Postgraduate fees in the UK

Postgraduate fees in the UK vary massively depending on the type of course, where you are from and a myriad of other factors. Many students therefore get confused about how much a postgraduate degree will cost them, what their course fees include and even how they can pay their fees. So here at Postgrad.com, we’ve condensed all the information you need about average postgraduate fees in the UK down to one page.

Here are four of our most frequently asked questions about postgraduate fees in the UK, which hopefully will help you on your way to applying for your postgraduate degree.  

How much will I pay?

The cost of your postgraduate program depends on two main factors, what country you come from and what sort of course you are doing.

Residency

How much you pay in postgraduate tuition fees largely depends on where you are from and what you are studying. As the UK government subsidises part of postgraduate fees through the Higher Education Funding Council, postgraduate fees are slightly lower for British students in British universities. However in accordance with EU directives that require the UK government to treat UK and EU students equally, students from EU students also pay this lower ‘home’ fee.

Yet there are still some ways for overseas students to escape their overseas premium and pay home student fees. You can find a detailed summary of the conditions here, but the most common exceptions are:

•    You have been a permanent resident and settled in the UK for at least 3 years (and the main purpose of this residence was not for education).

•    You have been granted refugee status.

•    Those who have applied for asylum (including those not recognised by still granted ‘Humanitarian Protection’).

Type of Course

Another factor that massively affects how much your fees will be is what type of course you study. The first major distinction is if you are studying a ‘research’ postgraduate degree or a ‘taught’ postgraduate degree (with taught being more expensive because you are charged for the price of your teaching). Within these two categories, there is usually a differentiation between arts/humanities subjects based in the classroom (cheaper) and science subjects based in the laboratory (more expensive). Specialised degrees like MBAs also tend to be more expensive.

Remember to take the length of your degree into account. PhDs and masters programs may seem to have similar or the same costs at first but a PhD usually lasts three years, so you are paying three times the cost of a master’s degree. For the same reason, part-time courses can sometimes work out more expensive.

To give you some idea of tuition fees, here is a table examining how postgraduate fees at Durham University vary according to status and course (prices are per year):

  Home & EU Overseas
Research Course - Classroom £3,828 £12,600
Research Course - Laboratory £3,828 £16,100
Taught Course - Classroom £5,100 £12,600
Taught Course - Laboratory £5,100 £16,100
MBA £19,500 £23,250

(Source: Durham University)

Durham University is an elite UK university - it is in fact a member of the UK’s highly prestigious Russell Group of universities, so their prices tend to err towards the more expensive side for overseas students.

On average UK fees for overseas postgraduates are:

• Postgraduate taught degree: £9,200 – £16,800 (average £11,100)
• Postgraduate research degree: £9,000 – £14,500 (average £10,600)
• Clinical £18,900 – £28,900 (average £23,400)
• MBA £10,000 – £33,000 (average £15,600)
(Source: Universities UK: International Student Fee Survey 2011)

Once you’ve used this guide to suss whether you have to pay Home or Overseas fees and got an idea of the kind of fees you could pay, go to the websites and prospectus of the universities you like and find out what their fees are. Almost all universities have their fees displayed on their websites, so have a search and find out!

What am I paying for?

Charges levelled on you by your university usually cover most of your costs, including tuition and use of university resources. Although details vary between institutions, your money usually goes towards paying your teachers (in the case of taught courses), maintaining resources you will draw upon (such as libraries or laboratories) and other miscellaneous costs.

What isn't included in the course fees?

You maybe be expected to pay additional fees if you study a resource intensive course (especially in sciences). Laboratory fees are not uncommon and can come in anywhere from £100 to £1,000 per year. Also course fees often do not include other necessary items such as textbooks, equipment for fieldwork and other items that add up in price.

How will I pay for my course fees?

Many undergraduate students in the UK are used to have their fees directly paid by the Student Loans Company, meaning they never actually have to organise paying their tuition fees themselves. At postgraduate level however you are expected to arrange the transfer of money for your fees yourself (unless any sponsors or scholarship committees have agreed to arrange the transfer).

The first thing to consider is any deposits that your university may ask you to make. Universities will usually ask for a small deposit (usually of around £500) to help clamp down on people dropping out after agreeing to a place. This may be returned to you upon enrolment or completion or discounted from your payment.

There are usually three ways of paying your fees:

•    A single payment: if you wish to pay all of your fees up front then you can usually do so. In fact, it is encouraged or even required by some universities. Choose your method of payment carefully: you may be charged if you pay by credit card.
•    Termly payments: Many universities allow students to pay termly, so that their payments are spread across the year. This is particularly convenient for students who are reliant on scholarship payments that are spread out across the year.
•    Monthly payments: Select universities allow students to pay tuition monthly, usually by standing order or direct debit. This method may be the most convenient for you, but it can be costly if you cannot pay by standing order and have to make repeated bank transfers or credit card payments.

Please note that some universities require that you pay them from a UK bank account, and if this is the case you will need to open an account promptly before taking your place at a university.  

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