- For all students the biggest expenditure items will be the regular living costs – accommodation, food and drink, travel, clothes.
- There is much evidence to suggest that most university entrants don't know what it costs to be a student and can seriously underestimate their expenditure by as much as 50 per cent.
- An increasing number, particularly in London, are staying at home and travel daily to a nearby university and that is probably the cheapest option.
- Buy only what you need, including the occasional treat, and don't be tempted by 'two for the price of one' when you did not even want one in the first place.
- Local markets are good for fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, charity shops like Oxfam for clothes, and the students' union for stationery.
- If you are sharing, you might even be able to engage in a spot of discounted bulk food buying with fellow residents and stretch the money further.
- This may be stating the obvious but some supermarkets are much cheaper than others so, if possible, shop around.
- There are travel costs, too, where most students rely on public transport, not just between home and university, perhaps two or three times a year, but also from your accommodation to the university every day.
- As a general rule, the cost of living is lower the further north and west you choose to study in the UK.
- Apparently, a good third of students say they would rather spend more money on socialising than on a better roof over their heads! However, given the importance of day-to-day living, read our advice on to Where to Live, which is devoted to student accommodation.
- Next come costs associated with course work and the essentials: books, stationery, equipment and perhaps fieldwork or electives, here and overseas. Such additional course work is often compulsory, and whilst you might get some financial support for this it is unlikely to meet the full costs of a language year, medical elective, or archaeological dig overseas or a residential geography field trip away from the university.
- The recommended reading list might be long and expensive. You would be well advised not to rush out and buy the lot but rather get to know how to use the library at the earliest opportunity.
- Students' unions often organise second-hand book sales and there are several online bookshops offering second-hand and discounted textbooks; or is it feasible to share books with a fellow student? Access to the internet is easy and free via the university network.
- University most definitely shouldn't be all work. In fact, university is a great time – perhaps the only time – to pursue the most common or esoteric of interests at a price you can easily afford.
- Your students' union is likely to offer a selection of shops, services and places to eat and drink at minimal expense.
- However, expenditure on the social scene, whether it be the cinema or nightclub, drinking or occasional eating out, is still likely to be a significant cost for the majority of students.
- In most UK university cities and towns, student social life is subsidised with special discounts and offers for cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bus/train travel, books and equipment. Find out about what is on offer at open days and visits, or by taking a look at the university/students' union website.
- Phone bills can be another sizeable item. Competition for your custom is fierce and the students' union may well be able to advise on the best deals amongst a growing army of call providers. Selecting an appropriate package for your mobile from the many options available will also be important.
- Most students own desirable items like portable televisions, CD and DVD players, laptops, mobile phones and bikes, and a third of them fall victims of crime.
- Recent surveys have shown that many students are uninsured or under-insured. Insurance cover is essential and might be possible under existing parental policies at home.
- If not, there are a number of insurance companies which tailor policies to student belongings and lifestyle. Premiums are usually linked to postal codes, and university residences often provide cheaper cover than private houses.
- It is worth the precaution of photographing expensive items and keeping serial numbers in a safe place. Some insurance companies offer a special policy for international students to cover goods in transit and emergency travel.
- Read more about staying safe and secure while at university.
Next page: Budgeting