7 Cheapest Universities in Scotland for International Students

//7 Cheapest Universities in Scotland for International Students

Scotland is a northern UK territory known for its beautiful mountains, green valleys, and lovely beaches. While it’s widely famous for being a picturesque location, it has become a top-rated educational destination – just like that of Great Britain.

To date, there are over 50,000 students – from over 180 countries – enrolled in Scottish universities. More are expected to follow suit given the area’s top-rated universities – some of them being surprisingly affordable. Below are the cheapest universities in Scotland for international students.

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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.

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.

What are the requirements of studying in Scotland?

As with most UK universities, you can apply to Scottish institutions through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Center or UCAS. Here, you need to fill out a form where you can state four to five degree options. You will then need to upload the essential requirements, the most important of which is a high school diploma.

Can you study in English at Scottish Universities?

Yes. Scottish universities have English as the medium of instruction. At Abertay University, for example, applicants need to meet the minimum IELTS requirement of 6.0 – or a 7.0 band for some courses.

The same IELTS minimum of 6.0 is required at Edinburgh Napier University. It also accepts other proficiency tests such as the TOEFL-iBT, PTE, and Cambridge Exam, to name a few.

Cheap Universities in Scotland

1. Glasgow Caledonian University

The Glasgow Caledonian University, also known as GCU, Caley, or Caledonian, is a public institution based in Glasgow, Scotland. It first opened its doors in the year 1993, following the merger between the Queen’s College in Glasgow and the Glasgow Polytechnic. With the tuition fee starting from around $17,100 a year, Glasgow Caledonian University is the cheapest university in Scotland for international students.

GCU is organized into 3 schools. The first is the School for Computing, Engineering, and Built Environment, which oversees programs in the Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Information Technology.

Another is the School of Business & Society, which manages the departments of Law, Business Management, and Social Science.

GCU’s last school is that of Health and Life Sciences, which delivers the Nursing, Psychology, and Life Science programs.

As one of Scotland’s top-ranked universities, GCU currently has an enrollment volume of 13,000+ students and an international body of 18%.

2. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

Queen Margaret University is located in Musselburgh, Scotland. Founded in the year 1875 as the Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy, it was eventually named after St. Margaret, the wife of King Malcolm III.

This cheap university in Scotland has 2 departments, one of which is the School of Arts & Sciences. It was formed in the year 2010 after the merger of the Schools of the Social Sciences, Media & Communications, Enterprise & Management, Business, and Drama & Creative Industries.

The university also has a School of the Health Sciences, which offers programs in the fields of Dietetics, Nursing, Speech/Language Therapy, Biology, Occupational Therapy, Audiology, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiotherapy, and Psychotherapy, to name a few.

Queen Margaret University is currently home to more than 9,000 local and foreign students.

3. Edinburgh Napier University

The Edinburgh Napier University, one of the cheapest universities in Scotland for international students, can trace its roots back to 1964 as the Napier Technical College. Named after the eminent mathematician-philosopher John Napier, it was granted university status in the year 1992.

The public university has branches in Sighthill, Craiglockhart, and Merchiston. These serve as campuses for its six schools of Applied Sciences, Arts & Creative Industries, Computing, Business, Health & Social Care, and Engineering & the Built Environment.

Edinburgh Napier University, which is ranked one of the best Scottish universities, is also heralded as one of the Best Young Universities in the world. Famous for its European teaching programs, the university currently has 10,300+ students, 18% of which come from more than 140 countries across the globe.

4. Abertay University

Abertay University, formerly called the University of Abertay Dundee, is one of the 2 public institutions in the Dundee area. Its history goes back to the year 1888 when Sir David Baxter’s efforts funded the opening of the Dundee Institute of Technology.

The university, which has more than 7,000 local and foreign students, is famous for launching unique programs. It offered the first Computer Game degree in the year 1997, and the Ethical Hacking course in the year 2006.

Apart from these programs, Abertay University also offers degrees in the fields of Design & Informatics, Applied Sciences, and Business, Law & Social Sciences. It also has a dedicated Graduate School for Master’s and Ph.D. education.

5. Robert Gordon University

Robert Gordon University or RGU is a public educational institution located in Aberdeen, Scotland. Its history draws back to the 18th century, with the school being founded by the merchant and philanthropist Robert Gordon. It eventually became a university in the year 1992.

The campus, which is situated in Garthdee, houses the university’s 11 departments. These are the Schools of Business, Applied Social Studies, Engineering, Computing Science & Digital Media, Art, Creative & Cultural Business, Health Science, Law, Nursing & Midwifery, Architecture & Built Environment, and Pharmacy & Life Science.

This affordable university in Scotland has more than 9,500+ students, 23% of which are listed as international enrollees.

6. University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland was founded in the year 1796 as the Andersonian Institute. This makes it the region’s second-oldest university.

At the same time, it is recognized as Scotland’s third-largest university with its 18,787 students – 27% of which are foreign. To date, the University of Strathclyde is also listed as the first technological institution in all of the UK.

The university, which is housed in the John Anderson Campus, is home to four prestigious faculties. One is the Faculty of Engineering, which handles Architecture & Engineering courses.

Another is the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, which offers programs in Education, Government, Law, Humanities, Psychology, and Social Work.

There’s also the Strathclyde Business School, which houses students majoring in Accounting, Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Management.

Last but not the least is the Faculty of Science, which oversees programs in Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, Physics, and Pharmacy.

7. University of Stirling

The University of Stirling, one of the cheapest universities in Scotland for international students, opened in 1967 in Central Belt Scotland. Housed in the Airthrey Castle estate, its location matches its royal charter status. In fact, this has given the university the reputation of being one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

To date, the university is organized into several departments. This includes the four faculties of Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, Natural Science, and Health Sciences & Sport. There’s also the Stirling Management School as well as the Stirling Graduate School.

The university, which is one of the top-rated universities in Scotland, is also ranked as one of the best young institutions in the world. Currently, it has more than 9,500 students, 24% of which are international entrants.


I hope that this article on the cheapest universities in Scotland for international students was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page!