UK is Fifth Most Expensive Study Destination in the World | Top Universities

UK is Fifth Most Expensive Study Destination in the World

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Belkis Megraoui

Updated Oct 05, 2022



The UK is the Fifth Most Expensive Destination for UK Students to Attend in the World

New research from personal finance comparison site has revealed that the UK is the fifth most expensive destination for students to study in the world, following Canada in fourth place, Australia in third, New Zealand second, and the United States leading at number one.

While the minimum cost of a year’s tuition at a public university around the world averages £2,536, students in many European countries are paying less than half of this amount for their courses, at £1,000 per year. UK students at UK universities, however, are paying around a staggering four times more than their European counterparts, with yearly fees at the average university costing £9,250 for an undergraduate degree.

Many are questioning UK universities’ value for money, and ahead of Brexit, there have also been warnings that tuition fees may witness an even higher rise, which could send more students abroad to study for less.

So, is it all worth it? Or should you be saving up your pennies to study abroad for a lot less? Read on to find out more.

Overview of the 10 most expensive countries for UK students:

Top 10 countries in order of most expensive

Minimum yearly fees (in British Pound Sterling)

United States


New Zealand






United Kingdom


Hong Kong










More British students are choosing to study abroad instead

According to a 2018 article by the Independent, research revealed that half of students are considering studying abroad, due to ‘extortionate’ tuition fees at UK universities. The study of 750 students aged 16 and over discovered that seven in 10 of the participants consider the cost of higher education in the UK ‘too high’, while three in five also expressed fears concerning the possible rise in fees due to Brexit. 

Furthermore, the poll commissioned by foreign exchange specialists, Caxton, revealed that four in 10 believe studying abroad is likely to land them higher paid jobs upon graduation – in contrast, a mere 14 percent are confident studying in the UK would provide them with financial success in the long-run.

Following the statistics, however, Edward Gott, head of premier clients at Caxton, said: “It’s clear that an education overseas can offer a wealth of benefits, bringing financial rewards as well as opportunities for significant cultural enrichment.

“Although it might at first appear a daunting investment proposition, Brits can in fact save thousands of pounds by looking overseas to further their studies and reap the rewards as a result.”

Jon Ostler, UK CEO at Finder, also said that “The rise of technology and cheap flights has made the prospects of studying abroad much more realistic and less daunting than it was for previous generations”, adding that “a large amount of international courses are being taught in English, and if British students don’t feel like our universities offer them value for money, then they won’t hesitate to consider alternatives.

“However, something worth keeping an eye on is whether Brexit leads the UK to leave the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as the EU. In this scenario, it is likely that tuition fees for Brits would have to be negotiated with each country, increasing the likelihood that they might shoot up.

“Also bear in mind that traditional student loans aren’t available when studying abroad, although some countries do offer schemes to help foreign students fund their stay.”

Are UK universities good value for all they’re worth?

A survey in a 2018 report by the Independent has suggested that only one in three students think their tuition fees are good value for money, with the research from the Office for Students (OfS) also revealing that students become less confident about repaying their tuition fees and maintenance loans back as they get closer to joining the workforce. It reported that a majority of students (62 percent) don’t believe that their tuition fees are good value for money, although this varied depending on the degree.

The survey, which tested more than 60,000 students including recent graduates and school leavers, was published just weeks following the government’s announcement of its long-awaited review of university funding, with British Prime Minister Theresa May admitting that allowing universities to charge variable tuition fees – up to £9,250 a year – had left Britain with “one of the most expensive systems” in the world.

Some of the students who took part in the survey said they expect to be paying off the fees for the rest of their lives, and many expressed their dissatisfaction with the amount they’ll be required to spend from their own pockets throughout their studies; one student said: “We are required to print a lot of A3 pages, multiple times a year for presentations and hand-ins. We also need to buy our own equipment and materials for model making.

“Furthermore, we have yearly international study trips which are also very overpriced. If we were to pay for the exact same trip ourselves, it usually works out to be roughly half the price that we pay to the university.”

What are the alternatives?

Despite the increasing number of UK students choosing to study abroad in the US – according to an article by The Economist which revealed that the number of British students going to university in the US has witnessed a rise of up to a third since 2010 – the research by Finder found that the US is indeed the most expensive study destination in the world, with minimum tuition fees at public universities starting at a whopping £19,000 per year.

Naturally, higher education – whether it be abroad or at home – doesn’t only cover tuition fees but also living costs, which students are required to pay for via their own personal means; this includes monthly rent, as well as costs of study utilities such as textbooks and stationery. For UK students choosing to study at home, this can often add up to extortionately high costs which many are struggling to keep up with, even leading some to take extreme measures in order to make ends meet.

However, students may be relieved to know that options to study anywhere in Europe and the rest of the world are plentiful, and will save them having to cash out large sums for higher education. To help with this, Finder provides an interactive page which lists all global tuition costs for UK students, including an interactive map which comprises of the world’s most popular study destinations, and provides the cost of living in each country for detailed estimates of what students should expect to pay each year.  

A look into Finder’s interactive page suggests that attractive study destinations which handily charge little or no money, include Denmark (where studying is completely free of charge for EU students and over 700 courses are taught in English), France, with its famous capital Paris coming fifth in the QS Best Student Cities 2018 ranking and courses costing a mere £170, and the Netherlands, where it costs just £1,752 for a year’s study and 60 percent of courses are taught in English.

Other study-abroad options for free tuition and low yearly living costs include Malta (£9,426), Greece (£8,472), Brazil (£6,965), and Argentina (£6,535).


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