Scholarships for international students in the UK

Studying in the UK can be expensive, but scholarships can help with the cost

This article was written by the Great British Mag content team on 19 January 2020.

The UK has some of the best universities in the world, but they don’t come cheap. High course fees combined with the cost of living mean that those coming to study in the UK need significant funding, but the good news is that you can apply for scholarships and bursaries to help you reduce the costs of studying in the UK, and this article we explain what financial assistance is available and how you can apply for it.

What costs are covered by scholarships? 

This varies from programme to programme – some scholarships will take care of just part of your expenses (part-funded), while others will be more comprehensive (fully funded). So it’s worth doing the maths to work out what you’ll be able to cover yourself if needed. 

Tuition fees and living expenses are the main costs that scholarships will help with, although some will also pay for things like your travel to the UK, visas and expenses related to relocation. 

What are the requirements for a scholarship?

Different scholarships are aimed at different types of students, nationalities or fields of study, and therefore their eligibility criteria vary. This means you’ll need to research which ones are most relevant to you (we’ll come onto where to look later on). For most, though, you’ll need to have already applied to university or secured a place on a course. 

Many of the scholarships available for supporting your study in the UK aren’t designed solely for exceptionally gifted students, so don’t worry – you don’t have to be an academic genius or future Nobel Prize winner to be in with a chance of bagging one. 

In terms of the application requirements, you’ll be expected to fill out a form in most cases, but some will also require you to complete written tasks or tests, or attend interviews. 

How do I search for a scholarship?

There is an enormous number of scholarship opportunities out there, so you’ll need to do some digging of your own to find ones that meet your financial needs and are open to you. 

The following resources are some of the most useful and trustworthy for finding scholarships: 

When you’re looking for scholarship opportunities, beware of hoaxes – international students are prime targets for scammers. Any resources that ask you to pay money to search or view opportunities, or scholarships that charge application fees or guarantee that you’ll win funding should set off alarm bells.

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

What types of scholarships are there? 

Many scholarships are only for post-graduate studies, although there are some out there that cover undergraduate courses – you may just have to search a bit harder. 

Scholarships for international students usually fall into one of three categories, depending on how they’re funded:

UK government-funded scholarships 

These are open to students from many different countries and can be used to study at a huge range of UK universities. Not all countries are covered though, so be sure to read the eligibility criteria carefully. Examples of global scholarships include Chevening Scholarships – which are fully funded by the UK government and are for those pursuing a post-graduate degree – and Commonwealth Scholarships – which are intended for those from low and middle-income Commonwealth countries and include a variety of opportunities for PhD and masters students. 

University scholarships 

Universities across the UK run their own scholarship schemes for international students, which you’ll be able to find on their websites. So, if you have a few UK universities in mind for your studies, it’s always worth taking a look to see what funding opportunities they offer. The University of CambridgeThe University of BirminghamImperial College London and The University of Warwick are among the institutions that have a wide range of opportunities. 

Scholarships funded by your home country

Lots of countries run scholarship schemes to help resident students study abroad. There are many types of scholarships, and they’re usually either funded by governments or private groups. Some are open to students of all kinds, while others have very specific criteria. Some examples are BAFTA Scholarships in China, Inlaks Scholarships in India, and Marshall Scholarships in the USA.

What should I consider before applying for a scholarship? 

You may need to pour a considerable amount of work into your application, so make sure you start the process early enough to get everything done to the very best of your ability – you don’t want to be rushing your work. 

With that in mind, applications are often only accepted for a few weeks of the year for each scheme, so make sure you’re acquainted with these dates. 

If you were planning to stay in the UK after your studies, this might make getting a scholarship a little more difficult, as some stipulate that you need to return home once your course is over. 

Although there are hundreds of scholarships available, there is plenty of competition and you are far from guaranteed to win any kind of funding. So, if your heart is set on studying in the UK, make sure you have a plan B up your sleeve. Perhaps that means enrolling in a course in your home country that organises exchanges, so you can study abroad for a year without some of the costs, or maybe it’s worth researching to see if you can secure a loan to study in the UK.  

You may also want to read

What are Chevening Scholarships?

Is it expensive to study in the UK?

How to save money on academic books