Revealed: The best city to go to university in 2017

  • Cardiff is the most affordable city to go to university
  • Students in Scotland are working the most whilst studying
  • The Bank of Mum and Dad the biggest source of income, after student loans
  • One in three students have no budget at all whilst at university


Cardiff has been named the most cost-effective city to attend university in the UK, as part of the NatWest Student Living Index 2017.

However, only three percent of students choose where to attend based on affordability – with the majority calling subject choice their number one concern.


More money in the bay

If you’re attending university in Cardiff, you’re in luck – the Welsh capital has been declared the most cost effective city for higher education in the whole of the UK.

Not only are students there likely to spend well below the average amount on their accommodation, they also stand to earn much higher salaries than their counterparts in the English capital.

And with three of the top five alcohol spenders being found in Wales, it seems as if all that extra income is being put to good use.


Term time income

Cardiff may be most affordable city when it comes to living and accommodation costs, but students in Aberdeen just pipped them to the post for the top term time income.

Based on all sources of income, students in Aberdeen stand to make £1,583 per month, only slightly higher than those in Cardiff (£1,476). Canterbury, Durham and Swansea rounded out the top five.

Students in Stirling work the most hours whilst at uni, spending an average of 28.6 hours every month concentrating on their part-time jobs.


The Bank vs The Bank of Mum and Dad

Perhaps unsurprisingly, loans provide the highest monthly monetary contribution across the board – making up a massive 36% of student savings.

Other forms of income included money from parents or family (18%), personal savings, part-time work and bursaries/scholarships (around 8% each).

According to the research, students in Durham and Oxford receive the most from their parents every month.

Those based in Hull get the least from their families, but they aren’t expected to go it alone completely, topping the pile for bursaries and scholarships.


Big spenders

Aside from household bills, students have two main outgoings: supermarkets and socialising.

Food shopping, toiletries and household items were the clear priorities – with the average student spending £78.10 every month on the necessities.

Going out was the next expenditure (£43.30), followed by sports/hobbies and interests (£24.90) and our academic studies/course materials (£12.80).

However, it does seem like spending varies across the country. Students in Stirling were far more into splashing their cash on fashion (£10 more than the monthly average), whilst those in Birmingham saved most of their money for socialising.


Subject the biggest factor

Finally, although affordability is undoubtedly important, it has almost no impact on the decision of where to study.

More than half of the students surveyed based their choice on what subjects were on offer, with university reputation (24%), close proximity to their home (7%), and social life (6%) all coming above cost of living (3%).

But with one in three admitting they don’t budget at all whilst at uni, it’s not surprising that cost of living isn’t a key deciding factor for picking the perfect place to study.



The NatWest Student Living Index is made up of answers from 3,407 students across 35 popular university cities. Affordability is calculated by taking monthly living and accommodation costs, and dividing them by the average monthly income for that city. For the full results, visit NatWest Life Moments



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