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UK Masters Fees for International Students in 2020

With a wide range of available courses and top-ranked universities, it’s not hard to see why the UK is a popular choice for postgraduate study.

But postgraduate study abroad in the UK can be expensive: as an international student you may be required to pay higher fees for your Masters. This page is designed to help.

We’ve explained who counts as an international student and put together information on typical international fees for Masters degrees.

Elsewhere on FindAMasters you can read our guide to international Masters funding in the UK.

On this page

Who counts as an international student in the UK?

Before working out what fees you’ll pay for a UK Masters it’s worth explaining how UK universities determine students’ fee statuses.

You’ll normally be classed as an international student in the UK if you aren’t one of the following:

  • A British citizen (with the right to hold a British passport).
  • An EU national (a citizen of one of the 27 other EU member states, including the Republic of Ireland). This is unaffected by Brexit for courses starting in 2020-21.

If you don't fall into either of these categories, you may be regarded as an international student and charged more than the 'home fee' rate for your Masters.

Exceptions can apply in certain circumstances. We've covered some of them below.

Who might not count as an international student in the UK?

Sometimes students from outside the UK or EU can still be entitled to pay postgraduate fees at the 'home rate'.

This might be the case if one of the following applies to you:

  • You (or a family member) are an EEA or Swiss national, working in the UK
  • You are the child of a Turkish national who is ordinarily resident in and has worked legally in the UK
  • You (or a family member) are recognised as a refugee by the UK Government
  • You (or a family member) has been granted humanitarian protection in the UK
  • You have the right of long residence in the UK, which may be granted if you are aged 18 or over and have lived in the UK for twenty years (or half your life)

Please note that this information is provided as initial guidance only. It is not intended to be exhaustive. Additional conditions may apply in each case and you should check carefully before making an assumption about your fee status.

For comprehensive information on UK fees, we recommend you consult the detailed resources for international students in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, maintained by the UKCISA (the UK Council for International Student Affairs).

Ordinary residence

In addition to other requirements, you'll often need to be 'ordinarily resident' in the UK in order to qualify for home fees. This typically means you are living normally in the UK (not as a visitor or student) with the legal right to do so.

Checking your fee status

If you have any doubt about the fees you'll pay (or should pay) for a Masters, check with your university. Their international office will normally have dedicated staff with the expertise necessary to assist you.

And remember, whatever your Masters costs, you may be eligible for financial support to help complete it. Our separate guide to funding for international students explains what sort of help could be available.

International fees for UK Masters courses

There is no ‘standard’ international fee for UK Masters programmes. Instead, UK universities are free to set their own fees for postgraduate programmes.

However, as an international student, you will probably find that your fees are higher than a ‘home’ student.

Your exact fees will vary depending on how expensive your course is to teach and which university you study at.

Average UK Masters fees

The following table gives the average cost of a full-time UK Masters degree for the most recent academic year. It’s based on a survey of UK university fees published by Times Higher Education.

International Masters Fees in the UK - 2020
Classroom Laboratory MBA
£15,097 £17,493 £20,494

It’s important to note that these are overall averages. Individual courses at individual universities may be cheaper than these figures suggest. Or more expensive.

These are also figures for taught qualifications, not research Masters (such as the MRes and MPhil).

Why are some types of Masters more expensive?

The price a university charges for a postgraduate programme generally reflects how difficult and expensive it is to provide.

A classroom-based Masters (such as an MA) will generally be cheaper to teach than a laboratory-based course (such as some MSc degrees) that requires more expensive equipment and facilities.

Clinical courses (in Medicine or similar subjects) will be more expensive still, as will MBAs. These Masters degrees rely on specialist instruction and practical training, which pushes their cost up.

Types of Masters

Looking for more information about postgraduate qualifications? Our guides explain the differences between types of Masters in the UK - and elsewhere.

How much more expensive are international Masters fees?

International students generally pay around twice as much as domestic students for UK Masters courses.

The average cost of a Masters degree in the UK is currently around £7,946 for a domestic student on a full-time, taught course. That’s slightly over than half the average cost for international students (£15,097).

Remember though that actual fees will vary – and funding is available.

Why are my fees higher?

UK universities receive some public money to help reduce costs for their own students. International postgraduates don’t usually benefit from this. Instead, the university will charge you what it regards as being the ‘full’ cost of a course.

Will Brexit affect my fees?

The long-term effect of ‘Brexit’ on international student fees in the UK isn’t yet known – and this applies to postgraduate fees too.

However, until the UK actually leaves the EU, the country remains an EU member. This means that the situation of EU students in the UK won't change before 2019.

Guarantees for EU students in 2020

If you are an EU student beginning a Masters in the UK in the next academic year (2020-21) you will benefit from fee and funding guarantees for the duration of your course.

This applies regardless of whether you are still studying in the UK when the country leaves the EU. It means that:

  • You will not be charged the higher ‘international’ fee rate by your university.
  • You will be eligible to apply for student funding in the UK, provided that funding is available to EU students.

These commitments only apply to students beginning a Masters in 2020-21. We’ll provide updates for any further guarantees through our postgraduate advice blog and newsletter.

EU students after Brexit

Unfortunately, we don’t know what the status of EU students in the UK will be after Brexit occurs.

It is possible that the UK will negotiate with the remaining EU member states to provide continued access to ‘home’ fees and funding (and that UK students will also enjoy these benefits in other EU countries).

However, it is also possible that EU students could become classed as international students. This would mean paying higher fees, requiring a student visa and losing access to some funding.

International students after Brexit

Brexit won’t directly affect international students.

If you are studying a Masters in the UK from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland, you will continue to require a visa and will only be able to access certain funding. In most cases you will also be charged the higher rate of tuition fees, as explained on this page.

International students should apply for a Tier 4 (student) visa. Postgraduates at 27 participating UK universities are able to apply for the visa through a simplified pilot scheme, which makes the application process quicker and easier.

We’ll continue to provide up-to-date information on pages like this and through our regular blog and newsletter.

International funding

Looking for help paying for your Masters in the UK? We've put together a guide to current funding opportunities for international students.

Last updated 18/11/2019

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