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Financing your studies

International student tuition fees

Read about undergraduate and postgraduate international student fees and funding in the UK, and see how Brexit affects fees and funding for EU and EEA students.

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CONTENTS

  1. Are you an international student?

  2. International student tuition fees
  3. How do international students fund their studies?

  4. EU student tuition fees – until August 2021

  5. Useful links

Are you an international student?

For 2020–2021 entry, you'll be considered an international student and pay international tuition fees if you live in a country outside the EU and EEA. However, from 2021–2022 onwards, most EU and EEA students won't qualify for home fee status and financial support entitlement, and may be charged tuition fees in line with those for international students. Exceptions will include Irish citizens, or those already living in the UK and registered with the EU Settlement Scheme.

Unsure whether you are classed as an international, EU or UK student? Read about eligibility for student finance in the UK.

International student tuition fees

Universities in the UK don’t have standardised tuition fees for overseas students. The fees of UK-resident undergraduates at public universities are capped by the governments of each nation (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). Although some courses cost more to run, such as lab-based or clinical courses, a university can only charge UK undergraduates what each government allows. The same doesn't apply to international students.

So, what international students pay for their tuition varies by the type of course and by institution – with some renowned universities charging a premium.

You can check individual course fees in our course listings. Ensure you set your location to display the correct fee.

Why are international student fees higher?

Along with paying the true cost of a course, international student tuition fees may also go towards the cost of maintaining an institution’s international/visa teams (if applicable), or for universities to retain their visa sponsor status. They can also subsidise a university’s academic research, which in turn can help build its reputation.

Why is it worth studying in the UK?

Currently, 20% of all UK students studying in higher education are international students – around 15% are undergraduates and 37% are postgraduates (Universities UK, 2020). After the US, the UK is the second most popular destination in the world for international students.

When it comes to choosing where to study, students want to know that it’ll lead them towards a good career. The UK’s universities have a global reputation for their research and the quality of their education. You can check graduate employment and student satisfaction scores for individual institutions on our university league tables and on each university profile. 

Courses may offer placements to gain experience, and most universities also offer careers support and the chance to build networks with employers. Studying in an English-speaking country also provides the opportunity to practice language skills.

The things that help a student settle in – such as faith or social networks and accommodation support – may be provided by universities. On our university profiles you can see what support is available for international students, including scholarships towards tuition fees. In addition, many UK cities are quite diverse, representing many different cultures. This can help students build connections outside their university.

The UK has also made changes to its visa system. Applications to the Student route visa can now be made up to six months in advance, and postgraduates won’t have a time limit to complete a course as long as their studies are progressing. A new Graduate route visa (from summer 2021) allows international graduates to stay and seek work in the UK for two years without a sponsor (three years for PhD graduates).

Shorter courses could save you money

A bachelor’s degree in England is typically three years long, which may be shorter than equivalent courses in the US. There are also accelerated degrees, where a bachelor’s degree can be completed in just two years with shorter vacations. Accelerated degrees may cost a little more than a standard degree, but you’ll have one year less to pay for. Clinical degrees (Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science) and Architecture generally take around five years to complete.

A taught master’s degree usually takes only one year full-time rather than the two years typical elsewhere.

How do international students fund their studies?

Many undergraduate international students get financial support from their home countries. There are scholarships and bursaries available for international students coming to study in the UK, including many for postgraduate study.

Students from overseas must make sure they have enough funds for the full tuition fees and all necessary living costs before leaving home.

However, depending on the visa sponsor status of the institution where they study, many full-time international students are allowed to work while they study in the UK. Students may be able to work full-time during holidays, and up to 20 hours a week in term time. For more information on working as you study in the UK, see UKCISA.

University websites have lots of information specifically for international students – check them out and contact universities directly to ask about the fees you'd pay and any bursaries or scholarships available.

EU student tuition fees – until August 2021

Following Brexit, EU/EEA students (and others) from outside the UK will only continue to access home fees and financial support for courses that start in the academic year 2020–2021. The exception to this is students from Ireland. 

Although most courses start in the autumn or January, there are other courses that may begin in February or March. For these courses, you'll still have access to UK support for the duration of your course. From January 2021 you'll need a visa.

Going to university in England, Wales or Northern Ireland

For undergraduate courses:

  • Universities in England can charge up to £9,250 per year for tuition fees, or up to £11,100 for an accelerated degree
  • Universities in Wales can charge up to £9,000
  • Universities in Northern Ireland can charge up to £4,395

You won't have to pay tuition fees in advance. Individual course pages on our course chooser list fees for EU students.

There's no limit on tuition fees charged by a private university but there's a cap on the amount of tuition fee loan you may apply for:

  • England: up to £6,165 (or up to £7,400 for an accelerated degree) depending on the institution
  • Wales: £6,165
  • Northern Ireland: £4,395

If starting in the 2020–2021 academic year, EU/EEA students may be able to apply for additional help as well as the tuition fee loan through Student Finance England, Northern Ireland or Wales. You'll need to meet the eligibility criteria to do this.

Postgraduate tuition fees vary by course and institution. Master’s loans are available for EU students (postgraduate tuition fee loans in Northern Ireland).

Going to university in Scotland

In Scotland, non-UK EU students can be charged up to £1,820 a year for undergraduate tuition at a Scottish university.

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will pay undergraduate tuition fees and, in some cases, for additional financial help with living costs if you meet the eligibility conditions.  

Tuition fees at private colleges are usually higher and EU students will have to pay any fees over £1,205 themselves.

Postgraduate tuition fees vary, depending on the course and the university. Postgraduate loans are available for EU students.

If you're a dual EU/UK national, tuition support for you has changed. Check with SAAS for details.

Useful links

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