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Finance for international students in the UK

There are many benefits to choosing the UK as your study abroad destination, from its diverse and multicultural communities, to the vast cultural and economic opportunities.

The UK also boasts one of the world’s best higher education systems, with several British universities named in the top 200 globally.

Tuition fees in the UK for international students are often lower than some other countries like the US, but it can still be expensive to make your dream a reality. That’s why you need to understand the costs and what financial help is available.

Tuition fees

For international students, tuition fees vary widely across all universities and degree schemes in the UK.

As an undergraduate studying a three-year bachelor’s program your fees can vary from around $13,000 a year, to more than $30,000 depending on the university you choose.

The cost of postgraduate tuition will vary based on things like the level of study, subject and university, but costs range from $15,000 to $25,000 per year.

Living costs

Your living expenses will depend on several factors, and working out how much you'll need can be tricky.

Accommodation is likely to be your biggest outgoing after tuition, and will vary depending on where in the UK you study. For example, in London you may spend more than $1,000 a month on housing, but other areas might cost around $600.

There are various things that can help you manage your budget. A lot of restaurants and clubs will run deals or specific student nights, and joining the National Union of Students (NUS) will provide you with a student card that will get you discounts in a wide variety of high street shops.

Student loans for international students

Currently, student loans offered by the UK government are only available to domestic students. EU students can also currently apply for these loans, however this will soon end as a result of Brexit.

Unfortunately, this means most international students are not eligible for this type of support.

However, there are other options available, and your home country may offer international student loans you could use. For example, in the US you may be able to take out a study abroad loan.

Other funding options

Most international students cover the costs of their study in the UK through:

  • Family support
  • Savings
  • Scholarships from home governments
  • Scholarships from charitable trusts
  • Scholarships, bursaries, and grants from universities of choice
  • The United Nations/ European Commission

Scholarships, grants, and bursaries for international students are often based on things like academic or sporting ability. They can:

  • Cover your tuition in full
  • Reduce your tuition
  • Contribute to your living costs

It is worth looking into all the different scholarships or grants that you may be eligible for, as they can make a huge difference to your finances.

Earn through working

Students from outside the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) can work up to 20 hours during term-time and full-time during the holidays. Therefore, this option could help you support yourself and get some extra cash.

EU students can currently work without restrictions, but this is likely to change from the 2021/2022 academic year.