Studying in Prague: Is the low tuition still worth it?

Students from all over the world agree that the price of studying in Prague comes with the added bonus of a charming student experience.

Eryn Taylor-Freeme

Written by Eryn Taylor-Freeme Published on 15.08.2023 15:05:00 (updated on 16.08.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

This is part of a series of student articles written as part of a journalism course at Anglo-American University in Prague.

Universities and colleges in the Czech Republic attract international students not just for the opportunity to travel while studying abroad, but also for their low tuition fees, especially compared to the U.S. With inflation and the rising cost of living, does Czechia retain this label of a cheaper study destination or are non-EU students re-evaluating their choices?

A 2022 ranking from the statistics site Numbeo found that the Czech capital had the highest cost of living out of 49 cities in Central and Eastern Europe. On top of that, Czech cities held four of the top six spots. The situation further deteriorated since then, as average inflation last year in Czechia was over 15 percent, leading to price increases in almost all aspects of life. 

As a student looking to move to Prague, the statistics aren’t encouraging, however, determining whether the country is still one of the better options cost-wise comes down to where the student is from.

Tuition, housing, and living costs

The total tuition fee for a three-year undergraduate degree for a non-EU resident in the Czech Republic ranges widely, depending on the university.

At the Prague University of Economics and Business, from the 2023/24 academic year international students will need to pay EUR 5,000 (about CZK 120,500) per academic year, making a three-year degree cost over CZK 360,000. The median cost of an English-speaking degree at Charles University is EUR 6,200 per semester, and the University of New York in Prague charges international students around CZK 700,000 for a full, 180-credit bachelor's degree.

As for housing, student dormitories tend to be cheaper than renting rooms privately near the center of Prague, which nowadays range from around CZK 10,000 up to around CZK 17,000 per month. Dormitories – depending on the university – tend to range between CZK 4,000 and CZK 6,000 per month. Students, however, may need to share their rooms.

Often, utility costs are not included in rent. Groceries average up to CZK 1,000 per week, and although prices have gone up in recent months, they remain reasonable in comparison to other countries in the west of Europe. One of the best parts about living in Prague is the low transportation costs; with a student discount, yearly access to all forms of transportation within the city is CZK 1,280. 

Advantages of studying in Prague

Prague is a popular choice for students from the U.S. looking to enroll in a university that simultaneously gives them the opportunity to travel across Europe, while the low tuition cost compared to U.S. universities makes it even more attractive.

Abby Fenchak, a U.S. student in Prague, speaks about the advantages that come with living in Europe as opposed to her home country. Although accommodation costs vary too vastly across the U.S. to make a valuable comparison, living expenses are much cheaper in Prague, especially for groceries and transportation.

She points out how the lack of public transport services in the U.S. means most college students need to own a car, which significantly increases costs. 

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Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 91m2

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Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 52m2

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“If you can afford to pay upfront then it’s well worth it and I don’t have to apply for a loan, and back home the students can’t afford things,” said Fenchak, adding that the experiences she has while studying abroad and the people she meets are an added bonus.

For students from African countries, one popular route to university is to study in South Africa, where the average tuition is the equivalent of CZK 148,000 per year, lower than that in Prague. Additionally, living costs are cheaper in South Africa, a difference that has become much more distinct due to rising costs in Europe.

Whereas the marginally higher total costs of studying in Prague were worth it because of the added international experience, African students are now wary of this because the price gap is becoming significantly greater and starting to outweigh the romance of studying abroad.

South Africa vs. Prague

The case is similar for students from other lesser developed countries in Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Asia. For students from these areas where budgets can be particularly sensitive, there are other countries either closer to home or even in Europe, such as Hungary or Poland, that are more affordable than the Czech Republic.

Average tuition at an international university in Hungary is between CZK 128,000 and 175,000 annually and living costs are less than in Czechia. In Poland undergraduate bachelor's degrees usually don’t exceed CZK 186,000 per year, depending on the institution and area of study, and living costs are significantly less.

However, Rosalina Gomez, a student from Angola still thinks Prague is a better option for South African universities and those in other European countries because of factors that override the increasing cost of living.

“I looked into South Africa, and was even offered a scholarship there, but I didn’t go more because of safety reasons. I chose Prague because it is one of the most affordable places to get a good education compared to other countries in Europe,” said Gomez.

Comparing Kosovo to Prague

For students with a more flexible budget, other reasons trump the rising costs in Prague. Speaking to Fjolla Cubolli, a student at Anglo-American University, she points out that her college options back home in Kosovo are on par in terms of tuition and standard but that she chose Prague because of its qualities. She says that despite Kosovo also experiencing inflation she’d still choose to study in Prague because of the city’s atmosphere, beauty, and student life.

A lecture room at Anglo-American University. The ‘romance’ of studying in a European country is often a sought after factor for international students.
A lecture room at Anglo-American University. The "romantic" side of studying in a European country is often a sought after factor for international students.

Ultimately, the affordability of Central and Eastern European countries for non-EU students depends on their home country's situation. While some on a tighter budget are looking for other countries in the region with lower living costs, those with greater financial flexibility prioritize Prague's unique charm, considering it worth the total expenses.

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