Can You Afford UK Uni?

The 25 cheapest university cities for students in the UK


Edinburgh University Old College Quad quad, after refurbishment.

Portsmouth is the most affordable city across the United Kingdom for students to live in, while Edinburgh gets you the worst bang for you buck, a report on student living standards commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland finds.

Students in Portsmouth pay slightly more rent than the national weekly average of £109, but they have the biggest disposable income of £182.64 a week.

The majority of a student’s income comes from bank loans, which on average are £161.14 per week. It’s roughly four times larger than the second-largest income source, which is parental support.

Another common way for students to generate income is by working part- time.

“Portsmouth students are topping up their term-time income by working around 25 percent more hours in part- time jobs,” the report says. “However, students there still have time to socialize, given they are ranked as the third most sociable place to study.”

Students in Manchester and Belfast work the most hours part-time, and therefore spend the least time on hobbies and socializing.

Those in Cambridge and Oxford spend the most time on academic studies in comparison to other regions, according to the report.

Liverpool and Newcastle claim the second and third spot on the affordability scale.

In contrast, Edinburgh is found to be the most expensive city for students due to average rent costs combined with significantly lower than average term- time income, the report says.

Students in Edinburgh fork out an average of £112.05 a week on rent, and have £179.49 a week at their disposal. They earn less than their peers in Portsmouth, although they clock similar work hours each week.

“Despite this, Edinburgh students spend the most on going out, and spend more than the weekly average on alcohol,” the report adds. Edinburgh students estimate that they spend around £15.40 on drinking.

On rental expenditure, students in Oxford and Cambridge pay the most, at £135.38 and £131.48 per week respectively.

Students in London are paying below the national average for rent at £105.08.

On choosing their destination for further studies, only 5 percent of the students surveyed say the cost of living and university fees would affect their decision.

Subject choice is their leading factor of consideration, followed by the reputation of a university.

However, one in two students say managing their finances is stressful.And one in three students do not have a budget when it comes to managing their money.

The Student Living Index by NatWest bank – which is part of the RBS group – surveyed 2,514 students across the UK in June to determine the most affordable place to study.

The survey takes into account a range of factors, from how much students spend on going out to how much time they spend studying.

The full list of the top 25 most cost-effective cities for students in the UK was: (1) Portsmouth, (2) Liverpool, (3) Newcastle, (4) Belfast, (5) Exeter, (6) York, (7) Cardiff, (8) Nottingham, (9) Birmingham, (10) Dundee, (11) Manchester, (12) Norwich, (13) Leicester, (14) Brighton, (15) Reading, (16) Glasgow, (17) Leeds, (18) Bristol, (19) London, (20) Sheffield, (21) Plymouth, (22) Oxford, (23) Cambridge, (24) Southampton, and (25) Edinburgh.

The article first appeared in the Standard on September 13, 2016.

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