Ubergrad Logo

Explore Affordable UK Cities for Higher Education

Start budget-friendly UK study journey with Ubergrad.

In spite of being recognised as one of the best destinations to study in, most international students hesitate to go to the UK due to its high costs of living.  However, a dream can come true with some persistence. 

Apart from its many scholarship programs and funding opportunities, the UK also has many cities that are more affordable than the others. Choosing universities in these cities can reduce your cost of living considerably. 

Let’s have a look at the Natwest Cost of Living Index and what it tells us about Indian students living and studying in the UK. 

What is Natwest Student Living Index 2022

The student living index is a survey that takes account of student spending and income to calculate a score for university towns and cities across the UK. It covers 21 university cities and towns, looking at the spending habits, lifestyle and the cost of living for students across the UK and uses the information to determine the most affordable city for students to live in. Factors like a student’s spending attitude and habits are considered to determine motivations and expectations. In addition, differences between term-time income and vacation-time incomes, university city relations are measured to provide us with the following analysis. 

Student Living Index = Average monthly living and accommodation costs / Average monthly income

Key Insights for 2022

The following are the key insights from the student living index for 2022

Student Loans
  • Student Loans account for almost half (49%) of students’ monthly income but this has come down from 2021 as personal income plays a big role in supporting students. ​
  • Fewer than one in five students cover their rent with personal income. Parents and family account for 44%.  
  • Average monthly term-time income has climbed 65% this year. 
  • Student incomes have risen the most in Coventry, Leicester and Manchester. 
  • Student incomes have risen the least in Edinburgh, London and Glasgow. 
  • Supermarket spending tops the list at an average of £76.29 a month. 
  • Household bills have doubled since last year’s survey. 
  • The lifting of Covid-19 restrictions has boosted spending on going out. This has jumped 63% since 2021. Meanwhile, monthly spending on fashion has gone up 39%.  
  • Total average monthly spending stands at £1,157. 
  • Leicester, Coventry and Manchester recorded the highest spends. 
  • Cambridge, Edinburgh and London students spend the least.
  • 28% of students said they felt confident when it comes to budgeting and managing their money.  
  • Some 27% say they budget carefully and track their spending, with only 2% saying they have no confidence at all when it comes to managing their finances.  
  • 35% said they were running out of money by the end of their term, a rise of eight percentage points. 
  • 25% of students reported being short of funds before the end of the month, up from 25% the previous year. 
  • The cost of living crisis is also weighing on minds, with 88% of students changing their lifestyle to keep within their budget. 
  • Reducing online shopping is the most common change (47%).

Top 10 affordable student cities in UK in 2022

S.No City Overall UK Ranking
1 Cardiff 1
2 Cambridge 2
3 Southampton 3
4 Sheffield 3
5 Coventry 3
6 York 4
7 Durham 4
8 Oxford 5
9 Bristol 6
10 Birmingham  6

  • The 2021 NatWest Student Living Index surveyed 2,300 students across the UK to determine the most affordable place to study. The survey accounts for a range of factors, from how much students spend on going out to how much time they spend studying.   
  • Monthly income for Sheffield students averages at £1304.20, and with a lower cost for bills and groceries they’re left with a disposable income of £714 per month.  
  • In contrast, London continues to hold the title of the most expensive student city, with term-time income of £965.50. After living expenses, activities and class material, the average London student is left with just £80.20.  
  • Students at historic universities such as Edinburgh, Oxford and Durham were the most likely to rely on their parents or family for income. Edinburgh students received 53% more from this source than the UK average, working out at an extra £110 per month.  
  • Glasgow students are the most likely to gain income from term-time work, along with Sheffield and Exeter while those studying at Oxford were the least likely.  
  • The increase in term-time income has brought with it a 5% rise in year-on-year spending. The majority of this continues to go towards supermarket food shopping, which now equates to almost two and a half times as much as any other source of spending, making up a fifth of total monthly expenditure. 

So, are you ready to apply to study abroad in the UK? You might also be interested to read about the Top 5 universities in England, and popular scholarships for Indian students ready to pursue a Masters in the UK. The UK’s post-study work visa policies give you an insight into what your rights as vis a vis job opportunities in the UK and working part-time as 1 of 8 Masters funding strategies. 

If you need any assistance to plan your studies abroad in the UK, we are just a click away. Feel free to contact our student support team, who will support you every step of the way. 

All the best!

For all those SMART Ubergrads who would let the experts do what they do the best!

Ubergrad's Expert Counsellors shall help you choose your Best-Fit Universities based on your profile and guide you through your entire study abroad journey, thus making it a cake-walk for you.

  • Profile Evaluation - suggest a customised & personalised “Best-Fit” University shortlist matching your profile (considering more than 42 parameters).
  • SoPs, LoRs, Resumes - proofreading, sharing samples, etc.
  • Information on Application Fee waivers, GRE / IELTS waivers, deadlines, etc.
  • University Applications - help with documentation, application form filling, special requirements, etc.
  • Tracking and follow-up with University Partners for Offer/Admit, I-20, CAS, COE, etc.
  • Visa Process - help with documentation, application form filling, mock one-on-one sessions, etc.
  • Education Loans - connect with our Loan partners and help you secure required financial resources.

Your 'Dedicated Counsellor' would help you in the entire process - from 'shortlisting' universities to finally 'enrolling' at your dream university (just a Phone call / WhatsApp / Email / SMS away).