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Published:  18 Jan 2024

Studying in Europe's smallest cities

While you might not recognise their names, these small towns are academic heavyweights. Find out whether these universities might be a match for you.

Group of young diverse friends taking a selfie in a scenic city

Leuven, Belgium - population 100 000

With around 40 000 students registering every academic year, Leuven offers a rich cultural scene and a nightlife to match.

KU Leuven is one of the oldest universities in the world and in 2025 will celebrate 600 hundred years of existence. It is in the top 100 of many university global rankings.

The university has 15 faculties covering nearly all fields of research and education, including:

  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Biomedical Sciences

Salamanca, Spain - population 145 000

The city of Salamanca is a true architectural gem, with much of its historical centre classified as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Salamanca University was founded over 8 centuries ago and is the oldest Hispanic university. It is linked to many important historical figures, including Christopher Columbus, Beatriz Galindo and Miguel Cervantes.

Today, the university is world renowned for its programmes in humanities and language studies, especially for international students. It also has a network of centres for the research of cancer, neuroscience and pulsed lasers.

Heidelberg, Germany - population 160 000

This city is located on the banks of the Neckar River, in the south of Germany. It is home to Ruprecht Karl University, or Heidelberg University, founded in 1386 during the Holy Roman Empire.

Heidelberg University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and is affiliated with more than 50 Nobel Prize winners. It offers a wide range of scientific disciplines, with an emphasis on natural sciences and medicine, alongside humanities and social sciences.

The university welcomes many international students. Almost 30 000 students register every year, out of which more than 20% come from abroad.

Maastricht, the Netherlands – population 120 000

The city is at the southern tip of the Netherlands, in the heart of Europe. It is famous for its medieval architecture, thriving cultural scene and nightlife.

Maastricht University has an innovative education model, with a strong multidisciplinary approach to research and education. More than half of its student body is international.

Most of the programmes are taught in English, including bachelor’s degrees. While it offers a variety of research disciplines, Maastricht University is most notably known as one of the top schools in political economy.

Olomouc, Czech Republic – population 100 000

Olomouc is the quintessential university town, having the highest density of student population in Central Europe.

Located on the banks of Morava River and surrounded by beautiful nature, Olomouc is home to the Palacky University.

With a history of over 450 years, the university offers international study opportunities, summers schools and traineeships for many of its faculties.

Curious to find more interesting European study destinations?

Published:  18 Jan 2024