How much does it cost to study abroad?
The cost of studying abroad as a UK student varies enormously depending on what and where you study, whether you are able to get a scholarship and whether you want to do your whole degree abroad or only part of it.
If you want to study for your whole degree abroad, you’ll need to pay tuition fees to your chosen university (unless you can find a country where you are eligible for free tuition) and in most cases won’t be able to get a loan or grant from the UK government to pay your fees or maintenance costs. (The exception is if you live in Scotland and want to study at one of five European universities taking part in the Scottish government's portability pilot, in which case you'll be eligible for the same help with living costs as you'd get if you stayed in the UK). If you only want to study abroad for a year (or less) as part of a degree from a UK university, you usually won’t need to pay tuition fees to the overseas university and will pay a reduced rate to your home university for that year – 15% of your usual annual tuition fee is normal.
In this article we look solely at the cost of doing your whole degree overseas and sources of financial help for this. You can also take a look at our article on studying abroad to find out more about the options for taking all or part of your degree in another country, what to consider when making your decisions, how to apply and the benefits, plus read the first-hand experiences of two graduates who both spent a year studying abroad.
Cost of university tuition in different countries
Below is a tuition-fee round-up for a selection of countries that are popular destinations for UK students. These are the fees per year for students taking an undergraduate (bachelors) degree. They are based on exchange rate as at October 2019. NB there are ways to get help towards meeting these costs – see the next section for more details.
- Canada – international student fees average C$29,714 or £17,640 (source: Statistics Canada) but fees vary significantly by province, university and subject. International students can’t borrow from the Canadian government to fund their studies and need to provide evidence that they have access to the amount of money they will need for tuition and living costs in order to be granted a study permit. (For example, if your parents were paying from their savings, you’d provide a statement from their savings account.)
- United States – in 2018–2019, international student fees averaged $26,290 (£20,604) at a public university and $35,830 (£28,096) at a private university (source: College Board). Again, you can’t borrow from the US government. You need to prove that you have access to funds to pay for your first year at university in order to get a visa.
- The Netherlands – EU citizens pay what’s known as the statutory tuition fee, which for 2020 entry will be €2,143 (£1,856) (source: Maarstricht University). Fees for non-EU students vary by university and subject – for example at Maarstricht University for 2020 entry most bachelors degrees cost either €8,000 (£6,927) or €10,900 (£9,437) per year but medicine costs €32,000 (£27,706) per year.
- Sweden – EU citizens don’t have to pay any tuition fees. Most non-EU students need to pay fees, which vary by university and by subject. Typical fees, according to the Swedish Institute’s Study in Sweden website, are around 80,000–110,000 Swedish krona (SEK) for social sciences and humanities degrees (£6,408–£8,812), 120,000–145,000 SEK for technical and science degrees (£9,613–£11,616), and 190,000 to 270,000 for architecture and design degrees (£15,221–£21,629).
- Denmark – likewise, EU citizens don’t pay tuition fees in Denmark, while most non-EU students do. Again, fees vary; according to the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s Study in Denmark website they are around 45,000–120,000 Danish kroner (DKK) (£5,217–£13,912).
Help with the cost of studying abroad – scholarships and loans
Some universities offer scholarships to international students, particularly in the US and Canada. These are a financial contribution towards tuition fees and/or living costs that does not have to be repaid. Amounts vary widely. For example, in Canada a typical scholarship will contribute a few thousand dollars towards your tuition fees; only very rarely would they pay the full amount. However, there are some opportunities to get all your tuition fees paid via a scholarship (particularly in the US) and a handful of chances to get ‘the full ride’ – that is, tuition fees plus living costs.
To get a scholarship you’ll typically need to be an academic high achiever who is also very active outside the classroom – for example, doing a lot of voluntary work for your local community or competing in sport at a high level.
There are also a number of scholarships available from other bodies, such as charitable or government organisations, that you may be eligible to apply for. EU students studying in the Netherlands can take out a tuition fee loan from the Dutch government.