Revealed! The UK’s cheapest universities

University life doesn’t come cheap. Even if you subsist on a diet of Pot Noodles and baked beans, the cost of accommodation and the price of the odd pint soon adds up.

The UK's best value universities revealed

Throw car and contents insurance into the mix and it’s easy to see why money can be a source of anguish for many students.

As Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, points out: “With the average graduate debt expected to reach a mountainous £44,000, savvy money management has never been so important.”

With freshers’ season fast-approaching, the MoneySuperMarket number-crunchers have analysed the costs incurred at the UK’s top 20 universities to find out which has the cheapest cost of living.

Universities challenged

To work out the cheapest university, we looked at car and home insurance premiums, local crime figures, accommodation costs and, of course, the all-important price of a pint.

And it’s Scotland’s oldest university, St Andrews, which comes out on top – ranking first for cheap home contents cover at £85 a year as well as having the lowest rates of both car and home crime, at just 2.1 claims and 6.1 claims per thousand, respectively.

Oxford blues

At the other end of the scale, students at Oxford pay the most for contents cover, averaging around £169 a year, even though Leicester actually has the highest number of home insurance claims at a whopping 38.7 per 1,000.

And while St Andrews has the lowest car crime figures, it’s actually students at Bath University who pay the lowest car insurance premiums at an average of £680 a year.

Imperial mint

If you’re thinking of studying at Imperial College London then you can expect to pay an eye-watering £1,743 a year on car insurance.

This is largely due to Imperial College’s SW7 postcode, which lands it with a higher rate of car crime than any of the other top 20 universities (16 claims per thousand car owners).

Dig deep for digs

As far as cheap digs are concerned, Cambridge offers the lowest cost accommodation at £100 a week, while University College London students pay a jaw-dropping £255 a week.

That’s over £1,000 a month on student accommodation alone!

Pints of view

If it’s cheap beer you’re after (and who isn’t?), students at Durham pay an average of £2.10 a pint, which is less than half of what their peers at Surrey University pay – and eye-popping £5.25 a pint.

Here's how the ratings break down...

Top 20 UK universities cost-of-living ranking

The top rank in each category
The bottom rank in each category

 

University   Car insurance 
 price 
 Rank  Home contents
 insurance price
 Rank Car
crime rate 
Rank   "Home"
crime rate
Rank 
 St Andrews  £682.64  £85.17  1  2.1  1  6.1  1
 Exeter  £711.26  4  £143.79 11   7.1  4  11.9  4
 Bath  £680.09  1  £130.45  7  7.6  6  10.9  2
 Loughborough  £772.33  10  £100.70  4      7.4  5  19.8  8
 Durham  £713.43  5  £145.74  13  9.9  15  11.6  3
 Lancaster  £872.40  13  £145.46  12  6.0  2  20.9  9
 Newcastle  £805.33  11  £138.62  9  7.8  7  18.1
 Cambridge  £754.43  9  £99.11  3  6.5  3  29.4  15
 East Anglia  £736.70  6  £129.04  6  8.2  10  15.7  5
 Surrey  £709.14  3  £94.34  2  8.1  9  23.6  10
 York  £751.51  8  £124.29  5  8.1  8  26.2  11
 Southampton  £821.71  12  £136.07  9.7  14  29.1  14
 Bristol  £742.20  7  £139.97  10  13.8  17  33.4  17
 Warwick  £877.87  14  £152.03  17  12.2  16  34.2  18
 Birmingham  £1,182.96  17  £150.12  16  14.9  19  31.1  16
 Leicester  £1,012.17  16  £146.93  14  9.2  12  38.7  20
 London School
 of Economics
 £1,683.28  19  £163.26  18 9.4   13  18.8  7
 Oxford  £956.12  15  £168.51  20 8.3   11  35.2  19
 Imperial College
 London
 £1,742.93  20  £147.52  15  16.0  20  26.6  12
 University College
 London
 £1,553.16  18  £164.42  19  14.2  18  26.7  13

University   Accomodation
 cost per week
 Rank  Beer price
 per pint
 Rank Average
Rank
MSM 
position 
 Complete University 
 Guide ranking 2015
 St Andrews  £166.00 16  £3.10 10  5.2  1  4
 Exeter  £122.36  6  £2.82 5  6.4  2  10
 Bath  £135.00  13  £3.20 12  7.4  3  8
 Loughborough  £125.44  8  £2.95  7.5  =4  13
 Durham  £120.00  5  £2.10  1  7.5  =4  5
 Lancaster  £111.30  4  £2.55  3  7.6  6  11
 Newcastle  £102.48  2  £3.10  9  7.8  7  20
 Cambridge  £100.00  1  £3.63  15  8.1  8  1
 East Anglia  £128.38  12  £3.20  11  8.6  9  15
 Surrey  £127.50  9  £5.25  20  9.1  10  12
 York  £127.96  10  £3.50  14  9.5  11  14
 Southampton  £109.20  3  £3.50 13  10.6  12  16
 Bristol  £171.00  17  £2.90  6  12.1 =13  18
 Warwick  £125.00  7  £2.50  2  12.1 =13  7
 Birmingham  £128.00  11  £2.58  4  13.4  15  17
 Leicester  £158.07  15  £3.05  8  13.6  16  19
 London School
 of Economics
 £200.20  19  £3.65  17  14.8  17  3
 Oxford  £149.00  14  £4.00  19  15.5  18  2
 Imperial College
 London
 £186.00  18  £3.65  16  15.9  19  6
 University
 College London
 £254.80  20  £3.65  18  16.6  20  9

Going it alone

If you’re heading off to university, there’s a good chance this will be the first time you’ve had to manage your own finances and budget successfully.

This can be tougher than any academic work you get set, particularly given how the cost of living is shooting up – so you need to take extra care not to fall into financial difficulty.

Kevin Pratt offers some sound advice: “Shopping around for car and contents insurance will help freshers seek out the cheapest deals – while of course not taking a car, especially to big cities, will be a cheaper option.

“Knowledge of local crime rates will also ensure students take the appropriate precautions to keep themselves and their belongings safe.”


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.

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