Leeds offers students best value for money, says Royal Bank of Scotland

07 August 2007
The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Student Living Index 2007 has revealed that Leeds is the cheapest UK city to be a student in, when compared together with student earnings.

The Student Living Index is a league table which ranks Britain’s major university towns by the cost of living, including rent, essential costs and non-essential expenditure, and measures this against earnings from part-time work. It reveals that Leeds is the cheapest this year, while Nottingham is the least cost-effective.

The research was conducted in 27 British university towns this year, and shows that the average Leeds student spends £186 per week on living and housing costs, but manages to gain £128 of weekly earnings from part-time work.

At the other end of the scale, the average student in Nottingham spends £211 per week, but makes just £78.40 from term-time employment, the second lowest amount of all the university towns and cities surveyed.

Due to the earnings versus expenditure ratio, students studying in Leeds could be an average of £2,238 a year better off than other university towns.

Students will spend a collective £10.3 billion on living and accommodation costs over the course of the coming academic year; approximately £3.9 billion is spent on rent, £1 billion on food shopping, £730 million on going out, £315 million on books and course materials, and £240 million on music and CDs.

Forty per cent of students will have part-time jobs, such as working in shops, bars and restaurants, which will bring in a total of £2.1 billion in order to offset these costs and try to avoid huge amounts of debt. However, even though 40% will seek employment during term-time, 51% of all undergraduates still underestimate the cost of living and rent at university.

Leeds has performed consistently well in the Student Living Index, reaching the number one spot for the first time this year. This could be put down to the fact that students have a high weekly earnings average, due, in part, to Leeds’ booming economy.

Katie Cassidy, Head of Student Banking at Royal Bank of Scotland, comments: “Our research shows that many students are taking a positive, proactive approach to managing finances by taking on part-time work. However, it is still a significant cause for concern that 51 per cent of students underestimate the amount they need to spend on rent and living costs, despite some planning and budgeting.

"The crucial element in managing finances effectively while studying is careful budgeting. Whilst it might be tempting to take the ‘ostrich approach’ and bury your head in the sand, it’s better to avoid problems in the first place by taking a careful look at potential incomings versus outgoings.

Learn more about effective student money management and what help is available