The United Kingdom is one of the most popular destinations for international students. With its top-ranking universities, pioneering research, and historic culture, it comes as no surprise why 485,000+ foreigners have made the UK their academic home.
And while the UK has gained the notoriety of being one of the more expensive countries for education, there is a way for you to get world-class education without paying for anything. All you just need to do is follow these tips on how to study in the UK for free.
- University of Cambridge Scholarships
- Oxford University Scholarships
- University of London Scholarships
- Best UK Scholarships for International Students
- Affordable Universities in UK for International Students
How to Study in the United Kingdom for Free
1. Submit your applications early
Whatever course you want to take in the UK, it’s best if you applied early.
For undergraduates, applications can easily be submitted through the Universities and College Admissions Service portal or UCAS. If you plan on applying to Oxford or Cambridge – or if you want to take a Medicine or Dentistry course – you need to complete your application as early as October.
As for other courses, you should meet the deadline of January 15. If you’re planning to apply for art or design programs, you may submit your documents as late as March.
Although applications are accepted until June 30, it’s best to apply early as you will need to register for a student visa, among many other documents.
As for graduate studies, requirements and deadlines vary according to the university. Generally, these institutions will require you to submit your qualifications, personal statement, and reference letters.
2. Get Financial Aid in the United Kingdom
UK universities offer a variety of scholarships for international students, which is the best way to study in the United Kingdom for free. These include the GREAT scholarship, Chevening scholarship, and Commonwealth scholarship.
3. Apply to affordable universities
Although UK universities can cost you up to £38,000 (~US$53,700) a year, there are quality schools that levy lower fees. A good example is Buckinghamshire New University, where the annual tuition is £9,500 ($12,682). Another good option is London Metropolitan University, where you only need to pay £10,000 (~US$14,130) a year for an undergraduate degree.
Study Undergraduate Programs in the United Kingdom for Free
Here are some British universities that offer full scholarships to international students so that you can study in the United Kingdom for free:
UK’s premier university offers the following full scholarship programs to foreigners:
- Hill Foundation Scholarship – for Russians seeking a second undergraduate degree.
- Bright Oceans Corporation Scholarship – for Chinese students who wish to take a bachelor’s degree in Math, Physics, or Life Science.
- Palgrave Brown Scholarship – for Eastern European students in need of financial assistance.
- Reach Oxford Scholarship – Available to students from any developing country, it covers all undergraduate courses except Medicine.
- Simon and June Li Scholarship – 2 slots available for students from several developing countries.
University of Cambridge
As one of the UK’s top universities, Cambridge offers full scholarship programs to students of certain nationalities:
- Carlos and Gabriela Rodriguez-Pastor Scholarship – open to all Latin American students, though preference is given to applicants from Peru.
- Khazanah Cambridge Scholarship – given to Malaysian students who wish to study Bioscience, Business, Economics, Law, Public Health, Material Science, Finance, or Nanotechnology.
- Prince Philip Scholarship – includes full tuition and an annual stipend for Hong Kongese students.
- Rowan Williams Cambridge Scholarship – the applicant should come from a country dealing with conflict, prosecution, discrimination, or human rights abuse.
University of Warwick
Self-funded foreign undergraduate students at the University of Warwick may apply for the Global Excellence Scholarship. To date, there are 20 slots available for a full scholarship offer.
Another option is the OFID Scholarship Program, which is given to gifted students from a developing country majoring in a development-related discipline. Apart from covering the tuition fees, OFID will also provide a stipend to cover books and accommodations.
University of St. Andrews
You can study in the UK for free by getting the following full scholarships for foreign undergraduate students offered by the University of St. Andrews.
- International Excellence Scholarship – open to gifted foreign students, it covers any undergraduate course except Medicine.
- Davis United World College Scholarship – open to American students in dire financial need.
- Bermuda to St. Andrews Scholarship – given to Bermudan undergraduate students.
- SOCAR Scholarship – exclusive to students from Azerbaijan.
University of Bristol
Foreign undergraduate students can apply for a Think Big Scholarship, granted that they are not taking a Medical, Dentistry, or Veterinary Science course. This covers the fees for the entire undergraduate stay at Bristol.
Students from Commonwealth nations may apply for any of the 3 Commonwealth scholarship slots. This program covers the full tuition fees levied by the Middlesbrough-based institution.
University Arts London
Most of UAL’s full undergraduate scholarship programs are offered to students in their final year of study. These include the Xintiandi Scholarship for Chinese/Hong Kongese Fashion Design students and the JNBY Scholarship or Grand Prix LVMH Scholarship for any BA Fashion Design students.
Study Master’s in the United Kingdom for Free
International students can study Master’s degree for free in the UK in these universities:
Foreign Masters students bound for Oxford can apply for these full scholarship programs:
- Dulverton Scholarship – open to European and Sub-Saharan African students who wish to take up Public Policy, Financial Economics, or Business Administration.
- Jardine-Oxford Graduate Scholarship – available to certain Asian students who plan to study Government, Education, Sociology, Business, or Medicine.
- Michael Wills Scholarship – open to African students who wish to study Global Governance & Diplomacy, Migration, and Refugee & Forced Migration.
- Oxford-Brunsfield ASEAN Human Rights Graduate Scholarships – given to ASEAN country students who will take up International Human Rights Law.
University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham offers various scholarship programs for its Master’s students. One is the Chevening scholarship, which covers a one-year Master’s degree in the university. There are 10 slots available for students from 150 countries – excluding the EU and the US.
Another option is the Commonwealth scholarship, which is offered to students from developing Commonwealth countries. There are two slots open for applicants who wish to enroll in the programs of African Studies, International Development, and Medical or Dental Science. It covers full tuition and also includes airfare, a maintenance stipend, thesis expense, and a study travel grant so that international students can study Master’s degree for free in the UK.
Students who want to take up a Master’s in tax policy, economic policy management, and infrastructure management may also apply for the Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship program. Available to students from developing countries, this covers full tuition, roundtrip airfares, and stipends.
Depending on your nationality, you may also be eligible for other postgraduate scholarships offered by the University of Birmingham.
Nottingham Trent University
NTU, which was founded in 1843, usually offers partial scholarships for international students. However, it does have a full scholarship program for LLM students coming from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Royal College of Art
The prestigious, London-based RCA offers a variety of partial scholarship programs for Master’s students. However, you may apply for the Liu Ling Scholarship, which covers the full tuition for the MA Service Design course.
Study Ph.D. in the United Kingdom for Free
You can complete your doctorate studies for free in the UK at:
At Oxford, Ph.D. students may apply for the following full scholarships:
- Hill Foundation Scholarship – for Russian Federation students (with a first degree from a Russian university) who want to take a DPhil in Oxford.
- Oxford-E P Abraham Research Fund Graduate Scholarship – 3 slots open for students who wish to take a DPhil in Molecular Cell Biology in Health and Disease.
- Oxford-Taiwan Graduate Scholarship – for Taiwanese students; covers course fees and living costs.
- All Souls Hugh Springer Graduate Scholarship – for Caribbean students who wish to pursue a part-time or full-time DPhil in Oxford.
- Dulverton Scholarship – given to European and Sub-Saharan African doctoral students specializing in Public Policy, Financial Economics, or Business Administration.
- Jardine-Oxford Graduate Scholarship – available to certain Asian students who wish to pursue a doctorate in Government, Education, Sociology, Business, or Medicine.
- Oxford-Berman Graduate Scholarship – open to Ph.D. candidates in Physics.
I hope that this article on how to study in the United Kingdom for free was helpful. If you are interested, visit the United Kingdom Scholarships Page!