Almost half of all university students will be juggling their studies with part-time work when the new term begins, research suggests. Four in 10 will have to pay their way through university because it would be simply too expensive without the additional income.
Undergraduates will earn a combined total of more than £2 billion, while their cost of living has risen to £10.8 billion - an increase of £500 million since last year. The fifth annual Student Living Index, published by NatWest, found that the cost of living and the current economic climate is a key factor for 5% of students in deciding where to go to university.
Plymouth is the most cost-effective place with students an average of £3,510 better off than their counterparts in Exeter, which is the most expensive place to study. The average Plymouth student will spend £217 a week on living and housing costs, but will make £115 a week from part-time work. In contrast, Exeter students will shell out £294 a week, but make just £67.
The research looked at 26 UK university towns and ranked each on average student expenditure against income from term-time employment.
The hardest working students are in Belfast, where 64% of undergraduates work during term time. Those in Portsmouth work the most hours each week, an average total of 18.45 hours. The survey found the highest wages were in Brighton, where students could expect an average weekly income during term time of £120, compared to Swansea, where undergraduates take home just £63 a week.
Overall, students will spent £3.9 billion on housing and living costs over the academic year, £1.2 billion on food, £864 million on going out, £489 million on books and a massive £773 million on cigarettes.
Mark Worthington, head of student banking at NatWest, said: "Students are increasingly aware of the wider economic climate and this is filtering down into their decisions when they are choosing their university and also when deciding whether to take a part-time job during term-time.
"Our research shows that many Plymouth students are taking a positive, proactive approach to managing finances by taking on part-time work."
- The poll questioned 2,600 undergraduates from 20 towns