It's a bargain! 10 UK cities for the thrifty international student
International students in this Scottish city have scored a bargain in the lifestyle department. Source: Luis Mayoral/Unsplash

The cost of studying in the UK is known to be expensive. While international students may come from middle-class to very well to-do families, their currencies might not amount to much when converted to the British pound.

In 2018, UK tuition fees for international students started at around £10,000 and soared to £38,000, according to the Reddin Survey of University Tuitio (£10,000 = US$1.26 at the time of writing). Humanities and social sciences degrees tend to be on the lower end, while medical degrees can go up to several times more.

For accommodation, Save the Student’s National Student Accommodation Survey 2017 found that the average rent per week is £125 nationally, with rates generally being cheaper in Northern Ireland and considerably more expensive in London.

Add the cost of tuition and accommodation, and there may not be much left for lifestyle expenses. How can international students stretch their pounds further in this region?

There’s not much bargaining to be done when it comes to tuition fees and rent – you have to fork out the cost for both. Lifestyle expenses, like fashion, fitness and entertainment, have more room to maneuver in terms of affordability.

Factoring the findings of Liberty Living’s Best Budget Cities for Students into your decision of where in the UK to study would a good first step for the thrifty international student.

Edinburgh emerged as the top UK budget city for students, followed by Coventry and Manchester.

Alison Callender, Head of Sales at Liberty Living commented on the results: “We know from our Edinburgh residents what a great city it is to live and learn in, but people may be surprised at just how many options there are for budget living in the city. As well as the stunning architecture, rich history and thriving culture, you can really get a good deal on the essentials!”

A burger and fries combo costs £7.75, cheaper than an average pub meal that usually goes for £8-12 and nearly half of what a restaurant meal would cost (£15-25). But it’s thanks to the 20 charity shops and 13 budget supermarkets in the vicinity that puts the Scottish capital in the first place.

Source: Liberty Living

For this ranking, the student accommodation provider selected 20 of the largest UK university cities: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and Wolverhampton.

Using Google Maps, it then set a search radius from each city’s primary university for both charity shops (2km) and two large chain budget supermarkets (5km) to get a total for both. It also collected gym membership rates from university websites and cinema ticket prices from the cinema closest to the universities. Food prices were collated from Student Unions.

“Balancing the books is a vital part of student living, so we thought it was important to look at which city was offering the best value for a budget student lifestyle. With a mixture of ranking factors looking at everything from household essentials to entertainment, we think our ranking will give students a good idea on where they’ll have the most luck finding a bargain,” Callender adds.

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