The UK is a great place to be an international student, but many people are put off by the cost. While you need to consider carefully how you will fund the big costs of your degree, such as tuition fees and rent, there are also a number of “hidden costs” that many students will overlook, such as travel, eating out and taking trips with student societies.
Luckily, there are lots of tips and some great advice out there to help students save as much money as possible while still getting the most out of their study aboard experience.
As part of THE Student’s Funding Week, King’s College London Students’ Union president Salma Hussain and Cardiff University Students’ Union vice-president Georgie East shared their best money-saving tips for students in the UK in a live webinar. Below are five of the best tips they gave, as well as a recording of the full webinar to watch back in case you missed it.
It sounds cliché, but always read your emails
Emails and newsletters are often the primary way your university will communicate with you about opportunities to earn money, apply for scholarships or get involved in fun low-cost activities.
Many institutions will contact students to find participants for research trials and studies, which often compensate you for a few hours of your time. Summer jobs within the university are likely to be advertised in emails, as well as any free memberships to museums, discounted activities and any paid student initiatives the university is trying to push.
While you might have a bit of email fatigue from your university, especially as a fresher, it’s well worth keeping on top of your inbox so you don’t miss out on any opportunities.
Keep an eye on travel costs
Georgie pointed out that travel costs are something that students often forget to budget for. While it’s relatively easy to travel around the UK using public transport, the cost can add up quickly if you aren’t paying attention.
Luckily, there are several discounts available for travel in the UK, including the 16-25 Railcard, which costs £30 and gets you one-third off train fares throughout the country for one year. Many bus services will also offer a discounted student ticket if you show your university ID card.
For students in London, a student Oyster card is available, which gives you 30 per cent off adult-rate travel cards and bus and tram passes. You can even buy a discounted year-long travel card for certain London travel zones, which means paying one upfront discounted cost for the year instead of a small fee every time you travel, which can make budget planning a lot easier.
Delete your card details from websites
Another master tip from Salma is to delete any auto-saved card details from shopping websites that might tempt you to overspend.
“If you have your card details saved online, it’s very easy to buy something without thinking about it. But if you have to input your details each time, it can help you stop and think, ‘Do I really need this?” she says. While it’s worth treating yourself from time to time, this is a great tip for ensuring you don’t get too carried away with online shopping.
Look for opportunities through your students’ union
Many students plan on working part-time to top up their finances but struggle to find a position that’s flexible enough to fit around their studies.
When looking for part-time work, Georgie recommends getting in touch with your university’s students’ union to see what opportunities are available through it. Often, the SU will advertise seasonal jobs within the university over the student holidays, not to mention informing you of all the best student deals and discounts.
Don’t be afraid to ask your university for help
Students can sometimes feel a little embarrassed to talk about their personal finances, and this attitude can put them off asking for help.
While it’s understandable that you might be reluctant to talk about money, remember that your university is there to help you. “Many universities and students’ unions have advisers who are ready to help,” says Salma, who adds that lots of universities will provide hardship funding to a range of students, as well as financial literacy classes.
If you’re struggling to cover all your costs, it’s always worth speaking about it with your university. They’ll be keen to help and very often have money available that you might not know you were eligible for.