Student money statistics in the UK 2020 | Finder UK

Student money statistics in the UK 2020

How do your expenses differ from other UK students?

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With approximately 30% of the UK’s 18-year-olds being accepted to study through UCAS every year, tens of thousands of students will have to begin thinking about their finances and how they’ll manage them this school year. This includes using bank accounts specifically designed for students.

The cost of living as a student is often tight and differs drastically based on the location of your institution. In fact, 55% of students in 2020 feel that the maintenance loan is not enough to live on, with many adding that it doesn’t even cover their rent. Because of this, we’ve decided to look at the real price of being a student around the UK.

The latest facts

  • As of 2020, UK students spend an average of £418 per month on rent. For students living in London, this is £648 per month.
  • 58% of students reported that their mental health had suffered as a result of low budget.
  • Students at the King’s College London have the highest student costs, rent aside.
  • The average student receives £131.31 per month from their parents, and 74% of all students have found an extra job to help cover their bills.

Average student living costs 2020

Unsurprisingly, rent is the highest expense for students and makes up 53% of the average student’s total expenses. With rent costs increasing since 2017, students are spending an average of £37 more on rent. The second biggest expenditure is groceries, which comes in at £100 per month – a budget far from extravagant.

The next largest expenses are for everyday commodities, social events and transport, while one-off purchases, like clothing and mobile phones, are treated as luxury items.

Expense Cost per month
Rent £418
Groceries £100
Going out £46
Transport £43
Household bills £37
Takeaways £33
Clothes & shopping £29
Holidays £22
Mobile phone £16
Course materials £16
Health & wellbeing £13
Gifts & charity £12
Other £10
Total £795

Average student livings costs at the largest universities

Other than rent, is London also the most expensive place for other living costs? The maintenance loan in 2020 is £572, which already means that students are on a very strict budget.

The students that spend the most are from King’s College London, who spend £473 per month, with the biggest expense on food (groceries and take away). The next highest spend comes from students from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leeds, landing on £370 and £369 per month respectively. Food is also the biggest cost for these students.

UK students spend an average of £49 monthly on socialising, with the cheapest night out going to students from Coventry University, with a £27 per month spend. The studets who spend the most on socialising are from Sheffield Hallam University, who spend £70 per month on going out. For transport costs, there’s a 65% difference between the most and least expensive universities – £20 vs £53 per month for the University of Leeds and King’s College London respectively.

University Food Socialising Transport Bills Other Total
King's College London £156 £66 £53 £58 £140 £473
University of Edinburgh £149 £48 £24 £35 £114 £370
University of Leeds £124 £62 £20 £57 £106 £369
Sheffield Hallam University £117 £70 £28 £33 £115 £363
Cardiff University £135 £55 £30 £53 £79 £350
Manchester Metropolitan University £110 £25 £45 £47 £97 £322
Nottingham Trent University £113 £54 £37 £46 £59 £309
Coventry University £120 £27 £32 £52 £72 £303
University of Nottingham £119 £43 £29 £39 £68 £298
University of Birmingham £111 £37 £27 £37 £85 £297

University accommodation costs by region

With over half of their budget being spent on rent, accommodation costs can put a big dent in a student’s budget. University accommodation costs vary based on region, as shown below.

It comes as no surprise that the greatest average accommodation cost is for London universities, where it costs £6,907 per year, followed by universities in the South West and the Yorkshire and the Humber regions. All of these regions cost over £6,000 per year for accommodation. Wales is just two-thirds the price of London. Over a three year course, living in the cheapest region will save you almost £7,000 compared to the most expensive region.

Region Accommodation cost
London £6,906.81
South West £6,636.25
Yorshire and the Humber £6,253.23
Scotland £5,786.72
West Midlands £5,339.33
North East £5,329.12
East Midlands £5,327.06
South East £4,937.25
North West £4,807.45
East of England £4,680.18
Wales £4,642.44

Which students pay the most for rent?

When choosing a university, the cost of attending can be a big factor. For those attending the Imperial College of London, the rent costs are the highest in the UK. Students here fork out £7,776 per year on average, or £648 per month. This means that their costs more than double those paying the least, which are the students of Sunderland who pay £285 per month on average.

This is of course affected by the accommodation type, as some students live in student halls, while others live in apartments or rooms not provided by student housing.

University Average accommodation cost per year Average accommodation cost per month
Imperial College London £7,776 £648.00
University College London £7,552.44 £629.37
Bristol (South West) £7,524.83 £627.07
Durham (North East) £6,885 £573.75
Glasgow (Scotland) £6,819.54 £568.30
Exeter (South West) £6,684.16 £557.01
Sheffield (Yorkshire & Humber) £6,667.92 £555.66
Nottingham (East Midlands) £6,289 £524.08
York (Yorkshire & Humber) £6,080 £506.67
Edinburgh (Scotland) £6,031.38 £502.62
Leeds (Yorkshire & Humber) £6,012 £501.00
Oxford (South East) £5,884 £490.33
Birmingham (West Midlands) £5,854 £487.83
Bath (South West) £5,700 £475.00
Newcastle (North East) £5,682.46 £473.54
Loughborough (East Midlands) £5,662.02 £471.84
Queen Mary University of London £5,392.80 £449.40
Liverpool (North West) £5,350.80 £445.90
Warwick (West Midlands) £5,134.00 £427.83
Manchester (North West) £4,968 £414.00
Leicester (East Midlands) £4,947.30 £412.28
Cardiff (Wales) £4,926.78 £410.57
Essex (East) £4,793.04 £399.42
Surrey (South East) £4,752 £396.00
Norwich (East) £4,747.68 £395.64
Swansea (Wales) £4,640 £386.67
Dundee (Scotland) £4,509.96 £375.83
Cambridge (East) £4,500 £375.00
Bangor (Wales) £4,360.98 £363.42
Southampton (South East) £4,176 £348.00
Lancaster (North West) £4,104 £342.00
Staffordshire (West Midlands) £4,104 £342.00
Sunderland (North East) £3,420 £285.00

How do students fund themselves?

71% of students worry about making ends meet, but a lucky few (68%) are getting some extra funds from their parents. Most students get their income from the maintenance loan and part-time jobs. The majority of students will find themselves using a combination of sources, as the maintenance loan often doesn’t cover all student living costs.

Source of income Percentage of students
Student loan 74%
Part-time jobs 74%
Parents 68%
Savings and investments 50%
Grants and funding 44%
Bank overdrafts 38%
Surveys 31%
Friends 17%
Credit cards 15%
Working for themselves 6%
Gambling 6%
Adult work 4%
Payday loans 3%
Drug trials 2%
Cryptocurrency 2%


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

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