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Forget Fresher’s week fun! Students set strict budgets to stay in the black

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Instead of splashing out during Fresher’s week, many students will have strict budgets to ensure they can cover spiralling university rent costs and tuition fees, research reveals.

Despite the stereotype of university students blowing all their cash on going out, research from SunLife reveals they actually budget more carefully than their parents and grandparents.

With more than half a million people set to start higher education in the next two weeks, SunLife’s Cash Happy report found 18-24 year olds are the most likely of all age groups to keep close track of their finances, with 60% saying they formally budget.

In comparison, just over a third (35%) of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation formally budget, down from the 37% recorded last year.

The research found that the gap between generations is widening. Last year, the under 24s were 59% more likely to budget than the over 55s. Now, young people are 71% more likely to budget.

Ian Cooper, head of savings at SunLife, said: “It is encouraging that younger people are taking such a healthy approach to their finances, and while this may just be because there is more technology available to them so it just comes more naturally, it could be because they have to.”

According to NUS/Unipol research, student rent has increased by 18% in the last two years, with average rent in London now £265 a week and £134 across the rest of the UK. Universities can currently charge up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, with the cap increasing to £9,250 next year.

“When you combine the accommodation costs and tuition fees with other expenses like food, travel, books and other equipment, students are looking at more than £21,000 a year just to study,” said Cooper.

“So, not only are today’s young people coming out of university saddled with debt, but they are also a generation that has seen a great deal of financial uncertainty in their adult lives, and now, post Brexit, their financial futures are uncertain.”