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Belfast cheapest city in the UK to study – with Oxford least affordable

Belfast, Southampton and Nottingham all score highly on the RBS Student Living Index 2015.

Student finance
Student life

Ed Frankl

September 24 2015
Belfast at night along river


Northern Ireland’s capital, home to Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University’s Belfast campus, boasts a buzzing nightlife and high-quality attractions such as Titanic Belfast, while its low rental prices make it the cheapest city in which to study in the UK.

The average rent in Belfast is £46 a week, compared with £105 in London and £112 in Oxford, while grocery shopping is cheapest there, too – the average spend is £16.13 in the city, compared with a whopping £29.35 in Dundee.

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Southampton and Nottingham also score highly on the RBS Student Living Index 2015, which divides average weekly costs by weekly income for a student across 25 universities. In Southampton, students spend as many as seven hours a week in part-time employment, giving them more cash to spend. In contrast, students at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge spend most of their time studying. Students spend an average of 4.5 hours engaged in part-time work, while more than 40 per cent of students do not have a term-time job at all, mostly relying on their student loan as their main source of income.

On average, students spend 27.5 hours a week studying and 12.5 hours socialising. Newcastle is where students socialise the most, it has been revealed, which explains why the city has the highest alcohol expenditure per student – £15.27. However, across all universities the weekly outlay on groceries (£23.68) far outweighs the spend on booze (£10.89) – perhaps showing that students appreciate a balanced diet.

UK's 25 most affordable cities

City 2015 rank 2014 rank
Belfast 1 9
Southampton 2 15
Nottingham 3 20
Edinburgh 4 3
Manchester 5 7
Dundee 6 11
Sheffield 7 14
Reading 8 8
Glasgow 9 1
London 10 6
Plymouth 11 16
York 12 24
Liverpool 13 22
Portsmouth 14 5
Norwich 15 12
Brighton 16 2
Leicester 17 18
Bristol 18 21
Newcastle 19 23
Cardiff 20 25
Exeter 21 17
Birmingham 22 4
Leeds 23 10
Cambridge 24 13
Oxford 25 19

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