When the price of a degree is cheapest option

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The Independent Online
LIVING at home is the norm for undergraduates at the University of North London, where the high cost of living tests student finances to the limit.

Student leaders estimate it costs at least pounds 6,000 to live within reach of the university's Islington campus, even before the introduction of pounds 1,000 a year tuition fees.

Aidan McDonald, the student union president, moved to the university from Birmingham, but said many others simply could not afford to study without help at home from their families. He estimates that up to 70 per cent of students at the university live at home. "Living at home will save students thousands of pounds because it costs pounds 2,000 a year to live in a hall of residence, but there are many more savings," he said.

"When people make the decision to come to college the cost of living is one of the key factors. When I came I had to be sure that I had a job and was financially stable."

Mr McDonald said fees would affect students, but there was more concern over the loss of maintenance grants, which would hit the large mature student population.

In the library, students working for their summer exams acknowledged that the cost of living in London was a big problem. Many said the financial burden of living in the capital might have put them off university education. But they insisted that living at home did have its compensations.

Jumoke Oyadare, a second-year marketing and business student, said: "I live at home because it's cheap. And it's a lot easier to be at home. I concentrate better and I study better."

Andrew Prophet, also studying marketing and business, lives with his family in Morden, south-west London. "I would have moved away if I could, but it's not worth it," he said. "All you have to pay for if you live at home is your transport."

Deema Bharkhda, a third-year law student, moved away from Leicester to study in London, despite the cost. "I wanted a change," she said. "London was one of the places which excited me. It is very expensive but it is worth it for the life."