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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.

 Series of charts showing variations across the UK in tuition fees  (maximum contributions) and the maximum value of student support packages (grant plus loan) for high and low income households.

Table showing a summary of full-time undergraduate student support around the UK in 2024/25

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 Financial support for higher education 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?


The National Student Accommodation Survey 2024 by Save the Student found the UK average monthly rent for students to be £550. This is a 2.8% increase since the previous survey in 2023. Those living in private halls pay an average of £613 per month, while university accommodation rent is an average of £596 per month. The majority of students surveyed (64%) reported struggling to afford rent.

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 2023, 18% of students said they had used a foodbank in the past academic year and almost half (49%) admitted “money worries” had negatively impacted their diets. Similar results were found by the Sutton Trust in its Cost of Living survey in January 2023 which polled 1,050 university students in England between September 2022 and January 2023. It found 63% of students said they were spending less on food shopping and essentials in response to rising costs, and 33% of students from a lower socio-economic background reported skipping meals.

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 in order to support themselves, 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

Further reading

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

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