5 Things You May Forget About When Budgeting For Studying In The UK

Oct 12, 2015 10:49:00 PM


As you begin to think about your studies in the UK, you should start to make a budget for your time abroad.  Factoring in tuition and living costs may seem like a no brainer, but don’t forget about these unexpected fees when budgeting for studying in the UK.

1. Pre-departure Costs

While it is your tuition and living costs might be at the forefront of you mind when deciding ton studying in the UK for your Master’s degree, you’ll also want to factor in other costs you might incur before you even leave the country.

These may not be considered hidden fees, but you may not think about them unitl it’s time to actually buy your ticket. It’s always a good idea to prepare early. When developing your budget, you should try to factor in funds to cover your visa application fee, your NHS surcharge, your flight overseas and any additional travel needs, as well as potential university or accommodation deposits.

Not all universities will require a deposit on tuition or accommodation but if you have your heart set on a specific university, it is recommended that you visit their funding page for international students. This allows you to scope out the average cost for the university’s courses and you can start to plan  whether you need to set aside money to pay a small deposit in order to accept your offer on a course.

2. Tuition Inflation

Most UK universities list their tuition in the standard British Pound (GBP), instead of the Canadian dollar.  When budgeting your tuition, make sure to convert the total cost from pounds to dollars so that you have an accurate sense of how much you owe. You can use a conversion site such as Oanda in order to produce an accurate dollar amount.

Remember that exchange rates fluctuate, so you will want to ensure you’ve saved enough to cover the cost, plus a little wiggle room in case the value of the dollar drops or pound goes up.

3. Unexpected Living Costs

Depending on your living situation, you will probably not be living in a catered dorm. This means that you will be responsible for buying and preparing your own meals.  Be prepared to not only factor in the cost of food, but also utensils, pots, and pans, as your living space may not provide these kitchen essentials.

Also, if you choose to live in off campus/non university housing, you will be paying for utilities such as power, gas, and the Internet. Don’t let these costs sneak up on you as you are thinking about rent and other living costs.

If you intend on having access to television, whether it be through an actual television or streaming online, you will need to buy a UK TV license while abroad. It is a requirement in the UK that anyone watching live TV must hold a TV license as a form of tax collected by the BBC.  The license is an annual fee, so if you intend on having access to live TV, make sure to budget money for a TV license!  

4. Fun money

Don’t forget to budget in a little extra money for some fun.  Day trips and outings will get you out of your dorm and help to break up the monotony of studying all day.  Make sure to factor in costs such as train or bus fair, as well as the cost of whatever attractions you plan to see.  Also, if you plan on buying souvenirs, you will need to put aside however much you plan to spend.

If you are planning a bigger trip, you want to remember to count the cost of travel, accommodations, meals, attractions, etc. A bigger trip means a bigger budget; so keep this in mind as you are creating your plans.  

5. Credit Card

This one may not be an unexpected cost that you should plan to budget, but it still warrants early attention and preparation. It’s always a good idea to travel with a credit card for any incidental costs that may come up, such as a used textbook that you may find for  cheap online, or for reserving tickets to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tours.

One thing to keep in mind when preparing for your studies is how widely your credit card will be accepted in the UK and/or Europe. A Visa card is always a good bet and seems to be accepted in most places. MasterCard and American Express, on the other hand, seem to be a bit more limited in where they can be used.

When deciding on a credit card its also a great idea to look into what your options are for a Travel rewards program. If you’re going to on flights, trains and bus rides, why not rack up some points and earn yourself a free trip to Spain while you’re there!

Remember, once you’ve got your credit card all sorted and your bags are already packed, it’s always a good idea to call your credit card provider and let them know your plans for travelling overseas. Otherwise they might take notice the first time you use your card in the UK and may report fraud usuage.

Download the Graduate's Guide to Funding Your UK Master's Degree

Photo Credit: Herry Lawford