The costs of student life

Basically, these can be divided into two main blocks:

  • Tuition fees
  • Living expenses

1. Tuition fees

These are the fees charged by the university to attend your chosen course.

Considerable changes have taken place in university funding in recent years as a result of the Labour government's controversial introduction of so-called 'top-up' fees. This rather opaque term simply refers to the new system of tuition fees: firstly, their increased rate, and secondly how you pay them.

Since September 2006, all new students have faced higher tuition fees; but (in contrast to the previous system) they no longer have to pay any tuition fees until after they have graduated.

In other words, they pay more, but they pay later (see loans, below). Or as the government puts it: 'Study first, pay back when you're earning.'

No university is allowed to charge more than £3225 per year for tuition at present – but most universities have set their rates at this maximum level. This applies to the academic year of 2009/10; the fee may be permitted to increase further in coming years.

2. Living expenses

You will need to do your own calculations here, as the circumstances of every student will vary. Some will live in university accommodation on campus (and costs for this vary considerably); others will live at home. Some will drink prodigious quantities of beer; others none. Some will need a constantly updated wardrobe; others won't even use a wardrobe.

Here are some guidelines and suggested figures for a year's spending:

Accommodation on campus (includes main meals)


Food and drink (beyond those provided in the above)






Books and other course costs






TV Licence








Clubs and Societies


Sundries (magazines, CDs, medical expenses etc.)




£3000 for fees + £7000 for living expenses = £10,000 per year. (Note that this will be considered by many to be a somewhat conservative estimate.)

Don't panic! If you don't have private means, or wealthy and generous parents, you can cover much of this cost by a mixture government-provided loans and grants.

Start the process as soon as you apply for a course by contacting your Local Authority (formerly Local Education Authority, or LEA). See the Directgov website for Student Finance:

And certainly make sure you meet the deadline for loan/grant applications, otherwise your first instalment will be delayed until well after the start of your first term.

Comments on this article

esiri 2 October, 2012

Are the fees same for international students

Add your comment

This helps to discourage spam