It is essential to plan your finances before you arrive in the UK. You need to ensure that you have enough money to pay your tuition fees and living costs for every year of your course. If you don’t plan carefully, you may have financial problems when you are in the UK. This could affect your ability to concentrate fully on your studies, or to continue on your course.
To help you plan your budget effectively, so you can check where your income will be coming from, what your expected costs will be and whether you will have a shortfall (less income than costs), you might like to use the resources on our web page Budgeting for the cost of living in London. These include:
- an example of average monthly spending for a student living in London
- a budget spreadsheet you can adapt to suit your own circumstances
- money saving ideas
What financial help am I entitled to in the UK, during my studies?
As an international student, there is virtually no financial help available in the UK once you have started your course. You are not entitled to UK government Student Finance, and you cannot claim public funds. Trusts, charities and hardship funds are hugely oversubscribed in the current economic climate and, even if awarded, are only grants of hundreds of pounds which will not go very far.
Although the University has a Financial Assistance Fund, applications are normally only considered from international students who have secured adequate funding to cover all of their costs for the full length of their studies in the UK, before they start. Awards are made in limited circumstances, where genuine and unforeseen hardship occurs during studies. It cannot offer help towards meeting the cost of Tuiton Fees and support is usually limited to students who are near the end of their studies. See our page on Financial options during your studies.
How much money do I need to show for my Student immigration application?
Under the Student immigration rules, when applying for a student visa, an initial applicant must have enough money available to them to pay their tuition fees for the academic year, and to cover their maintenance for the first 9 months. They may also be required to evidence this. So it is important that these funds are genuinely available to you, not just as a UK immigration requirement, but also so that you are not struggling financially once you arrive. You may also need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your immigration application so that you can have free access to hospital treatment from the NHS whilst you are in the UK. We have produced guidance to help you make your Student immigration application including guidance on financial requirements.
What about tuition fees?
Information on tuition fee amounts, deadlines and payment methods for international students is available on the international section of the Queen Mary website.
Do I need to have a contingency fund?
If possible, it is a good idea to have a contingency fund for unexpected expenses, such as the cost of a new immigration application, travel home for a family event or emergency or some extra funds if the cost of living in the UK increases. Some students find that they wish to carry out research for their project or thesis and need additional money to travel to another town or country. If you do not have enough money in your budget for these additional expenses, it could leave you in financial hardship, so it is sensible to try and allow for some extra contingency funds in addition to your main source of funding if possible.
Can I just rely on finding a job in the UK to pay my costs?
It is not advisable to rely on finding a job to finance your stay in the UK: your immigration permission will normally restrict the number of hours you can work, you may struggle to find adequate employment or hours; you could be made redundant even if you do find employment; you may find you cannot concentrate as much on your studies as you would like and work enough hours to support yourself; or it may take you longer to find work than you expected. At Queen Mary there is a Careers Service which aims to help students find work either paid or voluntary to help them gain new skills and experience.
The Advice and Counselling Service advice guide on Part Time Work explains the rules for international students on how many hours you can work a week during term time and vacations and gives information on Income Tax, how to get a National Insurance number, the minimum wage and more.
Can I get a Scholarship or Bursary?
Before you come to the UK you could also check whether you are eligible to apply for a scholarship or bursary. This might come from:
It is important to apply for any scholarships or bursaries as soon as possible and ensure you can meet the criteria as well as any stated deadline. These awards tend to be oversubscribed and issued well before the start of studies. It is extremely rare to be allowed to apply for a scholarship or bursary during your programme of study.
Can I bring my family with me to the UK?
You may be considering bringing your family to the UK. Whether the UK immigration rules allow you to will depend on your particular circumstances such as what course level you are studying at, what immigration permission you will have in the UK, the age and relationship to you of your family member and if you have enough money to support your family while you are here. To see if you meet the UK immigration rules for bringing your family members to the UK, see UKCISA’s (UK Council for International Students Affairs) web pages.
If you need advice, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.
If you meet the immigration requirements to bring your family to the UK and, if you are bringing children, you may like to look at the Advice and Counselling Service advice guide on Childcare. This explains how much pre-school childcare may cost, who is eligible for free schooling in the UK and how to apply to get a school place. We also have useful advice on our Students with children webpage.
The Queen Mary Residential Services and Support website has information on looking for privately rented accommodation.
Do I have enough money?
Once you have planned your budget, if you calculate you will have a shortfall, find out whether you can access any additional money to meet your shortfall. If you cannot, then you may need to consider deferring your studies (with the agreement of your Academic School) so that you have time to find the additional money that you need before you start your course, for example by working and saving up for a year. It can be very stressful trying to study while also worrying about how you will pay your tuition fees or rent. You could find that you are unable to concentrate fully on your studies, and might risk graduating with a qualification that does not reflect your true academic ability. If you do not have enough money, you may also have to take a break from your studies in the UK, go home and return to the UK once you have adequate funding.