Postgraduate fees and funding FAQs for overseas students

What does postgraduate study in the UK cost?

You can divide the cost of your postgraduate education into two broad categories – tuition fees and living costs.

Tuition fees

Unless you are from a nation belonging to the European Union (EU), you will be charged tuition fees for your course at the international rate (for details and exceptions see 'Do I have to pay fees at the overseas rate?'). The actual figure will vary slightly across universities and courses, but it tends to be in the range of £8,000–£12,000 for one-year programmes. (There are exceptions: MBAs and some other business courses can cost significantly more – above £30,000 in some cases.) You will find information on fees for each programme on the university's website. If you are doing your research well in advance of your start date, you should be aware that fees can rise slightly from year to year – the university will usually indicate how much this increase is likely to be if they haven't yet announced the actual figure for the next year.

Living expenses

Usually the largest components of your living expenses are accommodation and food. However, you must also factor in day-to-day expenses (provisions, household articles, toiletries), study-related expenses that are covered by the tuition fees (books, stationery, a computer if you need one), and entertainment (the occasional movie or weekend travel). Costs can vary considerably depending on which part of the UK you are studying in, but tend to be in the range of £7,000–£10,000 for one year. Estimates of living expenses can usually be found on your university website, but what you actually spend will depend on your particular lifestyle.

Do I have to pay postgraduate fees at the overseas rate?

The level of fees you pay will depend mainly on your nationality (or residency status). In general, you will pay the 'home' fee if you hold a UK or EU passport. However, there are other categories of students who qualify for the 'home' fee. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has comprehensive information sheets describing who is eligible to pay fees at the home rate.

What methods of payment are accepted by a university?

This will depend on your university. In general, there is a wide variety of options including payment by cash, cheque, credit/debit card or bank transfer.

Can I pay my further study fees in instalments?

The year's tuition fee represents a very large sum of money for international students, and it is possible that you will be unable to pay the entire amount at one go. Many universities will allow self-financing students to pay their tuition fee in instalments, though a small charge may be levied if you make use of this option. Whichever option you choose, you will have to demonstrate to the university before you begin your course that you will be able to meet all costs related to your postgraduate study.

What sources of funding for postgrad courses are available in the UK?

While some of the standard sources of postgraduate funding are restricted to UK or EU nationals, there is a range of options meant specifically for international students. The first place to look for these is the British Council – visit them if they have a branch where you live, or look up their website. Some scholarship schemes include:

The Overseas Research Students (ORS) Awards Scheme (only for research degrees at certain universities; pays the difference between 'home' and 'overseas' fee, so that you only have to pay as much as a home student)

www.orsas.ac.uk/

The British Chevening Scholarships (for overseas students whose study will enable them to participate in development work in their home country).

www.chevening.org/

The Shell Centenary Chevening Scholarships (offered at certain universities; not all nationalities are eligible) 

The Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan (for students from certain commonwealth countries; you will need to apply well in advance of the start date of your programme)

www.csfp-online.org/index.html

Scottish International Scholarships (for study in Scotland; open to students from India and China)

www.scotlandscholarship.com/

DFID Shared Scholarship Scheme (for students from developing countries of the Commonwealth whose area of study will be relevant to development work in their home country)

www.cscuk.dfid.gov.uk

Can I get funding from the university offering the postgrad degree?

Being offered funding in the form of a teaching or research assistantship from your university is very unlikely, especially in the case of a taught postgraduate course. At the PhD level, however, university departments may offer fully funded studentships. You should find out if externally funded scholarships are offered in partnership with the university you are applying to: details will be available on the university's website.

What other sources of funding are there?

What you are looking for may be closer to home than you imagined - scholarships or funding opportunities from your own country will often be on offer for students going abroad to study. These may be funded by government, private companies or charitable organisations/trusts.

How can I fund my studies if none of the above works out?

Not landing a scholarship or funding for your programme does not necessarily mean you will have to give up the opportunity to study in the UK. If you think your course is going to be a worthwhile investment in financial terms (ie if it will lead to a significant increase in earning potential), you might want to consider paying for it out of your savings or raising an education loan in your home country. Nowadays several banks offer loans to students going abroad to study. Shop around and find one with terms that suit you – look at the interest rate and how long you have to repay the loan.

There's another possibility to consider: if you are already working and have established your usefulness to your organisation, you might be able to get your employer to fund your study. If your employer mentioned this possibility when you were being hired, you are probably in with a good chance. However, you should be aware that some organisations will require you to commit to working for them for a certain number of years after you finish your course – if you cannot afford to make this commitment, you should look elsewhere for funding.