Go Higher: Wales & The South-west - Money Matters

GENERALLY WALES and the South-west is an inexpensive area to live in - indeed some of the smaller Welsh towns are among the cheapest in Britain. Top of the league this year must be Lampeter: mindful of increasing financial demands on students, and to celebrate the millennium, the university is offering half-price accommodation to all new undergraduate students starting in October 1999 - a saving of over pounds 700 a year.

Otherwise you can get a self-catering university room in Aberystwyth for as little as pounds 27 a week, or just pounds 53 with food. Rumour has it you can get a pint in Aberystwyth for between pounds 1.20 and pounds 1.50 most of the week. In Bangor, you can get a room in a private house for pounds 35 a week, or pay around pounds 38-pounds 45 to stay in university accommodation self-catering, or pounds 54 with food.

Another advantage of smaller towns like Bangor is that most students live within easy walking distance of the university. This not only keeps you fit but helps slim down travel costs - as well as your waistline.

Better still, there's a lot of competition between the town's numerous pubs, which means prices stay low; pick your venue and your night carefully and you can get a pint for around 80p, or a double for pounds 1.

While the University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd is at the cheaper end of the scale - you can get university accommodation for as little as pounds 38 a week self-catering - in Cardiff and Swansea prices are a little higher.

Cardiff University charges from pounds 47 for self-catering, pounds 56 with food, although the student union boasts prices as low as 80p a pint in its bars.

A room in a rented house in Swansea will cost you around pounds 35 to pounds 40 a week; on the university campus it will set you back from pounds 37 a week self-catering, to pounds 66 with food.

Accommodation in England is generally pricier. Bath University charges from pounds 40 a week without food. General costs are high, as the large tourist trade tends to up the ante, although the university student union claims to have some of the lowest union bar prices in the South-west.

The union has also arranged a special concession on a new bus route from the centre of town to the university - which is good news if you've ever tackled the notoriously steep climb to the campus.

Compared with other cities in the southern half of Britain, Southampton is relatively cheap to live in. With a lot of larger properties in the city you can find rooms in private houses for under pounds 50 a week.

In Bournemouth basic living is more expensive. The university charges pounds 52 to pounds 63 a week for self-catering, but with limited space has to work closely with local hotels and guest houses to ensure all first-year students have somewhere to live. Expect to pay up to pounds 79 a week for bed, breakfast and evening meal in a local guest house.

Accommodation in Exeter runs at around pounds 45 a week for a room in a shared house. Rooms on campus cost pounds 40 for self-catering, pounds 78 for three meals a day.

At Dartington College of Arts, outside Totnes, students should expect to pay around pounds 45 a week for a private room, and pounds 40 in halls. Beer in the college bar can be as cheap as pounds 1.35 a pint compared with pounds 2.20 in town.

Bear in mind that the more isolated campuses can mean higher travel costs. A taxi ride from Dartington to Totnes, for instance, will cost a student around pounds 3.