How much does university cost?

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The cost of university in the UK is something that worries students and parents alike. But, how much uni does actually The cost, and will you pay for it in advance? Allow us to explain.

Female graduate looking at university with pound sign in air

Credits: Lana Cray (background), Krakenimages.com (foreground) – Shutterstock

People say that your time as a student will be the best three years of your life. And we agree – it certainly can be.

However, it can also be a very expensive time. With tuition fees and living expenses, the costs add up.

To help you separate fact from fiction, we’ve crunched the numbers to find out the cost of going to university in the UK. And, we’ll explain how that differs from what you’ll actually pay.

How much does university cost in the UK?

Money bag emoji and graduation shakes

It is difficult to give exact figures on how much it costs to go to university. There are many variables that affect the final total. But, using official data and information from our own National Student Money Survey (NSMS), we can give a rough estimate. Around £61,000.

How did we arrive at these figures? Tuition costs for most UK students nearby £9,250 a year (More on this soon) and, most courses last for three years. So let’s say that tuition fees alone will cost most students around £27,750 over the course of their degree.

Cost of living is a little harder to work out than tuition fees. They are much more varied. For this estimate, we will use the average annual cost of living from our NSMS: £11,088 (or £33,264 over three years). but We will explain laterThis number may be higher or lower depending on some factors.

If we take the two figures and apply them to a three-year degree, we can say it costs Around £61,000 To go to university in the UK. This is broken down related to 20,340 pounds a year.

While this sounds like a scary number, you almost certainly won’t be paying that much. and you don’t have to pay When you are actually a student. Discover how the amount you pay differs from what uni actually costs.

Note that these numbers are for UK students only. Tuition fees differ greatly for international and EU students. Fees range from £10,000 to £20,000 per year for most subjects. However, depending on which degree and uni you choose, the cost can be quite high.

How much is the tuition fee in 2022/23?

student from Studying in England Studying in Scotland Studying in Wales Studied in N Ireland
England £9,250 £9,250 £9,000 £9,250
Scotland £9,250 for free £9,000 £9,250
Wells £9,250 £9,250 £9,000 £9,250
Northern Ireland £9,250 £9,250 £9,000 £4,395
Ireland £9,250 for free £9,000 £4,395

As we touched on earlier, there is no set tuition fee in the UK. Instead, the amount you’ll be charged each year depends on where you’re from and where you’re studying in the UK.

For example, if you want to know what the tuition fees are at the University of Edinburgh, the question “What are the fees at Edinburgh?” It won’t be as simple as that. Instead, since Edinburgh is in Scotland, you need to check how tuition fees in Scotland vary based on which part of the UK (or outside) you come from.

You will notice in the table above that annual tuition fees can be as low as £9,000 or £9,250. And, as mentioned earlier, international students (including EU) often have higher tuition fees.

For Scottish students, your tuition will be free if you study in Scotland. The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students in Scotland who started in 2020/21 or earlier will still have free tuition for their full degree. However, EU students who started in the 2021/22 academic year or later must pay the fee.

Similarly, tuition fees for Northern Irish students studying in Northern Ireland are around half that of those in the rest of the UK (£4,630). EU students starting in 2020/21 or earlier can still access these cut-price fees for the full duration of their course. However, EU students starting in 2021/22 or later are not eligible for home-fee charges.

These figures are for full-time students only. Our guide to part-time student finance includes information about tuition fees and financial aid.

Cost of living at university

Piggy bank wearing a graduate cap

The media seems intent on focusing on the cost of tuition. However, the cost of living is arguably the real financial concern for most UK students. And, as we’ve explained before, it’s almost impossible to give an exact figure on how much it will cost you.

That said, we are able to make a reasonable estimate based on where you study.

Each year, thousands of students participate in our national student finance survey. As part of the survey, we ask students to tell us how much they spend each month. From this, we’re able to give you a breakdown of how much you’ll need to spend per month at uni.

The graph below gives an overview of the average spending habits of UK students per month. As you can see, rent is by far the biggest expense (£418), which is almost half of the £924 monthly cost. Food (including takeaways and groceries) is the second biggest expense, totaling £165 per month.

There are also some ‘hidden’ costs which fall into the following categories. Whether it’s paying to rent your graduation gown or stumping up fees to join a sorority, things can add up.

And likewise, different students with different needs may have different costs. Your course may require you to purchase special equipment.

Or, if you have a disability, you may find that there are additional costs associated with going to university. However, the Disability Student Allowance will help you cover these.

Infographic showing the cost of living for students

Source: National Student Money Survey 2022

Of course, these figures may differ from your actual cost of living at uni.

Fares, transport and outings vary widely depending on where you are in the UK. This is why we hesitate to give exact figures for the cost of going to university.

Instead, find out how much the average student spends At every university in the UK. See our guide to student living costs for a full list.

And if you’re thinking “uni costs won’t go down if I study somewhere else”, think again.

As an example, our survey found that the average University College London (UCL) student spends £572 per month on living costs (excluding rent). Even before rent this is £66 more than the average UK student.

If we look at the University of St Andrews, things are quite different. Here, students are spending just £239 a month (again, excluding rent). This is £267 less than the national average and £333 less a month than what students are spending at UCL.

Both UCL and St Andrews are prestigious universities. Cost of living is the only factor so The difference is that they are in different parts of the UK. These figures are really worth considering when choosing a university.

UCL and St Andrews are not the only two universities with different costs of living. As our student cost of living guide shows, other units can be much cheaper or more expensive based on their location.

How much money do you actually pay for university?

10 pound note

The numbers we put up are big, there’s no denying it. But, when it comes to student finance, remember the cost of university not the same What you provide.

For the first time in the UK almost all students are entitled to a tuition fee loan. This will cover the cost of tuition completely. Note that this is only for home-fee students. International students do not have access to student finance in the UK.

As for your living expenses, most UK students are eligible for a maintenance loan to help with them. It is worth noting that the loan may not be enough to fully cover your living expenses. You can find out more about funding options in our big guide to student finance.

Student loans are not like regular loans. You’ll only pay 9% of your earnings above a threshold. If your salary falls below that figure, you automatically stop paying.

What’s more, any outstanding student loans in your name are canceled approximately 30 years after you graduate. This is the case regardless of how much or how little you paid.

We explain this a lot There’s more detail in our guide to paying off your student loans, but the take-home message is that you shouldn’t be put off by the price tag of going to uni. There’s a good chance you won’t pay anything close to it.

Make sure you get all the student bursaries you’re entitled to.


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