Student Finance

Scholarships for International Students

Ben Maples  · Apr 13th 2023

We've covered university grants, bursaries and scholarships before, however, we haven’t covered them here for international students.


The UK currently boasts a high percentage of international students studying at university, with 81% of students from the UK, 6% from the EU and 13% from the rest of the world, according to the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs).

International students have seen their costs top well over a whopping £20,000-a-year, and that’s without even taking living expenses and unexpected costs into account. Here, we have the best bursaries, grants and scholarships for international students!

First, some facts:

The tuition fees for international students are actually higher than for students studying in their native country. The reason for this is that costs can often depend on the continent you're from and on the university’s fee structures and also how the country decides to run things. Tuition fees in the UK rarely top £10,000 (there is actually a cap on UK tuition fees at £9,250), but this does not necessarily apply to international students.

If you are an EU Country or are from the European Economic Area (EEA) and based in the UK, you will have the same tuition fees as students who are from the UK, you will also be eligible for a government student loan as well.

The fees will go up if you're for outside the EU however, and the tuition fees go up considerably, but the rates are different for each university.

Russell Group Universities will most likely charge more for international students than those that are perhaps not as prestigious. It might be an idea to look at your university and see where it appears in the university rankings, that should give you a good idea of where the uni’s tuition fees will be, the fees are also different depending on the type of degree you're studying, postgraduate tends to be more expensive than an undergraduate degree for instance.

Now, where to look for financial aid.

There are plenty of places to look for financial aid in the UK, if you are an international student. These may not be suitable for everyone and they may not always yield the same results for every student, so it usually comes down to the route that is best for you, so what can you use?

Third Party Companies

These can have two separate benefits for you. One is the obvious one, whereby a private third-party will cover your financial obligations. The second one can be a gift but also a curse, which is that many companies have the strict proviso that you work for them when you eventually finish your degree. The downside of this is that you may end up working for a company that you do not necessarily want to work for and the upside is that you will have a job as soon as you leave university, which is more than can be said for some university students!


Now, it may seem somewhat counter-productive to ask your family for help financially when you need help with a scholarship or a bursary or a grant, but plenty of international students ask their families to help, with out without the additional aid of a scholarship etc.


The scholarship option is fairly obvious, but it will be very useful for you in the long run, especially if you're looking to save some money. Scholarships can be fairly difficult to apply for though, as different scholarships will have different specifications for each person who applies for one, is it really can all depend.

Those four areas are very important possibilities for an international student. However, either one will have their own set of headaches and they will also have their own specifications on what you can and cannot do under the provisions each one. For instance, a Scholarship may be dependent on certain grades that you achieve at university and if you don't achieve them, you may be left in a very difficult situation indeed.

Do universities offer scholarships?

They do indeed, plenty of universities offer scholarships specific to themselves and they all have their own separate set of rules, regulations and specifications that you have to meet.

We obviously can't provide all the scholarships for every single university in the UK, because our writers would like to go home at some point and we unfortunately don't have the budget for a million monkeys with a million typewriter, but here is a selection of some of the best scholarships on offer by university for international students:

  • Aberystwyth University: This is for non-EU students and is dependent on the course itself. Certain courses and certain student situations may entitle you to more or to less.
  • Bristol University: The university runs a number of different scholarship options for students, the most common scholarship for international students is the International Hardship Fund.
  • Cardiff University Cardiff University offer a number of International scholarships for students. A full list of their scholarships don't really do justice to the amount of work they have don't o help international students. The Cardiff University International Scholarships page, gives you a full run down on everything you need to know.
  • Kingston University: Kingston University offer scholarships of £4,000 each to applicants. However, this is technically a partial-scholarship as you have to cover the outstanding amount yourself.
  • Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast Queen’s University Belfast offer five scholarships for international students, which are: International Office Undergraduate Scholarship, Vice-Chancellor’s International Attainment Scholarship (Undergraduates only), Queen’s Loyalty Scholarship, Queen’s Family Scholarship and the Early Bird Reward.
  • Swansea University: Swansea University offers a wide range of scholarships, but they are only open to students from certain countries. The university offer an International Merit Scholarship which allows for up to £2,000 and they also offer an International Excellent Scholarship, which offers to £6,000 (usually £4,000 in the first year and then £2,000 in year 2).
  • University of West London: These scholarships are International Ambassador Scholarships. And yep, it's exactly what it means. These scholarships are aimed at students who want to become international ambassadors for the university, although they do only cover the first year of study. There are only 50 scholarships available and they cover up to £5,000.

There are also a number of scholarships that are open to international students from the UK. We've picked a couple for you to have a look at below.

Commonwealth scholarships

Commonwealth scholarships is open to people who are studying a Master’s degree or a PhD. It does offer an undergraduate option, but this option is only open for citizens of the Seychelles and St. Helena.

To qualify for this scholarship you must be a commonwealth citizen or a refugee. The scholarship is also open to British Protected Persons too.

