For student loans you sign a contract with the government to say you will pay a percentage (9%) of your salary over a minimum level (around £25,000 a year) to pay back the cost of your course fees plus interest. After a certain number of years (I think 30) you don't need to pay back any more even if you haven't paid back all of the balance. The money is generally collected like a tax through you payments from your employer.
As noted above Scottish universities may be free for you and they have many fine universities. What do you want to study? How strong are your grades?