Which University Has the Cheapest Tuition Fees in 2012?

2012-01-11 09:37 AMStudent Life

2011 brought a rise in tuition fees and with that a whole lot of confusion about course fees and how they’ll affect students. University choices shouldn’t be solely based on what they’ll be charging; after all, the government does provide a loan to cover tuition fees. Nonetheless, we have scoured the British Isles for the universities currently offering the cheapest tuition fees in 2012…

This is what £7,000 a year gets you…


No doubt, come clearing, we’ll see more tuition fees being slashed, but at the moment it looks like distance learning and universities in Scotland and Wales are packing the punches when it comes to the lowest fees for undergraduate courses. Here are our top ten universities offering the cheapest full-time undergraduate honours degree courses…

1. Open University - £5,000

In at number one is the Open University. It has always offered the cheapest tuition fees, but then it is all about distance learning. Great if you want to study from the comfort of your own home, not so great if you’re looking for the full-on campus experience.

2. Glyndŵr University - £5,850

Glyndŵr University will be charging £5,850 a year for its BA degrees in non-STEM subjects e.g. business and humanities.

3. London Metropolitan University - £6,100 - £7,600

London Met’s cheaper-than-average undergraduate tuition fees chimes with its mission to provide affordable education. Just as well, because living in London is anything but affordable.

4. Edinburgh Napier University - £6,500

Edinburgh Napier University has rather cleverly set its tuition fees at £6,500 a year. So whilst this looks attractive on paper, most Scottish undergraduate degree courses are four years long (one year longer than the standard English undergraduate degree course) meaning that it actually totals £26,000 for the degree. Cheeky.

5. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh - £6,750

Like Edinburgh Napier, Queen Margaret University had undercut other Scottish universities by charging £6,750 a year. But again there is no cap on the fees. Students could end up paying £27,000 in total for its undergraduate courses.

6. University of Abertay Dundee and Glasgow Caledonian University - £7,000

Although they charge tuition fees of £7,000 a year, University of Abertay Dundee and Glasgow Caledonian University will be cheaper in the long run than Napier, QMU and many other UK universities as they have capped their fees at £21,000.

7. Teesside University - £7,450 for business, social science and humanities subjects

Teesside University is one of the cheapest English universities for business, social science and humanities subjects. Middlesbrough is also one of the most affordable places to live in the UK. As Alan Partridge would say, “Cashback!”

8. Coventry University - £7,500 for class-room based degrees

Coventry University will be charging £7,500 a year for class-room based degrees, such as business or humanities. Alas, some of its most respected courses, such as engineering, will be fetching the premium of £9,000 a year.

9. Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln - £7,500

Unfortunately the scope for undergraduate study is rather limited at Bishop Grosseteste University College. It has expanded its course offering to include humanities and, of course, it’s great for those interested in education. With its Church of England roots, it places a strong emphasis on valuing faith.

10. University of West London - £7,500

Formerly of Thames Valley University fame, the renamed University of West London will be charging £7,500 in tuition fees for most of its undergraduate full-time courses in 2012, making it, alongside London Met, one of the cheapest universities in London.  


Price shouldn’t solely dictate which course you apply for; you’d be doing yourself and the university a disservice if you make your choice based solely on price. You should look for value for your money, which courses will best cater for your academic needs and interests and, of course, the university campus itself. A more expensive course might end up being a better investment in the long run. Remember, if you’re from the UK or the EU, the government will provide you with a loan to cover the cost of your tuition fees, so you won’t pay a penny while you’re at university.


You shouldn’t just factor tuition fees into your financial calculations either: you should also look at the bursaries and scholarship options. Particularly if you are from a low income background, a university charging £9,000 a year might end up being cheaper than universities charging less, as you might be eligible more substantial financial support.


If you’re confused about the tuition fee rise and whether you can afford university, check out our tuition fee rise guide.  

Image courtesy of Yersinia, ‘Student Centre’


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