10 Cheapest Universities in Scotland for International Students

Studying in another country such as the UK can be expensive. Apart from the tuition, you need to pay for lodging, books, visas, and other additional fees. Although that is the case, you can still fulfill your education dreams in Scotland. For one, this northern country has a cost of living that’s 20% lower than London. Add to that, it is home to many cheap yet top-ranking universities.

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What are the general requirements for studying in Scotland?

Applicants need to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Centre, where you can list up to 5 study choices. You have to provide information about your educational background, employment (if any), and references. You also need to submit a personal statement and pay fees, depending on your preferred program.

Those who don’t have English as their first language need to pass a language proficiency test as well.

There are many things that you need to take care of if you want to succeed in getting admission to Scottish universities. To help you with this process, we’ve prepared a guide on How to Study in the United Kingdom for International Students. Check it out if you feel lost!


What are the visa requirements for international students?

Since the UK has exited the European Union, all foreign students need to secure a student visa. A Tier 4 or General Student Visa is required for undergraduate or postgraduate students, while a Child Student Visa is necessary for students aged 4 to 17.


How much does it cost to study in Scotland?

Even though there are cheap universities in Scotland, studying in Scotland can be expensive. Each year, the tuition fee ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 USD. You also have to think about the living costs associated with studying in Scotland. Although this is very expensive, many international students in Scotland are able to study for free. If you are interested, read about How to Study in Scotland for Free (10 Steps).


Cheap Universities in Scotland

1. The University of the West of Scotland (UWS)

Formerly the University of Paisley, this public institution has four campuses throughout western Scotland. Although its name was only given in 2007, the University of the West of Scotland can trace back its roots to 1897 with the establishment of the Paisley College of Technology.

The university is divided into four schools, namely the School of Business and Creative Industries, the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, the School of Education and Social Sciences, and the School of Health and Life Sciences. Through these departments, UWS offers more than 100 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Despite offering the cheapest tuition in Scotland, UWS retains a high quality of education. According to the 2020 World University rankings, it is known as the 9th best institution in the region.

2. University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)

Known in Scottish Gaelic as the Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean, UHI is a collective of 13 institutions in the area. Although it was only established in 2011, some of its schools have been standing since the 19th century.

As one of the cheapest universities in Scotland, it plays home to more than 9,900 local and foreign students.

UHI offers several courses through its two schools. They are the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Business, and the Faculty of Science, Health, and Engineering. To foster graduate studies, the university hosts 13 research units, as well as 7 institutes.

3. Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)

GCU, also known as Caledonian or Caley to its students, is a public university based in Glasgow. It was created in 1993 following the merger of The Queen’s College and Glasgow Polytechnic.

GCU traces its history back to 1875 when Queen’s College was founded to provide domestic science education. Much has changed since its inception, as GCU now offers degrees in the fields of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, Business, Health, and Life Sciences.

Despite its recent establishment, GCU has been recognized as one of the world’s top young universities. With noted singer Annie Lennox as the first female chancellor, GCU is a relatively inexpensive school that provides good education to both locals and foreigners.

4. University of Stirling

Founded in 1967 through a royal charter, the University of Stirling is a public institution that caters to 8,565 undergraduate and 3,935 graduate students. Located in the Scottish Central Belt, it boasts of a beautiful campus that spans 330 acres.

This cheap university in Scotland has 5 schools, namely the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, and the Stirling Management School.

It also offers degree programs in coordination with Hebei Normal University, China, and the Singapore Institute of Management.

Apart from providing cheap yet quality education, the University of Stirling puts much focus on athletics as well. In 2008, it was named Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.

5. University of Abertay Dundee

Founded in 1888 as the Dundee Institute of Technology, the University of Abertay Dundee is one of two public institutions in the city.

Abertay offers a total of 32 undergraduate degrees and 7 postgraduate courses. Despite this small number of options, Abertay has been chosen by the Guardian as the top modern university in Scotland.

For gamers who wish to study for cheap, Abertay Dundee proves to be an excellent choice. For one, it was the first in the world to offer a computer game degree in 1997. In 2006, it also launched a course in Ethical Hacking.

Compared to other schools, all new Abertay students are assured of accommodations within the campus.

6. Queen Margaret University

Located in Musselburgh, the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh is a public institution founded in 1875. It was named after Saint Margaret, the wife of King Malcolm III.

Previously named The Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy, it was created for female students who wish to pursue higher education. Since then, it has become a central institution, and now, one of the most affordable universities in Scotland for international students.

QMU offers undergraduate and post-graduate degrees through three schools, namely the School of Arts and Social Sciences, the School of Health Sciences, and the School of Governance.

It is also home to seven research centers, including the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation and the Institute for Global Health and Development.

7. Edinburgh Napier University (ENU)

Founded in 1964 as the Napier Technical College, ENU was named after Scottish mathematician John Napier. It has three campuses scattered throughout the Scottish region.

The campus located in Craiglockhart is home to the Business School, as well as the Craiglockhart Hydropathic Hospital. The Merchiston campus, on the other hand, is the home of the Schools of Art and Creative Studies, as well as Computing and Engineering and the Built Environment.

The Sighthill campus, which opened in January 2011, is the home of the School of Health & Social Care and Applied Sciences.

Due to its affordable yet quality education, it is a favorite amongst many international students. In fact, it is home to 9,500 international students who come from 140 countries around the world.

8. University of Dundee

  • Minimum Tuition Fee: USD $18,220 (£14,950)
  • Admissions

Known to many as Dund, the University of Dundee is a public research institution founded in 1881. For most of its existence, it was a constituent of the famed University of St. Andrews.

The main campus, which is located in West Dundee, houses several faculties. They include the Dundee Law School, the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, and the Dundee Dental Hospital. Its Medical School, on the other hand, is incorporated with the state-of-the-art Ninewells Hospital.

The university also offers degrees in Business, Education and Social Work, Humanities, Life Sciences, Nursing and Health Sciences, Science and Engineering, and Social Sciences.

Despite its inexpensive tuition, the University of Dundee continues to provide high-grade education to local and foreign students alike. In fact, it has been named by the World University Rankings as the fifth-best institution in Scotland.

9. Robert Gordon University (RGU)

Next on our list of Scotland’s cheapest universities for international students is Robert Gordon University. Situated in Aberdeen, RGU is a public university founded in the 18th century. It is named after Robert Gordon, a Scottish philanthropist and merchant.

RGU is located on the Garthdee campus, which spans 57 acres. It has numerous buildings that house its 11 academic faculties, which include the Aberdeen Business School, Gray’s School of Art, and the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment.

Other schools within RGU include Applied Social Studies, Computing Science and Digital Media, Creative and Cultural Business, Engineering, Health Sciences, Law, Nursing and Midwifery, and Pharmacy and Life Sciences.

As Guardian’s Best Modern University, RGU is deemed as the best in Scotland in terms of Architecture, Pharmacy, Journalism, and Health Professions.

10. Heriot-Watt University (HWU)

HWU was established in 1821 as the School of the Arts of Edinburgh. As the world’s first mechanics institute, it is renowned for its Planning and Building degrees.

Herriot-Watt has 5 campuses, with 3 in Scotland (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, and Orkney) and 2 in Asia. The university offers degrees through its 6 schools, namely Business, Textiles and Design, Mathematical and Computer Science, Social Science, Engineering and Physical Science, and Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure, and Society.

With its world-renowned education and inexpensive tuition, HWU currently plays home to 10,000+ students in Edinburgh – and 31,000 more on campuses in Scotland, Dubai, and Malaysia.


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