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UK Masters Fees for International Students in 2021

Written by Mark Bennett

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.

There are two fee categories in the UK: domestic and international. Neither is capped by the UK Government (which is why the cost of a Masters varies from course to course) but domestic fees are partially subsidised, which makes them cheaper.

You'll normally pay the domestic fee rate if:

  • You're a British citizen with the right to hold a UK passport and live in the UK without restriction
  • You're an Irish citizen exercising your right to study in the UK under the Common Travel Area
  • You're an EU citizen who moved to the UK before 31 December 2020 and applied to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021

Otherwise, you'll probably pay the international fee rate. This includes EU students arriving in the UK after 1 January 2021 to start a Masters after 1 August 2021.

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

Some exceptions apply to students who have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection, or who have the right of long residence (which may be grated if you've lived in the UK for 20 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).

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
£16,081 £18,613 £21,754

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 £8,407 for a domestic student on a full-time, taught course. Average international fees are almost (but not quite) twice as expensive, at £16,082.

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 UK completed the process of leaving the EU on 1 January 2021. The biggest change this makes to university costs is that EU citizens no longer have access to domestic fees and funding in the UK (and vice versa).

Technically, there is no such thing as an 'EU student' category on UK university courses from the 2021-22 academic year onwards. There are just domestic students and international students (which includes EU students).

What about EU students on 2020-21 Masters?

If you begin a UK degree in the current academic year (2020-21) you will benefit from fee and funding guarantees for the duration of your course. This includes January start Masters.

Brexit doesn't change anything for other international students in the UK.

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.

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