Adapting to a thrifty lifestyle is a first-year lesson for many UK-based university students. But which places leave students cash-strapped or quids in?
Inspired by the Times Higher Education (THE) Top 50 UK University Rankings we’ve created our own top 50 table. It’s still a guide for students, but rather than rank universities on their academic excellence, we’ve tested them based on eight cost of living factors.
The result is this map showing the most affordable UK places for student in 2019. Take a look and you’ll quickly see which places graduate with a First-Class Degree in affordability and where needs extra schooling in student-friendly pricing.
It may have come forty-seventh in the THE rankings, but Bangor University is top of the class for affordability. Study in North Wales and our research shows you’ll get more bang for your buck. A meal for two costs as little as a tenner and it has the lowest-priced pint at just £2.09. The cheapest meal and the cheapest drinks? It’s a recipe for romance.
The student mecca of Nottingham wants you as healthy in body as in mind. Here you’ll find the lowest gym membership, working out at just £10.49 per month. Probably a good thing when kebabs are as cheap as £4.80 and a pint is just £2.25.
Going out to celebrate the fact it’s a day ending in ‘y’? An Uber to the pubs, bars and clubs in Manchester costs just £3.50. The even better news? Accommodation is surprisingly affordable at just £75 per week. (The cheapest in the top five!) This should give you more money to put towards your £2.35 pints, eight quid cinema tickets, or treat yourself to a pricier £2.66 cappuccino.
While Leicester didn’t top any individual rankings its overall low-cost livin’ has earned it a place in the top five. Leicester has the second cheapest gym membership (£10.50 per month), fourth cheapest meal for two (£11) and ninth cheapest kebab (£5). Lodging costs in Leicester are also rather pleasing at just £83 per week — one of the cheapest in the top 10.
The University of Sheffield may have come a very respectable twelfth in the THE rankings, but this place isn’t all work and no play. The fact Sheffield has the second cheapest kebabs (£4.50), £3.50 Ubers and £2.35 pints means you’ve got all the ingredients for a very affordable student night out.
All of the last 10 spots are claimed by London universities. And while the Capital may be unrivalled in terms of opportunity and lifestyle, it comes at a high-price.
University accommodation is as steep as £168 per week (St George’s). An Uber costs as much as £50 per ride (Royal Holloway, University of London). Going to the cinema is as much as £13 (all London unis). And a pint of beer is just shy of £4 (UCL).
London-based students may have access to higher maintenance loans of over £11k per academic year, but with Capital prices it’s easy to see how the Big Smoke engulfs the lot.
Like a half-arsed essay that gets unexpectedly high-marks our research revealed some surprising results, too.
For example, even though Queen’s University Belfast ranks twenty-second thanks to reasonable cinema prices (£6.50), accommodation under £80 and a very respectable £2.89 a pint, careful you don’t choke when you see the £8.95 price tag attached to a large donner kebab.
York also seems to have suffered a rush of blood to the head with its pricey £68 per month gym memberships. And Edinburgh is most likely to drink your bank account dry if you’re looking outside of London. A pint in the Scottish capital’s ’Spoons is £3.75.
In terms of national and local rivalries, Wales is the most affordable place in the UK for students. Three of its universities make the top 10 (including the number one ranked, Bangor University).
Glasgow is crowned top of the Scots in seventeenth place, while Edinburgh came 32 and Aberdeen 34.
It’s also a double victory for Oxford over Cambridge: Oxford tops the THE rankings for 2019 and finishes 14 places ahead of their old rivals in terms of affordability. A fitting revenge after Cambridge’s clean sweep at the this year’s Boat Race.
Weekly Rent of University Halls: Individual University Websites
Cinema Ticket Price: numbeo.com
Monthly Gym Membership Cost: hussle.com
Cappuccino Cost: numbeo.com
Meal Cost: numbeo.com
Pint Price at Wetherspoon: Wetherspoon app
Doner Kebab Price: just-eat.co.uk
Cab Cost from Town Centre to University: uber.com