Why students should consider accommodation costs before worrying about tuition fees

Whilst students face the daunting prospect of up to £9000 a year tuition fees, there’s actually a much more pressing worry for them in the shape of living costs. Tuition fees, whilst looming large on the horizon, are not actually payable until students start earning significant salaries. Living costs are payable right away, and with rents stacking up to several thousand pounds a year, could form a decisive factor in many young people’s choices to study away from home. At SpareRoom.co.uk we’ve analysed private room rents across more than 300,000 rental properties in university towns, and can now reveal the places to study that will have the least immediate impact on your pocket.

Students at Queen’s University in Belfast are best off when it comes to affordable living, enjoying average weekly rents of just £67 per week or £290 per month, leaving more in the kitty for the student union bar. A student living in Belfast will save around £13,000 over 3 years compared to one in London, on rent alone.

Universities in the North have great value accommodation available, with double rooms including bills in Leicester, Liverpool and Loughborough all £78 per week, and Nottingham and Sheffield £79 per week.

Not surprisingly, London is the most expensive city for students to live in, with private sector accommodation costing £151 per week, or £654 per month.

If rents in London carry on rising by 8% a year, as is the trend, students starting university this year could end up spending £25,491 on rent and bills over the course of their studies. Whilst less than the £36k they can expect to pay in fees, the difference is they’ll have to pay accommodation costs now, whereas fees won’t need to be repaid till they’re earning a graduate salary.

Here’s the table showing what students can expect to pay in rent at the top UK universities, based on SpareRoom data collected between January-June (H1) in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

CUG (Complete University Guide) Ranking 2013

University (and rental data used if not immediately obvious)

Average weekly rent for a double room including bills (£)[5]

Annual % change (2011-2012)

Two-yearly % change (2010-2012)

2012

2011

2010

1

Cambridge

107

103

98

3.88

9.18

2

London School of Economics

151

139

131

8

15.38

3

Oxford

103

102

97

0.98

6.19

4

Imperial College London)

151

139

131

8

15.38

5

Durham

79

85

78

-7.06

1.28

6

St Andrews (Kirkcaldy)

77

81

79

-4.94

-2.53

7

Warwick (Coventry)

85

85

84

0

1.19

8

University College London

151

139

131

8

15.38

9

Lancaster

82

81

82

1.23

0

10

Bath

91

87

85

4.60

7.06

11

Bristol

88

87

83

1.15

6.02

12

York

84

85

83

-1.18

1.20

13

Exeter

91

89

87

2.25

4.60

14

Loughborough (Leicester)

78

77

76

1.30

2.63

15

Southampton

94

90

88

4.44

6.82

16

Edinburgh

94

88

88

6.82

6.82

17

Glasgow

86

83

85

3.61

1.18

18

King’s College London

151

139

131

8

15.38

19

Nottingham

79

77

77

2.60

2.60

20

Leicester

78

77

76

1.30

2.63

21

Sussex (Brighton)

107

102

96

4.90

11.46

22

Surrey

109

104

101

4.81

7.92

23

Birmingham

85

85

84

0

1.19

23

Newcastle

83

79

80

5.06

3.75

25

Queen’s Belfast

67

71

67

-5.63

0

26

Royal Holloway (Egham, Surrey)

120

114

109

5.26

10.09

27

East Anglia (Norwich)

87

83

83

4.82

4.82

28

Sheffield

79

76

74

3.95

6.76

29

Manchester

85

85

82

0

3.66

30

SOAS

151

139

131

8

15.38

31

Liverpool

78

79

75

-1.27

4.00

32

Reading

100

96

95

4.17

5.26

33

Kent (Canterbury)

90

89

85

1.12

5.88

34

Aston (Birmingham)

85

85

84

0

1.19

34

Leeds

80

79

79

1.27

1.27

36

Cardiff

80

80

75

0

6.67