10 Cheapest Universities in Italy for International Students

Italy, without question, is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich countries in Europe. The country has become a top tourist destination with its overflowing wealth in architecture, history, culture, fashion, and cuisine.

Through its rich tapestry of history and culture, one of the most iconic facts is that this nation is comprised of over 20 different regions. Each of these regions to have a certain degree of autonomy and therefore tend to have their own cuisine, dialects, traditions, etc. due to the fact that Italy only became a unified country in 1861. This contributes to the country’s striking diversity and varying identities.

Although Italy has never had a smooth journey in terms of its history, it currently offers a truly aesthetic experience with a rich blend of tradition and color.

The thriving community coupled with the aforementioned diversity in history, culture, cuisine, and so on are some of the many factors that attract students to Italy for their studies, whether it’s for a full-time degree or for a year abroad.

It comes as no surprise that countless universities and institutions of higher education maintain partnerships and international exchange programs with several universities in Italy.

Education in Italy has always been a strong core of the country; after all, Italy is literally home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna.

Undeniably, Italy has a lot to offer to its prospective students. While it is indeed a great place to study for higher education purposes, it definitely does not imply paying high tuition fees nor does it come with high costs of living.

In this article, we bring to you a series of some of the cheapest universities in Italy. We highly recommend you consider these options if you are considering studying in this country while being cost-effective.


How do I study in Italy?

This is a question international students ask a lot for a good reason. The admissions process in Italian universities can be very difficult because international students don’t know much information about it. To help you with understanding the application process better, we have prepared a guide on How to Study in Italy for International Students. Check it out if you don’t know where to start!


Is university education free in Italy?

Education of all levels is free for students and children of all nationalities provided that they are residents of Italy. Unfortunately, international students are not entitled to tuition-free education.

However, scholarships and bursaries are available for students if required, which can be offered through the university or via the student’s government. Under exceptional circumstances, these scholarships can sometimes cover the whole tuition fees based on the student’s potential.

There are many ways that international students can study in Italy for free. If you are interested, read about How to Study in Italy for Free (8 Steps).


How much does it cost to study in Italy?

This largely depends on the prospective university, the location in Italy, and the student’s personal circumstances. Tuition fees tend to be very affordable and can typically range between EUR 850 and 1000/year in public universities.

Private universities tend to be significantly higher. Students of EU countries will further benefit from lower tuition fees. When considering the costs of living, the overall costs average between EUR 1000 to 1500/month.


What is the primary language of education?

Italian is the main language that is used for teaching and administration. However, due to the increasing influx of foreign students in the country, countless courses in several public and private universities offer degrees and courses that are taught in English. To study in English, Italian universities require international students to take the IELTS or TOEFL Exam.

Learning Italian is also encouraged and several international students chose to study the language for their benefit.


What are some of the most popular degrees in Italy?

Italy is known for having great programs for international students as well as having highly-ranked universities. Here are some of the degrees that are most popular with international students studying in Italy:


Are international students eligible to work in Italy?

International students can work under certain restrictions within their student visa, depending on their status as EU citizens. Non-EU nationals can typically work for a maximum of 20 hours a week during term-time and not more.


Affordable Universities in Other Countries

Here are some posts for affordable universities in other countries.


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Cheap Universities in Italy

1. University of Florence

The University of Florence is a public research university located in the stunning city of Florence. It is one of the oldest and most influential institutions of higher education in the country. The university’s origins date back to the early 14th century when it was founded. Academically, the university is comprised of 12 main departments ranging from agriculture and economics to law and medicine.

Collectively, over 126 different degrees and courses of study are offered. Currently, a student population of over 52,000 pursue degrees within the university’s walls.

This cheap university in Italy has been consistently ranked as a top institution in the university league tables; the QS university rankings have placed the university in the top 500 in the world.

It holds multiple international partnerships with foreign universities. This provides students with the chance to pursue joint degrees that are awarded in collaboration. Furthermore, the university is a high-profile research center and forms one of the intellectual hubs of the country.


2. University of Siena

Located in the city of Siena in Tuscany, the University of Siena is a public research university that was founded in 1240. It is the oldest and most reputed university in the region and was the first institution to be publicly funded. It offers studies for a student enrolment of over 22,000.

The university is comprised of 15 academic departments that are organized under 5 main faculties including Biomedical & Medical Sciences, Experimental Sciences, Economics, Law & Political Sciences, and the School of Arts.

Unlike the majority of universities in Italy, the University of Siena is a campus city and the institution forms an integral part of the city. Students have access to one of the most thriving communities in the country with a strong thirst for research, knowledge, and learning. The university is very carefully and strongly organized to provide the best in terms of cutting-edge teaching facilities.


3. Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

The Free University of Bozen-Bolzano is a private-public research university that is primarily located in Bolzano in Northern Italy. Founded in 1997, it is one of the more recent additions to the higher education system in the country.

The aim of this cheap university in Italy aim is to provide a multilingual, practically-oriented educational experience for its students. As a result, degrees and courses of study are offered in either English, German or Italian. With its focus on applied teaching, a large proportion of teaching takes place as practical training and workshops.

Currently, the university has a student population of over 5000 students, of which approximately 20% come from outside of Italy. The Free University offers more than 30 undergraduate and graduate programs for students across a range of disciplines including natural sciences, social sciences, education, engineering, and economics. Teaching is administered through 3 major campuses in Bolzano as well as Bruneck and Brixen.


4. University of Turin

The University of Turin is a public university located in the city of Turin (or Torino) in Northwestern Italy. Established in 1404, the university is among the oldest institutions in Europe and is ranked among the top universities in Italy. It is further ranked among the top 500 universities in the world.

Currently, the university has a student population of over 70,000. Students have access to a wide array of degrees and courses of study provided by 55 academic departments. Several courses such as Biotechnology, Sports Sciences, Military Sciences, and Conservation Studies are unique to this institution in Italy alone.


5. University of Padua

Founded in 1222, the University of Padua is considered to be the second oldest university in the world. Originally founded as a school of law, this affordable university in Italy is at the highest rank in Italy and currently has over 61,000 students. The university’s central campus is located in the city of Padua in Northern Italy.

Some of the iconic alumni that the university has produced include the likes of Nicolas Copernicus (formulated the model of the current Solar System), Vesalius (the father of modern human anatomy), and Federico Faggin (inventor of the microprocessor).


6. Ca’Foscari University of Venice

The Ca’Foscari University of Venice is a public university located in the iconic city of Venice. It was originally established in 1868 as a business school but has since expanded to an international world-class institution with over 25,000 students. Academically, the university is comprised of 8 academic departments.

Furthermore, the disciplines of economics and modern languages are among the most highly ranked in the country. With over 700 international exchange programmes fostered through foreign university partnerships, the Ca’ Foscari University draws in over 1500 foreign students every year to its institution. Courses are administered in both English and Italian.


7. Sant Anna School of Advanced Studies

The Sant Anna School of Advanced Studies is a public research university located in the city of Pisa. Founded in 1987, it is one of the most recent institutions to be included in the country’s system. Its focal point of education is in teaching the applied sciences. Examples of the degrees and courses offered by the university include business sciences, economics, law, political science, agricultural studies, medical sciences, and industrial sciences.

The 2000+ students who are currently enrolled at the university, therefore, have access to over 50 different courses of study, be it at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral study level. With its increasing excellence in academics, this one of the cheapest universities in Italy has been ranked in the top 10 of the Times Higher Education’s 150 Universities under 50.


8. University of Bologna

Holding pride as the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and is one of the crown jewels of the higher education system in Italy. With a student population of over 80,000, the university not only is the largest institution in the country but is also consistently ranked as the top university in the country. 11 major schools and 33 academic departments constitute the academic system of the university.

Through these departments, 101 first-level degrees (3-year courses) and 108 second-level degrees (2-year courses) are offered. Afterward, students are eligible to apply for Masters or Doctoral programs as well.

The university is spread across 5 main campuses (Bologna, Forli, Cesena, Rimini, and Ravenna) as well as an international campus in Buenos Aires. It has established itself as a global hub for academic teaching and research with multiple partnerships across the world.


9. Polytechnic University of Milan

Considered to be the largest technical university by student enrolment, the Polytechnic University of Milan is a state-supported institution that was founded in 1863. The university mainly specializes in providing education in the disciplines of engineering, design, and architecture.

The Polytechnic holds rank as the best university in Italy to pursue studies in engineering. This cheap university in Italy operates through two main campuses in the city of Milan with additional campuses in five other cities across the country.

Over 30 different degrees are offered to undergraduates while over 20 programs for Masters are offered. International programs like the ATHENS and ERASMUS draw in around 1000 foreign students on an annual basis.


10. University of Trento

The University of Trento is a public university located in the Northern Italian city of Trento. Established in 1962, it has expanded into an institution of high-quality research and education with a student population of over 17,000.

Academically, the university is made up of 7 faculties that collectively offer around 51 programs and courses of study as well as multiple graduate courses. The university strongly believes in internationalising education and therefore hosts the largest number of international partnerships in the country.

With regards to its global rankings, the university has been consistently ranked among the top 500 universities in the world since 2007 (based on the Times higher education rankings).


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page!