UK University Tuition Fees
UK universities are allowed to set their own tuition fees up to a maximum of £9,000 pa with private universities free to charge as they choose.
The cost of university, borne by individuals, will vary according to the course they choose, the institution they attend and where they live within the UK or EU. English dwellers will be hardest hit; students from Scotland, Wales and the EU will, in many instances, have a significant proportion of their study costs covered - as we explain.
Scottish universities - ever mindful of providing value for money (but not wishing to be viewed as 'budget') - are expected to undercut English universities (though prospective students should factor in 4 years of study for many courses north of the border, rather than the 3 in England). Private universities will become increasingly competitive and while some fees will be higher than the maximum permitted for state universities, some won't be too far adrift - indeed those offering two year degree courses may actually work out cheaper!
How much of the cost of fees you are expected to pay varies according to circumstances and where, within the UK you usually reside. A loan, paid directly to the university, is available to cover the cost of tuition fees (where applicable) with maintenance loans and grants available to full-time students to cushion the blow of living costs. As these are loans, they will have to be repaid - and with interest accruing immediately.
- £7,675 for students who live away from home and study at a university or college in London
- £5,500 for those who live away from home and study at a university or college outside London
- £4,375 for those who study within the UK but live at home
Extra financial help for students from low income families
For less well-off students Maintenance Grants are available. The top-rate of £3,250 is available to qualifying students whose household income is £25,000 or less, with reduced maintenance grants for those with a household income of between £25,000 and £42,600. Once registered on a course the loans and grants are paid directly into the student's bank account at the start of each term, provided applications are submitted in time.
Additional information for students living or studying in Wales
Students from Wales will be liable for the first £3,375* of their tuition fees with the balance paid by The Welsh Government via a Tuition Fee grant - regardless of family income or where in the UK they study. Students from the EU, (excluding England, Scotland and Northern Ireland), who choose to study in Wales, will also be eligible for this grant. As this is a grant it is not repayable.
For students who reside in Wales (for a qualifying period prior to study), a student loan is available from The Student Loan Company for the balance of their tuition fees (currently £3,375*). Students will be expected to pay back the loan once they earn in excess of £21,000. At any point when annual income exceeds £21,000 repayments will be a minimum of 9% of the difference between repayment threshold and annual income.
*£3,375 is the 2011 figure; it is anticipated this will be increased, in line with inflation, on an annual basis.
Additional information for Scottish students
Eligible Scottish students - resident and studying in Scotland do not have to pay any tuition fees for a first degree or equivalent.
To help with living costs, means-tested loans are available up to £5,417 a year for those who live away from home and £4,457 for those who live at home. Where household income exceeds £60,600 a year the minimum of £915 will apply. Low income families may be eligible for up to £2,640 bursary support plus an additional loan up to £785. Those eligible for the Independent Students' Bursary can get up to £1,000 a year but this replaces part of the student loan, and does depend on household income
The maximum available to Scottish students who study in London is £6,502, and elsewhere £5,417. The Students' Outside Scotland Bursary (SOSB) provides up to £2,150 to young and mature students from low income families who choose to study within the UK but outside of Scotland; with an additional loan of up to £785 available to this group.
Scottish domiciled students who intend to study outside of Scotland, at an institution elsewhere in the UK, can apply for a loan of up to £3,375* a year towards tuition fees – this is not income dependent.
Funding is not usually available for Scottish students who choose to study elsewhere in the EU unless it is for part of a home-based course either compulsory, voluntarily or as part of an Erasmus or similar exchange.
EU students studying in Scotland (excluding those from the UK) do not have to pay tuition fees but they are ineligible for student loans.
*Figure may be adjusted for 2012
University scholarships and bursaries
In addition to grants and loans a number of universities offer scholarships and bursaries.
Scholarships are not usually means tested but are subject to availability, are usually only available for certain subjects and awarded to top grade students.
Bursaries are means tested with awards decreasing as household income increases. Bursaries are not usually granted if family annual income exceeds £50k. Unlike loans, grants and bursaries do not need to be repaid (as long as any conditions attached remain fulfilled). See individual university websites for details.
UK universities have long welcomed students from overseas. Those living within the EU may find they qualify for free or reduced price tuition at Scottish and Welsh universities . International students will not be eligible from any of the UK bodies for assistance with living expenses though their home government may provide help. International students who live outside of the EU usually pay a higher level of tuition fee than that levied on home and EU students. If you are unsure of your residency status The UK Council for International Student Affairs has up-to-date information on those who qualify for 'home student fees'.
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