International students Financial cost of living in the UK

Preparing your budget for the duration of your studies is probably the most important thing you can do before leaving home.

If you will receive a scholarship or financial support, make sure that you find out precisely what is included before your arrival in the UK to allow you to budget accordingly.

Although Glasgow may be less expensive to live in day-to-day than some other major cities in the UK, you may find that living here is more expensive than in your home country; particularly in relation to suitable accommodation. It is important that you plan your budget and take into consideration all expenses you may have while studying here.  You will not be able to access any public funds. University funds to support international students are limited and distributed on a case-by-case basis in emergencies only.

If you are considering bringing your partner or children, you need to consider if you are able to afford this.   Please refer to the section 'Students with partner or child dependants'. 

While most international students are entitled to work part-time, you should not expect to rely on these earnings to support you during your studies.

The costs listed on this page and on our breakdown page are related only to personal living costs and not any additional costs associated with your studies e.g. field trips, equipment, textbooks, and personal protection equipment.    

As indicated above, the cost of living in Glasgow can be expensive. While preparing your budget, you need to consider costs according to your lifestyle as well as the level of living standard you want to maintain.

You need to consider the cost of accommodation, food, energy, travel, and entertainment as well as one-off costs associated with study materials and graduation.

We have prepared an approximate breakdown to help you plan your finances. You may wish to budget for more but we would not recommend budgeting for less. You should not rely on projected earnings while you are here as employment is not guaranteed.

Bringing your family to the UK is a big undertaking. The information below will help you make an informed decision on whether moving to the UK is the right choice for your family. 

One consideration of whether you can bring your family to the UK will depend on the level of your course, when you start your course, and whether or not you are in receipt of financial sponsorship for your studies. 

In addition to practical considerations such as schooling, it's also important to note that there is specific UK legislation about the safeguarding of children under 18, primarily making suitable arrangements for the child’s care and accommodation while in the UK. 

If you plan to bring your dependants with you, the cost of living will increase accordingly. You should think carefully about whether bringing your family with you to the UK is a financially practical possibility. You may consider undertaking your studies while they still are at home.  

Visit our guidance for more practical information about bringing your family to the UK.

Think about how you're going to pay your tuition fees. You should ensure that you budget to pay at least one-third of your fees before the University will let you register for your course.   

The University does not accept cash payments for tuition or accommodation fees. You must make sure that you have a valid debit or credit card to make or set up fee payments.

Additionally, the University has partnered with Convera to give International students, parents, and sponsors an easy and affordable way to pay for tuition and other educational costs in their local currency.

Benefits to you:

  • payment by bank transfer or online e-wallet
  • convenient payment methods including UnionPay, AliPay, Geoswift, Trustly, etc.
  • mobile-friendly interface for a seamless payment experience
  • multi-language platform
  • no transaction charges from the University of Strathclyde or Convera
  • favourable exchange rates compared to most banks
  • online payment tracking service
  • customer support service to help with every step

Pay in your currency

You should think about how you're going to get your money to the UK. Having a member of your family transfer your funds to your UK bank account once it's opened is probably the safest method. There are limits on the amount of cash you can bring into the UK. You can bring no more than 10,000 euros (or its equivalent) in cash if you’re coming from outside the EU.

The University does not accept cash payments for tuition or accommodation fees. You must make sure that you have a valid debit or credit card to make or set up fee payments.

International students coming to the UK to study with a Student visa are entitled to work part-time for up to 20 hours per week during term time (10 hours for pre-sessional students), and unlimited hours during vacations. Please visit our Working during studies page for full details.

Student visa holders can work unlimited hours during the period before their official course start date as noted on their CAS and on formal completion of their studies until the expiry of their visa.

Students who are in the UK with Standard Visitor Visa permission are not permitted to undertake paid or unpaid work or participate in a work placement.

EEA Nationals who have been granted Settled or Pre-Settled Status on the EU Settlement Scheme can work unlimited hours in the UK.

It's important to consider how you will be travelling to the University if you are going to be staying in accommodation outside of walking distance of the campus. As affordable City Centre accommodation is scarce, you will likely have to rely on public transport.

Traveline offers a simple way to plan your journeys. You can also download the Traveline Scotland app for on-the-go planning.

There are lots of free and discounted travel options for students that can help you save costs on your campus commute:

Discounted OVO Bikes (powered by Nextbike) membership

As part of Strathclyde’s commitment to sustainable travel and supporting good health and wellbeing, all students and staff at Strathclyde are now eligible for a discounted membership to the Glasgow OVO Bikes network.

For just £20 a year, you can get unlimited rides of up to 60 minutes on the standard bikes. These can be used for journeys between any of the 100+ stations across the city.

You can find out more about the scheme on the Glasgow OVO Bikes network from Strathclyde's Sustainability team.

Bus travel

The bus is one of the safest, healthiest, and greenest ways to travel. Most bus operators provide discounted student tickets. The main operators in Glasgow are:

Under 22s Free Bus Travel

From 31 January 2022, if you are aged 5 to 21 years old and will be living in Scotland for more than 6 months of the year, you can travel by bus for free. You will require a new valid National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card (Young Scot NEC). Previously issued cards will not allow access to the scheme.

You can apply for a new or replacement card on the Get Your NEC website.

A full guide to the scheme, with FAQs and instructions on how to apply, can be found on the Young Persons' Free Bus Travel Scheme website.


The University is serviced by several convenient train stations such as Glasgow Queen Street Station, Glasgow Central Station, Argyle Street Station, and High Street Station. Scotrail is the main train operator in Scotland.

If you will be frequently travelling by train, you can apply for a Railcard to help save some money on tickets. If you are aged between 16 to 25 or are a mature student (over 25) studying full-time, you can save 1/3 on your train tickets with the 16 to 25 Railcard. There are also other Railcards available that may be better suited to you.

You can browse the available options and purchase your Railcard on the official Railcard website.

The Council Tax is set by local authorities to help pay for certain services they provide. Find out more about liability and exemption.

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