Costs and fees

A student at Lancaster University making a credit card payment

UK education: Value for money

Before you begin your course, think carefully about the costs and how you will finance your studies.

The cost of courses in the UK compares favourably with other major education destinations. The rate of international undergraduate student satisfaction with the cost of living in the UK is also higher than that of other top countries for studying abroad (UK HE International Unit, December 2015).

In higher education, UK courses are generally shorter than in other countries. Most full-time undergraduate courses take three years to complete, while full-time postgraduate courses take one year or more (for more information see Higher education courses and qualifications). This helps to keep tuition fees and living expenses down.

Further education courses vary in length. You may have the option of doing a foundation course and deciding later whether you want to carry on studying and ‘top up’ to a full degree. This means you can take a break from your studies to return home, or alternate between periods of work and study. Find out more in Further education and Shorter undergraduate courses.

This section will outline what you can expect to pay for higher education (undergraduate and postgraduate) and further education courses in the UK. For information about boarding school fees, please see: Boarding schools – Costs and scholarships.

Fees vary greatly for English language courses, so it’s best to contact the individual institutions. Click here to search for contact information.

Course fees

Tuition fees for UK higher education and further education courses vary, depending on:

  • Whether you are from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), or another country
  • Where in the UK you are studying (there are different rules for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales)
  • Your study level.

Undergraduate students from the EU/EEA pay ‘home fees’ – the same fees as UK students pay. These are the maximum tuition fees (many institutions charge less):

  • In England and Wales, up to £9,000 per year
  • In Northern Ireland, up to £3,575 per year
  • In Scotland, tuition is free.

If you’re from another country outside the EU/EEA, tuition fees range from £3,500 a year to about £18,000 per year, depending on the course and the institution.

For all postgraduate students, tuition fees vary by course provider.

You may also be eligible for home fees if you fall into one of a number of categories, including if you have refugee status, or if your college or university is able to make you a special case. Click here for more information.

Please contact your chosen institution to ask about provisions for exceptional circumstances. Use the search tool to find your institution's contact details.

Please also visit the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website for more information. 

Visas: Fees and financial conditions

If you need a visa to study in the UK, you’ll need to factor in this cost too. Check the Gov.uk website to find out if you need a visa.

The cost of your visa will depend on your nationality, the type of visa you’re getting and the course you’re studying. Please see Student visas for more information.

To apply for a visa, you may need to provide proof that you can afford to cover your course fees and living costs while you’re in the UK. This is called ‘maintenance funds (requirements)’ by the UK government. This can be:

  • Personal bank or building society statements
  • A building society passbook
  • A letter from your bank, or a regulated financial institution, confirming your funds
  • A letter from a regulated financial institution confirming that you have a loan that is provided by the national government, the state or regional government or a government-sponsored student loan company, or that is part of an academic or educational loans scheme.

Any loan from another source, such as a personal bank loan, would need to be shown as funds held in your name (or a parent's name) using one of the other forms of evidence listed above. Some other forms of identification might be possible – please see this page on the UKCISA website for more details.

If you are applying for a visa to come to the UK for more than six months on or after 6 April 2015, you will need to pay an additional NHS health surcharge of £150 per year. This includes students applying from within the UK or from outside the UK.

For further details, including how this may affect any family members travelling with you, please see the UKCISA website

See the Gov.uk website for full official details.

Budgeting

When comparing tuition costs, look at what is included – and what is not included – in each fee. For example, some institutions may charge you extra for books, study materials, examinations, etc. You should be able to find out what the course fees cover on each course provider’s website, but if not, don’t hesitate to ask them.

When budgeting, think about additional costs for:

  • Travel to the UK
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Day-to-day living costs
  • Travel and sightseeing in the UK
  • Health and travel insurance.

See Budgeting and Learning to live on a student budget for our advice about managing your finances while you’re studying in the UK.

If you plan to get a part-time job to earn money while you're studying, see Working alongside your studies: What you need to know. The number of hours you can work depends on your visa status and study level.

Student support and student loans

Students from the EU/EEA and Switzerland may be able to apply for financial support from the UK government, and in some cases from the government in your home country. This can include a low-interest loan that you only need to pay back once you start earning a certain amount of money, after you graduate. The loan may cover some living costs as well as tuition fees.

The level and type of support on offer depends on whether you study in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, and also on your personal and family circumstances. In exceptional circumstances, non-EU/EEA students can also apply for funding. Find out more about who qualifies for financial support in UKCISA's Student Support section.

Some medical courses – such as nursing or midwifery – are only available to students who qualify for an NHS bursary. Find out more here.

If you think you qualify for student support, you usually have to apply within nine months of the start of the academic year – so make sure you leave enough time to prepare!

Scholarships and other support

There are a number of scholarship options and financial support schemes for international students in the UK. Demand can be high, but it is worth taking a look at what is available.

Scholarships are offered by a number of providers including:

  • UK institutions
  • Awards and scholarship programmes
  • Companies/entrepreneurship schemes.

Go to Scholarships and financial support for more information.