New Push survey reveals huge differences in living costs at unis

As new students prepare to start their university careers, a map is published today at, which shows how their living costs may be more than doubled by their choice of university.

[UKPRwire, Mon Oct 06 2008] The findings are published as part of the UK’s only study into how living costs vary between universities. It is the result of over a year's research carried out exclusively by, the leading independent website for university applicants.

Push’s index of living costs uses three indicators – student housing, groceries and drinks – to measure how each university’s living costs compare to the national average, represented as 100 on the index. The range varied from Teesside University, where life works out at 72% of the national average, to a number of London institutions where students need over a third more money than most students.

Students have been hit especially hard by the UK’s economic worries: the cost of a student’s weekly shop has soared 5% in the past year, but falling house prices have not resulted in cheaper rents.

The study revealed a number of surprises. Oxford University continues to be among the most expensive, with a higher index than many London institutions, and Wales and was easily the cheapest region with costs running at more than 15% below average. Meanwhile, outside London, the South East was not significantly more expensive than other places.

To gather the data on groceries, Push worked with Costcutter to develop a student ‘basket of goods’, representing some of the best-selling items in branches local to universities. Among other things, the basket included King Size Rizla, condoms, baked beans, a Pot Noodle, cigarettes, beer, ProPlus, HobNobs and cheese.

There is a strong link between high living costs and ‘posh’ universities: those that have a greater than average proportion of privately educated students. For instance, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Agricultural College, Imperial, Oxford, UCL, St Andrew’s, Durham and Cambridge were all among those that were significantly more expensive than others in their region. Privately educated students make up more than a third of the student body at each of these institutions. This gives cause for concern that even if poorer students are not being dissuaded from higher education as a whole, certain institutions may become economically elitist.

Johnny Rich, Editor of, commented:
“Students pick a lot more than a course when they choose a university. They choose a home, a lifestyle – they even choose how much they’re going to pay for it. No two unis cost the same and students need the facts to make informed choices. That’s why has done this research. And it shows even more diversity between universities than we would have imagined.”

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For a full version of the Push Living Costs Survey, visit where there is also a downloadable version of the map and an accompanying photo of the basket of goods for media use.


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