How to get a Free Degree!

University has been the ticket into the white collar world since the inception of capitalism. Of course – there are other, normally more difficult, ways to gain entry into this world, but needing the ‘checkbox’ of a degree is still becoming ever more prevalent in the industry. 

Student loans are too expensive, even with tuition fees rising by three times in 2012, you still need that little 3-word line on your CV that says; University degree – achieved.

I don’t plan on paying for my kids to go to university, why? Spending money on your children is the wrong way to distribute your wealth, for one. But there are other, more specific reasons why I’m against the notion.

A Bachelor’s Degree in Growing Up

I’m grateful for my university degree. Whilst living away from home, not only did I meet my beautiful wife to be (in the first week), I also earned a degree in ‘growing up’. 

University halls are kind of like unconventional boot camps for teenagers. You live your first year in squalor, eating nothing but bacon sandwiches made in the most unhygienic kitchens, wandering aimlessly around the crack-den-esque hallways and listening to non-stop drum and bass by your resident DJ, whilst completely decimating your own sleep cycle.

But, somehow, you realise that you can’t live like this forever and in the process, you learn; how to wash your clothes, do your food shopping, socialise in a normal way, and interact with other people. 

You eventually (kind of) learn how to be a functioning member of society. 

Your Entry into the Club

I’m grateful that getting a degree gave me the ‘entrance stamp’ into my white-collar job as a software engineer. Without it, I wouldn’t have landed the job which I currently have, it’s so corporate that they simply reject anyone without a degree. It’s a requirement, not a nice-to-have.

I would have undoubtedly still been able to land a general software engineering job at some point, I just would have had to climb the corporate rungs a lot slower. I’ve known very few colleagues in my career who haven’t got at least an undergraduate degree, and I know they worked extra hard to get to where they were.

Pure Selfishness, or Liberalism?

Even though I am thankful for my degree, I don’t actually believe in them. I gained more relevant technical skills in just 2 weeks on my first engineering job than I did in a whole 3 years at university.

What I do believe is that degrees (most of them) are actually a disguised form of tax for the white collar worker. A way for capitalism’s gears to keep on turning. Revenue from Universities in the UK for the year of 2016/17 was a staggering 44.27bn. It’s no wonder that they want corporations to insist on you needing one.

The most beneficial skills I learned from my ‘degree’ were how to live independently. However, these same skills could have been gained from any number of other expeditions, ones that don’t require the burden of a lifetime debt.

Do you Really need a Degree? 

You can still earn a very good salary at home with matched betting and other entrepreneurial pursuits. As technology advancements continue, the entrepreneurial mindset will undoubtedly increase. And if there is one thing that an entrepreneur doesn’t need, it’s a certificate stating where they studied. Entrepreneurs care about determination, being good at what they do, and getting results, not superfluous pats on the back.

But the world hasn’t changed for the better just yet, unfortunately, for certain careers, you still need to obtain that little (but expensive) piece of paper.

How to get a Degree for Free

There are ways to avoid burdening yourself or your children with huge amounts of debt, and FIRE might help you to do it!

Moving to Scotland can bag you a free degree. Scotland is the only place in the United Kingdom which gives its residents a free education. They also house some of the best universities in the country such as the University of Edinburgh.

All you’ll need to do is move there 3 years before your kids are set to go to university and then they will qualify for free tuition. You’ll also benefit from extremely low house prices in some really beautiful places.

Fancy this castle?

If you’re from elsewhere in the EU (not England, Northern Ireland or Wales), you don’t even need to live in Scotland for 3 years to qualify for free tuition, you can just go there to study!

For the people who are from England, Wales or Northern Island and aren’t able to move to Scotland for 3 years, don’t worry – there are still plenty of options for you.

UK Students can currently go to 11 different EU countries to get a free degree, take your pick from the list below:












You can even pop over to France and study for as little as £158 per year. That’s the cheapest student loan you’ll ever get!

