Why should I study in the United Kingdom?

The country is known as the home of both modern parliamentary democracy and the Industrial Revolution...

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How to Study in the UK

Known for its high-quality university system and inhabitants with a quirky sense of humor, the UK is situated in north-western Europe. Whereas Scotland, England, and Wales share one island, the UK’s fourth constituent part of Northern Ireland borders on the Republic of Ireland on the neighboring island.

The United Kingdom’s Higher Education System

Generally speaking, there are 3 degree levels in the UK, foundation pathway courses, undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Foundation pathway courses serve to prepare you for attending a UK higher education institution, should your academic and/or English language skills are not sufficient for studying on a degree programme straight away.

The below table shows the national breakdown of UK universities and how they stand across the spectrum of above average (receiving a score of ‘A’ (very good) or ‘B’ (good)), or below average (receiving a score of ‘D’ (below average) or ‘E’ (weak)). In doing so, U-Multirank offers a clear picture on the countries strengths and areas for improvement. UK higher education institutions perform strongest in U-Multirank’s teaching & learning, international orientation, and research dimensions.

National performance: United Kingdom

Percent of all Universities 100% 80% 60% 40% < below Average above > 40% 60% 80% 100% Teaching & Learning 3% 87% Research 30% 49% Knowledge Transfer 58% 33% International Orientation 24% 68% Regional Engagement 43% 36%

What are the entry requirements for universities in the UK?

If you are interested in studying at undergraduate level, you will need to do this through UCAS, the UK’s Universities and College Admissions Service. For postgraduate degrees including doctoral degrees, you are required to check the individual entry requirements of the individual courses. However, you are likely to need transcripts of the university degree, a reference letter and a personal statement outlining why you wish to pursue your programme of choice. Moreover, you will also need to pass an approved English language test equivalent to CEFR (Common European Framework for Languages) level B2, for instance, IELTS.

How much does it cost to study in the UK?

Fees vary greatly in the UK, depending on the level of study, the university of choice and your status as EU/third country citizen. Please consult the individual study programme website of your university of choice.

Addition of information on fees and financial support

Source: Eurydice 
Reference year(s): 2020/2021

Fees

In this section we highlight the fees for studying in United Kingdom. The fees are shown in the national currency and address all fee types: tuition, enrolment (part- or full-time, etc.), certification, or other administrative costs. Students that are exempt from fees are also described, as well as information on international student fees if they differ.

United Kingdom - England

  • All students pay tuition fees.
  • Fees for full-time first- and short-cycle students are set by institutions and capped at GBP 9,250/year for public higher education institutions that hold both an access agreement and a Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) award. In 2018/19, the average full-time first-cycle annual fee was GBP 8,643. 
  • Second-cycle full- and part-time tuition fees are unregulated and vary by institution and course. In 2018/19, the average annual fee for second-cycle full-time studies was GBP 5,149.
  • For international students (non-UK and non-EU/EEA), fees are unregulated.

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

United Kingdom - Wales

  • All students pay tuition fees.
  • Fees for full-time first- and short-cycle students are set by institutions but capped at GBP 9,000/year for institutions with an approved fee and access plan.  In 2018/19, first-cycle full-time home students paid on average GBP 4,226.
  • Second-cycle full- and part-time tuition fees are unregulated and vary by institution and course. In 2018/19, second-cycle full-time home students paid on average GBP 2,739.
  • For international students (non-UK and non-EU/EEA students), fees are unregulated.

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

United Kingdom - Northern Ireland

  • All students pay tuition fees.
  • Fees for full-time first- and short-cycle students are set by institutions but capped at GBP 4,395/year. The average annual fee for full-time first-cycle home students was GBP 4,045 in 2018/19.
  • Second-cycle full- and part-time tuition fees are unregulated and vary by institution and course. The average annual fee for full-time second-cycle home students was GBP 2,527 in 2018/19.
  • For international students (non-UK and non-EU/EEA), fees are unregulated.

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

United Kingdom - Scotland

  • Short-cycle and first-cycle Scottish and EU students who study for their first degree full-time do not pay fees. 
  • Second-cycle fulltime programmes: fees are unregulated and vary widely. 
  • Fees for international (non-EU) students are unregulated and set by the higher education institutions. Fees are usually higher for international students than for home students.

Source: Eurydice - National Student Fees and Support Systems in European Higher Education – 2020/21.

