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Mortgage Expert Reveals the Uk’s Most Affordable University Towns


  • 75% of student renters at the University of Aberdeen and Birmingham’s Newman University say they struggle to afford their accommodation
  • Despite students at Staffordshire University paying the least rent (on average £350 per month), almost three quarters find it difficult to pay
  • More than half of University of Sheffield student renters struggle with the cost of rent
  • Affordability is the third biggest priority for students looking for a home, after being close to university and security
  • Kellie Steed, Uswitch.com buy to let mortgage expert, comments on how students can save when moving into a new home.


Three in four (74%) university students struggle with their monthly rent repayments in the last year[1], as the UK’s cost of living crisis continues.


To support landlords who may have students struggling with their bills, Uswitch buy to let mortgage experts analysed costs across the country to find which students are paying the cheapest weekly rent, as well as how many were finding paying rent difficult, to calculate the most and least affordable universities in the country.


Note to editors: If you use any of the data within this release, we kindly ask that you provide a link to Uswitch.com’s buy to let mortgage page (https://www.uswitch.com/mortgages/buy-to-let/) as credit.


Most affordable universities


University City Region % of students struggling with rent[2] Average weekly rent (£)
The University of Sheffield Sheffield Yorkshire 58% £100
The University of Huddersfield Huddersfield Yorkshire 68% £81
The University of Nottingham  Nottingham Midlands 62% £113
The University of Leicester Leicestershire Midlands 66% £113
The University of Northampton Northampton Midlands 66% £113
Nottingham Trent University Nottingham Midlands 62% £116
The University of Surrey Guildford South East 68% £114
Harper Adams University Newport Wales 69% £98
Oxford Brookes University Oxford South East 68% £115
University of Derby Derby Midlands 66% £123


Universities in the Midlands are the most affordable locations for student renters. With five of the most affordable universities to rent in the UK, the Midlands is also home to the cheapest average weekly rent of just £80, at Staffordshire University.


Universities in Yorkshire and the South East of England follow in second place for affordability, while just one university outside of England, Harper Adams University, makes the most affordable list.


Renters in Sheffield struggle the least to meet their £100 a week average rent. Despite being the cheapest analysed, 72% students in Staffordshire say they have found paying their rent (£80 per week) difficult over the past 12 months.


Despite the challenges of rental payments, just one in ten (12%) university attendees select affordability as the first thing they consider in a property. Overall, affordability is only the third greatest priority (12%) for students searching for a new home, after proximity to their university (27%) and security (16%).


Least Affordable Universities


University City Region % of students struggling with rent[2] Average weekly rent (£)
The University of Greenwich London Greater London 78% £238
University of Cumbria Carlisle North West 80% £172
London School of Economics and Political Science London Greater London 78% £200
Edge Hill University Ormskirk North West 80% £166
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine London Greater London 78% £190
The University of Cambridge Cambridge East of England 83% £156
Glasgow Caledonian University Glasgow Scotland 77% £196
University of Chester Chester North West 80% £164
The University of Edinburgh Edinburgh Scotland 76% £222
St Mary’s University, Twickenham Twickenham Greater London 78% £185


Greater London’s universities are the most expensive nationwide, with four of the least affordable universities in this region. Greater London is home to Greenwich University, the most expensive area analysed, at £238 per week: more than double the cost of rent for University of Sheffield students.


Three of the most expensive universities can be found in the North West. Four in five students attending universities in this region have difficulties paying for rent. Scotland is also home to two of the least affordable universities, with the University of Edinburgh leading as the most expensive university for rent in Scotland, and the second most expensive in Great Britain.


Uswitch.com buy to let mortgage expert, Kellie Steed, comments on how landlords can help their student tenants:

“As a student landlord, it’s likely that your property will offer the first ever renting experience that your tenants will have. Because of this, transparency, reliability and understanding are all important to giving your tenants the best experience in their new home.

  • Be clear with expectations: be upfront with all the rules you expect your tenants to follow, whether they’re about timing for rent payments or the condition your property should be kept in. You should also be transparent about what your tenants can expect from you, such as keeping their deposits in a protection scheme, and what maintenance you will provide for the property.
  • Be consistently reliable: if your tenant has questions, or needs anything from you, make sure to be responsive and clear about what you can and can’t do. They will likely have some uncertainties around a new home, so even when they come to you for something outside your responsibilities, remain courteous and guide them through the solution as best you can.
  • Be understanding: students are already likely to be tight on cash, especially during a cost of living crisis. If they do come to you with financial concerns, make sure to listen while communicating your own needs, to help come to a resolution which both parties can be happy with.
  • Suggest solutions: as well as potentially inexperienced as tenants, students may be unfamiliar with some methods of keeping other costs low. Explain how your tenants could potentially profit from taking up a student broadband deal, or if that switching energy providers could offer lower monthly payments. Savings can also come by utilising promotions through TOTUM cards, and double-checking that they are not paying council tax, as students are exempt.” 


Uswitch can also reveal the most profitable ‘side hustles’ for students who have time to take up part-time employment. For tenants looking for remote work, tutors, voice-over artists and video editors have the highest average wage. If students would rather work in person, tutoring, life-guarding, or driving for a taxi service like Uber offer the highest average profits.”


Find out more in the full Uswitch.com buy-to-let mortgage statistics.

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