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Posted Oct. 27, 2023

The hidden costs of being a postgraduate student in the UK

Hidden costs of PG study

Before embarking on a postgraduate journey in the UK, students are usually aware of the tuition fees and general living expenses. However, there are several hidden costs that can catch you off guard.

In this article, we will explore some of these hidden expenses, shedding light on the financial challenges postgraduate students face in the UK.

1. Societies and clubs

Participating in university societies and clubs can be a rewarding experience and is an integral part of the whole university experience, however joining can come at a price. Membership fees, event costs, any required gear or attire, and travel expenses can quickly add up. Whether you're a sports enthusiast, an art lover or a member of a cultural society, it's essential to budget for these expenses, as they can significantly impact your overall spending.

2. Travel costs

Travel expenses in general are another hidden cost for postgraduate students. You might need to commute to your university, travel for research, or even plan a trip home to visit family and friends. Public transport in the UK can be pricey, so budgeting for buses, trains and perhaps even the occasional taxi ride is crucial. Additionally, international students may have to factor in the cost of traveling back home during academic breaks.

3. Printing costs

Although we live in a digital age, there are still many instances where you may need to print assignments, reports and research materials. University libraries and computer labs may charge for printing, while the cost of ink and paper for home printers can really add up over time. Being prepared for these expenses is key to staying on top of your academic work and your budget.

4. Books and reading materials

Even though universities provide extensive library resources, postgraduate students often need specific books and reading materials that aren't readily available. Buying textbooks, academic journals and research papers can be expensive. To help reduce these costs, explore second-hand options, digital resources and book-sharing programs.

5. Academic resources

Certain postgraduate programs may require specific software and tools for research and coursework. These could include statistical analysis software, design programs or specialty tools. Licensing fees or subscriptions for such software can be a hidden financial burden, so it's crucial to check if your university offers discounts or free access.

6. Mobile phone and internet charges

Having a reliable mobile phone and internet connection is essential for postgrad students for general communication as well as research and online courses. While mobile contracts and broadband packages vary in cost, they can make up a substantial part of your monthly expenses. Be sure to compare providers and choose a plan that suits your needs and budget.

7. Dental costs

Healthcare in the UK is predominantly free through the National Health Service (NHS), but dental care is a notable exception. Although some NHS dentists do exist, they have notoriously long waiting lists, and even if you manage to get an NHS dentist, check-up fees and treatment costs do still apply, although they are much cheaper than their private counterparts. Many postgraduate students overlook the cost of dental check-ups and treatments, which can be surprisingly expensive. Consider signing up for a dental plan to help with budgeting for these occasional but necessary expenses.

8. Graduation ceremonies

While graduation ceremonies are a momentous occasion to celebrate your academic achievements, they come with additional expenses. Cap and gown rental, personal and guest accommodation, and travel costs to attend the ceremony can all put a strain on your budget. It’s a good idea to have money put aside for these costs as you reach the end of your postgraduate journey.

In conclusion

Postgraduate students in the UK face numerous hidden costs that extend beyond tuition fees and living expenses. Joining societies and clubs, covering travel expenses, and budgeting for printing and reading materials are just a few of the financial challenges you might encounter. To prepare for these hidden expenses effectively, create a comprehensive budget and seek opportunities to reduce costs. Make sure you utilise university resources, consider second-hand options and explore discounts whenever possible. By being financially prepared, you can make the most of your postgraduate experience in the UK without breaking the bank.

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