London 'most cost-effective city for students'

London is the most cost-effective UK city in which to study, an annual student poll suggested today.

The research, which analysed weekly student expenditure, including rent and living costs against earnings from part-time work, revealed York is the least cost-effective for the second year in a row.

Students in the capital were earning on average £5,024.40 per year (£167.48 per week), with hourly wages of £9.91.

Undergraduates in Dundee, the second most cost-effective city worked the most (16 hours per week), but their hourly earnings were just £6.52, according to the findings of the seventh NatWest Student Living Index.

Students in Southampton worked the least each week, with just over 11 hours on average spent earning extra cash.

The latest poll of 2,500 undergraduates from 25 university cities found more than one in five students (22%) were choosing their place of study on factors such as the cost of living, proximity to home and earning potential in the location.

Approximately 1% of students based their decision purely on fees rather than academia - up from 0.4% in 2009.

It also revealed handouts from parents became less generous in the last 12 months as the tougher economic climate hit households.

More than one in four (28%) of students were receiving less financial help from their parents, while only one in 10 (10%) were enjoying more.

Nearly half (46%) were receiving no parental funding this year.

The poll revealed a 3% increase from 2009 in students saving money earned and spending less on socialising.

Despite this, the survey found rents were continuing to rise, increasing by an average £312 per year.

Average weekly student expenditure was £185, down from more than £200 in 2009.

Almost half of students (48%) hoped to secure paid employment in their first year after university, but did not expect it to be their ideal job.

Three-quarters (76%) of those polled were boosting their employability with internships and working instead of travelling.

Tom Adamson, head of NatWest student banking, said the results showed students were keeping their finances in check.

He said: "As well as being resourceful when it comes to taking on more part-time work, more students are working over the summer to bring in extra money rather than travelling. Taking these pro-active steps to manage their finances is enabling them to continue to enjoy university life and prepare for their future."

Here is the full table of university cities and towns ranked by this year's NatWest Student Living Index (2009 rankings are in brackets):

1. London (new entry NE)

2. Dundee (17)

3. Manchester (5)

4. Plymouth (13)

5. Glasgow (3)

6. Birmingham (11)

7. Portsmouth (15)

8. Cambridge (8)

9. Oxford (9)

10. Newcastle (16)

11. Bristol (6)

12. Sheffield (NE)

13. Liverpool (2)

14. Nottingham (19)

15. Leeds (12)

16. Reading (4)

17. Edinburgh (10)

18. Cardiff (14)

19. Brighton (1)

20. Norwich (18)

21. Exeter (NE)

22. Southampton (NE)

23. Leicester (7)

24. Belfast (NE)

25. York (20)

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