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International Students

Scholarships for international students in the UK

If you're an international student looking for funding to study in the UK then you've come to the right place – this complete guide will tell you everything you need to know.

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With some of the best universities in the world and strong employment prospects , the UK is a popular destination for students all over the globe.

But studying at university as an international student can be seriously costly – with fees often topping £20,000 a year and living expenses on top of that, the majority of students will need financial help from somewhere in order to make it work.

So where can you go to get this financial support? Where can you find scholarships and how do you apply to them? We've hunted the web to put together the complete guide to funding and scholarships for international students in the UK.

How much are tuition fees for international students in the UK?

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As an international student studying in the UK, you'll be paying tuition fees substantially higher than home students. Although tuition fees in the UK are capped at £9,250 for domestic students, there's no cap for international students – which, from the 2021/22 academic year onwards, includes new EU students too (more info here).

Fees are determined by the individual university and the course you're studying. It's hard to pin down exactly how this works, but it tends to be the more prestigious the university, the more they'll charge, and courses which involve expensive equipment and resources will cost more too.

Humanities and social science degrees tend to cost the least, with degrees involving laboratory or clinical work costing the most.

  • Undergraduate degrees – In 2020/21, these started at around £9,250 a year for lecture-based courses but at some unis were over £30,000.
  • Postgraduate degrees – In 2020/21, classroom-based degrees cost anywhere between £5,000 and £36,000 a year. However, MBAs and medical degrees typically cost a lot more – as much as £60,000 in some cases.

If you want more information on fees, take a look at our guide to tuition fees for international students which goes into much more depth on this.

Don't forget that, in order to obtain the Student visa you need to study in the UK, you'll also need to prove you have enough money in your international student bank account.

If your course lasts less than nine months, you'll need to have £1,023 per month (£1,334 if you're studying in London) for each month of your course (up to nine months).

In a nutshell – studying in the UK as an international student costs a lot of money. But financial aid is out there if you know where to look.

EU students pre-2021

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Things are changing for EU students. During the academic year 2020/21 your tuition fees will be the same as home students (capped at £9,250 a year), if you are*:

  1. From an EU country
  2. A foreign worker from the European Economic Area (EEA) based in the UK
  3. The child of a Turkish worker living in the UK.

* Note that these are just some of the eligibility criteria for qualifying as an EU student. Our guide to UK tuition fees for EU students covers things in more detail.

Plus, you'll be eligible for a government Student Loan covering the cost of your tuition fees. Although not all EU students are eligible for a Maintenance Loan, if you were already studying in the 2020/21 year and were eligible then, you will continue to be so for the remainder of your studies.

We have loads more information about tuition fees for EU students for you to take a look at.

However, thanks to Brexit, from August 2021, new EU students will no longer have access to Student Finance in the UK. This means they won't be able to take out Student Loans to cover tuition fees and living expenses the same way UK students can.

To clarify, this only applies to new EU students who were not already studying in the UK before August 2021. EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who started university in the 2020/2021 academic year or earlier are exempt from this, as are Irish nationals who started at any time. This means that they will continue to have the same access to Student Finance as they did pre-Brexit.

Where can you get financial support to study in the UK?

money bags university

Although getting financial support for your studies as an international student can be tricky, there are loads of options out there, so do plenty of research and explore every avenue.

Here's just a quick summary of some of the main routes you might want to take a look at:

Study abroad programmes

A more affordable way to study in the UK as an international student might be through an exchange or study abroad programme.

This would involve enrolling as a student at a university in your home country, and studying in the UK for a semester or year.

Check individual universities to see whether they have any partnerships with universities in the UK before you apply.

International student loans

As an international student, you won't be eligible for a loan from the UK government like home or some EU students. However, there are other educational loans out there that you might want to look in to.

For example, US students can apply for a Study Abroad Loan if you're planning on studying abroad for a short period of time, such as for a semester or year. If you want to study at a university abroad full-time, you can apply for a Foreign Enrolled Loan instead.

Individual countries will have different schemes in place for this, so make sure to research loans for students from your own country.

Banks

Check whether banks in your home country provide loans especially for students to help them cover the costs of study and living expenses.

Commercial banks providing loans aimed at students will generally charge a lower interest rate than they would for other types of customers and their terms may be more flexible, so this is also an option worth considering.

