Prospective advisor and project are allocated for each program. They are equally interesting and close to my interest. They are located in beautiful cities. I can become a tutor to cover part of my living expenses. There is a chance of getting funding for 2nd & 3rd years but there is no guarantee.

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    Do not accept the offer without funding. If they really want you, they'll pay for you. – JeffE Jun 15 '17 at 20:09
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    As this is the UK, how big is the difference between being offered funding and not - that is, the value of the funding each year? In the US having no funding, stipend, tuition waiver, or insurance is a very big deal - easily $20k-40k per year of value, and so that it can be $100-200k in value over the time of your PhD. Unless you are independently wealthy, that's a huge cost to pay for a generic, non-universal ranking! – BrianH Jun 15 '17 at 20:15
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    @BrianHall Typical funding covers fees, which are anywhere from £4k to £8k per year, and maintenance, which is about £14k now, so £20k on average per year. Oxford and Cambridge actually require applicants to show evidence that they can support themselves, the TA culture is not as strong as in the US, and international students are allowed to work only 20 hours per week (at Oxford, at least, TAing was restricted to 10 hours per week). So, unless you have the means to support yourself without working, or you have partial funding, you most likely will not be able to cover all your expenses. – 101010111100 Jun 15 '17 at 21:36
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    Thank you all for your answers, the links contained everything that I needed to know. I've been reading through the site and my questions have been answered. As an international student, my expenses (tuition+ maintenance) is about £40k per year for Cambridge. Since I cannot count on receiving funding for the next years, I think that I will be choosing the funded offer. – AS13 Jun 15 '17 at 21:44
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    How is this a "shopping question"? – sgf Jun 15 '17 at 23:28

Accept the funded offer.

There is (I think) a general consensus on this site that the quality of your own research as a PhD student matters much more in the long run than the reputation of the university you're at. A PhD is stressful enough without you having to worry about money as well (food, rent, bills, tuition- the list goes on).

The only advantage I can see in attending a top "name brand" university (for example, Oxford or Cambridge) is if you leave academia for an industry job, where the name of the university is likely more familiar to a prospective employer than the name of your supervisor.

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    Thank you for your response, I've been reading through the site and my questions have been answered. – AS13 Jun 15 '17 at 21:39

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