Student spending statistics UK

Where are students spending their budgets?

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. 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 up to £810 per month.
  • The average amount students pay for rent in the UK is £148 per week, or £641 a month.
  • Household bills (£40) in 2022 have increased by £3 compared to 2020 (£37).
  • Students at University of Greenwich pay the highest rent, £238 per week on average.
  • 58% of students prefer to buy their groceries from Tesco compared to other supermarkets.
  • 6 in 10 students (59%) would not buy an item that has been tested on animals.
  • Student living costs

    Average student living costs 2022

    Unsurprisingly, rent (£641 per month) is the largest expense for students and makes up 62% of the average student’s total expenses. Groceries (£101 per month) is the second biggest expense – a budget far from extravagant.

    The next largest expenses are social events (£47), household bills (£40) and transport (£34). While one-off purchases, such as clothing (£34) and mobile phones (£15), are treated as luxury items.

    Expense Percentage
    Rent 641
    Clothes & Shopping 34
    Transport 34
    Groceries 101
    Household bills 40
    Takeaways 41
    Holidays 14
    Course Materials 17
    Going Out 47
    Mobile Phone 15
    Miscellaneous 18
    Gifts & Charity 13
    Health & Well Being 15

    Average student living costs by university

    Glasgow Caledonian University tops the list with the highest average amount students pay in living costs at £822 a month, excluding rent. Followed by SOAS university (£710). The list of top 10 also includes St Mary’s, Arts University Bournemouth, Aston, Kingston, East London, Bath Spa, Birbeck and Heriot-Watt.

    See the breakdown below of over 100 universities, with the categories like transport, health & wellbeing, clothing & shopping.

    University Total (£)
    Glasgow Caledonian 822
    SOAS 710
    St Mary's 670
    Arts University Bournemouth 663
    Aston 659
    Kingston 640
    East London 630
    Bath Spa 627
    Birkbeck 611
    Heriot-Watt 585
    Cambridge 576
    London South Bank 563
    Trinity St David 563
    Aberystwyth 558
    Staffordshire 550
    Birmingham City 548
    Open University 531
    Essex 522
    Canterbury Christ Church 512
    Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 510
    Coventry 507
    Edinburgh Napier 504
    Leeds 492
    Sheffield Hallam 483
    Hertfordshire 482
    Worcester 479
    Middlesex 462
    Oxford 459
    Edge Hill 447
    Southampton Solent 446
    Chichester 445
    Newcastle 445
    Ravensbourne 441
    Royal Veterinary College 439
    Ulster 439
    Glasgow 437
    Westminster 433
    Brighton 429
    Northumbria 427
    Oxford Brookes 427
    Anglia Ruskin 419
    Dundee 419
    Aberdeen 418
    Wolverhampton 418
    West of England, Bristol 413
    Chester 412
    Cardiff 410
    UCLan 405
    St George's 401
    Sunderland 397
    Winchester 394
    York 394
    University for the Creative Arts 386
    East Anglia 381
    Liverpool Hope 381
    Stirling 375
    Surrey 374
    UCL 373
    Reading 372
    Birmingham 369
    Teesside 364
    De Montfort 362
    King's College London 359
    Durham 357
    Keele 357
    Gloucestershire 354
    Cumbria 350
    Bolton 349
    Bristol 346
    Edinburgh 344
    Southampton 341
    Sheffield 335
    Manchester Met 333
    Manchester 332
    Bournemouth 331
    Swansea 327
    Nottingham 319
    Queen Mary 318
    Bath 317
    Warwick 317
    Nottingham Trent 309
    Liverpool John Moores 305
    Royal Holloway 305
    Kent 304
    Hull 290
    Brunel 289
    Derby 287
    Plymouth 287
    Liverpool 280
    Portsmouth 280
    Salford 277
    Exeter 273
    Leicester 272
    Lancaster 271
    Strathclyde 270
    West of Scotland 269
    Falmouth 261
    Leeds Arts 260
    Loughborough 247
    Imperial College London 245
    York St John 239
    Lincoln 236
    City, UoL 211
    Highlands and Islands 208
    Queen's Belfast 182
    Huddersfield 165

    Which university has the most expensive accomodation?

    The University of Greenwich is the most expensive university for accommodation with the rent averaging £238 per week. Followed by the University of Edinburgh at an average of £222 weekly. London School of Economics (£200 weekly), Warwick (£197 weekly) and Imperial College London (£190 weekly) makes the top 5 most expensive universities for rent in the UK.

    On the other hand, Staffordshire University is considerably cheap with an average weekly rent of £80. Followed by London Metropolitan (£108 weekly) and Brunel University (£110 weekly).

    University Average amount on rent per week (£)
    University of Greenwich 238
    University of Edinburgh 222
    London School of Economics 200
    Glasgow Caledonian University 196
    University of Warwick 197
    Imperial College London 190
    BPP 185
    City, University of London 185
    East London University 185

    Student shopping

    Where do students go for their grocery shopping?

    Tesco (58%) is the most popular grocery place among students, followed by Aldi (37%) and Lidl (37%), Sainsbury’s (35%) and Asda (30%). Interestingly, 3% of students saying they never buy groceries.

    In 2022, students are slightly spending more on groceries (£101 to £100 last year) compared to last year in spite of shopping cheaper.

    Shop Where students buy groceries (%)
    Tesco 58
    Aldi 37
    Lidl 37
    Sainsbury's 35
    Asda 30
    Co-op 20
    Morrisons 17
    Iceland 12
    Uber Eats 9
    Independent newsagents 7
    Marks & Spencer 7
    Waitrose 5
    Deliveroo 5
    SPAR 4
    Local butcher 3
    Local Green Grocer 3
    Londis 2
    OneStop 2
    Other 3
    Never shop for groceries 3

    How students fund themselves

    71% of students worry about making ends meet, but luckily, over two-thirds (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 does not 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%

    Main reasons students would not buy an item

    The financial burden is not the only reason that students wouldn’t buy something, with just less than two-thirds (59%) of students would not buy an item that has been tested on animals. 54% would not buy when the workers face poor working conditions, with half (49%) of students not wanting to buy an item that is unsustainably produced.

    Why students would not buy an item Percentage
    Animal tested 59
    Poor working conditions of staff 54
    Unsustainable production 49
    Underpaying staff 44
    Not all packaging was recyclable 26


    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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