Private companies

Private companies sometimes offer financial support for you to study in the UK under the condition that you work for them for a certain amount of time after graduation.

If there are any large companies which are keen to employ graduates of your subject, this is worth looking into. This is especially true for those interested in pursuing a career in finance. Check out the different schemes banks and big financial services companies have to offer.

Family

Ok, so you probably wouldn't be searching for scholarships if you had the money yourself, but many international students fund their degrees with the help of family members.

If you think there's a chance your parents or wider family might be able to give you some financial help, it might be worth discussing.

Scholarships

This is the big one. Scholarships for international students are one of the main sources of funding for students seeking to study abroad.

There's a huge amount out there, but with varying eligibility criteria, they can be a total nightmare to navigate. Keep reading and we'll take you through it.

How to get a scholarship to study in the UK

dog saying i have no idea what i am doing

There are absolutely loads of scholarships for international students up for grabs. This is great news, but it's important to exercise caution as they are seriously competitive and often have very stringent eligibility criteria.

Plus, the vast majority of them are for postgraduate rather than undergraduate degrees. Undergraduate scholarships, bursaries and fee waivers are available, but are less common – your best option is to scout out individual universities which provide these.

If you do your research thoroughly, meet the eligibility criteria and prepare a strong application, then, of course, you stand a good chance of securing a scholarship.

But there are no guarantees, so you should always think about what you're going to do if you're unsuccessful.

Applications for scholarships vary – in most cases, they'll involve an application form, but some might also ask you to complete a written assignment or test, and attend an interview.

Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes, and from a surprising amount of sources. There are three main types you will want to investigate:

  1. Global scholarships These are broader scholarships not tied to a specific country or university. However, they're not open to everyone and still have strict eligibility criteria.
  2. Country-specific scholarships These are scholarships for students from a specific country.
  3. University scholarships A lot of UK universities will offer their own scholarships and financial support, for international students coming to study at their institution.

We've included some examples of these different types of scholarship below.

Where to search for international scholarships

As we've said, there's a huge range of scholarships available and it would be impossible for us to cover them all here. Luckily there are some databases that compile lots of scholarships in one place.

Here are a few of the most reliable and comprehensive:

Make sure you don't get caught by a scholarship scam! Some sites will try and charge you to search and view scholarships, so avoid these at all costs. Also, no one can guarantee you a scholarship for a certain amount of money.

Global scholarships for international students

old fashioned globe

These are scholarships that aren't restricted to students from a specific country. However, they're not for students from all countries, so make sure you read the small print, as well as the eligibility criteria we've summarised here.

Plus, there are loads more scholarships that we haven't listed here – these are just some of the main ones and a good starting part for your research.

Chevening Scholarships

Level of study

Master's.

Eligible countries

Over 160 countries worldwide. The number of scholarships available varies from country to country but, in total, well over 1,000 are awarded each year.

Other eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for Chevening Scholarships are:

  • You must return to your home country to work for at least two years after graduation
  • You need the equivalent of a 2:1 honours degree
  • You must have at least two years' work experience.

When do applications open?

Applications for Chevening Scholarships typically open in August or September in the year before you're due to start studying. The deadline usually falls in October or early November.

Chevening Scholarships information

Chevening Scholarships are funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. They're awarded to students with strong academic ability and clear leadership skills. The scholarships cover flights, accommodation and all fees related to your course.

They're looking for people who have the potential to become pioneers in their field, and are committed to returning to their home country to contribute to its socio-economic development through their work.

You'll be expected to apply to three separate courses at UK universities, although you don't need to hold any offers before you can apply for the scholarship.

The scholarships are competitive and the application is rigorous – you'll need to fill in an application form, attend an interview and provide references.

Apply »

 

Commonwealth Scholarships

Level of study

Master's and PhD.

Eligible countries

All Commonwealth countries.

Other eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for Commonwealth Scholarships are:

  • You must be a Commonwealth citizen, refugee or British protected person
  • You'll typically also need a minimum 2:1 honours degree to study for a master's, or already have an appropriate master's if you'd like to study for a PhD.

When do applications open?

Applications typically open in the December prior to your proposed start date, and close in the following January.

Commonwealth Scholarships information

There are eight different types of Commonwealth Scholarship, with different schemes for varying levels of study and country of origin (usually split based upon countries' economic statuses).

