Preparing For University: Tuition Fees, Visa Applications, Scholarships, And More

Getting ready for university as an international student? Navigate the process seamlessly with our step-by-step guide. This guide will cover everything from visa management to financial planning for your studies at a UK university.

Preparing For University

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For overseas students, the easiest part of the procedure is usually completing your UK university application online using the centralised system, UCAS.

However, complications typically occur when students begin the visa application process and consider how much their degree at a British university will cost them. So, how can you be confident that you’re meeting all of your selected schools’ requirements and that you’ll be able to afford all of the essential expenses?

To study for a degree in the UK, you will need a Tier 4 student visa unless you are a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national. You can apply for this up to three months before the start of your course. However, many students underestimate how long this process can take, so give yourself plenty of time to research and plan ahead. It typically takes up to three weeks to receive a visa decision. The UK Visas and Immigration processing timelines guide can provide a more specific time frame. There are a few things you should complete before submitting your application.

How to Apply for Visa

First and foremost, log in to your UCAS application and enter your passport number in the appropriate part of the form. You will then be required to show confirmation of your English language skills. Each university will inform you whether you must take a UKVI-approved English language test, an alternative test, or a Skype interview.

If your visa application requires you to demonstrate your English language competence, you must take your secure English language test (SELT) at one of the UK Home Office’s designated SELT facilities. This is a new criterion that was added in April 2015, therefore double-check your visa application to see if this is a necessity.

After passing the test and receiving the certificate, you can now accept any course offer you receive. Your institution can then issue you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) if it holds a Tier 4 sponsor licence.

Student Financial Advice

You can begin your student visa application once you have completed these procedures. This is currently priced at £348. It is critical that you take your time and supply all of the essential information, including your CAS and English language exam certificate. If you do not, your application may be delayed and you may not receive your visa on time.

The UK government also requires proof that you can afford to live and study in the country. Undergraduate tuition fees for international students in the UK begin around £9,000 and can exceed £30,000 per year for medical studies at the most elite universities. The average tuition fee is approximately £12,000.

You will be expected to fund living expenses (accommodation, food, gas or electricity for heating and lighting, clothes and so on), books and equipment for your course and transport to and from your home country, in addition to tuition fees. International students are also subject to a £150 annual NHS health fee (payable at the same time as your online visa application), which should be considered.

Lastly, when calculating the expense of your research, you must consider everything. Your colleges should be your first line of inquiry for detailed information on course costs and any financial assistance that may be available to you. They should also include the cost of living in the area for an academic year; places like London, Oxford, Manchester, Bath, and Birmingham will be more expensive than outlying areas.

Financial Advice for International Students

For international students, UNIAID has a useful finance calculator that can help you estimate your budget and manage your money while studying in the UK.

According to statistics, the average cost of studying in the UK for an international student is around £24,000 per year. While this includes both tuition and living expenses, it still appears to be a high price. If you are unsure that you will be able to cover all of the fees after completing your budget calculations, contact your institutions, UKCISA, and the British Council for information on financial opportunities.

More information about meeting financial requirements can be found in the Tier 4 student visa eligibility rules and the policy guidance’s money section.

The UK is the world’s second most popular destination for international students, and many candidates pursue a degree from a British institution to get a competitive advantage over those who study for a degree in their native country, as well as a higher pay once they graduate. So, despite the lengthy application procedure and the overall cost, they are usually exceeded by the long-term benefits and should not deter you from enrolling for a higher education study in the UK.

UK Scholarships

Nonetheless, there are a variety of scholarships available to help pay the costs of tuition, living expenses, relocation, and, in some cases, flights between your home country and the UK. Scholarships exist in a variety of shapes and sizes, so do some research to locate the one that is right for you. They are not just offered to those who are intellectually bright or have near-perfect exam scores, contrary to popular opinion. 

Scholarships are available for students from specific nations, those studying in a specific field, and those who can demonstrate the ability to become a global ambassador for their target institution. The following is a list of some of the largest scholarship funds to which you can apply as an overseas student coming to study in the UK. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good place to begin your search for a scholarship. Scholarships for subjects in high demand, such as nursing or healthcare, are sometimes established by universities. So, if you’re not sure what to study, it can be worth looking into which disciplines have scholarships and picking that way. 

Types of UK Scholarships

  • University scholarships – Most universities will provide some form of financial help to international students, so your preferred institution should be your first point of call when looking for funding. 
  • Financial scholarships – These scholarships are awarded depending on the recipients’ financial needs. 
  • Merit scholarships – Available to individuals who are intellectually bright, were top athletes in high school, or excelled in community or entrepreneurial activity.
  • Country-based scholarships – These scholarships are primarily aimed at students from developing nations, however they may be available to students from any country. 
  • Scholarships provided by the government – The UK government provides numerous scholarships for international students, some of which are listed here.
  • Scholarships sponsored by private firms or individuals – Scholarships for international students are often funded by private businesses or individuals. These are also more likely to be geared towards underdeveloped countries and minority communities, as well as specific areas of study.
  • Part scholarships – These might range from a small one-time payment to a larger payment that is staggered to meet certain costs of attending university. 
Types of scholarships in the UK

Scholarships provided by the Government

  • Chevening is the British government’s international awards programme. Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships are the two categories of prizes available. Recipients are chosen by British embassies and High Commissions around the world. 
  • These are joint scholarships offered by the UK government and some UK educational institutions. They are offered to undergraduate and postgraduate students from a variety of countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Bangladesh, and may be restricted to specific areas of study. 
  • International students from Commonwealth countries can apply for a variety of scholarships to study in the UK. 
  • These scholarships are offered to international students from Commonwealth countries who wish to pursue a master’s degree in the UK. The field of study must contribute to the advancement of technology, the economy, or society in the student’s home country. 
  • Intended primarily for US students who have demonstrated academic merit. MBAs and some courses are not included. 
  • These scholarships are available for students from China, India, Pakistan, and Japan to study for a master’s degree at a Scottish university. To be qualified, students must apply for courses in the sciences, technology, creative industries, healthcare, and medical sciences.


With several high-ranking universities, opportunities for job experience, and a vibrant student culture, the UK is a popular destination for overseas students. However, the cost of living is expensive, and tuition prices are significantly higher, which often discourages students from studying here. However, there are a variety of scholarships available to help pay the costs of tuition, living expenses, relocation, and, in some cases, flights between your home country and the UK.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are several scholarships offered by the UK government which offer 100% funding in case of tuition costs and other living expenditures. There are many other bursaries, scholarships, grants, and other financial packages for international students. However, these are not fully funded.
The IELTS for UKVI Academic test is ideal if you need to support your visa application to study in the UK. As well as being trusted by higher education institutions in the UK, it is also the test of choice for organisations there that award scholarships to international students.
From January 2024, international students in the UK will no longer be able to bring dependants on their Student visa, unless they are studying a postgraduate research programme. Also, from 17 July international students are no longer permitted to switch to work route visas unless they have completed their course.
How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed in the UK. If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.

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