London students top economical living league

Polly Curtis and Matthew Taylor
Monday August 1, 2005
Guardian Unlimited

Despite the high costs of rent, beer and travel, London is actually one of the most cost-effective places to study, according research which maps the most expensive places to be a student.

The high costs of living in the capital are offset by more and better paid part-time work, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) student living index study revealed.

The average London student spends £243 per week on living and housing costs, but earns £150 from part-time work. In St Andrews, where rent is cheapest, the average student spends £190 per week, but makes just £63 from term-time employment.

This theoretically makes London students £34 per week better off, according to the study. Over one academic year, this would equate to £1,202 – the equivalent, as the survey describes it, of 26,000 slices of toast.

The survey of students” expenditure and incomes in 24 university towns reveals that over the next year students will spend £9bn on living and accommodation. They will spend £722m on going out compared with £342m on books.

Two out of five students surveyed will get a job – most in bars and clothes shops – earning £1.7bn over the next year. The hardest-working students are in Belfast and Glasgow, where 68% and 58% respectively have term-time employment.

Anne McGillivray, the head of student banking at the RBS, said: ‘Today”s students face a range of financial hurdles. According to our research, one quarter (25%) underestimate the amount they need to spend on rent and living costs. The key to managing your finances effectively is forward planning and setting and sticking to a realistic budget.’

Julian Nicholds, the vice-president of the National Union of Students, said that although many undergraduates were forced to take up part-time work, debt was unavoidable.

‘The reality is that many students have to work to cover the costs of fees as well as day-to-day living,’ he said. ‘But whatever they do almost all of them will be in debt to a greater or lesser degree by the time they have finished their studies.’

The survey comes as this year”s A-level students await their exam results to confirm where they will go in September. Students due to begin their last year of A-levels in September will have to begin the process of applying at the same time. They will be the first generation of students to pay top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year.

The most cost effective cities in ranking order. The number in brackets indicates their position in last year”s survey.

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