Is university a good investment? Just how much does it cost to study at a UK university?

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An April 2019 article reviewed 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 an April 2019 article, is dependent on many factors, including institution, course, location and funding opportunities and could in fact be a lot less than the headlines suggest.

There are two levels of tuition fees at publicly funded UK universities: 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 £9,250 per year for undergraduate degree programs; in Northern Ireland up to £4,160 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 up to £9,250 a year as they would at home.

The amounts given above indicate the maximum amount public universities are allowed to charge. Postgraduate tuition fees vary significantly, depending on the university and the subject. 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, the average student can expect to pay around £535 a month for rent, a figure which rises for students living in London, who can expect to pay nearer £640 a month. This creates an average annual cost of around £4,875 that students are expected to pay on top of tuition fees. This can be covered to some extent by a maintenance loan, which differs depending on household income and location, but means students could be eligible to borrow a maximum of £7000 – £12000 depending on whether they are living at home, away from home, or in London.

Additionally, students will have to pay for utility bills, which total on average around £50 a month, books for university, costing on average £60 a month. However despite the cost of going to university graduates ultimately earn more than nongraduates do. Recent Studies show that, on average and over the course of a lifetime, those with a degree earn £500,000 more than those without one. University is an investment in your future.