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How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK?

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK? main image

UK tuition fees are frequently a source of controversy, with prices having risen to eye-watering levels for home students (UK/EU) in recent years. Now, UK and EU students at English universities are required to pay up to £9,250 (~US$13,050) per year. 

International undergraduate tuition fees vary considerably, starting at around £10,000 (~US$14,130) and going up to £38,000 (~US$53,700) or more for medical degrees. At all levels, humanities and social sciences degrees tend to cost the least, while laboratory and clinical degree programs are markedly more expensive, but when you combine these fees with the average cost of living in the UK, around £12,200 (~US$16,950) per year, then it can be hard to see how it’s possible to study in the UK without it costing you a small fortune. The total average cost of studying in the UK is estimated to be at least £22,200 (~US$31,380) per year, with studying in London likely to be significantly more expensive.

While these costs may be daunting, remember that most UK universities offer shorter programs compared to countries such as the US (three years for the average undergraduate degree instead of four, and one year for a master’s degree instead of two), so you may be able to subtract a year's worth of fees and living costs from your total budget.

If these figures haven’t been enough to put you off studying in the UK, here’s a closer look at what you’ll be spending your money on, and how Brexit may affect your costs.

Students’ cost of living in the UK

Study in the UK

Current UK student visa requirements stipulate that you must have at least £1,015 (~US$1,435) in your bank account for each month you plan to stay in the UK anywhere outside of London. This works out as £12,180 (~US$17,200) per year.

If you wish to study in London, you’ll need to budget considerably more - at least £1,265 (~US$1,800) per month, the equivalent of £15,180 (~US$21,500) a year.  

When you’re here, you can make the cost of living in the UK more affordable by taking advantage of student discounts – for example, students in London can get an 18+ Student Oyster photocard, giving you 30 percent off travelcards and bus/tram season tickets, and students all over the country can apply for an NUS Extra Card for a small fee.

One other way to beat the banker and make your money go further is to study somewhere in the UK where the cost of living is cheaper. According to the Natwest Student Living Index 2017, Welsh capital Cardiff is the most affordable city for students in the UK, followed in the top three by Aberdeen in Scotland, and Durham in north-east England.


Most students live in university halls of residence in their first year before moving into rented private accommodation in their following years. Many universities offer both self-catered and catered halls of residence, with food included in the price of rent for the latter.

The biggest difference in the cost of living in London compared to the rest of the UK is in rent, with University College London (UCL) estimating accommodation expenses of £8,073 (~US$11,400) per academic year (nine months/39 weeks). However, you may be able to find more affordable accommodation in university halls or a flat share.

The results of Save the Student’s National Student Accommodation Survey 2017 found that students spend an average of £125 (~US$175) per week on rent in the UK – with a huge regional variation: students in Northern Ireland spent only £91 (~US$129) a week, which is exactly half the amount spent by those in London (£182/US$257). Unless bills are included, you’ll probably spend a further £70 per month (~US$100) on bills for utilities and the internet.

Other average living costs in the UK

  • A weekly food shop will likely cost you about £30/$42, and a meal in a pub or restaurant can be about £12/$17
  • Depending on your course, you’ll likely spend at least £30 a month on books and other course materials
  • Your mobile phone bill is likely to be at least £15/$22 a month
  • Gym membership costs roughly £32/$45 a month, but you may be able to get a student discount
  • A typical night out (outside of London) costs about £30/$42 in total
  • In terms of entertainment, if you want to watch TV in your room, you need a TV license – this is £147 (~US$107) per year. A cinema ticket costs roughly £10/$14
  • Depending on your spending habits, you might spend £35-55 (US$49-77) or so on clothing each month

UK tuition fees – UK/EU students

University of Cambridge

There are two levels of tuition fees at publicly funded UK universities: home student fees (including EU students) and international student fees. For home students, institutions in England can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 (~US$13,050) per year for undergraduate degree programs. In Wales, the maximum fee is £9,000 (~US$12,700), while in Northern Ireland the limit is £4,160 (~US$5,900) for EU and Northern Irish students, and up to £9,250 for students from the rest of the UK.

