Student spending statistics UK 2023

How has student spending and saving changed?

The cost of living as a student is often tight and tens of thousands of students will begin thinking about their finances and how they’ll manage them this school year, including using bank accounts specifically designed for students. We pooled together statistics on the most expensive universities, where students are spending their budgets and how they afford their lifestyles.

Quick overview

  • The average student living costs come to £1,078 per month in 2023, up 17% from £924 a month in 2022.
  • The average amount students pay for rent in the UK is £439 a month, 41% of their total spend.
  • Students spend £133 on groceries a month on average in 2023, up 15% from £116 in 2022.
  • Students spend £79 on bills a month on average in 2023, up 23% from £64 in 2022.
  • 9 in 10 students are worried about the cost of living.
  • Only one-fifth (21%) of students reported feeling confident about knowing how to budget their money.
  • Students are using almost double the amount from their student loans towards monthly expenses, going from £714 in 2022 to £1,427 in 2023.
  • Edinburgh is the most expensive university city, and Bournemouth is the cheapest, when accounting for living costs and average income.
  • There has been a 40% increase in the cost of a night out for students in 2023 compared to 2022.

What are the average student living costs per month?

Students in the UK spend an average of £1,078 a month. Rent is one of the most expensive payments for students, with an average monthly cost £439, which is 41% of their total spend. After rent, the biggest spend for students is groceries, with an average of £133 spent monthly, and bills, with an average of £79 spent monthly.

Compared to 2022, students are paying 5% more on rent, an increase of £21 a month. Spend on groceries and household bills has also increased since 2022, with students spending 15% more on their monthly food shop and 23% more on the necessary bills such as energy, water and internet.

Other important categories for student spending are going out costs and transport costs, with an average spend of £69 each a month. Students spend around £66 a month on takeaways and eating out and £48 a month on clothes and shopping.

Expense Cost per month
Total £924
Rent £418
Groceries £116
Household bills £64
Going out £59
Transport £54
Takeaways and eating out £49
Clothes and shopping £35

What are the most expensive UK cities for students?

Edinburgh is the most expensive city for students when considering the average monthly living costs and average monthly income. The top 5 are as follows:

  1. Edinburgh
  2. Glasgow
  3. London
  4. Coventry
  5. Liverpool

What are the most affordable cities for students?

Bournemouth is the most affordable city for students when considering the average monthly living costs and average monthly income. The top 5 are as follows:

  1. Bournemouth
  2. Cardiff
  3. Lincoln
  4. Portsmouth
  5. Newcastle

The student living index works out the average cost of being a student by dividing the average monthly living and accommodation costs by the average monthly income. The top 5 most expensive cities to be a student are Edinburgh (0.74), Glasgow (0.68), London (0.59), Coventry (0.58), and Liverpool (0.53). The top 5 most affordable cities to be a student are Bournemouth (0.31), Cardiff (0.32), Lincoln (0.34), Portsmouth (0.36) and Newcastle (0.37).

City Student Living index
UK average 0.45
Edinburgh 0.74
Glasgow 0.68
London 0.59
Coventry 0.58
Liverpool 0.53
Cambridge 0.52
Nottingham 0.52
Lancaster 0.52
Bristol 0.46
Sheffield 0.45
York 0.45
Leicester 0.44
Oxford 0.4
Birmingham 0.4
Leeds 0.39
Manchester 0.38
Newcastle 0.37
Portsmouth 0.36
Lincoln 0.34
Cardiff 0.32
Bournemouth 0.31

What is the average student income?

The average student income per month from employment is £213.49 from both term-time and holiday or non-permanent work.

Student income sources have also changed, as students in 2023 rely more on their loans to help them afford things each month than in 2022. There has been almost a 100% increase in the loan amounts students are using for monthly living costs, going from £714 in 2022 to £1427.38 in 2023.

The cost of living crisis has also affected how students earn money. In 2022, no students surveyed reported using side hustles or bank loans to fund their monthly expenses, but in 2023, £9.70 of students’ monthly monetary contributions are through a side hustle, and over £30 are from bank loans, on average.

