Student finance: Is the price right?

Accommodation is a big part of any student's budget – and some university towns are cheaper than others. Kevin Rawlinson reports

The best value accommodation is to be found in new-university towns, according to a new survey. While the cities playing host to red-brick universities, such as Liverpool and Manchester, are still among the UK's most affordable, towns such as Middlesbrough, home to the University of Teesside, and Pontypridd, where the University of Glamorgan is based, offer students the best value, the report shows.

Accomodationforstudents.com, a search engine for student accommodation, surveyed the rent rates of more than 52,000 properties in 73 cities across the UK.

Stoke-on-Trent, home to the main campus of the University of Staffordshire, comes out cheapest, while London is, unsurprisingly, the most expensive. Students in the capital pay an average weekly rent of £104.13, while those in Stoke pay just £41.90.

"Students are prepared to take on debt – it's the norm. But in the current economic climate, people are having second thoughts about spending so much in rent if they don't need to," says Simon Thompson, director and co-founder at accommodationforstudents.com. "They put more consideration into where they are going," he says.

The average weekly rent rates in Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield – all of which are home to respected red-brick universities – are between £53.96 and £59.34, below the national average of £62.61.

Less fashionable towns such as Middlesbrough, and Stockton-on-Tees – where Durham University's Queen's Campus is based – have average rents of less than £50 a week, according to the survey. Blackpool, which offers university-level education through Blackpool and the Fylde College, is not far off, at £50.14.

Outside of London, Guildford – home of the University of Surrey – was the most expensive place for students to live. "Demand is particularly high because they have taken on more students and it is close to London," says Thompson.

A University of Surrey spokesman says: "Guildford is a fun, safe and attractive town, and is therefore a desirable place to live and study in.

"The University of Surrey guarantees first year undergraduate and postgraduate students accommodation in halls of residence, and manages 90 high-quality, private-sector properties, in which rents are controlled."

Canterbury, home to both the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University, is in the top 10 most expensive towns, at £72.90 per week. Chester, at £74.25 per week, and Ipswich – the setting for University Campus Suffolk – at £73.77, also make the top 10.

Over the past five years the average weekly student rent has risen by more than 19 per cent, from £52.44 in 2004. According to the study, the most expensive towns for students to rent properties in are in the south of England, with the exception of St Andrews – which is by far the most expensive in Scotland, at £80.48 per week, 26 per cent above the UK average.

"Despite the credit crunch the student housing market is still buoyant," says Thompson. "There will always be students and their numbers continue to increase." The number of full-time students went up 11 per cent in 2008 on the previous year, and UCAS reported in April that the number of university applicants this year is up 9 per cent on last year.

Demand in some places is pushing up rent prices. Rent now accounts for a third of the student budget, according to Thompson. "Some students are finding that it is better to stay at home to save money," he says.

Despite this, the survey reported a move away from traditional halls of residence, towards the often pricier alternative of private halls.

"Universities seem to be moving away from providing such a high proportion of the accommodation taken up by their students and are instead concentrating on their core area of interest – educating them," says William Berry, director and co-founder of the website. "[Private halls] can be more expensive and would not meet the demand for accommodation on their own, but they are nevertheless useful," he adds.

Which is not to say that students are turning their back on typical student accommodation, and the four-bedroomed house in a student enclave remains popular. "They just don't go into them until later. For example, final-year students often want the peace," says Berry.

And these student enclaves show no sign of dying out. "There are parts of cities, such as Headingley in Leeds and Hallam in Sheffield that are becoming almost over-populated by students," says Thompson.

Sarah Donoghue, 22, who has just graduated with a degree in events management from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2009 says money concerns played a big part in her decisions later on in her university career.

"When I first went away to university I was in student accommodation which was £79 per week all inclusive," she says. "I paid a little more in later years – I think that is the pattern most people follow.

"As the years go by, students start asking the right questions and in final year, they are more discerning.

"I have noticed students wanting more for their money. My friends and I looked at larger private housing schemes where everything seems to be there for you. I can understand their appeal and I can see why they are so popular. I know lots of my friends opted for that."

MOST EXPENSIVE

1 LONDON

2 GUILDFORD

3 CAMBRIDGE

4 EXETER

5 BRIGHTON

6 ST ANDREWS

7 OXFORD

8 CHESTER

9 IPSWICH

10 CANTERBURY

CHEAPEST

1 STOKE

2 MIDDLESBROUGH

3 CREWE

4 PONTYPRIDD

5 STOCKTON-ON-TEES

6 HULL

7 BLACKPOOL

8 SUNDERLAND

9 BOLTON

10 WOLVERHAMPTON

SOURCE: accommodationforstudents.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Do you think you are read...

Cover Supervisor

£60 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The JobSeveral cover supervisors ...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£55 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are seeking special needs...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Sheffield: MFL teacher Required in Don...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform