Cost Of Studying In The UK For Indian Students

The fiscal cost of studying in the United Kingdom is an unnecessarily complicated process for international students, but there is very little we can do about it.

This article will outline the various costs that an overseas Indian student needs to cover when prospectively shifting to the UK for higher education.

There are several aspects that need to be considered when financially planning a student’s journey to the UK, and there are many visible costs, not to mention the many hidden fees that tend to crop up at the last minute.

Here is some beginning information:

Cost Of Studying In The UK For Indian Students

The Basics

Before moving into the cost estimation, the bare minimum that students need to spend includes the following:

  • Visa Fees 
  • Insurance
  • Lodging Costs (Accommodation)
  • University or College Tuition Fees
  • Food (Including at the school cafeteria)
  • Transport (if the student accommodation is off-campus, or not within walking distance)

Living costs can also include council taxes and other similar small expenses.

However, a word to the wise: if you ignore these small expenses, they will combine and snowball and can quickly become an unmanageable financial quagmire.

Now, let’s go for a deep dive into the details of how much it costs for an Indian to study in the UK.

The Not-So-Basics

Let’s look at some of the costs that we outlined above include:

The Not-So-Basics

1. Visa Costs

Even before you see your university or step foot into your chosen college, you will need to show that you have a valid visa that allows you to study in the UK.

Here is a list of the student visas that an Indian student can opt for when moving to the UK for education: (bear in mind that all prices are for students applying for visas from outside the UK; applications for visas from within the UK are priced higher).

S. # Applying For A Visa From: Cost (GBP) Time Period
1 Outside the UK (for a non-degree level course) 363 2 Years
2 Outside the UK (for a degree level course) 363 Up to 5 years
3 Inside the UK (for a non-degree level course) 490 1 or 2 years
Inside the UK (for a-degree level course) 490 Up to 4 years

Some important points to remember:

  1. For Indians applying from outside the UK, you can apply for the visa (at the earliest) 6 months before your course is slated to begin, and will usually get a decision within 3 weeks from the date of application.
  2. For Indians applying from inside the UK (say for a renewal application), the earliest you can apply is 3 months before the expiry of your current visa and will usually get a decision within 8 weeks.
  3. Once your visa is approved, if your course is shorter than 6 months long, you can only travel to the UK a week before it starts.
  4. If your course is longer than 6 months, you can travel to the UK upto a month beforehand.

Find more information about the length of stay and additional visa costs like the health surcharge fees on the British Government’s website here.

Visa Costs

2. Health And Health Insurance

It is no longer compulsory for Indian students in the UK to have private medical and health insurance if their degree extends over a course period of more than six months.

If your duration of study is exactly six months or less than six months, it is likely that your visa officer will insist on private insurance for yourself and any tier-4 dependents that you may have will also require the same.

As an Indian international student who has a course lasting longer than six months, you will be entitled to receive health benefits under the United Kingdom’s NHS (National Health Scheme).

However, to avail of these benefits, you will have to pay a fee that will be added to your visa costs by your visa officer.

Bring this point up when applying for your visa for more clarity. Generally, the fees are GBP 300 for a stay that is over six months.

The good news? You may be able to apply for the same NHS benefits even if your study duration is under six months by payment of GBP 150, but the issue of this privilege is at the discretion of your visa officer.

Health And Health Insurance

3. University or College Fees

These are the prime expenses for Indian students who are pursuing their education in the UK. 

You see, all British universities have separate fees for their “home” students (people who have British citizenship).

Indian students, however, are classified as “international” or “away” students, and the fees for these “away” pupils are significantly higher than for home students taking the same course (sometimes as high as 120% more).

There are also different fee structures for the different countries within the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, and Wales).

Generally, the most expensive degrees in the UK are from those universities that fall within what is called the “Russell Group”.

The Russell Group includes tier-I universities like Cambridge, Oxford, and Edinburgh.

