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Student options: cheaper accommodation or higher salary?

Cherry Reynard
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Cherry Reynard

Cost-conscious students have a tricky balance: do they go for the university that is cheapest when they are there? Or the one that gives them the best prospects of a good salary when they graduate?

The latest Sunday Times Good University of the Year league table shows those universities with the cheapest accommodation, topped by the University of East Anglia in Norwich, but graduates can expect a starting salary of only £21,000, compared to £30,000 if they studied at Imperial College (which had the 77th most expensive rooms).

The most expensive student costs are, predictably, in London, but the capital also scores highly for graduate starting salaries, notably LSE, UCL and King’s, as well as Imperial. Wales may have some of the lowest costs, but it also has some of the lowest starting salaries, with Aberystwyth University the bottom of the heap with an average starting salary of just £16,000.

Research earlier this year found that the most lucrative degrees, based on median salary after five years are economics and management at Oxford (£71,700), economics at LSE (£55,200), computer science at Imperial College (£51,800), medicine at the University of Glasgow (£49,200) and engineering at the University of Aberdeen (£49,000). And the least? Psychology at Glyndwr University (£16,800) and
modern languages, University of Salford (£16,700). Maybe it is worth paying those extra accommodation costs after all.

Cheapest accommodation

1) University of East Anglia, Norwich

2) Teesside University, Middlesbrough

3) Abertay University, Dundee

4) University of Wales, Trinity St David, Carmarthen

5= University of Cumbria, Carlisle

5= University of Lincoln, Lincoln

7) University of Northampton, Northampton

8= University of Bath, Bath

8= University for the Creative Arts, Farnham

10) University of Surrey, Guildford

Most expensive

117= University of East London, London

117= Middlesex University, London

119) London School of Economics and Political Science, London

120) London Metropolitan University, London

121) City, University of London, London

122) SOAS University of London, London

123) King’s College London, London

124) University of West London, London

125) St George’s, University of London, London

126) Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham

Best graduate salaries

1) Imperial College London, London – 30,000

2) London School of Economics and Political Science, London – 28,500

3) University of Cambridge, Cambridge – 27,000

4= University of Warwick, Coventry – 25,000

4= University of Bath, Bath – 25,000

4= Durham University, Durham – 25,000

4= King’s College London, London – 25,000

4= University College London, London – 25,000

4= Loughborough University, Loughborough – 25,000

4= University of Oxford, Oxford – 25,000

Worst graduate salary

108= Leeds Beckett University, Leeds – 18,000

108= Leeds Trinity University, Leeds – 18,000

108= Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool – 18,000

123) Bangor University, Bangor – 17,800

124) University of Wales, Trinity St David, Carmarthen – 17,500

125= Norwich University of the Arts, Norwich – 17,000

125= Bath Spa University, Bath – 17,000

127) Falmouth University, Falmouth – 16,800

128) Plymouth Marjon University, Plymouth – 16,500

129) Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth – 16,000

Source: Sunday Times Good University Guide