How Much Does Medical School Cost? (UK Fees Compared)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

Studying medicine in the UK isn’t cheap and only continues to get more expensive as time goes on.

So if you do want to become a doctor, how much will medical school cost?

Medical school costs £9,250 per year in tuition fees for home students in England and anywhere from £20,000 to approximately £50,000 per year in tuition fees for international students. In addition to tuition fees, other expenses inherent to being a medical student include living costs and travel.

Although it’s a lot of money, attending medical school could be one the best investments you ever make.

I’ll admit that I have a lot of student debt, but now I’m working as a doctor I can’t say I regret studying medicine for a second.

In this article, I’m going to further explore the costs associated with studying medicine, from tuition fees to hidden costs that I didn’t know about until I got to university.

How Much Does It Cost To Study Medicine In The UK?

The costs of studying medicine in the UK can broadly be broken down into 2 main categories:

  1. Tuition fees
  2. Living costs

These are the main costs associated with being a medical student so let’s take a look at them in turn.

Tuitions Fees

Tuition fees for home students in the UK actually vary depending on where in the UK you study medicine.

Fees don’t vary between medical schools but do vary between countries. This is in line with any other degree you can study at university:

Students fromStudying in EnglandStudying in ScotlandStudying in WalesStudying in N Ireland
Northern Ireland£9,250£9,250£9,000£4,395
Republic of Ireland£9,250Free£9,000£4,395

Every medical school in England charges home students £9,250 per year. This is the maximum the government will legally allow universities to charge students.

You have to pay this in full every year for your first 4 years as an undergraduate medical student. After your 4th year, the NHS gives you a bursary for your tuition fees thereafter.

So as an undergraduate medic, you’ll ultimately end up paying 4 x £9,250 = £37,000 in tuition fees.

If you’re a graduate entry medic, you’re eligible for the NHS bursary from your 2nd year at university.

However, the NHS will only pay a contribution towards your tuition fees, rather than the full £9,250 paid to undergraduate students.

A student studying graduate entry medicine will pay roughly £25,855 in tuition fees.

You can find out more about the NHS bursary and how much you’ll ultimately have to pay back in this article about medical school debt.

Living Costs

While at medical school, you also have to burden the costs of just surviving as a student!

Living costs at university include things like:

  • Rent
  • Food
  • Bills (electricity, heating, water)
  • Travel

According to Save the Student’s Money Survey, the average student spends £924 each month, with £418 of that going towards rent.

If you’re eligible for a loan from the Student Loans Company (all undergraduate home students are), then you’ll be able to cover most of your living costs with a maintenance loan.

Student living

This is a loan they give you, on top of your tuition fees loan, just to cover your living costs.

However, I personally found that my living expenses generally exceeded the amount I got from the loan- and this was living in Leicester which is generally a very cheap city!

How Much Does Medical School Cost For International Students?

While medical school tuition fees are capped at £9,250 for home students, this isn’t the case for international students.

International students studying medicine in the UK have to pay far higher fees that more closely mirror the costs of actually delivering a medicine course.

The government heavily subsidises universities in the UK to take train doctors. The cost of actually running a medical degree costs more than £9,250 per student but is made possible by these subsidies.

However, the government doesn’t subsidise UK universities to take on international students, so they have to pay fees to cover the full cost of their training.

Here’s a sample of the fees medical schools charge international students:

Medical SchoolInternational Tuition Fees
BirminghamPre-clinical years: £26,640
Clinical years: £44,100
OxfordPre-clinical years: £39,740
Clinical years: £52,490
LeicesterPre-clinical years: £23,900
Clinical years: £41,750
Cardiff£39,700 each year

As you can see, the exact fees and fee structure varies from medical school to medical school.

So, if you are an international student I’d recommend carefully researching the medical schools you’re planning on applying to to see how they’ll charge you!

Other Costs Associated With Medical School

While we’ve already covered your main outgoings while at university, there are a few other costs associated with medical school that students often aren’t aware of until they start.

How Much Does Medical School Cost Pixel Infographic

These include costs such as:

  • Clothing- medical students are expected to dress smartly when in clinical environments so you will likely have to buy new clothes over the course of your degree
  • Stethoscopes- essential to being a doctor, I bought 2 over my 5 years at university
  • Extra travel- in the later years of the course, you may have clinical placements that are a fair distance away from your university. Travelling to get there can easily add up.
  • Textbooks- many students choose to buy medical textbooks to help with their learning. You can probably get away with just using the library or online resources, but owning a textbook or two can be incredibly helpful.

On their own, none of these expenses are particularly impressive. However, failing to account for any of them entirely can result in a bit of a nasty surprise when budgeting for your year.

There are of course lots of other things I spent money on as a medical student, including question banks for exams, revision apps, online journal access and stationary, but these costs are more down to your personal preferences rather than being essential to studying medicine.

How Much Does Medical School Cost Around The World?

The UK has one of the highest standards of medical education in the world. But, in many ways compared to the rest of the world, you will pay for it.

The country with the highest costs of becoming a doctor is of course the USA.

In the US, as opposed to the UK or Europe, you can’t study medicine as an undergraduate- you have to get another degree first before going to medical school.

This means students have to not only pay for their medical tuition but also for this undergraduate program.

Medical school graduates in the US owe a median average of $200,000 to $215,000 in total educational debt, with this figure including their costs for the undergraduate premedical degree.

Studying medicine in Europe is generally a bit cheaper than studying medicine in the UK.

However, there is a bit more variation in the quality of tuition- if you’re considering studying abroad then I’d be careful to select a medical school that is fully recognised by the GMC. This means you could come and work in the UK after graduation if you so wished.

Tuition fees in Europe generally tend to range from around €2,000-€10,000 per year.

If you can speak another language, however, you may have the opportunity to study medicine for free in that European country.

Final Thoughts

I’ve got to admit I am pretty jealous of my Scottish colleagues who were able to study medicine and then graduate as a doctor totally for free.

But then again, as an English medical student, I didn’t really have much choice!

Although when you add it all up the cost of medical school in the UK may be somewhat daunting, I’m almost certain that it will be a long term investment in your future that you won’t regret.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.