In Scotland, an undergraduate degree is effectively free for students from Scotland and the EU. This is thanks to a subsidy from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). The SAAS also offers a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 (~US$7,770) for home postgraduate students.

It should be noted that the Scottish definition of “home” student differs slightly, in that it doesn’t include students from the rest of the UK – i.e. England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Students from the rest of the UK who want to undertake an undergraduate degree in Scotland will pay up to £9,250 a year.

There’s also good news for students from Wales, who only need to pay £3,900 (~US$5,500) per year in UK tuition fees to study anywhere in the UK, with the rest covered by the Welsh government.

Postgraduate tuition fees vary significantly, depending on the university and the subject. Home students may be able to receive some funding from one of the UK’s research councils, the university itself, or via a career sponsorship scheme.

UK tuition fees – international students

For international students, undergraduate fees for 2017/18 started at around £10,000 (US$14,130) for lecture-based courses, going up to £38,000 (~US$53,700) or more for a top undergraduate medical degree. You can view the 10 most affordable universities for international undergraduates here.

At postgraduate level, international fees for classroom-based programs in 2017/18 started at around £11,000 (~US$15,545) and went up to £32,000 (~US$45,200). For laboratory-based programs, average annual fees vary from £12,000 (~US$16,940) to £27,200 (~US$38,400). You can view the most affordable UK universities for international postgraduates here.

UK scholarships and student funding

UK Scholarships

Home (UK/EU) students are eligible for loans, grants and other forms of funding to cover their UK tuition fees, with differing amounts of funding depending on location. While student loans for home students tend to cover all tuition fees, the additional loan to cover the cost of living in the UK often falls short of the amount actually needed. In the 2017/18 academic year, the maximum living loan was UK£8,430 (~$11,900) for students outside London and up to £11,002 (~US$15,500) for those who study in London. In both cases, this is likely to be a few thousand pounds short of your annual living expenses.

Undergraduate home students at private UK universities (of which there are only three) can still apply for tuition fee loans for most courses, as well as maintenance loans and maintenance grants. However, the tuition fee loan might not cover the full amount.

A large range of scholarships to study in the UK are also offered by the government, individual universities, independent organizations and various charities. The Education UK website provides an overview of scholarships available from the British Council and other organizations. It is also worth checking to see what scholarships and support schemes are available from the government and other organizations in your own country.

Prominent UK scholarships for international students include:

  • Chevening Scholarships – Government-funded UK scholarships open to outstanding students with leadership potential from around the world, to study at postgraduate level at accredited UK universities.
  • Marshall Scholarships – Scholarships for high-achieving US students to study in the UK.
  • Commonwealth Scholarships and fellowships – UK scholarships offered by member governments to citizens of other Commonwealth countries.

UK scholarships are more widely available at postgraduate level, with relatively few offered for undergraduate students. However, always check with your chosen university, as support is often available for exceptional undergraduate students.

For a longer list of prominent international scholarships to study in the UK, see this article. For advice on scholarship applications, download our guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad

What impact will Brexit have?

The UK’s decision to exit the European Union (Brexit) means many EU students are concerned that their tuition fees could increase. However, there’s no sign the government plans to increase fees yet. In fact, so far many UK universities have pledged to keep tuition fees fixed at the same rate for current EU students for the duration of their course. It’s also been confirmed that EU students enrolling at UK universities in autumn 2018 will remain eligible for the same fees and financial aid as domestic students throughout their course, regardless of when the UK actually leaves the EU. Likewise, the Scottish government has confirmed that EU students undertaking an undergraduate program in Scotland in the 2018-2019 academic year will be charged no tuition fees throughout their course.

This article was originally published in October 2013. It was most recently updated in February 2018.

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Written by Jane Playdon
Jane Playdon is a author and blogger.

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Dear Jane,
I want a medical visa as I wanna study medical in UK. Could u pls guide me with the procedure, the cost, and other information?? I would be really grateful....