Financial Support

In this section we highlight the financial support system implemented in United Kingdom. The types of support covered in this section include: grants, loans, tax benefits for students' parents (or students themselves) and family allowances.  How these terms are defined, are outlined below:

  • Grants are provided in the national currency and are differentiated between merit-based and need-based (or universal, where applicable). All main public financial support that does not need to be paid back is included, with the exception of grants for study abroad (i.e. mobility grants). Information is also presented on the proportion of students (in the short, first and second cycle) who receive grants.
  • Loans: information focuses on the existence of a student publicly-subsidised loan system and the percentage of students that take out a loan. Information on the interest rate and modalities for the repayment of loans may also be provided.
  • Tax benefit is any tax relief that is granted to parents whose child is a higher education student or to students themselves. The information aims to cover the amount of the tax relief, how it can be claimed and who is eligible to apply.
  • Family allowances for students' parents: this part provides information on their amount and the eligible population.

United Kingdom - England

  • First- and short-cycle full-time students can apply for a tuition fee loan to cover the full fee; they are not required to pay tuition fees up front. Loan repayments are income-contingent and set at 9,% of earnings above the threshold of GBP 25,000; interest rates are Retail Price Index (inflation) plus 3 %. In 2017/18, 94% of full-time students took out a tuition fee loan.
  • Loans for living costs (known as maintenance loans) are available to first- and short-cycle full-time students. The maximum annual amount in 2020/21 for students living at home is GBP 7,747. For students living away from home, the maximum is GBP 9,203 outside London and GBP 12,010 in London. Repayments are as for tuition fee loans. In 2017/18, 89% of those eligible took out a loan for living costs. Extra support is available for students who have dependent children or adults, or who have certain disabilities. In 2017/18, 94% of full-time first-cycle and 14% of second-cycle students took out either or both of the loans.
  • Part-time first- and short-cycle students studying a course of at least 25% intensity can apply for a loan to cover the tuition fees. Part-time students may also apply for loans for living costs, worth up to the same maxima as for full-time students but pro-rated according to course intensity.
  • Second-cycle: a system of non-means-tested loans for full- or part-time students on taught or research-based master’s courses is in place. In 2020/21, this loan is worth GBP 11,222 across the whole course (a proportion is paid each year for courses lasting longer than one year). The loan can be used towards tuition fees or living costs. Loan repayments are income-contingent and set at 6% of earnings above the threshold of GBP 21,000.
  • No grants, tax benefits for students' parents or family allowances are available.

United Kingdom - Wales

  • First- and short-cycle full-time students are eligible for a universal grant for living costs of GBP 1,000/year. An additional grant amount for living costs is dependent on household income, with a maximum grant of GBP 8,100/year for students with a household income of GBP 18,370 or less who live away from home, and GBP 6,885 for students living at home.
  • Students can also apply for a loan for living costs. The maximum loan varies according to grant entitlement. The total support package of grant and loan is up to GBP 9,810 for students living away from home and GBP 8,335 for students living at home. Reforms introduced in 2018/19 increased support for living costs but removed the previous tuition fee grant.
  • First- and short-cycle full-time students can also apply for a tuition fee loan to cover the full fee; they are not required to pay tuition fees up front. Tuition fee loan repayments are income-contingent and set at 9% of earnings above the threshold of GBP 25,000; interest rates are Retail Price Index plus 3%.
  • Part-time first- and short-cycle students studying a course of at least 25% intensity can apply for a tuition fee loan of up to GBP 2,625, and for a mixture of grants and loans for living costs, up to a maximum of GBP 4,987.50.
  • Second-cycle full- and part-time students on taught or research-based master’s courses can apply for a maximum grant of GBP 6,885 and a loan of GBP 10,604 (for those with household income of GBP 18,370 and below) across the whole course. A proportion is paid each year for courses lasting longer than one year. Loan repayments are income-contingent and set at 6% of earnings above the threshold of GBP 21,000. Overall, in 2018/19, 96.2% of full-time first-cycle and 20% of second-cycle students took out either or both of the loans.
  • No tax benefits for students' parents or family allowances are available.

United Kingdom - Northern Ireland

  • Need-based grants for living costs (known as maintenance grants) of GBP 3,475/year are available to first- and short-cycle students with a household income of GBP 19,203 or less. Partial grants are awarded to students whose household income is up to GBP 41,065. In 20186/19, 53% of applicants for support received a maintenance grant (32% of applicants received a full grant and 21% a partial grant).
  • First- and short-cycle full-time students can apply for a tuition fee loan to cover the full fee; they are not required to pay tuition fees up front. Loan repayments are income-contingent and set at 9% of earnings above the threshold of GBP 19,390.
  • Loans for living costs (known as maintenance loans) are available for all first- and short-cycle full-time students. The maximum amount is GBP 3,750/year for students living at home while studying, and GBP 4,840/year for students living away from home outside London (and GBP 6,780 for students living away from home in London). The amount available may reduce for students who receive a need-based grant for living costs (see above). Repayments are as for tuition fee loans. In 2017/18, 94.5% of full-time first-cycle and 29% of second-cycle students took out either or both of the loans.
  • Part-time first- and short-cycle students may be eligible for a need-based grant towards the payment of fees. The amount payable depends upon course intensity and household income; the maximum is GBP 1,230/year. First-cycle part-time students studying with at least 25% intensity can also receive a non-means tested tuition fee loan of up to GBP 3,120/year. Loan repayments are income-contingent and made at the rate of 9% of income above the earning threshold of GBP 17,775 per annum.
  • Second-cycle full- and part-time students can receive a non-means tested tuition fee loan of up to GBP 5,500 (a proportion is paid each year for courses lasting longer than one year). Repayments are income-contingent as for first-cycle part-time students.
  • No tax benefits for students' parents or family allowances are available.

