What finance options are available if I want to study in the UK?

If you to study in the UK, you might be able to get some financial assistance in the form of scholarships, finance and loans. Here we explain the differences between the three main options.

What types of scholarships are there?

There are lots of scholarships to study in the UK. This is great news, but it’s important to remember they have strict eligibility criteria and are highly competitive.
There are also more scholarships, bursaries, and fee waivers available for postgraduate and research students rather than undergraduates, so find out what the university offers before applying.
Here are the main state governed scholarships schemes for international students in the UK:
  • Chevening Scholarship is a UK scheme for scholarships that financially support international students with academic potential. 
  • Commonwealth Scholarships financially support students from developing Commonwealth countries to study in the UK. Scholarships are typically awarded to postgraduate students, to cover tuition and transport, and offer a monthly allowance.

How do I find a scholarship?

Applications for scholarships involve completing a form, but sometimes you may be asked to complete an assignment, test or to attend an interview.

Research the criteria and your eligibility before applying, and prepare a strong application.

The following organisations have online databases listing scholarships:

What do I need to receive a scholarship?

Universities offer scholarships and bursaries to students with many different skills.

Academic merit and excellence scholarships are awarded to students with a strong academic background. This isn’t just good grades, but also includes extracurricular achievements and future ambitions.

Subject-specific scholarships are given by the university department and they are usually donated by an external organisation, or in memory of a former professor. The eligibility criteria is focused on your interest, skills, and experience in that subject. This type of scholarship may also cover your equipment and research, plus it looks great on your CV.

Performance-based scholarships are awarded to those who have exceptional ability in things like sports, music, or performing. You do not have to study a related degree, but you may be expected to take part in certain activities relevant to your skills – for example, play sports for your university, or join the band. This scholarship is not intended to cover your tuition, but instead to help develop your skills and contribute towards living costs.

Equal access or sanctuary scholarships are available for refugees and asylum seekers who have fled persecution in their home country.

Can I get a student loan?

If you are an international non-EU student, it's unlikely you will be able to get a student loan from the Government.

Some universities will create their own student loan schemes for talented students from low-income backgrounds, including non-EU students. Contact the university you're interested in attending to ask if they run a student loan scheme, and what the eligibility requirements are.

Can I get a private grant?

Private grants are another financial option for international students studying in the UK. Companies and non-governmental organisations have finance options to help students complete their higher education. 

If you take out a private loan, always read the agreement before you sign it. These loans often come with repayment time limits and interest. Some companies will give students a loan under the condition they work for them once they have completed their degree. 

Remember, as an international student in the UK there are no guarantees with these financial options, so always think about how you can finance your studies if these options are not available to you.

EU student fees update

In a written statement on 23 June 2020, Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, announced that from August 2021 EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status undergraduate, postgraduate, and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22. This change will also apply to further education funding for those aged 19+, and funding for apprenticeships.

Note that EU students entering HE in 2020/21 will continue to pay home fees for the duration of their course and be eligible for the UK’s EU settlement scheme if they arrived before the end of this year (31 December 2020). Students who start university or college in the 2020/21 academic year but arrive after 31 December 2020 will also be eligible for home fees but will need to apply for a student visa.

This will not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals under the Common Travel Area arrangement.

Governments in the rest of the UK are yet to confirm arrangements, but we’ll communicate their position as soon as it is known.

Update 9 July: Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, announced details of the tuition fee arrangements for EU students starting a course in Scotland from the 2021-22 academic year. EU students will have to pay tuition fees from 2021/22. Note that EU students who have already started their studies, or who start this autumn, will not be affected. View the announcement.

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