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Low Tuition in the UK: Tuition Fees, Cost of Living and Financial Aid




    How much would it cost to study on low tuition in the UK? If you would like to study in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, then one vital important thing to consider is how much everything will cost. This article review will break down the cost of every aspect of university life to ensure that you have your questions answered.  

    Please be informed that costs highlighted herein are correct at the time of publication and may vary over time. 

    Tuition fees 

    Typically, UK tuition fees vary depending on where you hail from. For domestic students, English universities will charge up to a maximum tuition fee of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate program. 

    Universities in Wales will charge up to £9,000 for local students and £3,925 for those from the European Union and Northern Ireland. However, if you are from Wales, you are able to apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost associated with your tuition fees. Note that this grant is not repayable or income-assessed. 

    Northern Irish institutions charged up to £4,030 for local students and up to £9,250 for students who hail from outside of the UK.

    It is interesting to note that Scotland does not charge home or EU students fees at first degree level, however, any student from England, Wales or Northern Ireland is expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. Non-EU international students will pay significantly more to study in Scotland. For example, in 2017, the University of Edinburgh charged undergraduate international students between £16,650 and £23,200 per annum.

    In 2017, international students made tuition payments between £10,000 and £35,000 annually for lecture-based first degree programs. An undergraduate medical program can cost international students up to £38,000 per year.

    At the moment there is no maximum limit on postgraduate degree charges for international students, but they are more expensive than most undergraduate programs and the fee varies depending on the university.

    For home and EU students, loans are available from the government to cover tuition and maintenance (living cost) fees. The upper limit for tuition fee loans is £9,250 per annum. A typical undergraduate degree in the UK lasts three years, meaning that the average student debt amounted to £27,000 in 2017. This does not include repayment of any maintenance loan, which, when added to tuition fee debt, can total between £35,000 and £40,000.

    Accommodation Expenses

    Using stats from 2018, the average student rent was £125 per week, or £535 a month, however, those living in London paid an average of £182 a week, or £640 a month. The average annual cost for students is £4,875 (per a 39-week contract). Most rents typically include bills of some sort, although one-third of students will pay bills in addition to rent.

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    At the end of a typical three-year undergraduate degree, the expected total cost for accommodation is pegged at £14,625. A maintenance loan will be available from the government for home and EU students to take care of living expenses (including accommodation). 

    In most cases, students live in university housing for the first year and then relocate to private housing for the second and third years.Note that university accommodation fees will vary depending on where in the UK the student is based and which kind of accommodation they opt for.

    Other essential student expenses

    Utility cost (water, gas and electric) in rented spaces are roughly £50 per month, with mobile phone bills going from £10 to 30. Broadband internet will costs about £20 per month, however this bill is split between tenants.

    Books and university equipment, on average, will go for £15 per week, or £60 per month.

    Outside of London and other major university cities, a single bus journey will cost £1.50 and £45 a month for a student travel card. Students at central London universities will spend roughly £23 a week on travel (covering London Underground, buses, trams and trains) or £90 a month, amounting to an average of £881.40 a year (based on a 39-week term).

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    Students will also benefit from one-third off travel on regional trains with a 16-25 Railcard. To provide context, a single adult ticket that is booked on the day of travel from London to Brighton (a popular destination) will go for £17.50, or £11.50 with a student railcard. Averagely, a litre of petrol will cost £1.16, while a litre of diesel is £1.18.

    Plus self-catered accommodation, food, course costs, transport, socialising and utility contracts, the average living per year for 2016 was £8,990 – that is £26,970 across a three-year study period.

    What financial aid is available

    Most full-time and part-time home or EU students will have the opportunity to apply for and receive a tuition fee loan from the government to pay for their tuition fees.Maintenance loans are equally available to cover living expenses.

    However, note that financial support for international students is alot more complicated as loans are made available only to students who have lived in the UK for a minimum of three years prior to beginning their program.

    There are equally several scholarships, bursaries and grants for international students. It goes without saying that these funding opportunities are super competitive but UK universities are always seeking ways  to boost their international student numbers so take some time to consider all the options. The scholarships on the British Council database are awarded by the UK government and external organisations.Do well to check your university of choice’s website to see whether they have a fitting appropriate scholarship. You can view a full list of postgraduate scholarships here.

    Understandably, studying in the UK is one of the most expensive options in the world, but the availability of student discounts on daily expenses means that students can live affordably while making the most of their experience.

    All students are encouraged to apply for a National Union of Students (NUS) card, which shows proof of student status and offers discounts of up to 50 per cent on technology, food shopping, eating out, going out, media subscriptions, clothes, travel and university purchases. You’ll find separate cards and programmes that provide a broader range of discounts, such as UNiDAYS and Student Beans.

    Banks equally offer student incentives such as free railcards, Amazon vouchers and Apple gadgets. In most university towns, the local companies will encourage students’ custom by awarding discounts.

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