One type of scholarship on offer is the Shared Scholarship – for these scholarships, you must apply through one of the participating UK universities. These are for candidates from least developed and lower-middle-income Commonwealth countries, for full-time master’s study on selected courses, jointly supported by UK universities.

They also offer Split-Site Scholarships which enable you to spend up to a year studying at a UK university as part of your PhD, and Distance Learning Scholarships, which enable you to study a master's while living in your home country.

A scholarship will typically cover your tuition fees, a monthly living allowance and travel to and from the UK.

Regardless of the scholarship you apply for, it should be offered under one of the following six themes:

  • Science and technology for development
  • Strengthening health systems and capacity
  • Promoting global prosperity
  • Strengthening global peace, security and governance
  • Strengthening resilience and response to crises
  • Access, inclusion and opportunity.

Apply »

 

GREAT Scholarships

Level of study

Postgraduate.

Eligible countries

13 countries across the world, with the majority located in Asia.

Other eligibility criteria

Eligibility criteria will vary depending on your country of origin and the university you're applying to, but typically you'll always need to be a passport holder of one of the eligible countries.

When do applications open?

Varies across UK institutions.

GREAT Scholarships information

GREAT Scholarships support students who want to carry out postgraduate study at universities in the UK. Scholarships are worth a minimum of £10,000 each.

Dozens of UK universities are part of the programme, and each will vary slightly in terms of eligibility criteria, available courses and the number of scholarships being awarded – so it's worth checking out the information provided by your university of interest as well.

Apply »

 

Saltire Scholarships

Level of study

Master's.

Eligible countries

Canada, China (including Hong Kong), India, Japan, Pakistan and the USA.

Other eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for Saltire Scholarships are:

  • You must have an offer for a place at a Scottish university
  • Your place must be to study for a master's in one of the following subjects: Science, Technology, Creative Industries, Healthcare and Medical Sciences, or Renewable and Clean Energy
  • You must not have previously studied in Scotland.

When do applications open?

The application process typically opens in February, and closes in May.

Saltire Scholarships information

There are up to 50 scholarships up for grabs every year, worth £8,000 each. This money is intended to go towards your tuition fees, although you need to be able to provide evidence that you can fund the rest of your fees, as well as your living costs, for the duration of your stay in Scotland.

Apply »

 

International scholarships by country

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Pretty much every country will have its own scholarships for students wishing to study abroad. These come from a whole range of different sources, and in some cases have pretty niche eligibility criteria.

We've listed just a few below for some of the countries that international students in the UK often hail from, just to give you a taste of what's out there.

Australia Day Foundation UK Trust (Australia)

Level of study

Undergraduate and postgraduate.

Other eligibility criteria

You need to be entitled to live and study in the UK, and hold a valid Australian passport.

When do applications open?

Applications open in November and close at the end of April.

Australia Day Foundation UK Trust information

Funding from The Australia Day Foundation UK Trust is for Australian students who have already been accepted on to a course to study in the UK.

Grants vary but the maximum value you will receive is £10,000. This can be used to cover course fees, study materials and travel to and from the UK, but not living expenses or day to day travel.

Apply »

 

Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund (Canada)

Level of study

Postgraduate.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must be Canadian citizens with a valid Canadian passport. You must also be currently enrolled on a postgraduate programme at a UK institution, having completed at least one term, with at least one term remaining.

When do applications open?

Applications tend to open towards the end of the calendar year, closing around the beginning of March.

Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund information

This particular fund is only open to students on a full-time, multi-year postgraduate programme.

Each individual award is worth £5,000 and, as part of the application process, you'll need to submit a personal statement and, assuming you make it that far, attend an interview to discuss your application with the committee.

Apply »

 

Inlaks Shivdasani Scholarships (India)

Level of study

Postgraduate.

Eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for Inlaks Shivdasani Scholarships are:

  • You must be an Indian citizen and have been continuously resident in India for the past six months.
  • You must hold a first-class undergraduate degree from an institution in India
  • You must be aged 30 or under.

When do applications open?

Applications for this fund usually open in January or February, and close in March or April.

Inlaks Shivdasani Scholarships information

The Inlaks Scholarship provides up to US $100,000 (£71,885*) to cover tuition fees, living expenses, one-way travel and health insurance.

You need to be able to prove you're an academic and personal achiever, and that you've got the potential to really excel on your chosen course.

