Best computer science schools in Europe?

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Xcrypt 101 Dec 10, 2011 at 13:59

I’d like to go study computer science.

I have studied two years of a game development course, to come to the conclusion that I’ve just completely wasted my time. I want to program games, but instead most of the time I have to do art/3D or some kind of stupid design courses. On top of that, the only thing we learn in programming, is not really how to program, but how to work with third-party software (Nvidia physics, UDK, Unity, XNA, …).

Anyway, all the ranting aside, I’d like to go study computer science.

First I thought to myself “Let’s go to the best comp sci school in the world! Stanford!” Until I came to the sad conclusion that in order to study there, I have to pay more than 12500 euros for only a month or 3. We really can’t afford that…

So I’m wondering, could anyone give me the name of some really good comp-sci universities, that are affordable? Around \~12500 euros max for a year instead of a couple of months…

I live in Belgium, so it would be a good thing for me if I could go to England/Netherlands or somewhere else in the EU. But if none are real good, I guess the US is still an option…

Thanks.

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Mihail121 102 Dec 10, 2011 at 14:15

Everything in Europe except the UK is quite affordable. When it comes down to studying, at least in my eyes, it’s not so much the university that’s important (since they all teach the basics in more or less an universal way), but your own motivation to study and your interest in the subject. I will give you an example: I studied and currently work as a scientific assistant at the University of Potsdam, a historical city 20km away from Berlin. It’s not a mass university and a semester costs about 300 EUR in total (you get a transportation ticket included in that price). The educational level is not bad at all, German universities are known for being quite good for engineering disciplines. So the level is excellent, BUT it’s more theoretical than practical. If you want more practice you will have to take care of that yourself by, for instance, means of an internship at a local company. As a coworker at that said university I also have the option of judging from a different perspective and I am honestly quite satisfied. I don’t understand how Stanford could top that by a percentage so large as to justify the different in the price.

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Xcrypt 101 Dec 10, 2011 at 14:24

@Mihail121

Everything in Europe except the UK is quite affordable. When it comes down to studying, at least in my eyes, it’s not so much the university that’s important (since they all teach the basics in more or less an universal way), but your own motivation to study and your interest in the subject. I will give you an example: I studied and currently work as a scientific assistant at the University of Potsdam, a historical city 20km away from Berlin. It’s not a mass university and a semester costs about 300 EUR in total (you get a transportation ticket included in that price). The educational level is not bad at all, German universities are known for being quite good for engineering disciplines. So the level is excellent, BUT it’s more theoretical than practical. If you want more practice you will have to take care of that yourself by, for instance, means of an internship at a local company. As a coworker at that said university I also have the option of judging from a different perspective and I am honestly quite satisfied. I don’t understand how Stanford could top that by a percentage so large as to justify the different in the price.

I’m not afraid of doing self-study or practice. In fact I probably work like 100 hours a week on avg with probably 40 hours of that being self-study.
I just want to go to a university where the professors actually understand what they are saying, and can explain it well, and where I don’t have to correct my own teacher all the time (seriously…)

So you’re basically saying that even in Belgium I can find a good university?

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Mihail121 102 Dec 10, 2011 at 14:47

@Xcrypt

I’m not afraid of doing self-study or practice. In fact I probably work like 100 hours a week on avg with probably 40 hours

You’ll never manage that. I myself was quite motivated and used to do about 70 with 35 self study which is possible if you sleep about 4-5 hours, but you’ll start dropping weight fast..

@Xcrypt

I just want to go to a university where the professors actually understand what they are saying, and can explain it well, and where I don’t have to correct my own teacher all the time (seriously…) So you’re basically saying that even in Belgium I can find a good university?

Then Potsdam/Berlin will be the place for you, but it doesn’t hold for everyone from the chairholders of course. Advantages: not a mass university, you have a chance of knowing everyone by name and they will also know you if you do your work. So it’s quite easy to get noticed and receive proper training if you are exceptional.

