How much does it really cost to study a PhD in the UK?

Making it through to the academic level of studying a PhD is in the thoughts of many fresh-faced new undergraduate students. But when the time finally comes and you are considering a PhD, knowing about the costs involved will help with your decision-making.

Tuition Fees

The first thing most people think about when considering further study is the tuition fees. It's a little confusing to those who have recently completed a taught undergraduate or postgraduate course, but fees for research degrees are much lower. The standard tuition fees paid by UK and EU students are set by the Research Councils UK for research Masters and PHDs. International students will find fees quite a bit higher but comparable to taught courses and other fees you will have encountered. For example, the tuition fees at the University of Leicester are £4,195 per year for students from the UK and EU and vary between £13,600 and £29,465 for international students.

Potential For a Fully Funded PhD

It is possible to get a fully funded PhD. It's hard to believe when you come from the taught degrees of the undergraduate world, but some students get paid to research. Many students have a combination of funding sources, but start your search for funds at the institution that has accepted your research proposal. The Research Councils UK distributes funds through university departments, so that is the first place to look along with charities, international governments and even crowdsourcing online. Otherwise, why not start by finding a fully funded PhD place? Keep an eye out wherever university jobs are advertised like Jobs.ac.uk who advertise full-time PhD studentships across the UK. You might find a fully funded studentship and a research proposal that is the perfect fit.

Living Costs

If you are receiving the Research Councils UK stipend, then that's great news as it's tax-free. However, it will have to cover all of your expenses. Living costs vary across the UK, especially housing and transport. Studying outside of London will keep your costs down. Cities in the UK, such as Sheffield and Liverpool, have much lower costs of living that can stretch out your funding as will sharing accommodation and choosing to live nearby to your campus. Many universities will give you an estimate of living costs whilst studying your PhD with them. The University of Sussex estimates that students will spend around £162 to £236 per week, not including socialising. Also, if you are an international student, make sure you think about the costs associated with returning home when considering living costs.

Working Whilst You Study

Some PhD studentships are called Graduate Teaching Assistantships and these include a requirement to spend time teaching and assisting with the undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses. Ensure that you find out exactly what is expected of you before you accept, but you will find that these PhD studentships are better paid than others without the teaching assistance element. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to think about studying part time instead and working part-time as well. This would mean it would take around six or more years to complete your PhD rather than three to five years on a full-time basis, but it would free you up to earn some money while you study.  If you are an international student, then you must remember that you will have restrictions on what you can and cannot do when considering work. Keep a close tab on the changes in funding in your field of study as just because the funding isn't available now, doesn't mean it won't be in the future. If you are really stuck, then choosing to study part-time until your funding is in place will at least get you started.

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