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The basics
THE UK: Student Finances - Must read

How much does it cost to study in the UK?

An important factor for any international student is how much it costs to live and study in top destinations. We can help, with our comprehensive guide to costs in the UK.

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The UK is one of the top destinations for international students in the world. However, it’s well-known that it is not the cheapest place to live, so it’s sensible to be informed before making any final decisions. In this article, we explore the cost of living in the UK, so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.


What costs can I expect?


When considering the UK as a study destination, you might wonder what costs you should budget for. Some costs will come down to your lifestyle choices, but there are also some unavoidable expenses you’ll need to think about too, things like:


  • accommodation
  • food and everyday essentials
  • travel and transport
  • entertainment
  • connectivity (internet, mobile phone etc)
  • hidden costs (things that are unique to you, for example, course supplies or visa fees)


Explore why the UK could be your perfect study match.


Tuition fees


This article does not go into detail about tuition fees, though you will need to make sure you budget for those too. Broadly speaking, as an international student in the UK, you can expect to pay:


  • GBP 11,250 to GBP 38,000 (undergraduate level)
  • GBP 12,500 to GBP 61,000 (postgraduate level)


Want to understand how these figures relate to your studies? Why not read our article on tuition fees in the UK?


Cost difference between regions


Don’t forget, no matter which country you live in, you’ll find variations in costs depending on where you choose to live. It’s no secret that cities are usually more expensive than towns or rural areas, but often you’ll find regional variance too.


In the UK, generally, southern England is the most expensive region to live in. Head into Wales and the midlands, and you’ll be looking at cheaper prices. For the most affordable cities, you’ll usually want to look at the north of England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.


London is well-known for being the most expensive place to live in the UK. Oxford and Cambridge are also notoriously costly, despite the appeal of their prestigious universities. At the other end of the affordability, spectrum are beautiful university cities such as Durham, Liverpool, and Belfast, where you might not find your budget quite so tight. You can find out more about student cities in the UK with our helpful guide.


Of course, don’t let the cost of living be the sole deciding factor in where you study. You’ll find significant differences in costs even between suburbs and individual properties. So remember, this article is just a general guide.


Looking for financial aid? You can check out our helpful scholarship search




As a student, one of your biggest expenses will be accommodation. In the UK, you can live either in a university residence or a private rental. A 2021 survey by the National Union of Students and Unipol found that the average student in the UK paid monthly rent of:


  • GBP 608 outside London; and
  • GBP 952 in London


When comparing costs, remember that in a university-owned residence you will usually only pay rent for the academic year. In the private sector you’ll likely be tied in for a full 52 weeks.


Remember, whichever option you go for, you’ll have to pay a deposit to cover damage (generally equivalent to one month’s rent) and your first month’s rent in advance. Provided you return the property in good condition, you’ll receive your deposit back at the end of the tenancy.


University residence


The average monthly cost of university-owned accommodation in the UK is GBP 624. Many universities in the UK will allow students (especially first-year students) to live either in halls of residence or in university-owned properties situated close to campus. A great benefit to these types of property is that bills are usually included in the cost.


A typical room in a hall of residence might be either single occupancy or shared with another student. More expensive options will offer an en-suite bathroom or a private kitchenette. Some halls of residence provide catering built into the cost whilst in others (and in a house or flat shares) you’ll have to cook for yourself in shared kitchen areas. Although it is extra effort, you’ll usually spend less on food in self-catered accommodation than you would in catered.


Private rentals


Your other option for accommodation is to rent a flat or a house in the private sector. The average monthly cost of renting privately as a student in the UK is GBP 676. To cut costs and for the enjoyment factor, many people choose to enter a house share with other students. However, although some do offer it as an option, be aware that most private rentals will not include utility bills in the cost of the rent.


Energy prices in the UK are currently the highest they’ve ever been. The average student living in a shared private rental can expect to pay around GBP 80 per month for their utility bills (electricity, gas, and water). You’ll also need to consider council tax. Although there are exemptions and discounts for students, you’ll need to apply directly to the local council to be eligible.


Find out more about student accommodation in the UK.




Part of the fun of the student experience is that you’ll be learning to cook for yourself. Even in catered halls, there will be times when you need to head to the supermarket. The cost of groceries isn’t all about food. It also includes everyday items you’ll want to stock up on from time to time: toiletries, cleaning products, and perhaps some snacks.


If you’re not in catered halls, we’d recommend a groceries budget of around GBP 100 to GBP 200 per month. If you’re living in London, this could rise to GBP 300.




Transport needs differ from student to student. You might find almost everything is within walking or cycling distance of your accommodation – if so, lucky you! But if not, you’ll probably be looking at buses and trains to get around. Some cities also offer a tram service.


Buses and trams are generally cheaper than trains, with the average fare between GBP 1.50 to GBP 1.65 per trip. The average cost for a single train journey is GBP 2.50 to GBP 3.00.


Most cities offer various travel card options to make travel cheaper if you take regular journeys. Some have pay-as-you-go style cards (which deduct credit from the overall balance), like London’s famous Oyster card. The Oyster card also benefits from a daily cap, meaning there is a maximum amount you can pay each day.


Of course, taxis are also an option, but they are expensive and not the best for students on a budget. As a student, you’re entitled to some travel discounts. Options include the 16-25 railcard, which reduces rail fares by a third and the 18+ student Oyster card in London.




Even on a budget, you’ll want to allow for leisure time and socialising. Although it’s possible to spend as much as you like on entertainment, you’ll also find many places offer great student discounts or cheaper nights specifically for students.


The UK also has a lot of fantastic free options. Many museums and art galleries are free of charge, and it’s not uncommon for cities to have some fantastic free pop-up experiences for you to enjoy too. Some average costs for entertainment include:


  • pint of beer: GBP 3.96
  • cinema ticket: GBP 7.52
  • concert ticket: GBP 50
  • restaurant meal for two: GBP 45




You’ll want to keep in touch with family and friends whilst living abroad, so Wi-Fi and a phone with a good data connection are essential. The average cost of broadband internet in the UK is GBP 30 per month. Bear in mind that this is per household. If you are in a house or flat share, you will each pay a portion of this amount. Halls of residence will usually provide internet within the cost of the rent.


In terms of mobile phones, there are many great SIM-only options available in the UK. Many have great data rates. This will allow you to use apps for contacting home, rather than having to make costly international calls. For a SIM-only plan with plenty of data, you’ll usually pay between GBP 12 to GBP 25 per month. Don’t forget, if you want to watch TV in the UK, you’ll need to pay your license fee. This is currently GBP 159 per year.


Miscellaneous and hidden costs


There are always extra costs that you will need to cover. For example, buying clothes or toiletries. You may need to buy bed linen or household goods like pots and pans before moving into your accommodation. Although the university library should give you access to a lot of your reading materials, you’ll also need to factor in the costs of textbooks, stationery, and equipment for your course.


And, as with anywhere, there will be costs associated with your arrival. Why not read our article on how to apply for a student visa to learn more about student visa costs and requirements?


Although these costs may sound expensive, remember to keep an eye open for student discounts that are commonly available in many venues and for many services throughout the UK. Don’t forget that you could always find part-time work while you study, providing your visa permits this. Once your budget is sorted, you can relax into the fantastic lifestyle the UK offers.


Start searching for your ideal degree in the UK now, using our course matcher tool.


At the time of writing 1 GBP is equal to 1.26 USD

Disclaimer: All figures in this article are indicative only and correct at the time of writing. Since the economy can be subject to rapid, unexpected changes at any time, we always recommend you do your research before booking any travel. 


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