Flying the nest and moving to university is hailed as one of the most liberating and invaluable rites of passage. But for many who choose to study in the big city, this is not the case.
A new study has revealed that students renting in London pay 71% more than the national average, with some of the most expensive university accommodations costing upwards of £500 per week. These figures prove even more shocking when compared to other universities around the UK, where students pay as little as £37 p/w.
The cost of living in London means that for many, student loans just aren’t big enough; “even those with part time jobs, help from parents, government grants and maximum loans are struggling,” says Money Savings Expert, Martin Lewis.
“As the government has chosen to operate via a loans system, it must ensure those loans are adequate. If students can’t afford to eat, the system isn’t fit for purpose,” he adds.
Who’s to blame?
Collum McGuire, Vice President of Welfare at the National Union of Students, also has concerns over the implications of rising student accommodation costs. But, unlike Lewis, McGuire thinks the blame lies with universities, rather than the government.
“NUS research shows that accommodation costs have doubled in ten years, revealing that universities are adopting aggressive rent strategies rather than supplying a supportive service to students,” he says.
But regardless of who is to blame, this is a problem that is affecting thousands – Rebecca Edwards, a third year at Kingston University, struggles with the city’s high prices.
“I could not afford to live in London, even with loans and a part time job. I had no choice but to commute from my family home, south of the river. Even with this arrangement, I am forking out on travel costs,” she says. “It isn’t fair that people like me are being penalised for choosing to study in London.”
“I see my friends from other universities, where everything is much cheaper, and I can’t help but think they are having more fun than I am and that I am somehow missing out on the proper uni experience everyone dreams of.”
Many students across the capital worry that although living in London is cool, the high cost of the city has put a dampener on their experience.
Becoming a money savvy student
Sadly, due to London’s competitive housing market and the current economic climate, it is unlikely that the issue will be resolved anytime soon. But don’t let this get in the way of making the most of student life.
As they say, life is what you make of it; money or no money, here are some top tips for making the most of your London student experience for less.
- Halls isn’t the be all and end all. In my first year I rented a room from a family friend, just around the corner from my university, and paid just £80 p/w including bills – making a massive saving. Also, by renting from an individual rather than a company, you have the opportunity to barter with them over price; bargaining is a daunting prospect for some, but one that can save you mega money.
- Don’t be worried that not living in halls means you won’t ‘get the experience’ or meet loads of people – let me tell you, it doesn’t matter where you live, you will! Facebook helps here too; make friends with lots of people online before you move to university, if they live at halls, there’s your ticket in.
- If you live close enough, stay at home – you’ll be out clubbing so much that you’ll spend more time on your mate’s sofa in halls than at home anyway!
- If you’re going to live in halls make sure you choose wisely. If you’re prepared to put up with a bit of disrepair then you can save yourself some pounds. But don’t opt for this if you definitely won’t be able to deal with a few leaky pipes and single glazing.
- When it comes to bills, sort them out yourself. Most landlords will always try to squeeze as much money out of you as they can, but by shopping around for bills, you can get some really great deals. It doesn’t take that long either, there are some great comparison sites out there which do all of the work for you.
Follow this link for a handy Google Map guide to London accommodation;