Living costs ‘higher than expected’ for undergraduates

Students could find themselves shelling out thousands of pounds more a year in living costs depending on where they choose to study, according to a study.

Research by Which? University has found there are significant differences between regions in the cost of living for students.

It suggests that those who choose to study in London could pay out over £15,000 more over a three-year degree in rent and other items such as household bills and food compared to those at a university in Northern Ireland.

  • London – £1,180, £14,200
  • South East – £916, £11,000
  • East of England – £914, £11,000
  • Scotland – £880, £10,600
  • South West – £876, £10,500
  • West Midlands – £861, £10,300
  • North West – £861, £10,300
  • East Midlands – £821, £9,900
  • Yorkshire and Humber – £804, £9,700
  • North East – £798, £9,600
  • Wales – £795, £9,500
  • Northern Ireland – £737, £8,800

A survey of undergraduates, conducted by the website, found that two in five (40%) agreed that living costs at university are higher than they expected.

Using available information on rents and living costs, Which? University calculates that yearly expenditure for a student in London is around £14,200 – making it the priciest place to study.

This was followed by the South East and the East of England, where average annual living costs are around £11,000, and Scotland where the figure is £10,600.

At the other end of the scale, the cost of living in Northern Ireland is £8,800, the website calculates, while in Wales it is £9,500.

These figures exclude tuition fees.

The poll conducted alongside the research suggests that many students are concerned about the impact studying for a degree has on their pocket, with around one in eight (13%) saying that they have considered dropping out due to financial difficulties.

And nearly half (46%) have asked parents or family members for extra money to manage their living costs.

Which? Said it has created a budget calculator to help students manage their finances.

Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said: “The disparity in student living costs across the UK means students are not always able to prepare for the cost of living at university, especially if they have to change their plans at the last minute.”

The YouthSight survey questioned 5,000 undergraduates at UK universities between March 22 and April 6.

UniversityWeb editor