To have a realistic idea of the cost of studying in UK, you have to add up all your expenses – not just your tuition fees. In this post, we tell you about 15 things to consider when planning your university budget.
1. Tuition Fees
£12,719 – £24,190
If you’re an international student from outside the EEA (European Economic Area) you pay ‘overseas’ tuition fees in the UK. Universities decide their own fees and charge more for some subjects or degrees.
Remember, these are the average YEARLY fees – annual fees can be lower at some universities, around £11,500, while at others they are £16,000 – £18,000. MBA fees especially can vary a lot: the most expensive MBA programme in the UK costs £48,000.
If your course is longer than one year, ask your university if your tuition fees will increase every year and by how much.
2. Student Room
£3,200 – £7,3000
On average, student rent is £80 – £140 per room, per week.
But again, it can vary, mostly depending on where you rent and how big the place is. In some cities and neighbourhoods you could pay £250 or more per week for just one room. But there are some towns in the UK where you could pay as little as £50 – £60 per week.
When you work out your rent, check how long your ‘academic year’ is. The undergraduate academic year is around 40 weeks, so you could pay £3,200 – £5,600 in rent for the year. Postgraduates (Masters and PhD students) usually rent for 52 weeks and so pay around £4,200 – £7,300 per year.
University and private halls aren’t always cheaper than renting privately, especially if they’re new and offer great facilities, like having your own bathroom. But an advantage is that your bills are usually included.
£0 – £500
When you rent privately, you usually have to pay for electricity, gas, water and wifi on top of your rent. In student halls these are already included in your rent.
How much you will pay for bills often depends on whether you rent alone or share. It’s cheaper if you can split the cost with your house- / flatmates. Usually, when sharing your bills add up to £30 – £40 per month.
On top of that, if you watch live tv you will need to add the cost of a TV Licence which is £145.50 per tv, per year. Again, you can save if you can share this cost with others.
4. Food / Supermarket
£1,500 – £2,200
People will always tell you, how much you spend on food depends on your own habits. True, home-cooking is usually cheaper than eating out every day.
But food in the UK may be more expensive than what you’re used to. We reckon you will need around £50 for your weekly trip to the supermarket. This should also cover items like shampoo, toothpaste, bathroom cleaner, washing up liquid, laundry detergent and other essentials.
If you love cooking and you’re staying in a student hall, make sure the hall is ‘self-catered’.
Usually, only self-catered student halls will have a kitchen in which you can do proper cooking. Catered halls might only have a microwave oven, which is good enough for heating up meals – but have you tried cooking in them?
If your hall is catered, check if your meals are included in the price of the room. If they’re not, ask if you will get a discount or ‘credit’ for buying food at the university.
5. Books & Printing
£150 – £300
We love books and love buying books, but course textbooks can get expensive, especially for some subjects or when you have to buy lots of them.
If you don’t mind used books, you can get some great deals on AbeBooks, UniList and Sell Student Stuff. You could also get ebooks as they’re cheaper and you won’t have to worry about sending them home or selling them afterwards.
Also, if your university has a really well-equipped library, you may not spend much on books at all. You should though add something in your budget for printing your essays / dissertation and for photocopying.
6. Mobile Phone
£100 – £150
A mobile phone SIM card, whether you get a pay-as-you-go card or a contract, shouldn’t cost you much. Around £15 – £20 per month or less if you use your free minutes or the free apps available to make calls and send messages.
7. Public Transport
£0 – 1,200
If you live on the university campus or close to where your classes are, your public transport costs can be close to zero.
But if you need to take a bus, train or the underground this could add up to £10 – £20 per week.
Sometimes you have no choice but to live in a different area, for example if rent near the university is expensive. Or, if your university is in a quiet area and you want more entertainment and events, you might have to travel into the nearest town quite often and the cost can add up.
8. Entertainment and Socialising
£1,000 – £2,000
Some of us just love going out and hanging out with people all the time. Others are just as happy spending most of their time studying and only socialising occasionally. And so, some students budget £50 per week for entertainment, others only about £10.
It really is up to you but if you want to do more at university than just study, we would recommend setting aside £20 – £30 per week to go to the cinema, go out for dinner with friends, go to events and get involved in some of the many fun activities university life has to offer.
£200 – £1,000
The amount we’re suggesting here may have you saying, ‘What, that little?’ or ‘That much!?’. Looking at how much students spend on ‘shopping’, some spend nearly nothing, while others spend thousands of pounds. On average though most students tend to stay below £1,000.
What we can tell you for sure is that people from all over the world come to the UK every year – for shopping. But even if shopping isn’t your thing, you may want to get some things when you’re here, especially if the weather is different to what you had prepared for.
10. Sports & Hobbies
£0 – £250
If you join your university gym, you should be able to get a big student discount and pay around £15 – £20 per month for your membership.
If you have a hobby or want to try out some new hobbies at university, we recommend you join some of the societies and clubs that your university’s students’ union runs. There may be a very small joining fee, £5 or less, but many of the activities are usually completely free.
11. International Flights
£300 – £900
Of course you know about this one but you’ll be surprised how many students forget to include international flights in their budget. Have you thought about whether you might fly back home to see family and friends during the holidays? If so, don’t forget to add the cost of more than one return flight.
12. Student Visa
£600 – £1,000
If you need a student visa to study in the UK, the application fee is around £310 – it’s more expensive if you’re already in the UK and apply from here. If your visa says you must register with the police in the UK, the registration fee is £34.
Also, remember that overseas international students (except from Australia and New Zealand) now pay a healthcare surcharge. This is £150 for every year you’ve been given a student visa, plus £75 for the four month you get extra at the end of your degree.
13. Travel Insurance
£150 – 300
The reason there is a healthcare surcharge is, as a full-time international student studying for 6 months or more, you get free medical care on the NHS (National Health Service). Private health insurance is not compulsory for students.
But, we would definitely recommend that, to cover any accidents or emergencies, you get good travel insurance before you leave your country (otherwise it’s not valid).
Also, once you’re here, it’s a good idea to get ‘content’ or ‘household’ insurance – in case anything is stolen or damaged in your student room, for example your laptop or mobile phone. This insurance is usually included in your student hall room but always check.
14. Tourism in the UK
£100 – 500
When in the UK try to make the most of your time here. We don’t want to sound like the tourism board but there is so much to do and see – why not visit some of the places you’ve heard of so many times?
You can always check with your university if they organise trips for students – these are usually cheaper to join and are great for hanging out with friends or making new ones.
15. Tourism in Europe
£100 – 300 per visit
With so many famous European cities and capitals just a short flight away, short ‘city-breaks’ are very popular. The cheapest and most fun way to travel to Europe is to get organised with a group of students from your university. Often you can pay less than £100 for a return trip.
Also, if you book in advance especially with the budget airlines, you should be able to get some good deals. Or, if you’re flexible, take a look at the websites that offer last-minute deals.
Don’t forget to check though if you need a Schengen visa or other – and to add the cost of this in your budget.
When you calculate your cost of studying in the UK, don’t just stop at the tuition fees. You have your rent, bills, food, cost of going out with friends, travel, student visa, gym and much more to think about.
How much you will spend in one year can really vary from person to person, course to course and location to location.
The quickest way to plan your student budget is: Take your annual tuition fees and double them, this gives you an idea of the total cost for one year.
A better way is to take an hour or so to calculate as realistically the expenses you will have. Here’s an example of what your student budget might look like*.