UK tuition fees for international students
So you're an international student looking to study in the UK? We're here to guide you through international student fees and living costs.
The UK is one of the most popular destinations for international students, and you can see why. It's home to some world-class institutions and culturally diverse cities, but it comes at a cost.
Tuition fees often exceed £10,000 a year, and you'll need to pay student living costs on top of that. So, you'll need to budget carefully and make sure the benefits of the degree are worth the costs.
Fancy joining the hundreds of thousands of international students who study in the UK every year? Here's a lowdown of all the costs you'll need to take into account.
What’s in this guide?
How much are UK tuition fees for international students?
In 2021/22, annual tuition fees for international undergraduate students in the UK* started at £11,400 (US $14,130). This rose to as much as £32,081 (US $39,770).
For undergraduate medical degrees, the tuition fees fell between £9,250 (US $11,470) – £67,892 (US $84,170).
However, most universities' fees for the majority of subjects fell somewhere between £10,000 – £20,000 (US $12,400 – $24,800).
Annual tuition fees for international postgraduate students ranged between £6,500 (US $8,060) and £51,360 (US $63,670).
Postgraduate medical degrees ranged between £7,500 (US $9,300) – £54,500 (US $67,560).
Fees for MBAs started at £8,500 (US $10,540) and rose to as much as £63,000 (US $78,100).
But as with undergraduate fees, most fall within a certain range. The majority of postgraduate courses at most universities charged between £12,000 – £25,000 (US $14,880 – $30,990) in 2021/22.
Tuition fees for international students vary hugely across universities, courses and levels of study. As such, it's difficult to calculate an exact cost.
Although there are no exact rules, here are four things you'll want to take into consideration when pricing up your degree:
- The more prestigious a university, the more expensive it will likely be. Check out the list of the top 10 UK universities to get an idea of which are considered the best.
- Medical and science degrees will generally cost more than lecture-based degrees. This is especially the case for courses that require expensive equipment or access to laboratories.
- The length of your course will affect its overall cost. This is because tuition fees are charged on a yearly basis.
- The level of study might also affect the cost. Although it's not always the case, postgraduate and doctoral degrees can be more expensive than undergraduate.
However, while we can't give you a precise figure, what we can do is give you some averages. This will give you a rough idea of what to expect. For exact prices, you should contact the individual universities you're interested in.
International undergraduate tuition fees
Most undergraduate courses run for three years, although some can run for longer.
For example, 'sandwich courses' have an additional year in the industry. And in Scotland, it's the norm for undergraduate degrees to last four years.
As mentioned above, the cost of an undergraduate degree for an international student sits between £11,400 (US $14,130*) and £67,892 (US $84,170) per year. Obviously, these costs vary per university and whether you study a medical degree or not.
If we take the cost of tuition in isolation, this means the average degree will cost between £34,200 (US $42,400) and £203,676 (US $252,500) over three years. This would be even more for a four-year course. Of course, this doesn't include the cost of living which will amount to several thousands of pounds every year in itself.
International postgraduate tuition fees
If you decide to study for a postgraduate degree, you can generally expect to pay higher fees. This is particularly the case for master's or PhDs, which are popular and well-sought-after postgraduate courses.
As these courses are naturally more specialised, there might be some additional costs you need to be aware of. This could be for things like specialist research equipment or resources. Always check with individual universities for these.
And as with an undergraduate degree, costs will vary according to what kind of subject you'll be studying.
Times Higher Education calculated the average cost of tuition in 2020/21 as shown in the table below. And as master's degrees tend to just last for one year, these averages also represent the total cost of tuition.
Average postgraduate tuition fees for international students
|Type of degree||Tuition fees (£)||Tuition fees (US $)**|
* Figures represent the average postgraduate tuition fees for international students in 2020/21.
**All currency conversions were rounded to the nearest $10 and were correct as of April 2023.
Remember that scholarships and bursaries are more common for postgraduate degrees than undergraduate ones. So, it's more likely you'll be able to receive financial support to help you fund your studies.
Head over to our guide to scholarships and bursaries for international students to see what's available.
Many students also come to the UK to study a language at one of the country's many language schools.
Prices vary across institutions. However, you could be paying around £70 a week (US $87*) for a standard full-time course (15 hours). Or, you might find it's around £1,300 ($1,612*) for a more intensive course lasting around 10 weeks. Again, prices vary depending on where you study and the service provided.
Check out Foreign Students for a directory of English Language schools in the UK.
Bear in mind that some courses will be accredited (i.e. they award recognised qualifications), and they will likely be more expensive than non-accredited ones.
* All currency conversions were rounded to the nearest $1 and were correct as of April 2023.
How do UK international tuition fees compare with the rest of the world?
If you're looking for a cheap destination for studying abroad, then the UK might not be your best bet.
In comparison, places like Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Finland and Denmark are often cheaper. You could save as much as £10,000 a year in some cases (when taking both tuition fees and cost of living into account).
Germany offers free tuition in many cases (including for international students!). So you might only have to factor in living costs.
However, degrees in the UK are often shorter than in some countries. For example, an undergraduate degree in the US is four years, but only three in the UK. Similarly, an MA is two years in the US, while in the UK they typically only last one. This can have a significant impact on the overall amount you spend on tuition fees.
The UK does boast some of the best universities in the world. But, studying here is a serious investment.
UK living costs for international students
Tuition fees aren't the only cost you'll have to account for when coming to study in the UK. You'll need to budget for living costs as well.
You'll need a Student visa to live and study in the UK. And to get this, you'll be asked to prove you have enough money to cover your living expenses while here.
This equates to £1,023 (£1,334 if you'll be based in London) for each month of study for up to nine months. So to get the visa for a nine-month course, you'll need at least £9,207 (£12,006 in London) (US $11,410 and US $14,880 respectively)* in your bank account.
You'll need to think about rent, bills, food, transport, books as well as travel to and from the UK.
You'll also need to consider the cost of the visa itself – currently £363 (US $450)* – and an NHS surcharge of £470 (US $580)*.
* All currency conversions were rounded to the nearest $10 and were correct as of April 2023.
Financial help is out there in the form of scholarships and bursaries. You can find out more in our guide to funding for international students.