United States Vs United Kingdom: higher education costs comparison

USA:UKUK vs US Colleges

How do they compare?


Both US and UK higher education systems have a global recognition and are considered to be systems of excellence. Most of top 15 Colleges in the US are private colleges with very well known names allowing for their employment value to be slightly higher across the globe than the average top 15 UK universities. Yet, informed recruiters know that the UK system is widely known for its higher quality in research.

So what really differs from a top UK university and a top US college?


First of all, the length of studies.

Whilst in the US a college degree lasts four years, in the UK the duration is normally of three years. This can turn into four in most UK unis with the addition of a placement year, allowing the student to get professional experience before his graduation.


Second, the price of tuition.

Whilst in the UK the tuition costs for overseas students go from $12,300 to $43,100 the same quality of University in the US is generally that of a private one where tuition costs can range from $29,000 to $50,000 and above creating a large difference between the two systems in terms of fees.

Although many US colleges include accommodation in their fees, the yearly budget for this segment in the UK can vary from $6,000 up to $12,000 and above in London or higher-end areas. Taking this into account, the average cost for a top 20 university in the UK still remains lower than that of a US top 20 College.


Finally, the costs of living.

Depending where you live in the United Kingdom, the cost of living is usually the same except for London, which has a higher price in general.

Keep in mind that according to the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) and for Visa requirement by the UK government, a student studying outside of London must show the capacity to budget a minimum £1015 pounds per month for living costs.


Here below are some examples of US Colleges versus their equivalent in the UK (Below).
Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 16.38.17.png

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N.B Fees given for humanities.

  • Assuming £1=$1.34


Tuition – this is the actual price paid to the university for attending the individual lectures and lessons. The price can vary depending on the selected major, the cost is normally broken down by credits per course. Each course will be worth a certain amount of credits towards achieving the degree and each credit is worth a certain amount. Tuition is given in an yearly figure.


Fees – these are usually a few additional costs included in the application process, these tend to cover school maintenance fees and student union fees, basically activities and services on and around campus that are not related to studies.


Room & Board – this is the estimated cost given by the university as a figure of how much one might end up spending between the cost of the dorm room and supplies ie. Textbooks, notebooks and general stationery. The Room & Board figure groups together housing, dining, books, and supplies.  The figure for room & board is yearly, meaning that value gets paid every year.




Based on this, we calculated that the average total cost of a year of College in the US is around $66,314 whilst in the UK the average is about $35,973.

This large gap of about 46% between the two is the reason for which from 2012 to 2016 the number of US applicants to the UK has risen by more than 37% and is now one of the largest source of overseas applicants.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Steve Knight says:

    Hello Max and College Connections.
    i like the level of research you have taken in displaying the various cost of N.A vs U.K. Quite interesting indeed. I would like to add one more “hidden” cost to those attending from Europe to the U.S. and those attending from the U.S to Europe. That is the cost of travel betwixt the continents, which may be considerable in terms of actual financial costs and travel days.
    Great Job!


    1. arthurperis says:

      Thanks Steve!
      It is definitely a cost one should consider!


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