Damn, I’m annoyed that I didn’t know about this back when I was searching for a university, me and my partner wracked up a huge 70k worth of debt between us. We could have had a massive kick start in saving for financial independence if we’d been a little smarter, and we would have got to experience a new culture too.


So, why am I not paying for my kids to go to University? Because they shouldn’t need a piece of paper to prove their worth, but if they did, they should be able to get it for free anyway!

What are your views on paying for your child’s education?


8 thoughts on “How to get a Free Degree!

  1. Interesting post. Personally only think worth it now for medicine, law etc. as so expensive. Not sure plug for betting is an answer I think young need path to high paying career if they want to progress.

  2. It seems that any country is better to study than UK (except Scotland). Most of the EU countries have fees much lower than UK and some of them have English speaking population – the Netherlands is perfect example so you don’t really need to take any trade offs

  3. I love learning and I’ve already done two undergraduate degrees. As a result I can see myself doing more when I FIRE. I also want to spend some time living abroad so I can see these two things working very well…especially in some of the countries you have listed.

    In terms of my kids, I think that regardless of its intrinsic value a degree is going to continue to be a badge for many employers. Whether they like it or not, if they want to work in a large number of areas, they are going to have to suck it up and get a degree….however as you say, that doesn’t necessarily involve them having to pay for it!

  4. I have to say that the most I got out of my 4 years of university was ‘growing up’ and becoming happy and confident being ‘me’. I did get a year’s work experience too, which gave me entry into ‘office work’.

    I went to uni with only half a dozen others in my 6th form and that was when it was free! Most people back then just went straight into work – only the few went to uni (well, in state schools anyway). Today, most young people go to uni, all accruing debt and soon, it’ll only be the ones who get first class degrees who will get the good jobs.

    1. Glad to see it’s not only me Weenie 🙂 Interesting about the first class degrees. Maybe it’s because so many people have them these days that they may as well demand a top score?

      1. Hi SavingsNinja,

        I’m enjoying following your blog. Congratulations on your marriage!! And also for breaking the 100k barrier! Your savings rate is an inspiration. As is your blog generally. 🙂

        Anyway, I enjoyed your thinking outside of the box on this one – studying abroad and the worth of a degree. It must be so frustrating to have so much debt; it’s hard to imagine myself as I am from the days of no tuition fees. But as someone working in higher education, I just wanted to add a couple of quick comments (sorry, I realise a bit ‘late’).

        First, as we’ll no longer be in the EU soon, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to study for free in these countries in the future (sadly). With the exception of Scotland (for now, at least). Things are also up in the air with the Eramsus scheme, which has traditionally attracted grant funding and a great way for students from low income backgrounds to experience learning in a different way. I find this all pretty sad,.

        Second, you’re right, the HE sector is struggling; studying has become so expensive and school leavers understandably don’t want to pay for something that may not help them earn more. I have my own mixed feelings about the HE sector, yet I do believe that uni study has more societal value than simply increased earnings. Plus for many employers, it’s the reputation of the uni that is what symbolises something. So, you can get your degree online or in a European country, but the degree itself is a bit meaningless if the individual assessing the job application can’t place it in context. A 2i degree in some random European country or a British uni with a good reputation for your discipline/field still means something about the person’s potential? Maybe this doesn’t reflect your own experience, but at least, I hope so!

        1. Hi Firelite,

          Thanks for your comment, great to hear from an educational professional 🙂

          You’re right there about leaving the EU, that sucks 🙁

          I’ve never felt I have needed a specific higher grade University reputation in my field as a software engineer. I’m unsure if this is because of the type of work? Some people I work with don’t even have degrees, they’re just awesome programmers (although they’re generally older). Programming is so easy to demonstrate how good (or shit) you are, you basically just need something to make it into the interview to show that you know how to code.

          Working in London maybe has a lot to do with this too, as there is so much demand. Maybe if you were a lawyer or something, where you got your degree would matter more?

          1. Totally. My hubby is a software engineer too. He says there’s lots of good self taught people he works with though also lots who don’t do things properly, but I pretend to know what he means!

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