Student Living Index 2017 - Student Spending | NatWest

Student Living Index 2017

Student Living Index 2017

Student Living Index 2017

The cost of living at
UK universities

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Cardiff takes the top spot as the most cost-effective city for students.

How are students spending their money in 2017?

Wondering what life as a student is like?

For many, knowing what to expect from student living can be a bit of a puzzle. You can read every prospectus and visit every university campus out there, but you won’t get the insider knowledge that people who have been there and done it can give you.

For the fourth year running, we’ve tried to make everything around student life a little clearer with the Student Living Index 2017. This year, we asked 3,407 students across 35 popular university cities how much they spend on essentials such as food, rent and bills, and how they juggle their time between studying, work and socialising.

The results? You’ll be surprised at just how much student life can vary from city to city – from how much time people spend working part time to how much the Bank of Mum and Dad are helping out. But don’t just take our word for it. Dig in and see for yourself.

The most affordable* university cities

City Ranking
Aberdeen 2nd
Durham 3rd
Canterbury 4th
Swansea 5th
Manchester 6th
Reading 7th
Leicester 8th
York 9th
Sheffield 10th
Leeds 11th
Hull 12th
Portsmouth 13th
Poole 14th
Coventry 15th
Birmingham 16th
Newcastle 17th
Oxford 18th
Edinburgh 19th
Cambridge 20th
Southampton 21st
Plymouth 22nd
Nottingham 23rd
Aberystwyth 32nd
St. Andrews 33rd
Glasgow 35th

*Affordability is calculated by dividing students’ average monthly living and accommodation costs by average monthly income.

A closer look at the Student Living Index 2017

Student income

Apart from student loans, the Bank of Mum and Dad provides the biggest contribution to students’ term time income – topping up their total by £205.20 a month on average


Income in more detail:


  • Scottish universities have both the highest and lowest monthly incomes. Students in Aberdeen have the highest term-time income from all sources at £1583.80 per month, which is £440 more than the national student average. Glasgow has the lowest income at under half that of Aberdeen£786.60 a month on average.


  • Students in Durham and Oxford get the most money from their parents a month, at £412.90 and £376.50 respectively.


  • However, despite students in Hull receiving the least from their parents (£129.20 a month on average), they get the most money from bursaries and scholarships, receiving on average £198.60 each month. Student loans are contributing £161.14 per week - four times as much as any other source- to a student’s income. You can find out more about loans, grants, bursaries and scholarships in our introduction to student finance.

Student spending

Apart from money spent on food, toiletries and household items, the biggest expenditure for students is going out and socialising with friends


Spending in more detail:


  • The average student spends £43.30 a month on going out and socialising with friends, which is over three times more than money spent on other hobbies and interests (£14.00 a month on average).


  • Students spend on average £38.61 on alcohol each month, with those in Canterbury, Cambridge and Norwich spending the least.


  • Students in Stirling appear to be the most fashion-conscious, spending on average £38.60 on clothes, shoes and accessories each month – compared to only £19.10 on average a month in Durham.


  • Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle spend the most on going out, whereas Durham, York and Southampton spend the least.


  • Students in London have the highest monthly rent (£584.23), but spend below the sample average on household bills. 


Student budgeting

Nearly two thirds (65%) of students either budget carefully and keep track of their spending, or try to budget but don’t always stick to it


Budgeting in more detail:


  • 29% of students don’t budget at all, but say that they’re not frivolous with their money.


  • Only 6% don’t consider what they’re spending at all when it comes to managing their money.


  • Over half (51%) rate the stress of managing their money at University a 6 or above on a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being the most stressed. If you're looking for tips on how to manage your money while you study, check out our budgeting advice for students.


Studying vs. socialising

Students spend over three times more hours studying than socialising


Studying vs. socialising in more detail:


  • The average student spends 91.7 hours a month attending lectures, completing coursework or at the library, compared with 27.4 hours a month on average socialising.


  • Students in Cambridge and Oxford spend more time studying than any other university city, whereas those in London and Aberystwyth study the least.


  • Reading and St Andrews are the most social cities, where students spend over 10 hours more time socialising than the average student each month.


  • What’s more, the longer students spend socialising the more likely they are to enjoy studying for their degree.


  • 74% of students rate the stress of studying for their degree as a 6 or above on a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being the most stressed.


  • 75% of students chose their university based on subject choice or university reputation, compared with only 6% who said that social life was the most important factor. 


The average UK student earns less from employment than the money they receive from their family each month


Employment in more detail:


  • Despite working an average of 14.6 hours a month in a part-time job, financial help from the Bank of Mum and Dad (£205.20) is more than double what the average student earns from term-time work (£96.70).


  • Students in Stirling work the most part-time hours – on average 28.6 hours a month.


  • They are closely followed by Aberdeen, who although work less hours, earn more than any other students from term-time and holiday work. If you're thinking about trying to boost your budget with a part time job during your studies, we've got some helpful tips and advice on how to get a job at university.
Student using laptop sat on university steps

Student using laptop sat on university steps

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Are you currently attending university or deciding where to go? Download the 2017 Student Living Index to find out which students are spending the most on travel, and which spend the most time studying.

Download the full 2017 Student Living Index
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To help make the transition into university life as smooth as possible, our student account comes with a whole range of benefits.

When you open a Student Bank Account, sign up to online banking and select to receive paperless statements, you can benefit from a free National Express Young Persons Coachcard, valid for 4 years, and benefit from:

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