Students to pay £48,500 for three years’ study

Tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses will collectively cost England’s 1m full-time undergraduates £46.2bn to complete a three year undergraduate course, based on analysis of elite group of English Russell Group universities.

For the average Russell Group student enrolling after 2012, their first year in university will cost £16,407:  £9,000 in fees, £3,807 in self-catering on-campus halls accommodation, and an estimated further £3,600 in living costs.

Students can save money by renting privately in nearly all of England’s major university towns and cities. Despite the average rent in a privately owned student flatshare increasing by 4.8% in the last academic year, only in Cambridge and Oxford – where college accommodation is rented for 9 fewer weeks – is it cheaper to live in university halls rather than rent privately. The average student at a Russell Group university can save over 9% by renting privately owned accommodation for an average of £3,448 – a saving of almost £1,100 compared to renting university accommodation for three years – and much more than this in some cities.

Jonathan Moore, director of student accommodation website HomesForStudents.co.uk comments: “Undergraduates are already under extreme financial pressure – and this is only going to get worse as the higher fees kick in next year. Rents in the private sector have been rocketing up – but they are still some distance from matching the cost of a room in most university halls, which cover cleaners, wardens and layers of university administration.  Students are taking note. Many undergraduates move into private flats after their first year, but with the rise of the financially prudent student, it will become commonplace to avoid university accommodation altogether.  What’s more, like those living in halls, if students flatshare with other students, they won’t need to pay council tax. And unlike most uni residences, they won’t get turfed out at the end of term.

“The only way to get by more cheaply will be to live at home as many students in other countries do. But for most people wanting to attend the best universities, that’s not an option, and in any case would undermine the whole British student experience.”

The biggest savings were to be found in Sheffield and Birmingham, where students can save £981 and £863 a year respectively by renting a room privately rather than staying in University. While Cambridge and Oxford were the only Russell Group Universities to provide a cheaper accommodation alternative to undergraduates, smaller savings were to be found in Newcastle (£77), and in University College London (£100).

Jonathan Moore continues: “In areas like the West Midlands and Yorkshire, rental prices haven’t kept pace with London and the South East. At the same time, Sheffield University’s halls accommodation is the most expensive for Russell Group Universities outside of London – students can find cheaper, high quality rooms in the private sector. In London, we’re seeing the exact opposite. Although university accommodation is the dearest, the strong competition for rented accommodation – and the lack of supply – is pushing up the cost of sharing student digs.” 

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