A quarter of UK students find money management at university stressful, according to poll

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13th August 2019 12:15 - Education

A quarter of UK students find money management at university stressful: The results from the latest NatWest Student Living Index have been published, revealing insight into how much students are spending on essentials such as food and rent as well as the most and least affordable cities to study in the UK.

The poll found that one in four students found money management whilst at university stressful - with 43% reporting that by the end of the term they were experiencing financial strain due to lack of funds. Almost a third (32%) said they turn to their overdraft when they are running low on money, while 8% said they rely on a credit card. Almost two-thirds (64%) said that to ensure they have enough money to get through the term they try to follow a budget. 

When it comes to financing their stay at university, the majority of students said they rely on the means-tested student loan they receive from the government to help with living costs, the value of which say NatWest has fallen since being introduced in 2012. 

According to the research, rent costs have increased by an average of £20 per month since 2018, with the steepest rises found to be in London and the South East (increases of between 5% and 15%).

Interestingly, however, the survey found that between 2018 and 2019 the cost of living  for students across the UK has decreased by 4%.

The most affordable city for students to attend university in was Cardiff, while the least affordable remains London where the cost of living continues to stay high. Students studying in Scotland also face high living expenses, while those in the North West (Manchester and Liverpool) and in the South West (Exeter and Bristol) have seen improvements over the past year. 

Looking in more detail at the money sources used by students to finance their expenses, the research found student loans were the primary source of income, followed by support from family and then part-time jobs around their studies. 

Four in 10 UK students said that felt their university supported them in terms of managing their finances. 

Where students draw their income from each month:


Student loan




Term-time work


Personal savings


Bursary or scholarship


Holiday work


Grant or hardship loan


Other bank loan 


Personal entrepreneurial work 


Gig economy 




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