Costs for students

Being able to budget is an essential student skill, says Anna Edgley-Smith
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The Independent Online

When considering study abroad, it's important that you know you can cover the costs of your intended course before you begin any applications. The following information should give you an idea of what to expect.

When considering study abroad, it's important that you know you can cover the costs of your intended course before you begin any applications. The following information should give you an idea of what to expect.

Tuition fees

One cost you can't avoid. If you're from within the EU, the good news is that you'll pay the same fees as UK students (currently £1,125 a year), and like them, will be given reduced rates if you're from a lower income family.

For students coming from outside the EU, fees could be anything from £4,000 to £18,000 a year, with science degrees more expensive than arts degrees, and clinical courses the most expensive of all. Don't forget that on top of this, your degree may incur other costs: buying software, going on field trips, or printing and binding a dissertation.

Accommodation

Whether you choose to live in student halls or rented accommodation, costs will be fairly similar - about £200 to £400 per month. This will increase for rooms with meals included. Some universities offer family suites at £450 to £550 a month, but you would need to find this out directly from the university.

Food

If you are living in accommodation without meals included, expect to spend about £30 a week on grocery shopping. This will increase if you mainly buy convenience foods or like to eat out a lot (or drink a lot of alcohol!) On the other hand, it's possible to survive on half that by being willing to share supplies with others in your house (which means you can buy in bulk) and eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are not only cheap but healthy. Most big supermarkets will sell ingredients for cooking international foods and there are huge numbers of foreign restaurants - particularly Indian and Chinese.

Books

You may be given an immense reading list full of textbooks, but it's usually possible to get by with a few core texts supplemented with the university library. Look out for second-hand book sales, and older students selling off past textbooks - any books you don't want to keep (which may well be most of them!) can be sold on to new students next year.

Clothes

A brief list of average prices: shirts and tops £5-£20; trousers, skirts and jumpers £15-£30; shoes £20-£40. Many town centre shops offer student discounts which will usually give you 10 per cent off. Charity shops are also a good place to hunt for bargains.

Transport

For rail and coach travel there are student cards available that give a substantial discount off standard ticket prices - definitely worth investing in if you want to see more of the UK than your university town.

Leisure

Many museums and galleries around the UK are free, although of course there will be more of these if you're living in a city. If you like eating out, look out for early evening "happy hours" in restaurants that offer the same food at cheaper prices. Entrance to a club will again cost around £5, but remember that drinks inside will often be a lot more expensive than in your college or campus bar.

Insurance

Insuring your personal belongings will cost around £75 for a year, although obviously this depends on what you own! Don't forget that if you're on a course that's more than six months long, you're entitled to free health care from the NHS.

Rules on working for mature students

Students on a full degree course will usually be allowed to work although non-EU students are restricted to working 20 hours a week. You aren't allowed to run your own business, work as a professional sportsman or entertainer, or take a full-time position in the UK while you're here as a student - but you're unlikely to have the time anyway!

Regional cost variations

Generally speaking, Northern Ireland is the least expensive (average rent under £50 a week), followed by Wales and the east of England, then Scotland and the west of England, then the south of England and finally London (average rent £70-£80 a week). Prices for most other things are similar across the UK, apart from in London where, again, everything is more expensive.

Anna has just graduated in maths from Durham University

Online Resources

For further information, check out the following websites:

www.educationuk.org

www.ukcosa.org.uk

www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/download/NUS_Survey02.pdf is a downloadable document that is very useful for comparing different regions of the UK and has some information on specific universities.

www.universityoptions.co.uk/students/1/7.asp for choosing a university according to its location in the UK.

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