Are you planning to further your education at a free university in Scotland? Let’s start with the spoiler: Free higher education is only available to those who have lived in Scotland for at least three years before their application.
In other words, the university is not accessible for students who are not from Scotland (or from the EU and started in the 2020/21 academic year or earlier)
What this means is that International students from outside the EU are required to pay tuition fees at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels since it is not covered by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
If you fall within the category of prospective students eligible to claim free higher education, here are the best free Scottish universities we would recommend and why:
Our Top 10 Free Scottish Universities to Consider
The laws of tuition fees in Scotland are pretty complex for the average international student, especially regarding eligibility. Still, Scottish universities attract more than 50,000 students from over 180 countries each year.
If you are planning to attend a Scottish university where you won’t pay a penny towards tuition fees, here are some of the best options that’ll benefit you:
- University of Edinburgh
- University of St. Andrews
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- University of Glasgow
- University of Dundee
- University of Stirling
- University of Aberdeen
- Abertay University
- Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
- Robert Gordon University
University of Edinburgh
- Tuition Fee: 1,820 EUR, 9,250 EUR and 23,200 EUR for Local, Domestic,and International tuition, respectively.
- University of Edinburgh Admission Requirement Page
- University of Edinburgh Tuition Details Page
The University of Edinburgh is one of the best free universities ones can consider attending in Scotland. The prestigious institution has maintained a unique position in the rank of university league tables.
Aside from the potential of students studying preferred programs for free, the University of Edinburgh is known for its quality teaching and reputable awarding of degrees.
The institution is based in South Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland.
University of St. Andrews
- Tuition Fee: —
- University of St. Andrews Admission Requirement Page
- University of St. Andrews Academy Tuition Details Page
The University of St. Andrews is another excellent public university for students who aspire to further their education in Scotland.
Not only was St. Andrews Scotland’s first university, but the institution has also maintained a strong reputation for offering quality educational services despite the low tuition rate.
Established in 1413, the university is a favorite for many prospective international students, and the cost of attendance here is reasonable.
Glasgow Caledonian University
- Tuition Fee: 13,000 EUR and 14,000 EUR per year for Undergraduate and graduate tuition, respectively.
- Glasgow Caledonian University Admission Requirement Page
- Glasgow Caledonian University Tuition Details Page
Glasgow Caledonian University, known as GUC, comprises three sub-schools – the School for Computing, Engineering, and Built, the School of Business & Society, and the school of Health and Life Sciences.
The university can train students through these three schools in various programs, including Sciences, Engineering, Information Technology, Law, Business Management, Social Science, Nursing, Psychology, and Life Science.
Glasgow Caledonian University does quote an annual tuition fee starting from around 13,000 EUR. Still, it is considered one of the Scottish free universities for international students due to the scholarship and tuition waiver opportunities it offers.
The public university has an enrollment volume of 13,000+ students, with 20 percent accounting for international students.
GUC has been operating since 1993, birthed from the amalgamation of Queen’s College in Glasgow and the Glasgow Polytechnic.
University of Glasgow
- Tuition Fee: From 5,221 USD to 26,745 USD
- University of Glasgow Admission Requirement Page
- University of Glasgow Tuition Details Page
This is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world, and its student body is saturated with international students.
The University of Glasgow is an ideal pick for scholars who want to attend a Scottish free university and study in a research-oriented institution.
The university belongs to an official body representing 20 United Kingdom universities committed to the best research, teaching, and learning called the Russell Group.
University of Dundee
- Tuition Fee: 18,500 EUR per year on average for students from the EU/EEA
- University of Dundee Admission Requirement Page
- University of Dundee Tuition Details Page
The University of Dundee has only sometimes been an independent university like most other free Scottish universities. It used to be in liaison with St. Andrews University but broke ties after 70 years.
