UK is one of the most popular study abroad destinations for international students despite the high tuition fees. Source: Oli Scarff / AFP

Home to world-class institutions and culturally diverse cities, the UK has become one of the most popular destinations for international students studying abroad. Much of this has to do with the variety of undergraduate programmes on offer, allowing students to pursue anything from engineering to the arts.

Unfortunately, studying in the UK doesn’t come cheap. Tuition fees for undergraduate programmes are notorious for being some of the highest in the world. More than that, fees are more expensive for international students as compared to British — or ‘Home’ — students. This can range from around 10,000 to 38,000 British pounds per year. 

Still, there are plenty of other options for international students hoping to pursue their education in the UK. There are countless universities that offer affordable undergraduate programmes without sacrificing a quality education and state-of-the-art facilities.

5 cheapest undergraduate programmes in the UK for international students

1. Leeds Trinity University 

Founded in the 1960s, Leeds Trinity University welcomes more than 7,000 international students from all around the world every year. It is ranked 86th in the QS World University Rankings 2023 and is generally renowned as one of the top research universities with an excellent curriculum and teaching.

Leeds Trinity University offers a wide range of undergraduate courses offered across many fields including: the arts and humanities; business and management; engineering and technology; life sciences and medicine; the natural sciences; social sciences; and management. It is particularly known for its journalism programmes with its alumni having secured employment at prominent news platforms such as the BBC and ITV.

Aside from this, the university is a top choice as it offers some of the most affordable undergraduate programmes in the UK. The average annual tuition fee for all undergraduate courses offered to international students starts at £12,000 per year.


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2. University of Bolton

Situated in the Greater Manchester area, the University of Bolton is a solid choice for international students looking to pursue a degree in the film and television sphere. Here, programmes such as Special Effects for Film and TV and Visual Effects for Film and TV are offered, making for an education that will not only give you the knowledge, but the skills you need to thrive in the industry.

Aside from that, a wide range of traditional academic courses and vocational courses are available. This includes courses in Animation and Illustration, Automotive Performance Engineering, Crime and Criminal Justice, Fashion Photography and many more. 

There are 14,000 students across all sites and courses, with 700 academic and professional staff. This makes for a diverse student body consisting of over 120 nationalities on campus.

Tuition fees for undergraduate courses start at £12,950 per year for international students. 

3. York St John University 

Located in the centre of the historic city of York sits a university that has been at the forefront of higher education for nearly two centuries. York St John University is known for its academic excellence and responsive nature, putting its students as its number one priority. 

Over five academic schools make for a wide range of programmes on offer at York St John University, from accounting and finance to acting and music production. On top of this, the institution is home to state-of-the-art infrastructural facilities that enhance the learning experience, including sound performance and exhibition facilities, as well as a new media workshop. 

The standard fee for international students starts at £13,000 per year. 


International students have to deal with the high cost of educational and living while studying in the UK. Source: Roslan Rahman / AFP

4. University of Cumbria 

Although the University of Cumbria was only established less than two decades ago, it is now hosting over 10,000 students within its halls. The reason behind this? A strong track record of interdisciplinary research that attracts students from all over the world.

Founded in 2007 from the merger of previous universities, the university continues to grow academically and geographically. Currently, more than 100 undergraduate programmes with a range of entry levels are taught at the University of Cumbria.

Its’ long-term goal is to prepare students to reach their full potential and pursue successful careers. Clearly, this is a strategy that works: the institution is ranked 8th out of 676 universities and first in the UK for its contribution to early years and lifelong learning, pedagogy, research and a commitment to inclusive education.

Despite being a top-ranked university, the university has considerably lower tuition fees compared to many other institutions in the UK. Undergraduate courses for international students start from as low as £13,250 per year. 

5. Teesside University

Teesside University’s reputation is recognised both nationally and internationally for its overall academic excellence. The university is committed to fostering innovation and creativity and offers world-class facilities to its students.

With well-rounded programmes and high-quality teaching and research, the university guarantees an excellent education for its students. Undergraduate programmes include 2D Animation and Stop Motion, Animal Science and Welfare, Comics and Graphic Novels, and many more exciting options.

Its reasonable tuition fees starting from £14,000 per year have made this university one of the top choices for international students looking for a British education.