The United Kingdom is a cornucopia of leading education facilities and employment opportunities – but such world-class education comes at a cost. With university courses quite easily exceeding £20,000 (US$24,830), studying in the UK is known to be costly (and that’s not even taking into account rent and other costs of living!).
It’s understandable then that many students in the UK require some financial help to see them to the end of their education. Working while studying can be an option – but what about UK education loans for international students?
Can International Students Get Loans In The UK?
The answer to this question is quite simple, and it lies in your citizenship. It is also set to change once the UK leaves the EU.
EU Citizens/Student Loans UK
If you’re a student from a European Union country – such as Italy, Germany, France, Spain or Sweden – your education costs will be capped as though you were a UK student. This means that you won’t pay more than £9,250 a year for your university degree.
You will also be eligible for a government student loan. This will cover your tuition fees, as well as your living costs if you’re studying an undergraduate course. This UK education loan for international students is not paid directly to you; instead, it will be paid to your university, and you will be required to pay it off in increments once you graduate.
A wide number of degree types will allow you to access student financial assistance. These include (according to gov.uk):
- A first degree, for example BA, BSc or BEd
- A Foundation Degree
- A Certificate of Higher Education
- A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
- A Higher National Certificate (HNC)
- A Higher National Diploma (HND)
- An Initial Teacher Training course
- An integrated master’s degree
- A pre-registration postgraduate healthcare course.
Interestingly, if you are an EU student and plan to study in Scotland, you might not pay any tuition fees. The costs are covered by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for first degrees and PGDE courses.
International Student Loans UK
We wish that there was good news on this front – but unfortunately, UK education loans for international students (excluding students from the EU) are not available. Additionally, the cost of your tuition fees can potentially be far more than home students, with laboratory-based degrees set to cost up to £30,000.
If you plan to study in the UK as an international student, it’s also worth remembering that you’ll need to prove that you have £1,015 in your international student bank for each month of study up to nine months in order to be eligible for your visa. This number increases to £1,265 if you’re studying within London. This means that you’ll need to have saved between £9,135 and £11,385 in your bank account (depending on your university’s location) before you can obtain your student visa.
So, what can international students do to support themselves while studying in the UK?
Working While Studying In The UK
While it can be difficult to work and study – especially if you’re studying in a country that is not your home – it is one of the best ways to ensure a steady income if you cannot apply for an international student loan. Your visa may restrict you to a set number of hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work to get a little extra cash into your bank account.
An international student visa (Student route visa, formerly known as Tier 4), will allow you to work up to 20 hours per week during the term. A number of casual jobs will grant short shifts that do not exceed this limit, including:
- Retail worker
- Waiter/barista/bar tender
- Shelf packer
- Mystery shopper.
When UK vacation periods come into effect, however, you are able to work full-time hours. This means you could potentially undertake higher-paying jobs such as:
- Private tutor
- Sales representative
- Event assistant
- Call centre operator
- Amusement park staff member.
Apply For An International Student Loan
Depending on your country of origin, you can still apply for a loan to study abroad. The USA and Australia have such loans in place, but these may be restricted to particular countries, courses and universities. This is likely the closest equivalent to an international student loan in the UK.
Consider An Exchange Program
Although these may not be as extensive as full-time study in the UK, it can be a chance to test out the experience for up to a year. You will have to check that your university in your home country has an exchange program set up with a university in the UK, but it could be an excellent experience if you can partake in it.
Apply For A Scholarship
This is likely your best chance for getting a foot in the door if you’re an international student looking for a loan to study in the UK. There are many scholarships open to international students, with varying levels of criteria to meet. They also tend to differ depending on the country in which you live. Some examples of these include:
- Commonwealth Scholarship (eligible to all 62 countries within the Commonwealth)
- Saltire Scholarships (eligible to Canada, China and Hong Kong, India, Japan, Pakistan and USA)
- Chevening Scholarships (144 countries worldwide).
If you have your heart set on studying in the UK, it’s best to explore every avenue available to you to ensure you end up studying in the country and university you love. If you need to undertake an English language proficiency test before you depart, consider us here at Pearson PTE.