Studying In The UK: Financial FAQs
There are more than 600,000 international students studying in the UK right now. In fact, it’s home to the second-biggest international student population of any country in the world, after the US. And it’s easy to see why — the current top ten universities in the world are based in these two countries.
But the UK’s popularity as an international student destination also makes it an expensive place to study. While fees for UK students are capped, there’s no limit to how much universities can charge international students for tuition. The most popular courses at the most prestigious universities can cost more than £50,000 (USD $56,400) per year.
So is there financial aid available for international students in the UK? And where can you find it? Find out all the answers to UK study finance FAQs here.
Is it expensive to study in the UK? How much does it cost?
Compared with domestic study in most countries, it is expensive to go to uni in the UK. Many European countries have cheaper study programmes for overseas students. Germany and Norway even offer free tuition for international students.
The cost can prevent some international students from applying for places in the UK. But fortunately there is some financial support available for those who can’t pay the tuition fees upfront.
Which courses are most expensive in the UK?
Lab-based courses like medicine, veterinary science, dentistry, and science subjects are usually the most expensive. Humanities subjects like art, history, and modern languages are often cheaper.
Are study costs the same in all UK countries?
No. University tuition fees are regulated by the devolved governments of the UK — which means the rules are different in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
In general, the harder it is to get into a university, the higher the fees. As an example, here are the international tuition fees for an undergraduate business degree at the top-ranked universities in each country for 2023 entry:
- University of Oxford (England): £37,280
- University of Edinburgh (Scotland): £24,500
- Cardiff University (Wales): £18,400*
- Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland): £18,800
*2022 fees; 2023 entry fees unavailable.
Paying for tuition: scholarships, loans, and bursaries
How much does tuition cost at UK universities?
The current tuition fee caps for domestic students are:
- England: £9,250
- Scotland: £1,820 (usually paid for by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland)
- Wales: £9,250
- Northern Ireland: £4,630
These caps apply to all UK citizens, or EU citizens residing in the country for at least 3 years before the start of their study programme.
For other international students, there are no fee caps, so you’ll usually pay much more than this. Fees are usually lower in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Can I get a scholarship to study in the UK?
Yes. There are lots of scholarships available for international students at all levels, whether you’re an undergraduate, postgraduate, or doctoral student.
Search for a scholarship that applies to you on the British Council website.
What funding can I get to study in the UK?
As well as scholarships, there are other funding options available to overseas students.
- Travel grants — some international students can apply for grants from the UK government. You don’t have to pay these back
- Home government funding — some governments will pay for you to study in the UK — for example, 75 new scholarships for Indian students have recently been announced
- Private organisations — some companies will pay for you to complete a study programme in the UK
- Loans — if necessary, you can borrow money to pay for your tuition fees.
Can international students apply for a UK student loan?
Student Finance provides loans to domestic students and some EU students. International students from outside the EU aren’t usually eligible to apply for a Student Finance loan.
EU students may be able to apply if they have settled status in the UK, or they’ve lived here for at least 3 years before their course starts.
Living expenses in the UK
Is it more expensive to study in London?
London is the most expensive place to live in the UK. If you’re applying for a student visa, you need to be able to prove you can support yourself while you study here. In 2023, you must have proof of income or finances equating to £1,334 per month if you’re attending a London university. Outside London, you must show you have at least £1,023 per month.
Tuition fees for international students are also often higher in London than in other places around the UK.
Can I get a student loan to cover the cost of living in the UK?
If you’re an EU citizen, you may be eligible for a student loan if you already live in the UK. Other international students can’t usually apply for a student loan.
Other finance companies may offer you a loan to pay for your education. Repayments on these loans normally start immediately, rather than when you’ve completed your course.
Staying in the UK
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
If you’re from outside the UK and don’t have settled status or indefinite leave to remain, you’ll probably need a study visa to attend university in the UK.
It costs £363 to apply for a student visa from outside the UK, or £490 to extend or switch to a student visa from inside the UK.
Learn more about the different types of UK visas.
What is the health surcharge and do I need to pay it?
If you’re studying on a student visa, you’ll need to pay the health surcharge. This entitles you to NHS treatment while you’re in the UK. The current health surcharge for a student costs £470 per year based on how long you’re permitted to stay in the UK.
What other costs do I need to consider when studying in the UK?
As well as tuition costs and the everyday cost of living, you also need to consider:
- Accommodation — many universities provide accommodation at an additional cost
- Travel — think about how you’ll get to and from campus (e.g. using public transport or buying and running a car)
- Insurance — make sure you have appropriate medical insurance in case of emergencies while in the UK
- Study abroad programmes — your course may require you to study at a partner university for a year.
How to plan for your child’s education
Studying in the UK is a dream for many students — and their families. Investing in your child’s education is a key way to build intergenerational wealth, giving them the knowledge to support themselves now and in the future.
If you’re planning ahead for your child’s future education, find out how money clubs can help your family.