Head to Durham, or maybe to Exeter. Located at opposite ends of England, the two universities came first and second in MoneySuperMarket’s latest study of the UK’s top 20 universities.
The research, which analysed accommodation and insurance costs – as well as the price of a pint – at each location, found that Durham was the best-value university in the UK, followed by Exeter and Royal favourite St Andrews in Scotland.
Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Although tuition fees don’t vary a huge amount among the top universities, the cost of accommodation, bills and even the price of a pint differ dramatically.
“Our research found that Durham University gives undergraduates the best deal on living costs.”
The worst-value universities
While Durham-based students enjoy cheap pints and low accommodation costs, it is a very different story for those attending universities in London.
University College London (UCL) has come out as the worst-value place to study for the last two years running.
And the London School of Economics (LSE) is the second worst-value university in the top 20 – as chosen by the authors of the Complete University Guide – followed by Oxford, Birmingham and Imperial College London.
Warwick boasts the best-value accommodation, with the average student here spending just £93 a week on a room.
Other universities where accommodation costs are relatively low include Durham at £102 a week and Leeds at £104.
Those studying at UCL, on the other hand, have to find a staggering £185 a week for accommodation, while Loughborough undergraduates shell out £169 a week and Edinburgh students pay £162 a week to live in the Scottish capital.
Students heading to Lancaster later this month will benefit from the cheapest home contents insurance at £58 a year.
That’s around half the £106 annual premium paid by students at Imperial College.
Students at St Andrews are also offered relatively low home insurance costs – typically £66 a year – partly due to the low crime rate in the university town.
Just 6.5 of every thousand home insurance claims made in St Andrews are for theft.
When it comes to car insurance, meanwhile, Loughborough students pay just £596 a year.
But school leavers heading to London universities will have to find up to three times that amount if they want to take a car to the capital: annual car insurance costs at LSE, UCL and Imperial College come in at between £1,457 and £1,617. Ouch!
Kevin Pratt said: “Anyone attending university should seek out the best value deals for their car and contents insurance, as well as tracking down the best student bank account.”
Going to the student union or the local pub is an integral part of life for most students.
Wherever you decide to study, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000 a year – the maximum a university can charge full-time students
So the cost of a pint can make a big difference to how much you spend over the course of a term.
And Durham students are laughing all the way to the bar, as a pint in the northern city typically costs just £2.10.
Those choosing to do their degrees in Surrey, however, have to pay stockbroker belt prices: the average cost of a pint in a Surrey pub is a thirst-quenching £5.25.
That’s £1.25 more than the second most expensive student pint in the country, which can be found in Oxford at £4.
Wherever you decide to study, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000 a year – the maximum a university can charge full-time students.
You can also apply for a Maintenance Loan to help cover the cost of essentials such as accommodation and food.
The maximum Maintenance Loan you can receive will depend on your circumstances: students living at home can borrow up to £4,565 a year, while those moving to London to study can borrow £8,009 a year.
Kevin Pratt said: “With average debts totalling £40,000 for most graduates these days, budgeting and smart money management has never been so important, wherever you decide to study.
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.