Based in Nethergate Dundee, Scotland, the UD is a great place for students on a tight budget but would love to study in the UK. The institution administers a wide range of programs through four colleges: the College of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing; the College of Art, Science, and Engineering; the College of Arts and Social Sciences; and the College of Life Sciences.
University of Stirling
- Tuition Fee: 16,000 EUR and 20,000 EUR per year for Undergraduate and graduate tuition, respectively.
- University of Stirling Admission Requirement Page
- University of Stirling Academy Tuition Details Page
The total number of students at the University of Stirling is about 10,000. Interestingly, 24 percent of the student population are from foreign countries, many of which are enjoying one scholarship program or the other that has helped cover the university’s tuition fees.
Besides the possible tuition waivers and financial aid, the University of Stirling is one of the cheapest in Scotland for international students,
The free institution comprises four faculties in Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, Natural Science, and Health Sciences & Sports. Students can also apply for the Stirling Management School or the Stirling Graduate School.
It opened in 1967 and is currently based in the environs of the Airthrey Castle estate, making it among the most beautiful campuses in the world.
University of Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen is a good choice for students who want to study in Scotland for free to pursue a science-related degree.
The university opened in 1495 as a research-led university. It has a solid history of grooming future leaders, as several professors and lecturers have gone on to be awarded Nobel Peace Prizes, particularly in the sciences.
- Tuition Fee: 14,000 EUR and 15,000 EUR per year for Undergraduate and graduate tuition, respectively.
- Abertay University Admission Requirement Page
- Abertay University Tuition Details Page
Abertay University offers degrees in Design & Informatics, Applied Sciences, Business, and Law & Social Sciences. The free university also provides a dedicated Graduate School for Masters and Ph.D. programs to complement all the undergraduate programs.
The institution stands out from most other Scottish universities because it was the first to introduce a degree award on Ethical Hacking (2006) and Computer Games (1977).
With over 7,000 local and international students, Abertay University is one of the two public institutions in the Dundee area.
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
- Tuition Fee: 7,000 EUR and 15,000 EUR per year for Undergraduate and graduate tuition, respectively.
- Queen Margaret University Admission Requirement Page
- Queen Margaret University Tuition Details Page
Situated in Musselburgh, Scotland, Queen Margaret University has more than 9,000 domestic and international students.
It is considered one of the free universities because students can apply for special scholarships that take care of their entire tuition for respective programs.
Queen Margaret University comprises two departments – the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Health Sciences.
Through these two colleges, the university offer course in various fields, including Social Sciences, Media & Communications, Dietetics, Nursing, Audiology, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiotherapy, Speech/Language Therapy, Biology, Occupational Therapy, Enterprise & Management, Business, Drama & Creative Industries, and Psychotherapy.
Robert Gordon University
- Tuition Fee: 4,000 EUR and 15,000 EUR per year for Undergraduate and graduate tuition, respectively.
- Robert Gordon University Admission Requirement Page
- Robert Gordon University Tuition Details Page
Last but not least is Robert Gordon University or RGU.
With 11 different academic departments, this public university can offer courses in various fields.
The departments include Health Science, Pharmacy & Life Science, Law, Schools of Business, Applied Social Studies, Engineering, Computing Science & Digital Media, Art, Creative & Cultural Business, Nursing & Midwifery, and Architecture & Built Environment.
Located in Aberdeen, Scotland, the free university has a foundation of generosity. It was founded by the merchant and philanthropist Robert Gordon.
With more than 9,500 students, Robert Gordon University opens its doors to international students from various backgrounds who want to study without breaking the bank.
With 15 universities funded by the government, Scotland only has three higher institutions with the necessary accreditation to offer programs and grant degrees at the bachelor, postgraduate, and doctoral levels.
People who plan to attend Scottish colleges instead should be aware that they mainly offer vocational courses that would take, at most, two years to grant a certificate in diplomas. This makes Scotland’s education system different from other countries.
You can apply for the free Scottish universities reviewed in the above article through the Universities & Colleges Admissions Center or UCAS.