There are a number of different scholarships that are offered and they all cover different circumstances. Some exist for students from low income backgrounds, some are for students studying specific subjects, they all depend on the circumstances.

Given the current state of immigration issues across the globe at the moment, the Commonwealth scholarships also offer Distance Learning Scholarships which allow you to study a UK degree while in your own country.

Euraxess UK

The Euraxess Scholarship is offered by the British Council. This scholarship is for those that are looking to begin a career in research in the UK or abroad.

This scholarship is probably one of the more straightforward scholarships on the list and will not take long for you be accepted into it either.

It is also very generous in the amount of money that it provides, however it will only provide funding for those who are taking on a Research job. However, it is available at all levels of study and is not restrictive.

Chevening Scholarships

This is a scholarship that is specifically for students that are currently studying a Master’s degree. The scholarship is available in most countries although only a small amount are offered every year (usually around 700).

There are a few hoops that you will need to jump through to take up this scholarship however. Those who have taken advantage of this scholarship have to return to their home country for a minimum of two years post-graduation. You will also need two years work experience as well. There is also an English requirement as well, although this depends on your understanding of English.

The scholarship itself is funded directly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. These scholarship are only offered to exceptional students who have a very high academic ability.

The aim of the scholarship is developing global leaders. The scholarship is different from the usual type of scholarship you might see in this area, as its main focus is to give it's beneficiaries the abilities to learn key skills and then to return to their home country and improving things there! An admirable scholarship and one that has a lot of conditions post-graduation as well.

You will need to apply to three separate UK university courses if you want to qualify and they do not make exceptions, there is also an interview stage as well.

CastleSmart Scholarship

Here we have one of the more creative scholarships that you're likely to come across.

This is a scholarship that is aimed specifically towards undergraduates. The scholarship offers around £6,000 towards tuition fees.

The scholarship is offered by the real estate agents CastleSmart. The scholarship is accessed by video, rather than by essay, you need to apply in the form of a video, imagine that! Your video needs to cover a number of points for you to qualify, such as:

  • The course you have chosen
  • What you're expecting to gain from your course
  • Why you've chosen your course
  • Your plans after the course

After you've done this, you need to upload it to YouTube. Simple as that really. Oh, you might want to put ‘CastleSmart Scholarship’ in the title, otherwise they won't find it.

The scholarship is open to everyone of all courses. They're looking for passion so make sure you're passionate about what it is you're doing.

Royal Society Grants

One of the only grants to appear on our list.

This is a grant that is focused on helping students in the Scientific community. This however is a very limited Scholarship. It works on a bit of a first-come-first-serve basis but also based on your academic potential and progress as well.

The society itself is one of the most prestigious societies in the world today and it has a number of patrons who work with the society and a number of people who donate to it regularly. As a result, this means that the amount you can receive can change each year.

Entente Cordiale Scholarships

As those from France will already be aware, Entente Cordiale means Cordial Agreement, and that’s essentially what this scholarship is.

These scholarships is purely for French students that want to study in the UK and for UK students that want to study in France. The scholarships cover a wide-range of topics and are aimed at getting students to integrate as part of the French or UK community.

Saltire Scholarships

Saltire Scholarships are open to students that are studying a Master’s degree and are from China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, USA, India or Canada.

Now, if you've done your homework, you'll know that Saltire, refers to the Saint Andrew’s Cross, and appears on a fair few flags around the world, namely Jamaica and Scotland. Now, the Saltire Scholarships themselves are only open to students looking to study in Scotland.

The scholarships only cover certain subjects that are studied under the remit of a Master’s degree. The subjects that are covered by the Saltire Scholarships are:

  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Creative
  • Medical Science
  • Renewable Energy
  • Science

These scholarships unfortunately won't cover any other areas. The scholarships themselves are worth up to £8,000 but you will need to fund the rest of your studies, and you will need to provide evidence that you can do so.

Marshall Scholarships

This is a scholarship that is aimed purely for young Americans (and not, we don’t mean the David Bowie song or album) who are looking to study in the UK.

This is a very limited scholarship, as it is only open to 40 lucky scholars every year, although it does have the advantage of not being biased in any field of study, essentially, you can study any course you want.

This is only open to US citizens who have a first degree from a four-year college or from a university in the United States, you will also need to carry a 3.7 GPA.

You can generally find that most universities will offer their own scholarships to students. Many international students don't always make the distinction between a grant or a bursary and a scholarship.

A grant is something that is offered to a student based on academic performance (much like a scholarship) and also for people that are facing financial hardships. A grant is really more aimed at the latter, but it is also in aid of the former as well. A bursary is only for those that are suffering with any specific financial issues. For those that are facing issues financially, or whose situation could affect their university application and does not have any relevance to a student’s academic performances.

So there are the best scholarships for international students. There are obviously a fair few for you to choose from, but if you're going to be studying in the UK, choice is never a bad thing.

Hopefully this article has given you an idea of what you need, good luck!

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