Dear Jane,
My questions are seemingly quiet different to a general student. I would love to start my studies in natural sciences in this year. Bachelor level. Never too late( am 39yrs old). I am working part time and I would like to keep this job too for the financial issues. I am living in England (Worcester Park)but am Hungarian citizen. I would prefer sit in classes rather then online studies. Could I have some advice about what kind of opportunities I could have to do my studies please? I am feeling lost a bit by surfing on the internet for correct information for my case.

I want to study in england how to joint it

Hello, please have a look at our complete guide on how to study abroad in the UK

Hi Jane I'm from India and wanted to know what is the annual fees for under graduate studies and living cost per year

Hi Jane, my daughter is 16 and has lived in the UK for the past 15 years. We all have German passports. With Brexit on the way, does this mean that when she goes to university in 2019 that she will be considered an international student and have to pay international student fees?

Hi Jane, my daughter would like to study medicine in the Uk, she is a British Citizen but has live most of her life in the USA, would she be consider as a international student?

Hi my son just received an offer from University of Glasgow but they are assessing him as overseas. He is a British Citizen but has lived in Italy since he was 4 years ol.d. I thought that this would classify him under paying EU national fees since he's been in Italy for the past 3 years. Could you clarify this? I need to write them back and let them know if they have him in the wrong classification.

Hi Gina, yes, it definitely sounds like your son has been given the wrong fee status, and he should be classed as an EU student. 

Hi ,
Im a Mauritian and im interested in accounting and finance.
So could you help me out for the semester fees and living costs ?

What finances do i show for the tier 4 visa if I am availing a bank loan?

So I'm a British citizen,and have lived in England from when I was born to the age of 8 years old . I moved to India,and lived there till the age of 16. I have moved back straight after my 16th birthday,and by the time I go to uni,I'll have been living here for 2.5 years(excluding the 8 years i spent here after I was born)
Will I be classified an international or home student?

Hi Rakesh, generally you will need to have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of your course. However, you could contact your university to double check whether you're classified as an international or home student. 

I want to know the English language requirement for under graduation and post graduation for study in UK

I want to study in England bs electrical engneering. I have 28000 euro. i s this enough or more money required

Hi Zafar, I'm afraid I can't really answer your question, due to the immense variety between course fees - you'll need to check the official website/s of the UK universities you're interested in to get an estimate of the course fees for your year of study.

You'll also need at least the equivalent of £12,000 for living costs unless you study in London, which is notoriously more expensive! If you find you need a little help with financing your studies, you could try applying for a scholarship - we've listed a range of scholarships to study in the UK here and you could also consider applying for the QS Undergraduate Scholarship. Hope this helps!

What if an international student (outside of EU) goes to high school in England? Will he/she be considered as home or international student?

Hello everyone,
I'm a British citizen but i was born and raised abroad, and did my bachelors abroad as well, I'm considering going for a postgraduate degree in the UK but wondering whether I'll be considered an international student or a home student despite the fact that I haven't been educated in the UK..
Kindly advise

Hi Raghda, fee status is based on residence rather than nationality, and you typically need to have resided in the UK for at least three years before the start of your course to be considered a home student, although these requirements vary between universities. I think you'll probably be classed as an international student, but you could double check this by contacting the international offices of the universities you're interested in. Hope this helps.

I would like to ask you about some information regarding the European student living outside Europe.
I am a Jordanian citizen and I have a Hungarian residence permit so am I considered to pay International student fee (UK£11,987) or European student fee (UK£9,000) ?

Hi Ahmed, I am not sure in this case - I think it would depend on how long you've been resident in Hungary and whether your relevant family members are EU nationals. I'd recommend getting in touch with the UK universities you're interested in to find out which fee status you would be classed as. 

I am Brazilian and I was accepted into a master's program at UAL and I would like to know if there are loan options for foreigners stunds in the UK.

<p>There are times that we encounter the hardness of life emotionally, spiritually and sometimes financially. During financial constraints we have lots of choices however some of it is complicated. The best way, there are still good people who are willing to help other during this tough circumstance. On top of that, eliminating payday cash advances would mean many people would end up with no way to get help once in a while.&nbsp;</p>

It is much more expensive to study in UK or in USA what I expected but I would prefer a scholarship for undergraduate studies. Now I just want to know what I need to do to get the scholarship to study in UK or USA.