Costs of Attending College in the UK

Now we’re getting to the hard part of determining whether or not you will able to study in the UK: the cost of attending college.

No one likes to think about money, but it’s a very important part in determining whether or not you will be able to attend a university in the UK.

Note: Be aware that the cost of tuition and schooling is not all that you need in order to study in the UK; you need to budget for the cost of living as well. This page will only explore tuition and other related costs. If you are seeking an overall cost of living, click here to find that information.

If you are coming from a country such as the United States, Australia, any of the European Union countries or any of the EEA countries, you can expect the cost of living to be quite similar to what you are currently paying.

University Attendance Fees

Many undergraduates in UK pay up to £9,250 per annum (year) in tuition costs (the cost of education is capped by the government). The average is approximately £6,000 per annum. Now, be careful of the terminology – the word “tuition” is not really used in British higher education; instead they use the term “fees.”

In the UK, the Government is the response regulator for setting the range of tuition fees that UK universities are allowed to charge their students.

However, except England, where these fees are applied in other UK constitutional countries the universities apply lower tuition fees for their home and EU undergraduate students as we’ve described here.

Fees cover the entire cost of tuition plus any excess services you may get from the university, such as tutoring services, information technology, and library services that they may provide. This use of the term “fees” is different than it is in places like the United States, where the word “fees” is used to describe costs other than what you are paying for tuition.

If you’re a British citizen studying in the UK you will likely pay less than if you’re a non-UK or non-EU student. Besides your nationality, the type and the academic level of your course can also account into the cost of college fees in the UK.

As you would expect, tuition fees in the social sciences and humanities are lower compared to natural science courses where extracurricular lab sessions are involved. Additionally, tuition fees at the higher academic level are higher as well.

Those who are in postgraduate studies in the UK will find that their fees are usually more than those that undergraduates may pay. Those who live in the United Kingdom will find that their fees range up to approximately £12000 per annum.

If you are not from the United Kingdom, you may pay upwards of £20,000 per annum to earn a postgraduate degree. The amount differs based on which university you attend and what subject you are pursuing.

You may also have to purchase books and supplies for the classes that you are attending. If this is the case, your university will help you determine what the average book cost is. Make sure to communicate with the university you plan to attend – they can help you determine the true cost of your education above and beyond your tuition.

If those numbers make you nervous, there is an important point for you to consider. If you are attending a university in UK for your entire university career, then your career will be much shorter than it would be in your home country.

As an undergraduate, you would only take three years of schooling (as opposed to four) and postgraduate studies (Master’s Degrees) only take one year to complete. So even though the costs may seem high if you are not a citizen of the UK, in the long run, it ends up being the same cost or less.

Financial Aid in the UK

With all said, the cost of attending a college in the UK is higher without even taking into consideration the cost of living in UK. But, fortunately, there are several financial resources available to students in the UK.

The amount of money allocated for merit-based or need-based student grants is immense. It is estimated that over 20,000 international students in the UK receive financial aid every year.

There are several types of financial aid for international students offered in the UK:

  • Scholarships
  • Student loans
  • Other grants


Since the cost of attending college in UK is relatively higher scholarships are a perfect choice to ease this financial burden. Lucky for you, there are many scholarships awarded to international students and chances are always higher you’ll find something suitable. A bit of research it’s all it takes.

Many universities in the UK will also offer scholarships to international students that are attending their universities. Some of these are merit-based, some of them are need-based, and some of them are available just because you’re an international student in a certain course program. Contact your financial aid department or your international affairs office for more information on obtaining these types of school-specific scholarships.

International students who are pursuing postgraduate degrees have even more opportunities to reduce their costs. Most universities offer programs where, based on your program of study and other criteria (work and research hours), you can get most or even all of your fees paid for. These sorts of scholarships are competitive, however, and may be difficult to obtain, but it’s definitely worth a try if you are seeking to pursue a postgraduate degree while in UK. There is less state-based funding for postgraduate students, but there is more money available from the university that you are attending.

Student loans

Student loans are another type of financial aid offered for students in UK. However, under current law regulations in the UK only home, EU and EEA students are eligible to apply for these funds. International students, on the other hand, have to look for other types of student loans granted in their home country or at the UK university of their choice.

Other grants

If none of the above options didn’t work out for you, there other financial aid resources for you to attend college in UK. We’ve explained such grants into details in this article.

As mentioned above, even if you don’t get a lot of financial aid, the overall cost of attending university in UK is much lower due to the fact that it takes less time to finish your degree. This will be helpful to remember as you are budgeting for your time at university.

If you come to the UK for your undergraduate degree, you may even opt to continue through to a postgraduate degree due to the lower cost and time commitment necessary to finish the degree.

If you are interested in obtaining financial aid to help cover your college costs, then take time to talk to both the financial aid department and the international affairs department at the university that you wish to attend.

You can also check out the United Kingdom’s guide to student finance on their government website. All of these resources can help point you in the right direction so that you don’t have to feel burdened financially while studying in UK, and you can enjoy your studies and do well in your coursework.