What is The Educational Cost to Study in The UK?

The United Kingdom is a major destination for students. Students love to study in the UK because of its high-quality research techniques and standard teaching methods.

However, studying in the UK is quite expensive. If you intend to study in the UK and wish to have a wonderful study experience abroad, you need to plan your budget carefully. Your research should not be limited to London alone because there are lots of affordable degree programs in other parts of the country. The tuition fee in Wales, England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland is totally different.

Based on the Reddin Survey of University Tuition Fees, UK and EU students at UK universities are required to pay up to £9,250 (~US$13,050) annually. International undergraduate tuition fees differ, ranging from around  £10,000 (~US$14,130) and going up to £38,000 (~US$53,700). Medical degrees even pay more.

Degrees in humanities and social sciences are the least expensive for all levels, while laboratory and medical degree programs are more expensive. If you combine these fees with the average cost of living in the UK, which is around £12,200 (~US$16,950) annually, then you will know that studying in the UK will cost you a small fortune.

Generally, the average total cost of studying in the UK is estimated to be ranging from £22,200 (~US$31,380) annually. Studying in London is estimated to be more expensive.

These fees might look shocking and outrageous but note that most UK universities offer shorter programs compared to countries like the United States (three years for the average undergraduate degree rather than four, and one year for a master’s degree rather than two). This means that you may be able to minus a year worth of fees and living costs from your budget.

If you still feel that the figures above are not expensive, here’s a closer look at what you will be spending your money on, and how Brexit can manipulate your costs.

Cost of Living in The UK For Students

First and foremost, the present UK student visa requirements specify that you must have a minimum of £1,015 (~US$1,435) in your bank account for each month you intend to stay and study in the UK anywhere outside of London. Total is £12,180 (~US$17,200) annually.

Cost of living is more expensive in London, your budget should be around £1,265 (~US$1,800) per month, which in total is £15,180 (~US$21,500) annually.

Student discounts can help reduce the cost of living in the UK, for instance, students in London can purchase an 18+ Student Oyster photocard, which comes with a 30% off travelcards and bus/tram season tickets, students all over the country can apply for an NUS Extra Card for a small fee.

Another way to reduce the cost of studying in the UK is to study somewhere where the cost is relatively low. Cardiff, the Welsh Capital, is the most affordable city for students in the UK, Aberdeen in Scotland, and Durham in north-east England made up the top three.


Most students live in the university hostels in their initial year before moving into rented accommodation in the following years. Most universities offer both self-catered and catered hostels with feeding included in the hostel price.

The major difference in the cost of living in London compared to the other part of the UK is in rent. Save the Student’s National Student Accommodation Survey 2017 reveal that students spend about £125 (~US$175) per week on rent in the UK, however, 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). Additionally, students spend an estimated amount of £70 per month (~US$100) on bills for utilities and the internet.

Other average living costs in the UK

  • A weekly food shop will cost you around £30/$42, and a meal in a pub or restaurant will be around £12/$17.
  • The amount you will likely spend on books depends on your course. You are more likely to spend around £30 a month on books and course materials.
  • Mobile phone bills are estimated to be around £15/$22 a month.
  • For those who love to keep fit, a gym membership will cost around £32/$45 a month. It is possible to get a student discount for this.
  • A typical night out (outside of London) costs around £30/$42
  • For entertainment, if you want to watch TV in your room, you need a TV license, and this costs around £147 (~US$107) annually. Ticket to the cinema costs around £10/$14.
  • Clothing should cost around £35-55 (US$49-77), this depends on your spending habits and fashion style.

Tuition fees– UK/EU students

Tuition fees have two levels at the publicly funded UK universities: home student fees (which includes EU students) and international student fees. For home students, universities in England can charge up to a maximum fee of £9,250 (~US$13,050) annually for undergraduate degree programs.

Wales charges a maximum fee of £9,000 (~US$12,700), for 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.

An undergraduate degree in Scotland is practically free for students from Scotland and the EU. All thanks to the subsidy from Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). SAAS also provides a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 (~US$7,770) for Scotland postgraduate students.

Undergraduate students from the UK aside from Scotland who want to study in Scotland will pay up to £9,250 annually.

Students from Wales who want to study anywhere in the UK will pay £3,900 (~US$5,500), the Welsh government covers the rest of the tuition fees.

Postgraduate tuition greatly differs based on the university and the course. UK students (home students) may receive some funding from one of the UK’s research councils, the university itself, or through a career sponsorship scheme.

UK tuition fees – international students

Undergraduate international student’s fees range from around £10,000 (US$14,130) for lecture-based courses, going up to £38,000 (~US$53,700). Undergraduate medical degree students pay more. You can check the 15 Best Affordable Tuition Universities in the United Kingdom For International Students.

International fees for postgraduate level for classroom-based programs range from around £11,000 (~US$15,545) and went up to £32,000 (~US$45,200). For medical base programs, the average yearly fees differ and range from £12,000 (~US$16,940) to £27,200 (~US$38,400). You can also view the top University Scholarship in the UK For International Students.

Student Funding and the UK Scholarships

UK/EU students are eligible for loans, grants, and other types of funding to cover their UK tuition fees. The amount of funding differs depending on the location. Student loans for home students (UK/EU) cover all the educational costs, the extra loan to cover the cost of living in the UK mostly falls short of the amount required. As of the 2019/20 academic year, the maximum living loan was around £8,430 (~$11,900) for students outside London and up to £11,002 (~US$15,500) for those who study in London. This is a bit short of the required amount for your yearly living expenses.

Note that from August 1, 2021, EU students will no longer pay the same tuition fees as UK students, they will be in the same category as international students. They will no longer have access to student loans, all these are because of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

There are lots of scholarships to study in the UK that are being 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. 

Prominent UK scholarships for international students include: 

The Chevening scholarship is a UK-funded government scholarship that is awarded to outstanding students who have and demonstrate leadership qualities and also have a good academic background. The scholarship is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and other partner organizations.

UK scholarships are offered by member governments to citizens of other Commonwealth countries. International students from developing countries can also check the Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships for Developing Commonwealth Countries.

What impact will Brexit have? 

The Uk decided to leave the European Union (Brexit) on 31, January 2020. 2020 became the last year when EU/EEA students could pay the same tuition fees as UK citizens. From August 1, 2021, EU/EEA students will be in the same class as current international students, which implies that the tuition fee will be higher and there will be no student loans.

Despite the UK’s exit from the European Union, numerous UK universities have pledged to keep tuition fees fixed at the same rate for the present EU students for the duration of their course.


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