With the end of the summer holidays fast approaching, it’s time to turn your focus towards university. Figuring out what to pack, what to leave behind and what to stock up on can be confusing and time-consuming, especially for Freshers about to embark on this journey for the first time.
But aside from the packing, the clusters of checklists littering your bedroom floor and the barrage of emails from your soon-to-be campus – how well do you actually know what life is like at your chosen university?
The 2019 NatWest Student Living Index asked students from 35 top university cities about all aspects of student life. With data collected on topics such as nights out to part-time work and mental health and wellbeing initiatives, the findings offer an insight into what it means to be a student in 2019.
Read on for a snapshot of the results, coupled with tips for making those first few weeks of university as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
TIP 1: BE A SOCIALITE (BUT A BARGAIN HUNTER TOO!)
University offers endless opportunities for socialising – but the cost of going out all the time and ordering Uber Eats and Dominos will inevitably add up. When it comes to nights out, students in Liverpool and Belfast expect to spend the most at around £22, while students in Cambridge and Durham will spend the least (around £12) according to the Student Living Index. Students in Hull socialise the least while students in Oxford socialise the most (despite also spending nearly 120 hours studying per month).
Striking a balance between your studies and social life can feel like a never-ending tug of war. But in those first few weeks of university, while you’re not too swamped with assignments, try and make the most of the social events going on around campus. And with coffees costing nearly £4 in London and the price of a pint standing at a hefty £3 in Brighton, we recommend scouting out the best on-campus discounts and freebies, so you can scrimp and socialise at the same time.
Check out discount websites, student magazines and flyers and leaflets around campus, as these are likely to be packed with offers.
TIP 2: SUSS OUT THE SUPPORT ON OFFER
Starting university is likely to stir up a hodgepodge of emotions, from happiness and excitement to anxiety and homesickness.
That’s why it’s a good idea to suss out your university’s mental health and wellbeing initiatives and see what support is there should you need it. Our survey found that 71% of students say their university offers affordable health and wellbeing programs and 1 in 4 students are content with their campus’ stance on mental health.
Having a look at the services on offer, the numbers to ring (many universities offer a night-time hotline) and the people on hand to speak to, will help provide reassurance when embarking on your university journey and ultimately have a positive impact going forward.
TIP 3: GET INTO THE SWING OF BUDGETING
Never underestimate the power of a budgeting tool. Those first few weeks of university are bound to be exceptionally busy, packed with nights out, excursions, meals and frantic book-buying – which is why it’s crucial to get your finances in order and decide which chunk of change should go where.
But budgeting doesn’t come naturally to all of us. According to the survey, students in Portsmouth and Hull find it most challenging to budget, with around 58% saying they find themselves running out of money before the end of term.
In addition, 42% of students claim to set a budget but don’t always stick to it, while 6% of UK students do not budget at all. In contrast, only 22% claim to budget well and keep track of their outgoings.
Investing in a budgeting tool or app such as Wally or tracking your outgoings with a spreadsheet can help ease the financial burden and allow you to feel more in control of your outgoings.
Surprisingly, 42% of students in the UK don’t use any budgeting tools at all and only 17% that do budget use an app, even though this is ultimately the most effective way of keeping track if your finances.
You might also find that you rely less on other people as a result (44% of students currently rely on their parents to pay their monthly rent) which will help foster maturity and independence.
Being a student certainly comes with its challenges – yet the rewards of studying are unparalleled. We hope we’ve provided you with an insight into what it means to be a student in 2019 and have given you some food for thought during those first few weeks of university.
Courtesy of NatWest