Student Finance in England: Your Complete Guide
Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London School of Economics… just some of the top UK institutions enticing students from all over the world. It is certainly a fantastic place to study (both for international students and those already living in the country), with world-class institutions, relatively low living costs and diverse student communities.

If you're thinking of studying in England – you'll have probably already heard about tuition fees. Getting your student finance in place is an essential part of your study journey, but the amounts involved can come as a shock! For anyone unfamiliar with the system, it can be daunting getting to grips with what tuition fees actually are, and how to properly finance your studies.

To put your mind at ease and simplify your applications, we've created your ultimate guide to tuition fees and funding in England. We'll explain what tuition fees are, how much they usually cost as well as the various options for scholarships, grants and student loans.

So if you're feeling ready – let's get started!

What are tuition fees?

Tuition fees are simply the amount charged by your university or college for enrolment on a particular course. They will cover key aspects of academic life (such as teaching in lectures, seminars and tutorials as well as access to libraries and computers), as well as core services provided by the university such as admin costs, upkeep of laboratories and student support services.

It's important to note that tuition fees are not completely inclusive – and there will be many things you'll have to pay for in addition. This could include services such as printing, textbooks, personal equipment such as laptops, field trips as well as your overall living costs.

With this in mind, it's vital to ensure you have the proper finances in place when planning your application. There's in-depth information on the money you need for a student visa from the UK government website, but this should include both your tuition fees and additional living costs.

If you're ever unsure what's included in your tuition fees (and what isn't!), get in touch directly with your university or college – their administration team will be happy to confirm.

How much do tuition fees cost?

Tuition fees vary substantially from institution to institution – even for similar courses. With this in mind, it is always best to check with the individual college or universities that you are applying to.

In general however, tuition fees can cost up to £9,250 for anyone who can prove residency within England. This increases for international students, with payments starting at around £10,000 and rising to £38,000 (or more!) for medical degrees.

Humanities courses tend to be the cheapest (i.e. English, Philosophy or History) – as these subjects require minimal technical equipment and field trips. Courses involving laboratory or clinical study will be the most expensive.

Whilst this is a significant amount of money, don't let it put you off! There's a significant amount of financial help and scholarships available...

What financial help is available?

Whilst student loans from the UK government are only available to those living in the UK, many universities have created their own student loan schemes for talented international students.

Scholarships, grants and bursaries are all options, but (given the high costs of fees!) they are highly sought-after. These awards mean that a university will pay some (or all) of your tuition fees, and as part of the process you may have to attend additional interviews and tests.

With competition high, be sure to prepare a strong application showcasing your extracurricular achievements, academic history and future ambitions. Contact the university you are applying to in the first instance, and they'll be able to provide information on eligibility criteria.

Aside from individual universities, two of the largest schemes for financial help are:

You can also find more information on finding a scholarship from International Scholarships, UCAS or the British Council.

Do remember that in the aftermath of Brexit, student finance rules have recently changed for EU students – many of whom will no longer be eligible for home fee status (i.e. capped at £9,250). If you are unsure of your own status, contact your university who'll be able to advise.

Applying for a student loan

Now, this section only applies to students who can fulfil the following residency requirements. If you are resident of another country, the previous section (regarding scholarships and grants) will be more applicable to your needs.

But to qualify for a UK student loan, you must be either:

  • A UK national, or

  • Have settled status, or

  • Have lived in the UK for three years before beginning your course

Student loans are provided by Student Finance England and the Student Loans Company, and usually consist of Tuition Fee loans (set by your university or college) and a Maintenance Loan, which covers your living costs. Accommodation fees are separate to this.

Both of these loans will have to be paid back once your course ends and you are earning above a minimum salary. Repayment systems vary from country to country, so if you're moving abroad from England after your course has finished – it's best to clarify your repayment plan with the Student Loans Company.

Details on how to apply for a student loan are available from the government website. If you are applying, note that it can take up to six weeks for applications to be processed – so make sure to start the process as soon as you have received an offer from your university of choice!

Additional funding

You may also be able to access additional financial support if you are registered disabled (via the Disabled Students Allowance), have child dependents, or a mental health condition. To apply for this, you may have to undergo additional assessments so that funding providers can understand your situation or disability.

Do ask your university or college if you have any concerns (particularly in relation to funding or disability adjustments), and they'll do their best to help.

For anyone starting their study journey in England, we wish you all the very best of luck. Whilst tuition fees in England can be quite expensive, there is a large amount of help available – for both international and home students. Whatever course and university you choose, English academic institutions provide a fantastic quality of education and top career prospects. An investment in education is an investment in yourself, so spend it wisely!