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All you need to know about applying to university

All you need to know about applying to university

by Sarita Rao 6 min. 02.05.2020 From our online archive
Application deadlines and advice on admissions during lockdown, plus the financial support students can get from the government
University of Amsterdam is one of Europe's top universities Photo: Shutterstock
University of Amsterdam is one of Europe's top universities Photo: Shutterstock

Students who plan to continue their education to degree level may be worrying about univeristy admissions, and those who finish school next year, will be thinking about applications for 2021.

Applications and admissions during COVID-19

There's still time for those students finishing school this year to apply to university in many European countries, but application procedures may have changed as a result of COVID-19 as many universities have shut down during the lockdown, including their admission departments. 

The advice is check the websites or contact the university or universities you have applied to or plan to apply to, so you can understand any changes to the admissions process or application deadlines, and any impact that your final year in education will have (for example, those students no longer sitting final exams such as the International and European Baccalaureate). 

This article lists a number of universities around the world (including Europe) and their current process for applications and admissions. 

This guide takes you through some basic rules on the application process under normal circumstances, timings for different countries, the ranking of universities in Europe, and things to consider such as fees and the cost of living. 

Application deadlines

Some EU countries expect applications well in advance of the end of the academic year, while others will consider applications submitted in the weeks before the start of the first semester. The deadlines below are based on the majority of universities but do your research and check with specific universities or individual courses to confirm exact deadlines.

Austria                                June to September

Denmark                            mid-March

Estonia                               March to June

Finland                               January (but March/April for some courses)

France                                 February to April

Germany                            Mid July

Hungary                             February to May

Ireland                                1 February (online), 

                                              1 May (late paper applications)

Latvia                                   May/June

Lithuania                             June

The Netherlands                1 April or 1 May depending on the university

Norway                                1 December (non-EU citizen),

                                               1 March (EU/EEA citizen)

Poland                                  July to August

Sweden                                 mid-January

UK                                          15 October for Oxford, Cambridge, medicine,veterinary science or dentistry but mid-January for all other courses.

Late entries

It is possible to apply after a deadline if there are still spaces left on the course you want to attend. It is advised that you contact your preferred choice university if you miss the deadline for general application.

Application process

Each country will have its own centralised application process so it is worth checking online for this. You can find out more about the process for each country here, using the drop-down menu under the section entitled university systems by country.

What you will need to submit 

You may be asked to submit all or some of the following documents with your application or at a later date if your application is made online.

  • Cover letter
  • CV
  • Previous degree certificate (if applying for a Masters)
  • High school diploma or equivalent plus grade transcription/predicted grades
  • Language proficiency certificate (if applicable)
  • Copy of your passport or national ID
  • Academic letters of reference
  • Additional documents for example international health insurance cover

Deciding which university

Global or European ranking

If you are not sure how a degree from a university will be viewed by a prospective employer you can consider the global ranking of the university. This link from Webometrics provides a ranking for European universities, or you can consult The Times best universities in Europe 2019 for rankings by country and the world ranking of universities. 

However, don't dismiss a university because of its ranking. It could be recognised as an authority on a specific discipline or subject, or you might find it's the only place offering a degree that combines all the elements you specifically want to study. 

Fees can vary from a few hundred to several thousand Euros per year Photo: Shutterstock
Fees can vary from a few hundred to several thousand Euros per year Photo: Shutterstock

Tuition fees and the cost of living are two important things a prospective undergraduate should consider. The Nordic countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland do not charge tuition fees but the cost of living is high.

Central European countries like Poland, Estonia and Hungary have low tuition fees and a low cost of living, while in western Europe costs can vary dramatically.

So, for example, you won't pay any fees in Germany, just a contribution of €100 to €350 per semester in student service fees.

You'll pay about €2,000 in annual fees in The Netherlands, but the UK can charge anything from €11,000 per year, to an eye-watering €40,000 per year for certain degree courses.

University of Luxembourg

If you prefer to stay local, then the University of Luxembourg has a number of degree courses (undergraduate and post-graduate) in faculties covering science, technology and communications, law, economics and finance, languages, literature, humanities, art and education.

Applications should be made online (check individual courses for exact application deadlines as some are as early as January).

You must then print out your application and attach the relevant documents requested, before submitting it to the administration offices in Belval. Applications take four to six weeks to process.

Financial support

There are scholarships and loans available to Luxembourg residents and citizens in higher education. These include:

  • A student grant of €1,025 per semester (two payments per academic year) as of 31 July 2019
  • An additional grant based on income criteria of €1,947.50 for the academic year 2019-2020
  • A mobility grant for those studying abroad of approximately €1,255 after 31 July 2019.

You can find out more about the financial support available from the government here, including how and when to apply. You can calculate your entitlement as a student using the Just Arrived scholarship calculator.

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