From education to employment

Sheffield crowned as the most affordable University for students

  • 75% of student renters at the University of Aberdeen and Birmingham’s Newman University say they struggle to afford their accommodation
  • Despite students at Staffordshire University paying the least rent (on average £350 per month), almost three quarters find it difficult to pay
  • More than half of University of Sheffield student renters struggle with the cost of rent
  • Affordability is the third biggest priority for students looking for a home, after being close to university and security
  • Kellie Steed, buy to let mortgage expert, comments on how students can save when moving into a new home.

Three in four (74%) university students have struggled with their monthly rent repayments in the last 12 months[1], as the UK’s cost of living crisis continues.

To support landlords who may have students struggling with their bills, buy to let mortgage experts analysed costs across the country to find which students are paying the cheapest weekly rent, as well as how many were finding paying rent difficult, to calculate the most and least affordable universities in the country.

Most affordable universities

UniversityCityRegion% of students struggling with rent[2]Average weekly rent (£)
The University of SheffieldSheffieldYorkshire58%£100
The University of HuddersfieldHuddersfieldYorkshire68%£81
The University of Nottingham NottinghamMidlands62%£113
The University of LeicesterLeicestershireMidlands66%£113
The University of NorthamptonNorthamptonMidlands66%£113
Nottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamMidlands62%£116
The University of SurreyGuildfordSouth East68%£114
Harper Adams UniversityNewportWales69%£98
Oxford Brookes UniversityOxfordSouth East68%£115
University of DerbyDerbyMidlands66%£123

Universities in the Midlands are the most affordable locations for student renters. With five of the most affordable universities to rent in the UK, the Midlands is also home to the cheapest average weekly rent of just £80, at Staffordshire University.

Universities in Yorkshire and the South East of England follow in second place for affordability, while just one university outside of England, Harper Adams University, makes the most affordable list.

Renters in Sheffield struggle the least to meet their £100 a week average rent. Despite being the cheapest analysed, 72% students in Staffordshire say they have found paying their rent (£80 per week) difficult over the past 12 months.

Despite the challenges of rental payments, just one in ten (12%) university attendees select affordability as the first thing they consider in a property. Overall, affordability is only the third greatest priority (12%) for students searching for a new home, after proximity to their university (27%) and security (16%).

Least Affordable Universities

UniversityCityRegion% of students struggling with rent[2]Average weekly rent (£)
The University of GreenwichLondonGreater London78%£238
University of CumbriaCarlisleNorth West80%£172
London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonGreater London78%£200
Edge Hill UniversityOrmskirkNorth West80%£166
Imperial College of Science, Technology and MedicineLondonGreater London78%£190
The University of CambridgeCambridgeEast of England83%£156
Glasgow Caledonian UniversityGlasgowScotland77%£196
University of ChesterChesterNorth West80%£164
The University of EdinburghEdinburghScotland76%£222
St Mary’s University, TwickenhamTwickenhamGreater London78%£185

Greater London’s universities are the most expensive nationwide, with four of the least affordable universities in this region. Greater London is home to Greenwich University, the most expensive area analysed, at £238 per week: more than double the cost of rent for University of Sheffield students.

Three of the most expensive universities can be found in the North West. Four in five students attending universities in this region have difficulties paying for rent. Scotland is also home to two of the least affordable universities, with the University of Edinburgh leading as the most expensive university for rent in Scotland, and the second most expensive in Great Britain. buy-to-let mortgage expert, Kellie Steed, comments on how landlords can help their student tenants:

“As a student landlord, it’s likely that your property will offer the first ever renting experience that your tenants will have. Because of this, transparency, reliability and understanding are all important to giving your tenants the best experience in their new home.

  • Be clear with expectations: be upfront with all the rules you expect your tenants to follow, whether they’re about timing for rent payments or the condition your property should be kept in. You should also be transparent about what your tenants can expect from you, such as keeping their deposits in a protection scheme, and what maintenance you will provide for the property.
  • Be consistently reliable: if your tenant has questions, or needs anything from you, make sure to be responsive and clear about what you can and can’t do. They will likely have some uncertainties around a new home, so even when they come to you for something outside your responsibilities, remain courteous and guide them through the solution as best you can.
  • Be understanding: students are already likely to be tight on cash, especially during a cost of living crisis. If they do come to you with financial concerns, make sure to listen while communicating your own needs, to help come to a resolution which both parties can be happy with.
  • Suggest solutions: as well as potentially inexperienced as tenants, students may be unfamiliar with some methods of keeping other costs low. Explain how your tenants could potentially profit from taking up a student broadband deal, or if that switching energy providers could offer lower monthly payments. Savings can also come by utilising promotions through TOTUM cards, and double-checking that they are not paying council tax, as students are exempt.” 

Uswitch can also reveal the most profitable ‘side hustles’ for students who have time to take up part-time employment. For tenants looking for remote work, tutors, voice-over artists and video editors have the highest average wage. If students would rather work in person, tutoring, life-guarding, or driving for a taxi service like Uber offer the highest average profits.”

[1] surveyed 2,000 university students from the UK. Students were asked “how much have you struggled to pay your rent in the last 12 months?”

[2]Figures for university students struggling to pay their rent were broken down by city of residence. For universities in cities where data on students struggling with rent was not available, the percentage of students struggling in their respective regions of the country were used instead.


  1. Data on the average price of rent at UK universities were acquired from a survey and then ranked in order of cost.
  2. surveyed 2,000 university students across the UK to determine what percentage of students had struggled to meet their rent payments in the last 12 months.
  3. Based on the price of rent and the percentage of students struggling to pay, an index score was calculated to rank each university by how affordable it was for their attendants to rent a home.

For more information on this analysis, please contact one of the contacts listed above.

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