When considering a destination to study abroad, the U.K. isn’t usually the cheapest one. However, even if universities can be very expensive in England, Scotland has great and affordable options for international students. Actually, depending on your country of origin, getting a bachelor’s degree in Scotland can be completely free!
Kilts, bagpipes, whiskey, and the Loch Ness monster are some of the elements Scotland is most famous for. But this country of highlands and traditional melodies has much more than that. They stand out in the scientific field, with hundreds of inventions and discoveries.
This is a clear reflection of their higher education system, which has universities that were founded hundreds of years ago. Nobel Prize winners were educated in their classrooms, and many Scottish institutions have high places on international rankings.
Another great thing is these cheap Scottish universities are used to receiving international students. In fact, out of the more than 230,000 university students, only 67% are residents of Scotland. The remaining 43% come from all around the world.
How is the higher education system in Scotland?
Scotland has 15 universities that are funded by the government. Along with them, there are other three higher institutions. They are accredited to offer programs and grant degrees at the bachelor, postgraduate, and doctoral levels.
Scotland also has colleges, but unlike the education system of other countries, here they are mainly vocational. They only offer short programs of one or two years that grant certificates and diplomas.
How expensive are tuition fees at Scottish universities?
If your plan is going to Scotland to get a bachelor’s degree, the program could be completely free for you. Scotland residents and from the European Union won’t have to pay anything to get a bachelor’s degree. As universities are funded by the government, tuition fees for bachelor students are paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
The only exception is for students that come from other countries of the U.K, who will have to pay tuition fees, which are usually around 11,500 USD per year but could be less than that.
International students from the rest of the world will also have to pay tuition fees. These are more expensive than the tuition fees for U.K. residents, but vary greatly depending on the programs. They go from 12,000 USD to 32,000 USD per year.
If you can’t afford your studies, the government offers grants to finance them.
In the case of postgraduate and doctoral programs, everybody has to pay tuition fees. There are certain exceptions for a few programs in which the government wants to attract more students. In this case, the rules are the same: free tuition fees for Scottish and EU students, and paid tuition fees for students from the rest of the world and the other countries of the U.K.
What is the language of instruction at Scottish universities?
Along with English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic are the official languages of this country. However, only 33% of the population speaks Scots, and around 1% speaks Scottish Gaelic.
As English is spoken by everybody, this is the language of instruction used by universities in Scotland, so you won’t have any issues with it. You will only have to get used to their accent, which is famous or being hard to understand at first.
If English is not your native language, you’ll have to prove your English proficiency.
Is living in Scotland expensive?
Living costs in Scotland are a little bit higher than in other European countries. This is especially true because of the value of the British Sterling Pound (GBP), which is higher than the USD.
If you live outside the university campus, monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment can go from 500 GBP to 800 GBP (615 USD to 980 USD) depending on the area. However, rent at student residences is much cheaper and can be as little as 300 GBP (370 USD).
As for food, you would spend between 120 to 200 GBP (140 to 245 USD) depending on your taste and habits. Public transportation per month can cost 55 GBP (68 USD) if you use it daily.
Cheap Universities in Scotland
1. The University of Edinburg
Ranked as the best university in Scotland, the University of Edinburg was opened more than 400 years ago, in 1582. According to the 2020 QS World University Ranking, it is the 20th best in the world, and according to the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Ranking, it is the 29th best worldwide.
This cheap university in Scotland has over 40,000 students and half of them are from countries in the European Union and overseas. It is located in the capital city of Scotland, Edinburg, where they have seven campuses.
The university is organized in three colleges of arts, humanities, and social sciences, medicine and veterinary medicine, and science and engineering. These are divided into 21 schools.
It has different residences throughout the city. These are available for undergraduate and postgraduate students. You can pay rent monthly or pay for the whole year when you enroll. Annual prices go from 5,141 GBP (around 6,320 USD) to 7,978 GBP (around 9,800 USD).
In case English is not your first language, they have completely free English courses for international students. They specialize in different categories depending on your needs, like academic writing, social speaking or listening to lectures and note-taking.
Regarding admissions, they depend on your country of origin and the program you’d like to study. In some cases, you’ll be required to get specific qualifications since programs may not accept secondary diplomas from your country.
Tuition fees also depend on the program and the country of origin. For the rest of the U.K., they have a flat fee of 9,250 GBP (11,375 USD approx.). For the rest of the countries, they go from 9,050 GBP (11,125 USD) to 32,100 GBP (39,465 USD). However, most of them stay below 20,000 GBP (24,590 USD) per year.
This is definitely not the cheapest university on our list, but we included it because they have many financial aid options which include loans, scholarships, discounts, and awards. Visit the International Students’ section to learn more.
