Life Moments - Students & Graduates

Student Living Index 2019

Discover more about becoming a student

Don’t know what to expect from university? Maybe you haven’t decided where you want to go yet? The Student Living Index can help you make a decision.

Picking the right university

Research is key

It’s hard to predict what your student experience will be like; reading a prospectus and looking at online photos of the campus will only tell you so much. You need the insider knowledge, and that’s where the Royal Bank of Scotland Student Living Index comes in. This year’s survey includes several new areas, including sustainability on campus and the level of mental health support available.

Work out the costs

This is the sixth consecutive Student Living Index and it’s our biggest yet! We asked a record 3,604 students across 35 university cities how much they spend on food, rent, and social expenses. The results help to shed a light on what it is truly like to be a university student in 2019.

Which UK city is most affordable* for students?

Cardiff overtakes Hull (2018) to become the most cost-effective city for students.
*Affordability is calculated by dividing students’ average monthly accommodation, activities and item costs by their average monthly income.

UK student living costs

Which city offers the cheapest night out? Which students are having to work part-time to pay the bills? Find out more about student spending habits in some of the most popular university cities across the UK.


When it comes to their income, students are relying on the Bank of Mum and Dad to make ends meet. Parents are topping up student income by an average of £222 each month. But with almost half (43%) of students saying they run out of money before the semester is over, it’s no surprise they turn to parents and a part-time job for an income boost.


Students are spending an average of £83.50 per month on supermarket shopping, making it the highest spend after rent. They’re also choosing to spend more money on fashion than they do on alcohol.


When it came to budgeting, 6% of students said that they don’t consider what they’re spending at all, while 42% of students say that they don’t use any budgeting methods for money management. One third of students turn to an overdraft to supplement income when they overspend.

Studying vs. socialising

Time spent studying has decreased in 2019, but students are still feeling the stress of university. The social aspect is also as important as ever, with only 10% of students spending no money on socialising.

Part-time Employment

Students are spending almost 10 hours per month less on academic studies than they did in 2018. Students are also spending three times the amount of time on unpaid work experience. An average UK student will get more money from their family each month than they do from part-time employment.

Mental health & wellbeing

The survey found that 1 in 4 students are very satisfied with their university’s mental health support offering, which is a key concern amongst young adults.

Promoting sustainability on campus

Young adults are more engaged than ever on issues of sustainability, so we wanted to find out how their universities compare. 1 in 5 respondents feel satisfied with their university’s commitment to promoting sustainability on campus.

Sustainability in more detail

Students in St Andrews reported the highest levels of satisfaction with 44% of students selecting on the higher end of the sustainability scale.

Durham had the lowest levels, with only 6% of students from the city feeling satisfied with on- campus sustainability promotion efforts.

Download the Student Living Index 2019

Are you currently attending university or still deciding where to go? Download the 2019 Student Living Index to find out which students are spending the most on their daily coffee, and which students are socialising the most.

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