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3 European study destinations for African students — and how to get there

African students
European countries may hold great potential for African students. Source: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

As more African students seek universities overseas, education hubs in the European Union (EU) are rising in appeal. Affordability and accessibility are two main drawing points of countries like France, Italy, and Germany. A Campus France publication on the international mobility of African students reported a 16% increase in African students since 2013, exhibiting an increased appetite for higher education abroad. Most of these students came from Nigeria, Morocco, Cameroon, Algeria, and Tunisia; 43% chose to go to countries in the EU.

If you’re part of this growing group considering an education in the EU, you should know about the Schengen Visa. African students must obtain a Schengen Visa to study in countries within this zone, which include the three listed below. This visa type allows citizens from outside the EU to enter 26 European countries; you may stay in and travel within the zone for up to three months. Students will need proof of enrolment, a no-objection certification from their university, and advertisements to apply for a visa, among other documents.

For courses longer than 90 days, you will need a student visa from the country itself. Check out three countries where you may obtain a student visa.

African students

An aerial view of the River Seine and the landmark Tour Eiffel in Paris on July 7, 2019. Source: Eric Feferberg/AFP

France

If you combined all the French-speaking countries in Africa, they would form an area larger than the United States. African students from countries like Congo, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast would have an advantage when applying for a visa to France. The country recently started accepting student visa applications online, too.

If you are from these countries, you must apply for a French student visa via EEF procedure: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Togo. African students from here are eligible for a short-stay visa (for courses under three months) or a long-stay visa.

Plus, the laws in France allow student visa holders to work part-time for up to 20 hours a week. With an hourly minimum wage of US$10, you can make at least US$800 monthly working while studying. Check out Campus France for more details on getting a student visa.

African students

A view shows the Colosseum monument in Rome on March 27, 2021 before the lights are turned off for Earth Hour. Source: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Italy

Did you know that Italy is the world’s seventh-largest economy? It is home to some of the world’s oldest universities — pioneering institutions in the fields of humanities, medicine, economics, and architecture. Plus, tuition is affordable and living costs are low. Masters Portal estimates that postgraduate students spend under 2,000 euros on public university tuition annually, and survive on 600 to 1,000 euros a month in student cities like Pisa, Padua, and Turin.

According to Study in Italy, non-EU citizens must apply for a student visa at the Italian consulate of their jurisdiction. African students (and all other non-EU citizens) must apply for a residence permit in the city they will be living within eight working days after your arrival; you can apply at the city post office. Here’s the full list of what you’ll need to apply.

African students

The Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg or Nuernberger Burg) is a landmark of Nuremberg, southern Germany. Source: Christof Stache/AFP

Germany

A leader in technology and automotive studies, Germany offers a pretty sweet deal for international students. See, once you’re fluent in German, you can study in a public university without paying tuition fees. This model is sure to attract more ambitious, skilled African students in time to come.

Depending on your studies, you will need either a student visa (if you’ve secured a spot in a university), a student applicant visa (if you need to be in Germany to apply), or a language course visa. Besides that, you will need a student residence permit to live in Germany. You can get this at the local Resident’s Office. See more of what you’ll require on the official website.