During the summer, NatWest bank produced The Student Living Index, an analytical document providing all the information that students will ever need regarding finance. It shows what students at different universities spend their time and money on, student satisfaction levels, cost of rent and how much students spend on socialising.
Nottingham leads the pack in promoting sustainability on campus
Students living in London, unsurprisingly topped the chart for having the worst index. It is the most expensive city to live in, with a 0.10 point index rise and rent costing an average of £716.90 a month. Belfast was found to cost only £251.50 a month in comparison. However, it is Manchester that holds the best index, due to low accommodation costs and higher-than-average income levels. This is an improvement from their fifth place in 2019, overtaking Cardiff. Nottingham unfortunately placed 21st out of 29 university cities on the index, with rent in Nottingham costing on average £436.40 a month.
However, Nottingham did have some great results this year. Nottingham leads the pack in promoting sustainability on campus with projects such as ‘Portland Zero’, a zero-waste shop that launched earlier this year and the University’s reputable global research programme. Nottingham also ranked second for mental health support with 40% satisfaction, closely following Southampton University’s 49%. Students at Nottingham felt the university supported and communicated well with them during the pandemic, with 41% stating that communication was outstanding. This placed Nottingham within the top three universities to have given exceptional feedback during the Covid-19 crisis. Furthermore, only a quarter of Nottingham University students believed that the pandemic affected their degree qualifications, which makes Nottingham students among the least impacted.
However, other universities on average, did not seem to respond so well during the crisis. Less than 1 in 3 students rated communication during this time as favourable. Over 1 in 4 students stated they received no mental health support, as well as their academic studies being negatively affected. Scottish students found the most value in online education, compared to the other 1 in 10 UK students which found it invaluable. Students from Plymouth and Sheffield were amongst those who found their studies were most poorly impacted, with Exeter students feeling the least impacted.
With most students working within the hospitality sector that suffered greatly due to Coronavius restrictions, term time income dropped overall on an average of £50, with Cardiff being the hardest hit by almost £400, a major reason as to why they lost the top spot for the best index this year. However, overall rent this year decreased to the lowest levels since 2018, meaning students were less reliant on financial support from parents and family. 33% of students, including University of Nottingham students, were also offered rent breaks due to Covid-19, allowing for some money to be saved. Average supplements from family decreased from £222 to £192.30, yet London students relied more on family than student loans, often because they commuted to university instead of living in expensive London accommodation.
It seems clear that London will forever top the index chart due to both high living costs and rent
Again, it was found that students at prestigious and Russell group universities spent the most time on academic students, and as a result were found to be the most stressed. For the fourth year in a row, students from Oxbridge spent the most time on studying, yet Oxford students spent over 10 hours more than average students on drinking and partying, topping Newcastle’s number. London students however spent the most on nights out, with a pint costing 0.90p more than average and spirits costing £1.60 more than average. However on average, most money was spent on supermarket shopping, not drinking and the least was spent on fitness.
Overall, it seems clear that London will forever top the index chart due to both high living costs and rent, whilst cities further towards the North and in Wales can provide more for your money. It is prominent that COVID had vast negative impacts on both mental health and academic opportunities for students up and down the UK. However, for Nottingham, our lead in both sustainability and our success in mental health services and communications make the University an attractive option for prospective students.
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