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How much does it cost for a degree in the UK

Posted by jdavis on October 30, 2015

An April 2015 article reviews the cost of studying at university in the UK, giving food for thought for would-be undergraduates and their families.  UK tuition fees are frequently under the media spotlight, following price hikes for home students in recent years. 

The overall cost to study in the UK, according to the www.topuniversities.com article, is dependent on many factors, including institution, course, location and funding opportunities and could be less than the headlines suggest.


There are two levels of tuition fees at publicly funded UK universities, namely, Home student fees (including EU students) and International student fees.

For home students, institutions in England and Wales can charge up to a maximum of £9,000 per year for undergraduate degree programs; in Northern Ireland up to £3,575 per year, whilst in Scotland an undergraduate degree is effectively free for students from Scotland and the EU. 

It should be noted that the Scottish definition of “home” student differs slightly, in that it doesn’t include students from the rest of the UK – i.e. England, Wales or Northern Ireland.  Students from the rest of the UK who want to undertake an undergraduate degree in Scotland will need to pay between £6,630 and £9,000. 

There’s also good news for students from Wales, who only need to pay £3,810 per year in UK tuition fees to study anywhere in the UK, with the rest covered by the Welsh Government.

The amounts given above indicate the maximum amount public universities are allowed to charge.  More than half of universities in England and Wales charge the maximum of £9,000 per year – however at a (diminishing) number of universities, the annual tuition fees are £6,000 for undergraduate home students. 

Home students may be able to receive some funding from one of the UK’s research councils, the university itself, or via a career sponsorship scheme.


According to recent figures from the National Union of Students (NUS), the average annual cost of living in England (outside of London) for students is £12,056.

If you wish to study in London, you should expect to pay £13,521.  

Sources: www.topuniversities.com (Article: April 2015); www.nus.org.uk

The next question is: will you get a return for your money?

Well, if you're going to study for a sure fire high earning activity, such as medicine or finance (for the City) then you will.

If you need a degree to work in your chosen field then again you will obtain the return you seek.

However, increasingly, entire professions and industries offer starter jobs without degrees.  So, consider carefully the reasons for going to on to Tertiary Education at age 18 or so.  Would it be better to delay, until you have a few years' work experience?  Or would it even be better to do it part time, later on?  Or not at all?

It seems to me when c 10% of school leavers went to University, degrees were more valuable than today when the proportion is nigh on 50%.  Yet, when it was 10% degrees were free.  Now they cost a lot of money.

A BBC Radio London presenter had a debate with me about the value of going to Uni.  He used the age old statistic that a degree raises your lifetime earnings by hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Immediately, I retorted that that statistic refers to graduates of 35 years ago - not recent graduates, when 'everyone' has a degree.

Of course, it's not all about money.  But, depending on what University you go to and what course you study, it very well could be.  And in many cases it is.

Have you noticed how many graduates work in call centres earning not much more than the minimum wage?  They hardly needed to go to University and come out with tens of thousands of pounds of debts.


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