Studying in the United Kingdom is a life-changing opportunity, but world class higher education comes with a price. Because earning a degree can be very expensive, we put together this guide to scholarships for international students in the UK.
The most common UK scholarships for international students that you will find are for postgraduate studies, especially for Master’s degrees of one or two years. These are also the ones that are often fully funded awards. Far less common are scholarships for undergraduate students, and most of the time they come in the form of a partial fee waiver.
A good place to start your search is actually Studyportals, where we have a dedicated Scholarships Portal which provides you with over 1,800 distinct scholarships in the United Kingdom alone.
If you wish to continue searching on your own, start by checking the Fees and Funding section on your university’s website. Most universities will recommend several available scholarships for your particular programme.
Then, continue by searching for scholarships specific to your subject area, level of study, and nationality. Once you have a shortlist of scholarships, apply first to the ones you have the highest chances of winning. And remember to tailor your application for each scholarship individually.
Going back to international student scholarships in the UK, you should know that they can either cover both your tuition fees and living costs (these are called fully funded scholarships) or one of the two (partially funded scholarships). All of them are highly competitive. Depending on their kind, your application will be evaluated based on merit (academic achievement), your social or financial profile (socio-economic situation), and sometimes your home country.
Now, let’s go through some of the best-known UK scholarships for international students which we grouped into four big categories to help you understand them better and figure out quickly which ones might be best for you.
Scholarships offered by the British government for postgraduate studies
1. The Chevening Scholarships for Master’s
Leadership. This is the keyword for the Chevening Scholarships. They are offered to individuals who demonstrate high leadership potential and have impressive academic results.
These are fully-funded scholarships for international students in the UK who enrol in a Master’s degree, and they cover not only tuition fees but also living expenses and return flights to the UK. Over 1,500 Chevening Scholarships are offered globally during every academic cycle.
Recipients of the scholarships are personally selected by British Embassies around the world. Future decision-makers have a chance to develop academically, to create professional networks, experience the UK culture, and much more.
2. The Commonwealth Scholarships for PhD and Master’s
The Commonwealth scholarships for international students in the UK are awarded to students from the Commonwealth who don’t have the possibility to pursue their chosen Master’s or PhD programme in the UK without external funding. Those who win the award have an excellent academic record and are talented students with a high potential of making a positive change in the world, especially in their home country.
These are three main Commonwealth scholarships:
- Commonwealth PhD Scholarships
- Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships
- Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships
But you can explore the complete list on the official Commonwealth Scholarships website.
3. GREAT scholarships
A GREAT scholarship is an award of £10 000 toward your tuition fee for a one year Master’s programme in the UK. This scholarship is offered through a partnership between the British Government and participating universities. To apply, first you should check if your country is one of the 14 which are eligible for this award. Then, access your University funding page and see if they offer the award. If they do, follow the instructions there.
Scholarships offered directly by UK universities
Top British universities often provide generous scholarships for international students in the UK based on their academic achievements or financial needs. Here are just a few of the best-known and highly attractive such scholarships:
1. Gates Cambridge Scholarship
This is a fully-funded scholarship for Master’s and Phd. It offers £18,744 per year, plus health insurance, a personal development budget of £2 000, and family allowance.
2. Oxford Pershing Square Scholarship
A highly competitive fully-funded scholarship for Master’s or MBA that covers tuition fees and living expenses.
3. University of Bristol Think Big
A Master’s award which offers three types of scholarships: £6,500, £13,000, and £26,000 per year to cover tuition fees only. For living expenses, the university has other available bursaries.
4. Imperial College London Scholarship
Fully funded scholarship for PhD in Chemical Engineering
The scholarship covers tuition fees and maintenance costs of £22,900 per year.
>> You can look for UK scholarships for international students or financial aid programmes at any university using their official websites. The information is often under the section “Fees and funding,” “Funding,” or “Scholarships.” If you’re not able to find anything, get in touch with a university representative who should be able to answer all your questions.
Euraxess UK Portal for PhD and Postdoc
Euraxess UK, managed by the British Council, is an online portal focused primarily on funding opportunities for established researchers, however it includes a few scholarships for international students in the UK enrolled in a PhD programme. So this one is especially useful for you if you’ve decided to continue with an academic research career after you obtain your doctorate degree.
Undergraduate scholarships for international students in UK
While there are not as many scholarships for undergraduate students as there are for postgraduates, there are still quite a few interesting opportunities:
1. GEMS International Undergraduate Scholarship
The University of Stirling offers a £2 000 per year fee reduction, so you’ll receive a total of £8 000 toward your tuition fees.
2. University of Bristol Think Big award for Bachelor’s
With this scholarship, you’ll receive £6,500 or £13,000 per year to count toward your tuition fees.
3. Undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarships
The University of Exeter awards scholarships of £5,000, £10,000 or the full coverage of tuition fees for the first year of study.
>> By the way, you can also apply for our Studyportals Scholarship: International Distinction Awards. That’s right, two lucky winners will win our prizes: one worth 10,000 EUR and the other 5,000 EUR.
Don’t forget that in order to receive a great scholarship, you need to write an equally great scholarship application essay.