If you are an international non-EU student, it's unlikely you will be able to get a student loan from the Government. Some universities will create their own student loan schemes for talented students from low-income backgrounds, including non-EU students. Contact the university you're interested in attending to ask if they run a student loan scheme, and what the eligibility requirements are.
For EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals beginning their studies in the UK from 2021/22, there are important changes to tuition fee regulations and eligibility criteria for student finance. Many students from these countries will no longer be eligible for home fee status and student finance, although there will be some exceptions.
In a written statement on 23 June 2020, Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, announced that from August 2021 EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status undergraduate, postgraduate, and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22. This change will also apply to further education funding for those aged 19+, and funding for apprenticeships.
Note that EU students entering HE in 2020/21 will continue to pay home fees for the duration of their course and be eligible for the UK’s EU settlement scheme if they arrived before the end of this year (31 December 2020). Students who start university or college in the 2020/21 academic year but arrive after 31 December 2020 will also be eligible for home fees but will need to apply for a student visa. Read more about visas.
Update 6 January 2021: Kirsty Williams, MS, Minister for Education, Wales, has confirmed that students who have already started or who start courses before 1 August 2021 will continue to be eligible for support and home fee status for the duration of their course. View the full update.
Update 28 August 2020: Northern Irish government confirmed that EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members will no longer be eligible for ‘home’ fee charges or financial support from Student Finance NI for courses starting from academic year 2021/22. View the full update.
Update 9 July 2020: Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, announced details of the tuition fee arrangements for EU students starting a course in Scotland from the 2021-22 academic year. EU students will have to pay tuition fees from 2021/22. Note that EU students who have already started their studies, or who start this autumn, will not be affected. View the announcement
You can find more information regarding Brexit, and changes to fee status and student finance on the UKCISA website.
What are the exceptions to these changes?
- Students who started their course in 2020/21 or earlier will continue to pay home fees for the duration of their course.
- Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland will continue to be able to live and study in the UK and continue to be eligible for home fee status.
In addition, it is expected that EU nationals who are ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ in the UK will remain eligible for home tuition fees providing they meet residency requirements. This has been confirmed in ministerial announcements and full details will be available from the different UK governments soon.
International (and EU) students may be able to find a scholarship, grant or bursary.
What types of scholarships are there?
There are lots of scholarships to study in the UK. This is great news, but it’s important to remember they have strict eligibility criteria and are highly competitive.
There are also more scholarships, bursaries, and fee waivers available for postgraduate and research students than for undergraduates, so check what the university offers before applying.
Here are the main state-governed scholarship schemes for international students in the UK:
- Chevening Scholarship is a UK scheme for scholarships that financially support international students with academic potential.
- Commonwealth Scholarships financially support students from developing Commonwealth countries to study in the UK. Scholarships are typically awarded to postgraduate students, to cover tuition and transport, and offer a monthly allowance.
How do I find a scholarship?
Applications for scholarships involve completing a form, but sometimes you may be asked to complete an assignment or test, or to attend an interview.
Research the criteria and your eligibility before applying, and prepare a strong application.
The following organisations have online databases listing scholarships:
What do I need to receive a scholarship?
Universities and colleges offer scholarships and bursaries to students with many different skills.
Academic merit and excellence scholarships are awarded to students with a strong academic background. This isn’t just good grades, but also includes extracurricular achievements and future ambitions.
Subject-specific scholarships are given by the university department and they are usually donated by an external organisation, or in memory of a former professor. The eligibility criteria are likely to focus on your interest, skills, and experience in that subject. This type of scholarship may also cover your equipment and research, plus it looks great on your CV.
Performance-based scholarships are awarded to those who have exceptional ability in things like sports, music, or performing. You do not have to study a related degree, but you may be expected to take part in certain activities relevant to your skills – for example, play sports for your university, or join the band. This scholarship is not intended to cover your tuition, but instead to help develop your skills and contribute towards living costs.
Can I get a private grant?
Private grants are another financial option for international students studying in the UK. Companies and non-governmental organisations have finance options to help students complete their higher education.
If you take out a private loan, always read the agreement before you sign it. These loans often come with repayment time limits and interest. Some companies will give students a loan under the condition they work for them once they have completed their degree.
Remember, as an international student in the UK there are no guarantees with these financial options, so always think about how you can finance your studies if these options are not available to you.
Equal access or sanctuary scholarships are available for refugees and asylum seekers who have fled persecution in their home country.