The Foundation also has joint scholarship schemes with Imperial College London, Royal College of Art (RCA) London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London, the University of Cambridge via the Cambridge Trust, Sciences Po in Paris.

Apply »

* Currency conversions rounded to the nearest whole pound, correct as of May 2021.

 

The Oxford and Cambridge Society of India Scholarships (India)

Level of study

Undergraduate and postgraduate.

Eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for this scholarship are:

  • You must be under 30 years of age on 1st September in the year of application
  • You must ordinarily reside in India and be an Indian citizen
  • You must have applied and secured admission to study a course at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.

When do applications open?

The application process typically opens in late February or early March, and closes in May.

The Oxford and Cambridge Society of India Scholarships information

The Oxford and Cambridge Society of India (OCSI) is a group of alumni who created a scholarship fund to help Indian students fund their degrees at the two institutions.

The scholarships are competitive and the total amount of funding is dependent on donors. Only cover part of the cost of a degree and range from 100,000 to 200,000 Rupees (£966 – £1,934*).

They're also often tied to a specific college at one of the universities, and this depends on the donor. Other grants may also become available to applicants via the society depending on how much is donated per academic cycle.

Apply »

* Currency conversions rounded to the nearest whole pound, correct as of May 2021.

 

Marshall Scholarships (USA)

Level of study

Postgraduate.

Eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for Marshall Scholarships are:

  • You must be a US citizen.
  • By the time you take up your scholarship, you must hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.7 grade point average, obtained from an accredited four-year college or university in the USA.
  • You cannot have previously studied (or be studying) at a British university, or have studied for GCSEs or A Levels at school in the UK.

When do applications open?

Applications tend to open in late spring in the year before you're due to start studying.

Marshall Scholarships information

The Marshall Scholarship is designed to help intellectually talented young Americans with leadership potential study at university in the UK.

Selection criteria are divided equally between academic merit, leadership potential and ambassadorial potential – essentially how you could help strengthen relations between the UK and US.

You can apply for a one-year or two-year scholarship, and two-year scholarships have the potential to be extended to three years, although this is not guaranteed.

Awards vary in value according to the individual circumstances of each scholar but are worth on average around £30,000 a year. This is to cover living expenses, tuition fees and study materials, travel to and from the USA as well as daily travel in the place of study.

Apply »

 

Fulbright Commission Scholarships

Level of study

Postgraduate.

Eligibility criteria

You must be a US citizen with a bachelor's degree or equivalent and, crucially, not currently be residing in the UK.

When do applications open?

The application process typically opens in April and closes in October, both in the year before you intend to start your studies.

Fulbright Commission Scholarships information

The Fulbright Commission offers awards to allow US students to complete postgraduate study in the UK.

There are dozens of different awards available, either at specific universities or as an 'All Disciplines Award' which can be used for any master's or doctoral degree at any university.

Eligibility criteria and courses vary across universities, but typically they'll want people with leadership potential and a desire to learn more about the UK while acting as an ambassador for the US.

Again, exactly what the scholarship entails varies across institutions, but you should expect it to cover tuition fees and living costs for at least one year.

Apply »

 

University-specific international scholarships

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There's a huge range of scholarships and funding awards offered by universities across the UK – so many that we're not able to list them all here.

We've picked out some for three major universities below, but we would recommend checking with individual institutions yourself.

The information should be freely available on university websites, but if you're struggling to find it or have questions, drop them an email. Make sure you include the course you're looking to study and your nationality as these will likely affect your eligibility.

Cambridge Trust (University of Cambridge)

Level of study

Undergraduate and postgraduate.

Eligible countries

All.

Other eligibility criteria

You must be applying for funding towards a new course, not one you are already part-way through.

When do applications open?

No date is specified, but you'll be invited to apply for funding if and when you receive an offer of admission from a Cambridge college.

Cambridge Trust information

The Cambridge Trust offers scholarships to students at a variety of levels, although most scholarships are awarded to those wishing to pursue a postgraduate degree.

Scholarships range from awards funding part of tuition fee to be able to attend the university to full funding plus a stipend for living expenses. Financial need will be taken into consideration.

Apply »

 

Gates Cambridge (University of Cambridge)

Level of study

Postgraduate.

Eligible countries

All.

