Going Higher: 'It is very important to set a budget in London'

Richard Collings has just completed his second year of architecture at South Bank University in London:

"I HAVE a grant and loan, and receive pounds 25 per week from home and pounds 40 a week from my Saturday job in a kite store. It is getting easier to set limits on my budget, but my course is really expensive. On my last project I spent pounds 400 on materials.

"This meant I only went out twice a week, as a night in London can cost pounds 20. But I did not go to my union at all. It is not part of ULU, which provides really good entertainments, and is cheaper than a night on the town.

"Last year I shared a flat with a friend. It cost pounds 72.50 per week, without bills.

"Some of my friends paid pounds 55. In the first year I lived in self-catering halls for pounds 66.

"It is very important to set yourself a budget, and to know in advance what you are likely to spend. I have never had to pay bills before, and when a pounds 90 phone bill arrives, it scares the life out of me.

"London can be really lonely as it seems so vast. But when you come to terms with how big and frenzied it is, you can enjoy it.

"You can do anything there: there are exhibitions, free galleries, cafes, parks...I love it."

"I GET pounds 200 per month from my parents, and a loan. I don't really stick to a budget - it varies a lot between weeks and there is no absolute limit.

"My parents pay my rent as I do not get a grant. In the first year I paid pounds 40 per week in halls, and there is a great social life on campus. Now I live in a brilliant house for pounds 45 per week. I haven't had a job during term time. I have one now but it's not a good idea in the third year unless it's absolutely necessary.

"My degree is really demanding, and a lot of people have given up jobs as they couldn't cope.

"When I have money I enjoy clubbing. On Tuesdays The Escape is free, with cheap alcohol. Brighton has a massive drum and bass scene. A night costs about pounds 8. But it is worth it when you get there. It is a great town for nightlife, and so cosmopolitan that it has everything you could want.

"Shopping-wise, the North Lane is great for second-hand clothes. They are really diverse, from designer names to original Sixties. South Lane is more posh and I tend not to go there, or I would spend all my money."

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