From education to employment

The financial implications of going to university: Students are starting to wise up

The cost of attending university is well documented. Between loans not covering rent and students having to work long hours in addition to studying just to get by, it can be a difficult few years financially.

A new survey by Nationwide has looked into student’s attitudes towards their finances in 2019, and the findings show that they are savvier than ever

Financial Priorities

According to the survey, average student outgoings are £1047 but the average income is a lowly £690, leaving a shortfall of £357. But this isn’t deterring students who are turning to employment to get by, with the majority (70%) saying that they would get a job should they need money in addition to their student loan.

3 in 5 students were found to have jobs and claim to be careful with their money to fund themselves whilst at university.  However, a part-time job can be time-consuming, with half of the students working between 10 and 15 hours each week, on top of attending around 14 hours of lectures.

And as many as 1 in 9 students will work more than 20 hours per week. Not content with the additional money working these hours can provide, our survey finds that nearly 1 in 4 (24%) are using their knowledge of platforms such as Depop and eBay to enable them to sell their personal items online and raise additional cash. 

Students are aware of the financial implications of going to university before they’ve even set foot on campus – with more than 2 in 5 (42%) saving money before leaving home, and a third (33%) saying that sorting out their finances was the most important priority when starting university. 

Debt, in any form, is concerning, but over 2 in 5 respondents were most worried about their student loan debt, whilst a quarter was most anxious about their overdraft. In contrast, only just over 1 in 6 students fret over their credit card debt. 

Costs Breakdown





Utilities – gas/electric/water


Internet access




TV subscriptions








Studying costs – i.e books, paper, pens etc






Unsurprisingly, rent is the biggest student outgoing with an average cost of £330 per month. But it may come as a shock that insurances are costing as much as £92 per month, even more than the sum of utility bills.

Whilst the incoming to outgoing ratio has been found to be steep, students are still able to splash out around £49 each month paying for TV services.

Carl Burke, Nationwide Building Society’s Head of Current Account Product Management, said:

“University is often the first time many students manage a household budget and many will see their expenditure outstrip their income. Learning to manage both their finances is an important life skill, which will help them when they move on from university into the world of work.

“Many students leave university with debt, so it’s important they understand their options to ensure they don’t become more indebted than they need to. Taking a sensible approach to debt and considering an overdraft as a sensible approach to borrowing, can make a real difference when it comes to their finances.”

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