Tuition fees and living costs
As a student you are likely to have two main costs to meet: tuition fees and living costs. Most students need pay no tuition fees upfront, as these should be covered by a tuition fee loan. Student support through maintenance loans are also available to help with living costs. These loans accrue interest and the repayments are contingent on your future income. Additionally, depending on the university you study at, and your family income, you may be entitled to apply for grants and bursaries that you do not need to repay.
Please refer to the information about student finance on the government's student finance pages at Gov.uk
For information about managing your money, the UCAS website has some helpful information on budgeting and debt management.
Day-to-day living costs can vary considerably depending on where you live and study. Most universities publish information about the costs of living on their websites. The NASMA also has a helpful section about budgeting for students and the National Union of Students (NUS) publishes some research-backed advice on the cost of studying.
The Money Saving Expert website provides straightforward, independent advice for students and parents.
The RIBA has also conducted a biennial survey on student finances and this can be downloaded below.
Additional costs for architecture students
Many students who are about to embark on studying architecture may well consider the value of such a long course of study. However, students need not pay the tuition fees upfront: through the student loans system, your tuition fee and maintenance loans are repaid according to your earnings after you graduate.
Architecture students will also have to budget annually for printing, materials, travel for site visits and field trips. The costs of these additional materials and activities can vary considerably from school to school, so it is worth asking current students and staff at the schools you are considering, so that you can factor this into your budget.
Student finance available if you normally live in England
Any full-time student for whom their Part 1 degree is their first course of Higher Education* is eligible to apply for tuition fee and maintenance loan funding for both their Part 1 and Part 2, which are viewed as a single course (subject to various conditions) if studies on a full-time basis, even if the student is additionally awarded a postgraduate degree (such as an M.Arch) and as long as the content of Part 2 is undergraduate level and undergraduate fees are charged.
Current student support regulations permit students to change institutions between the Part 1 and Part 2 stages. However, students should research their funding entitlements carefully if they are considering (but not limited to) any of these further options:
- changing their mode of study (e.g. from full-time to part-time study)
- taking more than three academic years out between Part 1 and Part 2
- undertaking a specialist Masters programme after Part 1, prior to starting Part 2
Any of these actions could limit the funding that a student is entitled to apply for, and could also affect the level of tuition fee they are expected to pay.
The relevant legislation is the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 (as amended).
Students enrolled with their universities as 'year-out' students between their Parts 1 and 2, for example on a 'sandwich' programme, may be entitled to apply for student loans for that year, even if they are undertaking paid practical experience. Students should seek advice from Student Finance England and from their student services department.
Full-time students can also apply for a Maintenance Loan to help with their living costs. The exact amount a student can borrow will depend on various criteria, but the maximum amounts available can be found on the student finance pages at Gov.uk.
To be considered as a continuing student and remain on the same student finance package, Part 2 must be undertaken no more than three academic years after completing Part 1. For example, a student who completed Part 1 in July 2012, takes a break of three academic years and starts Part 2 in September 2015, would usually be treated as being on a single course. However, students who are considering undertaking specialist postgraduate programmes should check with the relevant authorities as to the effect this may have on their eligibility for continued funding.
*Publicly funded institutions only. The Royal College of Art and Architectural Association have different fee regulations.
Part-time students for whom Part 1 is their first degree and who started their course from 2012 onwards are entitled to apply for a tuition fee loan for their Part 1 degree and can find further information on the student finance pages at Gov.uk.
The single course provision in the Education (Student Support) Regulations applies only where both parts of the architecture course are undertaken on a full-time basis. Students that study Part 1 full-time and then plan to do Part 2 on a part-time basis, or indeed study both parts on a part-time basis, cannot be treated as being on a single course and would not be entitled to apply for tuition fee or maintenance loans for their Part 2 studies. Your Part 1 degree will also be taken into account in relation to the level of tuition fees that you pay, as your fee level will be unregulated, meaning your university can set their own fee level. This means that higher fees may well be payable.
Equivalent or Lower Qualifications (ELQs) - do you already have a degree?
The provision of student funding is generally focussed on those students studying a higher education qualification for the first time. Therefore, if you already hold a degree, in some circumstances you may be assessed as an ELQ student, meaning you already hold an equivalent or lower level qualification. Under the Education (Student Support) Regulations, you may not be entitled to financial support such as tuition fee and maintenance loans, although some exceptions are made for students studying architecture, and more details can be found below. Furthermore, the level of tuition fee that you pay may be unregulated, meaning you could be charged at a higher level by your university.
You may be classed as an ELQ student if (but not limited to):
- you have completed your Part 1 on a full-time basis, but subsequently change your mode of study to part-time for your Part 2
- you have completed Part 1 on a part-time basis and subsequently wish to undertake your Part 2
- you undertook a specialist Masters course between Part 1 and Part 2
- you hold a degree already in a different subject, but subsequently wish to study architecture
In the first two circumstances, you are unlikely to be eligible for any further student support, and you will need to self-finance your studies.
However, exceptionally, if you already hold a degree but wish to study architecture on a full-time basis, or in some circumstances if you undertook a specialist Masters between Part 1 and Part 2, the Education (Student Support) Regulations permit you to apply for a maintenance loan during both your Part 1 and Part 2 studies. However, you will need to pay for your tuition fees yourself, and the fee level will be unregulated.
You should seek further advice from Student Finance England.
Changes of circumstances and overpayments by the Student Loans Company
If it becomes clear following an application for funding or following a reassessment of circumstances that an individual student has been incorrectly awarded student funding, then the Student Loans Company is entitled to withdraw funding and has a statutory duty to recover this money. This is the case even if the student had originally been informed they were eligible for support. Regulations 117-119 of the Education (Student Support) Regulations are the relevant references. The recovery of the overpaid amount will be conducted on a case by case basis.
The student finance application process requires students to sign a declaration to agree that they will repay any overpayment.
Options available if you normally live in Wales
If you normally live in Wales, you may be eligible for services provided by Student Finance Wales.
Options available if you normally live in Scotland
If you normally live in Scotland, you may be eligible for services provided by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.
Options available if you normally live in Northern Ireland
If you normally live in Northern Ireland, you may be eligible for services provided by Student Finance Northern Ireland.
International and EU students
If you are planning to study in the UK your fee status will be determined by the UK institution that you plan to attend. Information about student loans and other funding available to you is available on the GOV.UK website. Other useful websites include the UCAS website, the UK Council for International Student Affairs and the British Council website.
Students with disabilities
Students with disabilities can apply for extra support such as the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA). Please refer to the GOV.UK website.
RIBA sources of funding
The RIBA Education department administers a number of bursary and scholarship schemes to support students of architecture. Please refer to our Student Funding pages for full information about the opportunities on offer.
What other funding is available?
- There are many organisations and bodies that support students with the cost of their education. The Financial Assistance document at the bottom of the page provides a list for architecture students to consider.
Some architectural practices may sponsor students of architecture – for example, by contributing to the Part 2 course fees of a student who has worked in the practice between Parts 1 and 2.
Some universities operate bursary schemes for their students. You should therefore research the options available at universities you intend to apply to.
The information provided by the RIBA is intended to be informative only and is not a substitute for legal or other professional advice or intended to be relied upon. You should consult an appropriate professional for specific advice tailored to your situation. By accessing and using this site, you acknowledge that any reliance upon any information obtained or received via the site will be at your sole risk.