The UK is a very popular destination for international students with many high ranking universities, opportunities for work experience and a bustling student culture.
However, the cost of living is high and the tuition fees are even higher which can often deter students from choosing to study here.
But there are a number of scholarships in place that can help to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance costs, relocation and sometimes even flights between your home country and the UK.
Scholarships come in many shapes and forms, so it is worth doing some research to find the one that works best for you. And, contrary to popular belief, scholarships are not just available to students that are academically gifted or have achieved near perfect exam scores.
There are scholarships for students coming from certain countries, or studying in a particular field or for those who can demonstrate the ability to become a global ambassador for their target institution.
Below is a list of the some of the biggest scholarship funds that you can apply to as an international student coming to study in the UK. This is not a complete list, but it is a good starting point to find a scholarship for you.
Types of scholarships
University scholarships – Most universities will offer some kind of financial aid for international students, so your institution of choice should be your first port of call when considering funding.
Financial scholarships – These scholarships are based on the financial needs of the students.
Merit scholarships – For students who are either academically gifted, were top sports players in high school, or excelled in community or entrepreneurial work.
Country-based scholarships – These scholarships are targeted at students from developing countries in particular.
Government-funded scholarships – The UK government offers many scholarship programmes for international students, some of which are listed below.
Privately-funded scholarships – Sometimes private businesses or donors will fund scholarships for international students. These are also more likely to be targeted at developing countries and minority groups, or for specific areas of study.
Part scholarships – These can range from a small one-off payment the student can use towards their fees or a larger payment that is staggered to cover certain costs of going to university.
British Chevening Scholarships – Chevening is the UK government’s international awards scheme. It offers two types of awards: Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships. Recipients are personally selected by British embassies and High Commissions across the world.
GREAT Scholarships – These are joint scholarships between the UK government and certain UK institutions. They are open to undergraduate and postgraduate students from six countries (China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Turkey) and may be limited to certain areas of study.
Commonwealth Scholarships for Developing Commonwealth Countries – International students from developing countries in the Commonwealth can apply for this scholarship to undertake master's or PhD studies in the UK.
Commonwealth Shares Scholarship Scheme at UK universities – These scholarships are available for international students from any Commonwealth country looking to do a master's programme in the UK. The area of the study must aid the development of technology, economy, or society within the student's country of origin.
Marshall Scholarships – Aimed solely at US students who demonstrate academic merit. Excludes MBAs and certain courses.
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Gates Cambridge Scholarships – These are awarded to students looking to pursue a postgraduate degree in any subject at the University of Cambridge. The scholarship covers the full cost of studying and also provides additional discretionary funding.
Clarendon Scholarships at University of Oxford – The Clarendon Scholarship Fund is a scholarship scheme awarded based on academic excellence at graduate level. It covers tuition and college fees and a generous grant for living expenses and 140 are awarded each year to both international and domestic students.
Edinburgh Global research Scholarships – PhD students looking to study at the University of Edinburgh can take advantage of 30 scholarships available to overseas students in any field of study.
Denys Holland Scholarship at University College London – This scholarship supports undergraduate students from any country, who would otherwise be unable to secure funding to study at UCL. The student must also demonstrate how they would utilise extracurricular activities. The scholarship is worth £9,000 per annum and students can choose how much of it to use to cover fees.
University of Sussex Chancellor’s International Scholarships – Awarded to non-EU international students who have already been offered places at the University of Sussex. The scholarship is 50 per cent off the international tuition fee for one year.
Bristol University Think Big Scholarships – Undergraduate and postgraduate students can apply for funding of between £5,000 and £20,000 to go towards tuition fees.
University of Birmingham scholarships – Offers a wide range of scholarships for students of all nationalities
London School of Economics and Political Sciences scholarships – Every year LSE awards a number of scholarships to international students. There are some targeted at specific countries, some to support tuition or accommodation fees.
Imperial College President's Undergraduate Scholarships – Among many of the scholarships that Imperial College has to offer is the President's Undergraduate Scholarships. These are awarded to students of any nationality who demonstrate high academic excellence.
University of West England Chancellor’s Scholarships – There is more than £100,000 worth of scholarships available for international students each year. This includes the Chancellor’s Scholarship where the recipient will be required to undertake an internship working with the International Development Office and other departments across the university.
University of Liverpool Vice-Chancellor’s International Attainment Scholarship – International undergraduate students will receive a £2,000 or £2,500 tuition fee discount based on school grades.
University of Westminster Undergraduate Scholarships for Developing Country Students – These scholarships are open to students from developing and middle-income countries. They cover full tuition fee waivers, accommodation, living expenses and flights to and from London.
Warwick Chancellor’s International Scholarships – Some 25 scholarships are available at the University of Warwick for outstanding international PhD applicants every year. They include the full tuition fee and a maintenance stipend.
University of York Global Excellence Scholarships – Successful students will receive £5,000, chosen by a panel of senior staff at the university.
Developing Solutions Scholarships at University of Nottingham – Designed for students from one of the developing countries of the Commonwealth, interested in studying for a master’s degree.
Read more: Best universities in the UK