Other eligibility criteria

You must be a citizen of a country outside the UK and be applying for a full-time postgraduate course.

When do applications open?

Applications open in September and usually close in December or January (depending on your course), but for US students the process typically closes in October.

Gates Cambridge information

The scholarship covers a maintenance allowance (£17,848 for the academic year 2021/22), tuition fees, visa costs, the healthcare surcharge and some travel costs. The award is for up to four years for PhD students.

There is also funding available to attend conferences and courses, undertake fieldwork, cover maternity or paternity leave, financial hardship, and a family allowance. This is awarded on a discretionary basis.

Successful applicants need to show their academic excellence, great leadership potential and a commitment to improving the lives of others.

Apply »

 

Rhodes Scholarship (University of Oxford)

Level of study

Postgraduate.

Eligible countries

Over 20 countries across the world.

Other eligibility criteria

The criteria will vary depending on the country you apply from, but generally speaking you must:

  • Be aged between 19–23 when you apply
  • Hold a bachelor's degree
  • Meet the English language requirements of the programme.

When do applications open?

The application process usually opens in June and closes around September/October, both in the year before you intend to start studying.

Rhodes Scholarship information

One of the oldest and most prestigious international scholarship programmes in the world, the Rhodes Scholarship has rigorous selection criteria.

They're not only looking for students with academic excellence, but also those who get involved in extracurricular activities such as sport, debate, music and theatre. Criteria vary from country to country, however, so make sure you double-check before applying.

Apply »

 

Reach Oxford Scholarship (University of Oxford)

Level of study

Undergraduate.

Eligible countries

Dozens of low-income countries around the world.

Other eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for this scholarship are:

  • You must be of the "highest academic ability"
  • You should also be intending to return to your country of ordinary residence after your studies.

When do applications open?

The application process usually opens in January and closes in February.

Reach Oxford Scholarships information

Reach Oxford Scholarships (formerly known as the Oxford Student Scholarships) are offered to students from low-income countries who are unable to study for a degree in their home nation, be that for political or financial reasons, or because the appropriate educational infrastructure isn't available.

Not all colleges are able to offer Reach Oxford Scholarships every year, so double-check that yours is. The scholarships cover course fees, a grant for living costs and one return air fare per year. The scholarship funds all courses except medical degrees.

Apply »

 

Simon and June Li Undergraduate Scholarship (University of Oxford)

Level of study

Undergraduate.

Eligible countries

Over 20 countries across Asia.

Other eligibility criteria

You need to be a new student who has received an offer from the university.

Applications open

The application process usually opens in January and close in February.

Simon and June Li Undergraduate Scholarship information

The Simon and June Li provides funding for undergraduate students demonstrating exceptional academic merit who may be prevented from taking up their course of study due to financial circumstances.

The scholarship will cover course fees and provide a grant for living costs. Courses in all different subjects can be funded except medical degrees.

Apply »

 

Hornby Trust (University of Warwick)

Level of study

Master's (specifically in English Language Teaching).

Eligible countries

Dozens of low- and middle-income countries across the world.

Other eligibility criteria

Among the eligibility criteria for this scholarship are:

  • You must have at least three years' full-time English language teaching experience
  • You must hold a full undergraduate degree
  • You must meet the English speaking proficiency requirements stipulated by the university.

When do applications open?

The scholarship was temporarily suspended for the 2020/21 academic year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but in previous years the application process has opened in November and closed in February.

Hornby Trust information

The Hornby Trust Scholarship is for experienced English Language Teachers who have the potential to shape the future of the discipline.

The scholarship is for the one-year TESOL master's at the University of Warwick, and covers tuition fees, travel to and from the UK, a monthly living allowance, your visa and language test costs.

Apply »

 

Can international students work in the UK?

can international students work in the UK

Credit: Warner Bros.

Your visa will specify whether you're allowed to work in the UK and for how many hours.

This will typically be 20 hours a week during term time for those studying at degree level, and you'll be allowed to work full-time during the holidays, as well as before and after term starts.

However, don't bank on being able to fund your living costs with a part-time job – it's unlikely you'll be able to earn enough to cover all your expenses, and you don't want your job to interfere with your studies.

Also, as an international student on a student visa you can't:

Now all that's left is to make the move. Good luck!

Make sure you have the right bank account to stash those funds in once you hit UK shores!

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