PhD Fees in the UK for International Students

PhD fees in the UK for international students vary based on several factors, including your field of study, the university you are doing your doctorate research with and which city the university is in. The cost of a PhD in the UK is generally anywhere from £15,000 to £35,000 for annual PhD tuition fees. To help you budget, this article will cover all the variable factors before covering several potential finance options which can help you to fund your studying in the UK. 

Even if the fees seem steep at first, don’t get disheartened; there are plenty of funding sources for international students – there is a reason why UK universities, including UWS London, are such popular academic destinations for PhD students beyond our high academic standards.

It is also worth bearing in mind that PhD tuition fees tend to increase each year in line with inflation. Always ensure you are budgeting with the most up-to-date PhD tuition fees, and take into account that for self-funded students, tuition fees may be marginally higher in the second and third years. The good news is that whatever your field of study and preferred university, PhDs will be vastly cheaper than undertaking a taught undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the UK as an international student. Along with covering the typical cost of PhD fees, we have also outlined additional expenses and living costs you may have to budget for. Luckily, as a full-time, student you’ll never have to worry about paying council tax.

PhD fees in the UK for international students

For domestic students in the UK, the average cost of PhD tuition fees is around £4,500. However, this can rise to £20,0000 – depending on the subject. The main reason there are vast differences in the price of PhD tuition fees is the resources that research students will require; typically, STEM students pay the highest tuition fees due to resources such as tech support, servicing, and equipment. The PhD students who can expect to pay minimum fees are students looking for a doctorate title in the arts, social sciences or humanities.

Part-Time PhD Fees

If you want to study part-time, you can expect to pay 50% of the full-time fees. However, this can vary, and not all PhDs are available on a part-time basis. If you are looking to be a part-time PhD student around your work or any other responsibilities, always check with the institution where you want to study if this is viable. You will also need to check if your visa restricts part-time PhD study.

Research Support Fees

Research support fees don’t apply to every international PhD student in the UK. However, you may need to pay research support fees, which will go towards covering the cost of any specialist materials you use during your research. For students carrying out their research in a laboratory setting, these support fees are also referred to as bench fees and cover the cost of any consumables used in addition to the facilities where any research and experiments are carried out. 

Some universities will include bench and research fees in the tuition fee, while other institutions will quote them separately. Even if the PhD tuition fees aren’t all-inclusive, universities will always be 100% transparent and upfront about the costs. As the additional tuition fees can vary significantly due to the nature of the research that you are undertaking, bench fees and support fees will usually be discussed during the application process. Other universities prefer to make them available on request. Typically, where applicable, bench fees range between £1,000 – £10,000. You will only pay the higher bench fees if you are using expensive equipment and consumables; most UK universities keep the rates the same for domestic and international students.

How to Enquire about PhD Fees in the UK for International Students

To ensure that you are working with the correct figures when you’re budgeting or applying for funding for your PhD fees and living expenses, always be proactive in your search for accurate information by contacting the UK universities you are keen to study with. 

When you are getting in touch with the university, state if you are an international or EU student, and pose these questions:

  1. How much are the fees for the programme, and what is included/excluded in the fees?
  2. Are there any extra-departmental research fees, printing costs or administration fees?
  3. Does fieldwork incur additional costs?
  4. Are the bench/research support fees the same for international students?
  5. Are there any bursaries or scholarships available that I may be eligible for?

PhD Funding for International Students Studying in the UK

International students are eligible for many PhD scholarships in the UK; these scholarships and other funded projects are open to international students of all nationalities. Scholarships and grants can be provided by universities, government bodies and charities.

Funded PhDs for International Students

There are ample options to explore based on your field of research; to make your search for funding easier, many PhDs in the UK are advertised to domestic and international students with funding options attached. This is incredibly common for Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM) subjects, but it isn’t unheard of for the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities to offer the same funding options. Applying for a PhD with attached funding options isn’t worlds apart from applying for a job. If you are accepted as a candidate, you will receive a ‘salary’ in the form of tuition fees, research expenses and a grant which will go towards your living costs. If funding isn’t attached to a PhD project, you can use platforms such as FindAPhD to browse all the current projects offering funding to international students. To broaden your search, you can also use the search bar to sift through your different options. At the time of writing, FindAPhD has over 4,000 PhD projects and scholarships in the UK.

Research Council Studentships

Research Council Studentships are also frequently made available to international students in the UK looking for PhD funding. The more than generous financial support comes from UK Research and Innovation. If you receive funding from UK Research and Innovation, you will receive a monthly stipend to cover your living costs and a fee waiver. The waiver will allow you to pay the drastically reduced domestic rate instead of the PhD fees in the UK for international students. Whichever university funding you apply for, bear in mind that most funding is either provided in a bid to support widening participation or based on academic merit.

Government PhD Loans

If you aren’t eligible for a scholarship, grant, or funding from UK Research and Innovation, Government PhD loans are also available to some international students. Usually, to qualify, you will either need to be able to prove you have a settled status in the UK, be an Irish national or be part of the EU settlement scheme. These loans will cover your tuition fees and living expenses; you only need to repay the loan when you earn over the threshold amount.

Living Costs in the UK for PhD Students 

The living costs for international students in the UK will vary greatly depending on your circumstances, lifestyle and where you live. The most expensive city for living costs, excluding rent, is £894 for London, while the cheapest is £577 for Bradford – based on 2022 figures. With rent included in London, it can cost £1,309 per month if you are living off campus, or £1,237 if you are living on campus. 

How Much Does it Cost for a PhD in London?

London is renowned for its vibrant culture, history, and world-class education, making it a top choice for students pursuing higher degrees. However, it’s essential to note that London is also the most expensive city in the UK. The cost of living in the capital can be higher than in other parts of the country. While pursuing a Ph.D. in London offers incredible opportunities and access to prestigious institutions, potential students should be prepared for higher living expenses.

Additional Costs for International Students 

Your PhD fees, rent and living costs will be your greatest expenses as an international PhD student. However, there are additional expenses which you may need to account for:

  1. Visa Processing Fees – to apply for a visa outside of the UK, it will cost £363. If you are extending your visa or switching to a student visa, the processing fee is £490. 
  2. University Application Fees – these fees aren’t especially common in the UK; however, they aren’t unheard of.
  3. Language Tests – if you are studying your PhD in a second language, you will need proof that you possess sufficient language skills. In some instances, you will be required to sit a language test and achieve a certain score.

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