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In the UK, higher education is a devolved matter, and each nation has its own funding arrangements and student finance system.

Tuition fees and student support

In all UK nations, students are charged tuition fees and publicly funded loans are available to cover the cost of fees. Scotland is unique in that tuition fees for eligible Scottish students are paid by the Scottish Government.

The different student funding bodies within the UK also provide living cost support in the form of publicly funded maintenance loans, grants, and bursaries. Additional funding may also be available to students depending on their personal circumstances, for example if they have a disability or childcare costs.  

Students receive support from the funding body of the nation in which they reside. Students studying on the same course may therefore receive different amounts of funding depending on which nation of the UK they lived in before beginning their study. 

To ensure they have applied for everything to which they may be entitled, students should consult the website of the respective student finance body for where they ordinarily reside: 

Information on eligibility for home fee status and student support is available in the relevant Commons Library casework article for England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland

Students must reapply for support each year of their course. Students begin to repay any loans when they start earning over a certain amount. Grants and bursaries do not have to be repaid. Information on paying back student loans, the repayment threshold, and the current interest rate can be found for all UK nations at GOV.UK, Repaying your student loan.

The following charts and table provide a broad summary of key support, please see the respective nation’s section for full details and additional grants/loans.

 Chart titled "How do fees vary within the UK?". £9,250 in England, £9,000 in Wales £0 in Scotland and £4,710 in Northern Ireland

Table titled "Full-Time Undergraduate Student Support: UK Summary 2023/24"

Other funding sources

In addition to funding from the respective UK funding agencies, individual universities or colleges may provide scholarships, bursaries, or awards. These funds are allocated based on criteria set by the institution. Commonly used criteria include academic achievement, low income, geography, and support for particular subjects.

Information on these awards will be available on the websites of individual universities. Several websites also provide further sources of advice on student finance. These include:

The Commons Library casework article Cost of living support for students also sets out what other support is available to students across the UK to help with their living costs.

How much do students spend on living costs?


According to Save the student’s 2022 Money survey the average student’s largest monthly expense is rent, accounting for about 45% of monthly living costs.

The 2021/22 Accommodation Costs Survey by Unipol and the National Union of Students (NUS) found the UK average annual rent for purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) to be £7,374. This is a 16% increase since the previous survey in 2018/19.

Additional living costs

The NUS published cost-of-Living Research in November 2022. An online survey polled 4,500 UK students in October 2022, and found over a quarter had less than £50 a month after paying rent and bills (PDF).

In the Student Money Survey 2022, one in 10 students said they had used a foodbank in the past academic year and almost half (47%) admitted “money worries” had negatively impacted their diets. Similar results were found by the ONS in its Student Cost of Living Insights Study which polled 4,201 university students in England between October and November 2022. It found 62% of students said they were spending less on food shopping and essentials in response to rising costs.

More information on how the rising cost of living is affecting students can be found on the Commons Library website.

Are student support levels sufficient?

In March 2023, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Students published a report on the increasing financial pressures students are facing (PDF). It highlighted how the rising cost of living was disproportionately affecting marginalised and under-participating groups of students, including disabled students, black and minority ethnic students, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, care leavers, and students who are estranged from their families.

The report also highlighted the rise in students working increasing hours in paid employment alongside full-time study, and the possible consequences for their academic results, mental wellbeing, and graduate employment prospects.

Higher inflation than originally forecast in 2021/22 and 2022/23 has meant real terms cuts to student support levels in England. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, these have left the poorest students in England around £1,500 worse off.

While the UK Government has said maintenance loans and grants will be increased by 2.8% for the 2023/24 academic year in England, Northern Ireland has said there will be a 40% increase in maximum student maintenance loans. In Wales, student living cost support will increase by 9.4% for undergraduate students.

Further reading

The following Commons Library briefings contain statistics and information on student support in England:

The following Commons Library briefings contain information on student support in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland:

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