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How Do UK Students Pay Their Living Costs?

How Do UK Students Pay Their Living Costs? main image

Student loans and family assistance are by far the most common way for students to fund their living costs, with only 15 percent covering their costs with their own income through part-time employment, according to the NatWest Student Living Index 2020. The study surveyed 2,806 university students living in the UK in June 2020.

However, students are less reliant on financial support from their family than last year, receiving average supplements of £192.50, down from £222 in 2019.

Students at the University of Edinburgh have the highest average monthly income in the UK at £267.80, compared to students at the University of Portsmouth who earn around £95.20 a month. Unsurprisingly, London continues to hold the title for the city with the highest cost of living in 2020. 

Scottish students earn the most from part-time work 

The majority of students do not work alongside their studies, with 64 percent of respondents not holding a part-time job. Those who do have part-time jobs tend to work only 12.8 hours a month, although students in Belfast are likely to spend almost double the national average in their part-time work with 21.7 hours per month. 

They are followed by students in London, working 19 hours a month, and students in Glasgow working 18 hours a month. Contrastingly, students at Nottingham spend less than five hours (4.6) a month in part-time work.

Students at Durham University tend to earn the least from part-time work during term-time, pocketing an average of £45.10 a month. On the other end of the scale, students in Edinburgh earn the most from term-time work, around £182.80 a month. 

During the holidays, students at the University of Aberdeen come out on top, earning an average of £134.40 a month. Students at the University of Sheffield earn the least, an average of £25.30 a month.

Term-time income has decreased across the UK 

It’s bad news for the majority of students, as term-time income has decreased by £50 on average from last year. The worst affected are students at the University of Bristol and Cardiff University, experiencing declines of over £300 and almost £400 respectively. 

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as average rent costs decreased by 10 percent for students across the UK over the last year, and costs of household bills have almost halved since 2018 (£45 to £24). Therefore, fewer students are running out of money before the term ends, with last year’s figure falling by 10 percent.

Parental support less in the picture than previous year

Students are beginning to pay their own way more than ever, with reliance on financial support from parents dropping by almost £30 on average per month. 

The students most likely to rely on parental support can be found at Edinburgh, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. These students receive over £300 in additional support from parents or family which represents a 40 percent increase on the national average. This may be down in part to the fact that students at Oxbridge are prohibited from working during term-time.

Nearly two in three (61 percent) UK students cover their rent with their student loan.

Students based in Scotland borrow at least 28 percent less than the national average. Scottish students are also generally more reliant on self-financing and are less likely to run out of money at the end of the semester – only 24 percent on average run out in Scottish universities, compared to 33 percent in the UK as a whole.

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Written by Julia Gilmore
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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