United Kingdom - Scotland

  • Both grants and loans are available to full-time first-cycle and short-cycle students, and only loans to second-cycle students, Eligibility and amounts depend on the level of household income.
  • The 'Young Student’s Bursary' (grant) of up to GBP 2,000 per year is available to first-cycle students under the age of 25 at the start of their course with a household income below GBP 21,000. The 'Independent Students' Bursary' of up to GBP 1,000 per year is available to students aged at least 25, with a dependent child or married/co-habiting, and with a household income below GBP 21,000. Additional support is also available to students (short-, first- and second-cycle) who incur extra costs related to a disability or learning difficulty under the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). Bursaries are administered by SAAS.
  • Depending on household income, 'young students' in the first cycle can take out a maximum loan of GBP 5,750 per year, and 'independent students' a maximum of GBP 6,750 per year. Regardless of their income, all eligible students can apply for a student loan of GBP 4,750 per year. Students become liable to repay their loans in April after they graduate or leave their course. Scottish students who took out loans in 2020/21 are on repayment plan 1 with a current interest rate of 1.1%. Repayments for loans are normally deducted from earnings by employers at the rate of 9% of income above GBP 19,380. Living cost loans are available to students until the age of 60. No data are available on the proportion of loan beneficiaries among students.
  • In 2020/21, the maximum support package in the first cycle – grants and loans combined – is GBP 7,750 per year.
  • A part-time fee grant (PTFG) is available to Scottish and EU students studying between 30-119 SCQF credits (equivalent to 15-59.5 ECTS) per academic year. The level of grant is calculated on a pro-rata amount based on the number of SCQF credits studied and the full-time fee level awarded to full-time students (1,820).
  • Second-cycle students can apply for a fee loan of up to GBP 5,500 over the duration of the course (GBP 2,250 for part-time). Eligible second-cycle students may also apply for a living cost loan of up to GBP 4,500 over the duration of the course. 64% of second-cycle students applied for a fee loan in 2018/19.
  • No tax benefits for students' parents or family allowances are in place.

How to get a Scholarship in the UK?

No matter the reason, paying high tuition fees can be a source of stress for many. However, there are many options for financing your studies, including the use of scholarships. There are various scholarship opportunities available for international students looking to study in UK. Depending on your country of origin and the level of studies, there are different options for funding. To explore what scholarship options are available, check this scholarship database.

Do I need a Student Visa for the UK?

International students looking to study in the UK can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa. Before applying, make sure you:

For more detailed information, visit https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/student-visas.

* Please note: There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021. You and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.

 

 

How do British Universities fare in U-Multirank?

  1. In 2020, U-Multirank covers 155 out of 162 UK universities.
  2. In global perspective, UK universities are strong in the Teaching & Learning and International Orientation dimensions. For example, 80 UK universities have a top score (‘A’) in International Joint Publications, and 77 in Top-cited Publications.
  3. The strong performance of UK universities is shown by the fact that 27 universities reached top positions ( ‘A’ scores) in 10 or more indicators. These universities received their top scores across all 5 U-Multirank dimensions.
  4. Across the 5 U-Multirank performance dimensions, 2 institutions achieved 15 top scores (King’s College London, University College London). The University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford reached 14 top scores overall, whereas 5 further institutions score 13 As: The University of Dundee, the University of Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Queen Mary - University of London.
  5. In our selection of 10 indicators, 14 UK universities received 24 global top-25 performer entries. 2 universities are listed on 3 Indicators: London Business School (Income from Continuous Professional Development activities, International Joint Publications, and Top Cited Publications) and The Institute of Cancer Research (Co-Publications with Industrial Partners, Regional Joint Publications, and Top Cited Publications). The highest number of UK universities are listed for International Joint publications (7), Research Publications – absolute number (5) and Top-cited Publications (5).
The UK's Higher Education Performance in U-Multirank

Where to study in United Kingdom

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