2. University of Dundee
The University of Dundee was originally part of the University of St Andrews, which was founded in 1881. It became an independent institution 59 years ago. It has ranked as the 302nd best university worldwide according to the QS World University Ranking. They have also been chosen as the university with the best student experience by the Times.
The main campus of the university is located in the city of Dundee. They have other two campuses throughout the city, which mainly have the buildings of the health majors, including hospitals.
More than 17,000 students receive education in one of its nine schools. 25% of them are international students that come from outside the U.K.
It has eight student residences. Fees for the academic year go from 4,878 GBP (6,000 USD approx.) to 6,033 GBP (7,415 USD approx.). If you prefer private accommodation, Dundee is more affordable than other Scottish cities.
Requirements vary depending on your country of origin. Visit their admissions’ section and choose your country from the list to get detailed instructions.
Tuition fees depend on the major and the country of origin. Prices go from 5,000 GBP (6,145 USD approx.) to 22,000 GBP (27,000 USD approx.) for short programs, undergraduate and graduate programs. They also have a long list of scholarships available.
3. University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is one of the oldest in Scotland. It was opened back in 1451. It is the 67th best in the world according to the 2020 QS World University Ranking and the 93rd best according to the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Ranking. This makes it the second-best in Scotland.
It is located in Glasgow, one of the most active cities in the country because it is the most populous. It has different campuses and buildings throughout the city.
This cheap university in Scotland has four colleges divided into schools where more than 29,000 students are educated.
This university has a special online program through which you can get a postgraduate degree. Most of them last for three years. For international students, tuition fees for the complete programs (2.5 to 3 years) are of 15,000 GBP (18,500 USD approx.). This is 5,000 GBP or 6,150 USD per year.
As with other universities in our list, application requirements depend on the country of origin and the program. Tuition fees for international students will also depend on these aspects. Less expensive programs cost between 16,970 GBP (20,870 USD) to 21,920 GBP (27,000 USD approx.). However, programs related to health are really expensive and can cost up to 47,900 GBP (58,890 USD approx).
4. Heriot-Watt University
Heriot-Watt University is comprised of six schools and a research institute. It has five campuses. The main one is located in Edinburg, and there are other two also located in Scotland, which include the College of Textiles and the Petroleum Engineering School. The remaining campuses are located in Dubai and Malaysia.
To get details about admissions for international students, click here and select your country to get the information. They also have a distance learning program so you can receive education and stay in your own country. Along with this, they offer short courses and online postgraduate programs.
As for tuition fees, you’ll have to check each program individually to get information about the costs. The average costs for students outside the U.K. and the European Union are between 14,000 GBP (17,200 USD) and 18,000 GBP (22,150 USD). If you need financial aid, click here to learn more about scholarships and bursaries.
5. Edinburg Napier University
Edinburg Napier University started as a technical college more than 50 years ago and became a university in 1992.
Divided into six schools, this university has over 19,000 students and half of them are from outside Scotland.
The programs at this cheap university in Scotland are focused on employability. That’s why they have internship programs with enterprises and companies and 95% of their alumni have a job or continue their education after six months of graduation.
It has three campuses in Edinburg and three recently-opened student residences.
Click here to get information about application requirements for prospective students from your country. The average tuition fees for students from outside the European Union are of 12,845 GBP (15,850 USD approx). Check the international students’ section to learn more about programs, financial aid, and admissions.
6. Queen Margaret University
Queen Margaret University was originally opened as a school for women in 11875 and then became a college. It received accreditation to become a university in 2007.
The campus is located in Musselburgh, where they have administrative and academic buildings, four research institutes, and two resource centers. They also have student residences. Fees for 38-week contracts go from 4,319 GBP (5,310 USD) to 5,209 GBP (6,400 USD approx.).
Regarding admissions, click here to get information about the requirements for your nationality. Tuition fees in 2019 for international students from outside the European Union went from 13,000 GBP (almost 16,000 USD) to 14,500 GBP (17,825 USD approx.).
7. University of the Highlands and Islands
The University of the Highlands and Islands is the newest higher institution in Scotland because it was opened in 2001 and received full accreditation less than 10 years ago, in 2011.
They have 13 colleges and research centers which are located throughout Scotland. This is why they have a wide offer of undergraduate and graduate programs. Courses are available in English and Scottish Gaelic.
Eight campusesat this cheap university in Scotland have student residences. The other ones offer assistance to get private accommodation.
This is the cheapest university in our list. Tuition fees for international students that aren’t European Union residents go from 6,855 GBP (8,430 USD approx.) to 12,800 GBP (15,740 USD). Online programs are cheaper and go from 6,408 GBP (around 7,900 USD) to 7,040 GBP (around 8,660 USD). They also offer financial aid in case you need a hand with payments.
I hope that this article on cheap universities in Scotland was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page!