Student spending statistics UK 2021
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.
Student living costs
Average student living costs 2020
Unsurprisingly, rent is the largest expense for students and makes up 53% of the average student’s total expenses. The second biggest expense is groceries, which comes in at £100 per month – a budget far from extravagant.
The next largest expenses are social events, transport and household bills, while one-off purchases, such as clothing and mobile phones, are treated as luxury items.
|Expense||Cost per month|
|Clothes & shopping||£29|
|Health & wellbeing||£13|
|Gifts & charity||£12|
Average student livings costs by university
Other than rent, is London also the most expensive place for other living costs? The maintenance loan in 2020 was £572, which means that students are already on a very strict budget.
Half of the universities in the top 10 universities with the highest living costs are based either entirely or have at least one campus located in London. Despite this, students at the University of Buckingham have the highest living costs before rent, at £827 per month. See the breakdown below.
|Row Labels||Food||Socialising||Transport||Bills||Clothes||Course materials||Other||Total (£)|
|University of Buckingham||£193||£150||£133||£133||£33||£53||£129||£827|
|University of Law||£195||£20||£75||£135||£25||£260||£100||£810|
|Royal Academy of Music||£300||£83||£200||£37||£38||£57||£54||£769|
|University of Westminster||£176||£50||£136||£22||£41||£35||£226||£686|
|Canterbury Christ Church||£216||£48||£89||£86||£35||£28||£139||£639|
|University of Hertfordshire||£171||£80||£200||£34||£43||£14||£85||£624|
|The Open University||£191||£43||£82||£105||£41||£16||£105||£584|
|University of Derby||£208||£19||£56||£145||£40||£20||£97||£584|
|University of Greenwich||£151||£59||£128||£55||£58||£34||£87||£571|
|University of Glasgow||£156||£59||£52||£57||£31||£18||£151||£522|
Student accommodation costs
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 accommodation costs an average £933 per month. This is followed by universities in the South West, South East and Scotland. Accommodation costs over £800 per month in these regions. Over a three-year course, living in the cheapest region (Wales) will save you £7,452 compared to the most expensive region (London).
|Yorshire and the Humber||£737|
|East of England||£777|
The universities with the highest accommodation fees
When choosing a university, the cost of attending can be a big factor. Students of the London School of Economics pay the most rent of all UK students. Students here fork out £10,556 per year or £203 per week on average. Of the top ten most expensive universities for rent, eight are located in London.
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.
|Row Labels||Average weekly rent||Average yearly rent|
|The London School of Economics||£203||£10,556|
|Birkbeck, University of London||£185||£9,620|
|University of West London||£183||£9,516|
|University of Gloucestershire||£180||£9,360|
|University of the Arts London||£177||£9,204|
|King's College London||£174||£9,048|
|University College London||£173||£8,996|
|City, University of London||£172||£8,944|
How students fund themselves
71% of students worry about making ends meet, but luckily, a 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|
|Savings and investments||50%|
|Grants and funding||44%|
|Working for themselves||6%|
What students are shopping for online
The graph below shows the products that students purchase online in one month. Unsurprisingly, clothes and accessories were the most popular items for students to purchase online. The next most popular items were tech and mobile devices, which almost a third (32%) of students bought online in a month.
Reasons students wouldn’t buy something
The financial burden is not the only reason that students wouldn’t buy something; the ethics and sustainability of their purchases is also very important. Two-thirds (66%) of students refused to buy a product if it had been tested on animals. Over half (55%) of students also wouldn’t buy a product if they knew the staff making it were working in poor conditions.
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Times Higher Education
Times Higher Education
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