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The cost of studying in London as an international student

Published: 29 Feb 16

So you’ve chosen to come and study in London - good choice, by the way - and now you’re starting to think about the things that can make this a reality. 

If you are an international student, money can be a big factor in deciding where to study so, firstly, the most important question you should ask yourself is “can I afford it?”

We’ve put together every kind of cost you need to think about as a student in London. There’s a lot to it, but bear with us and take note, as it’s a big step moving to another country and you have to be prepared.

Visa

To study in the UK, you will need to get a visa. More specifically, you need the UK Student Visa or “Tier 4 Visa” if you want to use the technical name. In order to even be eligible to apply for this, you need to prove that you have access to least £1,265 per month or £11,385 per academic year, to study in London. Whilst this is not an actual cost, it’s good to check this now so you can avoid any issues later. 

Now let’s move onto the cost of your visa, which is £322 if you are outside the UK. When you apply for your visa, you’ll also need to pay an Immigration Health Service Charge of £150 to gain access to the fabulous National Health Service here.

So, to summarise, the total cost of your visa will be £322 + £150 = £472

You can find out more about the Tier 4 Visa HERE 

Tuition Fees

Next thing is your tuition fees. These can vary greatly depending on the type of course you choose to study, the location of the university and of course the actual university – some of the more prestigious universities can and do charge higher fees.

One thing that all universities have in common though, is that they are by no means cheap.

Now, we don’t want to bombard you with numbers but the below is what you can expect to pay for your tuition fees at a London University per academic year. 

  • International students from within the EU - Up to £9,000
  • International students from outside the EU - From £8,000 up to £36,600*

*Clinical courses such as medicine are at the top end of the scale, whilst lecture based courses with minimal contact hours are at the bottom of the scale. 

The above is simply a rough guide for undergraduate courses (your first degree) so it is vital that you do thorough research on the courses you are interested in – that way there will be no nasty surprises if you get accepted. Also, be sure to check for any scholarships or bursaries available for international students on the university websites, as these can cut the cost significantly.

Accommodation Fees

As well as getting your degree, you’ll need somewhere to live whilst you are over here, so that brings us to accommodation fees. These differ depending on what you want from your accommodation but the average rent cost in London is around £6,665 per academic year. If we’re honest though, some accommodation can be very basic so you should expect to pay more than this if you want to live somewhere a little bit nicer, which is in a good location and has onsite facilities. Our lowest price of accommodation is £185 a week, so let’s budget £7,955 for a 43 week lease.

Travel

Whilst living in London, you’ll want to travel around the city and explore. An estimated cost for this based on travelling in zones 1-3 (all Chapter London properties are in zones 1 and 2) is £1,204 per year. Remember to get an OYSTER CARD and a STUDENT RAIL CARD to receive the lowest rates possible whenever you travel.

Extra Course Costs

Books, lab coats, field trips and even more books, all come at a cost so you will need to set aside some money in your budget for this. Once again, this heavily depends on what course you’re studying but NUS advises putting around £1,070 aside to cover it. 

Food

You have to eat and you have to eat well if you want the brain power to get through those lengthy pieces of coursework and exams. Our friends over at Imperial College London tell their students to budget around £2,150 for food for the year, which is £50 per week across 43 weeks. 

Leisure & Personal

You need to make the most out of your time studying in this amazing city, and that means grabbing every opportunity you can to go to new places and try new things. Whether it’s a great restaurant across town, a trip to the cinema with friends, or just a big night out, you need to make sure that you have budgeted for this. After all, having fun is a very important part of university life. For the whole year, based on University College London’s calculations, we reckon you should budget around £3,526 for this. This also includes any personal items such as extra clothes you might need throughout the year, so if you like to shop please increase this figure appropriately. Don’t forget that lots of shops and restaurants have discounts for students, so always ask if they do a student discount you can take advantage of. 

Initial Costs of Moving Country

Now, we can’t provide a figure for you here because there are just too many varying factors, but it’s really important to think about any initial costs you will have when making the move to London. Things like flights, insurance, accommodation deposits and extra personal items all add up so it’s good to be aware of them in advance. 

We hope that the above has given you some idea of what you can expect to be spending as a student in London but please bear in mind that these are only estimates and will vary depending on your course, your university, your accommodation and your lifestyle. There is a handy budget calculator available for international students HERE which can help you budget for your study abroad.  

While it’s important to be aware of the costs of studying in London, please don’t let it put you off. London is an amazing place to be a student and as long as you do lots of research, plan carefully and take advantage of student discounts and rates, it is affordable for everyone. 

All of the above costs have been calculated using data available online and, where relevant, have been based on a 43 week period.

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