The @NatWest_Help Student Living Index 2020 compares student expenses across major UK cities. Manchester is the most affordable city this year thanks to low accommodation costs and higher-than-average income levels.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Time spent studying averages 98.2 hours each month, an increase of 17 hours year-on-year.
  • Edinburgh and Cambridge students save 36% more of their income than the national average.
  • Students are less reliant on financial support from parents/family, receiving average supplements of £192.50, down from £222 last year.
  • A quarter of students say the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their ability to achieve their degree qualification.
  • Just one in 10 students believe they are receiving good value for tuition money during the pandemic.

MANCHESTER WINS THE SLI AS THE CITY OFFERING THE BEST VALUE FOR MONEY IN 2020

  • Manchester’s students have the second highest monthly income (£1,391.70) with low average rent costs (£424.20), leaving them with an average monthly disposable income of £531.90.
  • London is the city with the highest university living costs. Students in London receive a term-time income of £1,137.30 and year-on-year rent costs have risen from £705 to £717 each month.
  • Term-time income has decreased by £50 on average. The worst-hit students were those in Bristol and Cardiff, with students experiencing declines of over £300 and almost £400, respectively.
  • Those pocketing the highest monthly income are based in Cambridge, grossing £1,447.20 on average. However, they tend to be the most reliant on student loans, receiving £661.70 monthly. 

HOW COVID-19 HAS IMPACTED STUDENTS

  • Only a third of students living away from home were offered a rent break during the crisis
  • Students at Cambridge were the most likely to be offered a rent break, with four in five students offered to do so.
  • 10% of UK students signed up to the NHS volunteer programme – most prominently in Durham and Newcastle, who were twice more likely than average to sign up.
  • Yet one in five students had no awareness of the programme at all.
  • Only 8% of students felt supported by their bank during the crisis, with Southampton feeling the most supported at 16%, double the national average.

“Part time employment stopped as a result and I received no furlough meaning I have no income and am still paying rent for a university house which I do not live in” – 2nd Year Student, University of Hull

UNIVERSITY RESPONSES TO THE PANDEMIC

  • On average, just 29% of students have felt supported by their university during the pandemic.
  • Less than one in three rated the communication from their university as favourable during the pandemic.
  • Aberdeen ranks highly for support during the crisis, with almost half of all students feeling supported and 75% more likely than average to feel that communication was excellent.
  • Only 19% of students at Poole and Portsmouth were impressed with their universities’ reactions.
  • 71% of students were offered support for their mental health during the crisis, yet more than one in four received no support at all.

About the data: These findings were taken from NatWest’s Student Living Index 2020. This was conducted by YouthSight in June 2020 from 2806 university students living in the UK. 

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