country of University Tuition Fees start from (per year unless stated): Tuition Fees start from per year (£)
Switzerland CHF805 £692
Italy €950 £767
Spain €1,320 £1,125
Austria €726.72 per semester £1,239
France €2,770 £2,360
Germany €3,000 £2,558
Finland €4,000 £3,411
Belgium €4,175 £3,557
Netherlands €6,000 £5,112
Denmark €6,000 £5,116
Sweden SEK 80,000 £5,881
Norway* NOK 80000* £5,907
United Kingdom £9,000

According to data from TopUniversities, the average annual cost of studying in major European countries is just over £3,000, significantly lower than the £9,000 average in the UK. Switzerland offers the most affordable option, with courses starting at an impressive £690 per year, while Norway, the most expensive country to feature in our list, has courses starting at £5,900, still £3,000 cheaper than in the UK. This cost disparity may explain why UNESCO statistics show that around 40,000 UK students choose to study abroad each year.

Top European universities generate almost 300,000 CEOs & Managing Directors


Utilising data from The Times Higher Education’s list of top European universities and LinkedIn alumni profiles, Xpatfone’s research highlights the origins of future CEOs and Managing Directors. The study analysed LinkedIn profiles of alumni from the top 106 European universities offering English-speaking courses, covering graduates from 2000 to 2024. Remarkably, out of the 7,078,063 alumni studied, 298,758 (4.22%) have ascended to roles as a CEO or Managing Director.


University ranking based on “Times Higher Education” University ranking based on “Times Higher Education” without UK and Ireland universities University Country of University Total Alumni based on LinkedIn 2000-2024 Total of CEO’s & MD’s based on LinkedIn 2000-2024 Total % of CEO’s & MD’s based on LinkedIn 2000-2024
=139 =93 Copenhagen Business School Denmark 112,406 14,063 12.51
63 43 University of Lausanne Switzerland 3,464 308 8.89
48 32 University of Basel Switzerland 28,284 2,235 7.90
=114 =75 Università della Svizzera italiana Switzerland 12,909 1019 7.89
=114 =75 Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT Finland 21,434 1,678 7.83
=139 =93 University of Innsbruck Austria 30,539 2,373 7.77
45 29 University of Bern Switzerland 34,632 2,660 7.68
=139 =93 University of Tartu Estonia 30,338 2,265 7.47
25 16 University of Zurich Switzerland 63,903 4,734 7.41
84 57 University of Mannheim Germany 42,790 3,025 7.07
=114 =75 TU Wien Austria 39,079 2,659 6.80
=87 =59 University of Münster Germany 50,056 3,245 6.48
=91 =62 Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa Italy 5,984 386 6.45
4 1 ETH Zurich Switzerland 68,428 4,379 6.40
=114 =75 University of Hohenheim Germany 19,948 1254 6.29
37 24 Free University of Berlin Germany 438 27 6.16
=57 =37 University of Hamburg Germany 58,879 3,624 6.15
=114 =75 University of Oulu Finland 28,749 1,733 6.03
=91 =62 Aalto University Finland 56,383 3,363 5.96
69 47 University of Cologne Germany 59,805 3,531 5.90

Link to full results

Copenhagen Business School in Denmark leads the charge with a significant 12.51% of its alumni reaching top executive positions, despite being ranked joint 93rd by The Times Higher Education. Notably, the school outperforms others in cultivating leaders, underscoring a discrepancy between academic and professional achievements.

Swiss universities producing the next business leaders 

Not only do the Swiss offer affordable tuition fees, the study also reveals a strong performance by their universities when it comes to producing CEOs and Managing Directors. Universities such as the University of Lausanne, University of Basel, and Università della Svizzera italiana notably feature in the top five, highlighting Switzerland’s exceptional role in fostering business leadership.

Conversely, some highly academically ranked institutions like the University Paris-Saclay in France show a divergence in their expected influence on business leadership, ranking 9th by The Times Higher Education but 105th in Xpatfone’s survey for producing the next business leader.

This study reveals a significant financial incentive for UK students to pursue their education in Europe, with an average annual savings of £6,000. The research also highlights the remarkable success of European universities in producing future business leaders, with nearly 300,000 alumni achieving CEO and Managing Director positions since 2000. This comprehensive analysis underscores the value and impact of European education on both cost and career success, providing valuable insights for prospective students.

Xpatfone’s Co-Founder, Ed Clayton, expressed enthusiasm about the findings, stating,

 “Our study highlights the compelling financial benefits for UK students to study in Europe, saving an average of £6,000 annually. Moreover, our research underscores the exceptional ability of European universities to produce future business leaders, with nearly 300,000 alumni advancing to CEO and Managing Director roles. 

If you’re a student planning to take this exciting step in your learning, we can help you stay connected with friends and family. We offer a UK phone number that works seamlessly abroad without any additional charges.”


About the research:


About Xpatfone

With Xpatfone, you can continue using your UK number seamlessly abroad without worrying about any extra charges. 


Xpatfone includes unlimited UK mobile and landline calls and texts, in case you need to phone home. Upgrade to our Solo Pro package to add extra countries and features.


Callers hear a UK ringtone, no matter where you are, and don’t pay any extra. And there’s no need to change phone numbers with banks or insurers. With Xpatfone you can receive verification codes on your UK number.


Move your current UK mobile number to Xpatfone and save on costly contracts and roaming fees. Then take it back to your UK operator if you return to the UK. Or get a new number if you prefer!


Backed by a UK Mobile Network, Xpatfone works seamlessly over your local 4G or Wi-Fi connection wherever you are in the world. Better yet, unlike with roaming, you don’t pay to receive calls.

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