Methods of paying 2023
Student loan £1,427.38
Sponsorship £337.21
Parents/family £321.15
Personal savings £171.94
Bursary/scholarship £161.69
Term time work £133.45
Holiday work £79.99
Personal entrepreneurial business £5.10
Grant/hardship loan £4.59
Influencer marketing blogging £1.27
Side hustles £9.70
Bank loan £30.84

Students studying in Bristol work the most monthly hours as they spend nearly 25 hours a month doing part-time work, and yet their income per month is only £242.57. Edinburgh students earn the most in terms of monthly income but only spend 22 hours doing monthly part-time work.

Students at Lancaster spend the least time doing part-time work, only 7.65 hours a month but still earn over £150 a month. Even though students at Lincoln worked more than students at Lancaster (11 hours a month doing part-time work), they still earn less than all the other universities, as their income is just under £130 a month.

City Income per month Hours spent doing part time work per month
Birmingham 201.4 15.55
Bournemouth 240.48 21.69
Bristol 242.57 24.47
Cambridge 222.63 23.17
Cardiff 301.38 17.65
Coventry 206.04 24.34
Edinburgh 323.21 21.51
Glasgow 257.59 15.68
Lancaster 152.98 7.65
Leeds 207.11 17.39
Leicester 191.08 18.68
Lincoln 128.15 11
Liverpool 197.19 18.18
London 214.84 18.74
Manchester 177.8 18.05
Newcastle 311.3 22.94
Nottingham 145.79 9.46
Oxford 320.73 24
Portsmouth 220.5 21.93
Sheffield 244.7 20.88
York 170.16 11.7

Student spending habits

Due to the cost of living crisis, many students have had to change their spending habits. There has been a 40% increase in the cost of a night out between 2020, when the average night out cost £22, and 2023, when it cost £31. Another big increase has been the cost of a takeaway, as students in 2020 spent an average of £10 on a takeaway, but this increased by 60% to £16 in 2023.

Activites 2020 2021 2022 2023
A pint £3.60 £4.50 £4.33 £4.50
A spirit mixer £3.90 £5.20 £4.83 £5.53
A takeaway £10.30 £13.90 £11.27 £15.52
A night out £21.60 £26.50 £20.28 £31.10
A coffee £3.20 £4.60 £3.65 £3.40
A meal out £16.10 £18.20 £14.38 £19.06

Students have also had to be a lot more careful with their spending in 2023, and they cut back on a lot more than students did in 2022. 62% of students say they have had to stop buying so much online to stay within their budget. This is a 32% increase from 2022, where only 47% of students felt like they had to reduce their online spending.

Over half (51%) of students have also had to cut back on nights out to remain in their budget in 2023, whilst in 2022, only 35% of students felt like they had to reduce their nights out to help their budget.

Interestingly, fewer students in 2023 felt like they had to reduce the amount of heating they use compared to 2022, with just 15% feeling this way in 2023 compared to 23% in 2022.

Activities 2023 2022
I have not made any changes 10% 12%
Reduced the amount of heating I have used 15% 23%
Cancelled streaming subscriptions 19% 12%
Increased working hours 21% 18%
Asked parents for more income 22% 12%
Got a job 24% 24%
Choose a less expensive mode of transport 29% 20%
Reduced the number of meals I eat per day 34% 26%
Reduced the amount I go on nights out 51% 35%
Reduced the number of times I order items online 62% 47%

How do students feel about managing their money?

Two-thirds (34%) of students try to budget their finances and spending but struggle to stick to it, and only 1 in 5 students (21%) have reported feeling confident in their abilities to budget and manage their money. 5% of students overspend out of fear of missing out, and just 2% don’t think about budgeting or managing their money.

Money management % of students
I try to budget but don’t always stick to it 34%
I budget carefully and keep track of what I spend 23%
I feel confident about budgeting/managing money 21%
I don’t budget but I’m not frivolous with my money 14%
I end up overspending due to pressure on missing out on things 5%
I don’t consider what I’m spending at all – I’ll think about that later 2%
I have no confidence in my ability to manage my finances 2%


Save The Student


Save the Student
Times Higher Education

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

More guides on Finder

Go to site