You can probably find something in Belgium as well, yes, have you looked around? In my field Belgium has a significant reputation :)

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Xcrypt 101 Dec 10, 2011 at 15:05

Well, I know some univeristies in Belgium that do computer science, but Belgium is not exactly known for being that exceptional in anything with computers. Also, I’m not sure how to compare the different universities with each other? How can I know what ones are good, other than relying on opinions from other people?

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Mihail121 102 Dec 10, 2011 at 15:10

@Xcrypt

Well, I know some univeristies in Belgium that do computer science, but Belgium is not exactly known for being that exceptional in anything with computers. Also, I’m not sure how to compare the different universities with each other? How can I know what ones are good, other than relying on opinions from other people?

No other way of course, such large organizations are extremely difficult to be compared. I would try to find out some specialized forums or IRC channels. Just post your requirements and people will eventually respond as I did. Other than that you’ll have to open their webpages (of the computer science institutes that is) and take your time to read what they teach and how they teach it. Here for example is the web page of my department: http://www.cs.uni-potsdam.de/ In about 2 days per university you can get a really good picture.

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Xcrypt 101 Dec 10, 2011 at 15:32

In your uni, would I have to learn German to study there, or do they give English courses too? Not that I mind learning German… but if it’s not necessary it’s not necessary :)

Thx for the tips, I’ll look around some more

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Mihail121 102 Dec 10, 2011 at 15:37

@Xcrypt

In your uni, would I have to learn German to study there, or do they give English courses too? Not that I mind learning German… but if it’s not necessary it’s not necessary :) Thx for the tips, I’ll look around some more

Yeah, you should know German, but I’m also not saying that my university is the one. Just giving an example that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get nice education. If you are ready to invest time in reading stuff then you will be fine pretty much everywhere, given that you have access to the professors (not a mass university) and they are interested in their own work (nothing doing it for $$$).

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roel 101 Dec 10, 2011 at 21:39

@Xcrypt

So you’re basically saying that even in Belgium I can find a good university?

I don’t get you at all. I have the impression that you have no clue how your own country or educational system works. Where do you think the majority of your fellow top-engineer-scientist-Belgians were educated? Belgium isn’t a third world country, come on.

For the Netherlands: all universities are about equal, no employer cares where you went. But universities are specialized at certain disciplines though. Some Belgians study at my univ., not because of your “inferior” educational system, but simply because the study (aerospace engineering) is not taught at any Belgium university.

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Xcrypt 101 Dec 10, 2011 at 23:51

I know Belgium is not bad at all, but it’s not really up to par with US/UK. At least that’s what I’m hearing. And I’m not talking about engineering in general. I’m talking comp-sci specific.

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roel 101 Dec 11, 2011 at 23:16

I don’t know if you’re hearing the right things. Or giving it the correct interpretation. If the Google or Facebook founders would have been Belgian, would you judge the Belgian comp-sci education differently? Or: Edsger Dijkstra was Dutch, so do I live in a hq comp-sci country now? Or: the majority of the government’s ICT projects in the NL fail, do I live in a lq comp-sci country now?

I know that KU Leuven’s computer graphics group produces several publications at quality conferences like SIGGRAPH and Eurographics. I bet that most of those people studied comp-sci in Belgium. Eric Lafortune is one of the people “produced” by Leuven - not exactly the least important person in CG. (I’m a computer graphics guy, I can only provide cg examples).

And something to boost your confidence as bonus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Belgian_computer_scientists

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Vilem_Otte 117 Dec 12, 2011 at 09:26

Actually it doesn’t matter that much if you’re on the best uni for CS, or on an average. Half of the stuff you learn will be useless, and the rest are just basics - you’ll learn most by actually working and self-studying. ;)

E.g. university might give you right directions in programming, but it will never learn a thing - you will still have to do it. So generally it doesn’t matter if you’re on best CS uni, or on any other - to be a “good programmer” you will have to work yourself.