Here is a rough estimation of what an Indian will have to pay as tuition fees in the UK for different courses:

S. # Name  Cost (GBP) Time Period
1 Undergraduate (Bachelor’s) Degree 10,000 to 24,000 per year 3 or 4 years
2 Postgraduate (Master’s) Degree 8,000 to 20,000 per year 1 or 2 years
3 Postgraduate (Doctoral) Degree 14,000 to 25,000 per year 3 or 4 years

Exceptions to the above are the following:

  1. Part-time Bachelors degrees: the tuition fees will decrease, but these generally tend to be more expensive because of the longer time duration (5 to 6 years).
  2. Part-time masters degrees: the same situation as bachelor’s degrees, but the duration is shorter (2 to 3 years).
  3. Doctorate degrees: there are several partly funded as well as quite a few fully-funded Ph.D. programs in the UK that are “blind” (irrespective of previous education or financial status) and are solely based on merit.

The three most common ways to reduce this cost is to:

  • apply for scholarships, 
  • apply for fee bursaries, and 
  • to obtain a low-interest education loan (the loan option is only a “savings” if it is a low-interest loan – this spreads the fee burden out across several years and builds credit score too).

Education loans have ceased to become a nation-building tool and are now for-profit exercises, but using FundRight will help students get the best rates on their student loans, simply because the element of competition is added to the loan process because of the bidding system: loan providers bid for the students, instead of it being at the discretion of a loan officer.

University or College Fees

4. Accommodation Costs – Where Will You Live?

More often than not, universities in the United Kingdom will offer their students residence on the institution campus. These are called “halls of residence”, and may be either independently catered or may come with full board.

“Independently catered” simply means that the students will have to take care of their own food.

Aside from this, several universities may provide shared accommodation by way of houses or cottages to their senior students.

If your university offers neither of these options, there’s a good chance that the institution has a tie-up with housing providers or rental agents in the locality who can help you find a good, value-for-money deal (the colleges know that most students don’t have a lot of cash to burn).

On-campus housing is a pretty affordable option since it covers most overhead expenses and also negates the transportation costs involved with your degree, which we’ll get to later.

Here is an indicative price list of what it costs to rent an apartment in the UK:

S. # Name  Cost (GBP)
1 Urban Areas (London, Birmingham) 140 to 160 per week
2 Suburban Areas (Brighton, Glasgow) 100 to 120 per week
3 Overhead Expenses (Electricity, Water) 100 to 250 per week
4 Living Costs (Food and Transport) 80 to 400 per week*.

*The range of costs for food and transport (the living costs) is so great because it varies greatly on the amount that you eat out, whether you use public transport, rent a bike, or opt for taxis, etc.

To secure your student accommodation, it is wise to apply for it as early as possible because spots are usually fairly limited – why take a chance?

You can obtain all the necessary related information from your college’s office of admissions.

Accommodation Costs - Where Will You Live

5. Hidden Costs That May Crop Up

It is these little expenditures that can really pinch when totaling up your monthly expenses. Most Indian students in the UK will have to pay some or all of the following:

  1. Council Tax: Anyone in the UK who is over the age of 18 has to pay for community services like police services, garbage collection, street cleaning, etc.Cost per month: GBP 100 – 150, depending on the locality.
  2.  Income Tax and National Insurance: If you earn above GBP 1060 per month on average, you owe proportionate income tax. If you earn above GBP 160 per week, you will also need to contribute to the national insurance. Fear not though: there is no additional running around you will need to do as an Indian international student, employers use the PAYE system. PAYE stands for “Pay As You Earn” and automatically deducts your dues from your salary,Cost per month: GBP 80 – variable.
  3. Transportation: Getting from one place to another is also a factor that students need to consider when planning their expenses. The most economical way to go about this is to make use of the strong public transport system. It is advised to get monthly passes for the bus, the rail, and the tube as this proves more pocket-friendly in the long run and allows unlimited usage of the systems.Cost per month: ~GBP 60.
  4. Childcare: The costs of putting one child in daycare can vary depending on the city and locality. While some colleges do allow parents to bring their infant to class, it is generally advised not to do so in most cases.
    Cost per month: GBP 600 – 1200.

Hidden Costs That May Crop Up

With that, we’ve successfully covered all the major aspects that an Indian student would need to cover as part of their journey to and in the UK for the purposes of higher education.

An important point to remember: we have not included figures in INR because the exchange rates of the two currencies may fluctuate, and the GBP prices are a more constant metering gauge for you to estimate by.

With that, we wish you the best of luck and hope that this article proved as a handy estimation guide.

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