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Undergraduate Study

Living costs and budgeting

The cost of going to university and managing your money can be a concern or a challenge to many students. It may be your first time living away from home, you may have dependents to care for, or you may not have additional financial support from family members.

We have lots of advice, information and financial support to help you make informed decisions about your finances and prepare for university life.

Living costs

Living costs are expenses other than tuition fees, such as accommodation, food, travel, clothes and socialising. The costs will vary for each individual, depending on your spending habits.

Having an idea of how much things cost can help you budget for each month, making sure that your expenditure doesn’t exceed your income. You can find a rough breakdown of the living costs at the University of Exeter on the Which? Student budget calculator.

Your living costs might include:

  • accommodation (see next section below)
  • food
  • toiletries and household essentials (including cleaning products)
  • clothes
  • course extras (will vary between courses, but could include field trips, equipment, books etc)
  • travel (around the city, as well as visiting home)
  • bills (such as mobile phone, internet etc)
  • social activities (eating out, nightlife, clubs and societies, gym membership)

We offer a wide range of accommodation, to suit all budgets and tastes. You might go for catered halls so that you can hand the responsibility for cooking over to our professional catering team, or go for the flexibility of self-catered accommodation, in which case you’ll want to budget for your weekly shop (including eating out). There are also private accommodation options in both Exeter and Penryn.

The prices below give a guide to approximate weekly costs for both self-catered and catered options at our Devon and Cornwall campus locations, ranging from shared rooms to private rooms or studios with en-suite facilities. For further details, see our accommodation pages.

 Campus
 Streatham and St Luke's (Exeter, Devon)Penryn (Cornwall)
Self-catered £110.88 - £193.41 per week £116.06 - £185.01 per week
Catered £193.97 - £271.88 per week £159.32 - £197.89 per week

These are based on prices for the 2021/22 academic year.

Some example term-time living costs (32 weeks) for a first-year student can be found below.

These are based on a UK student living in University accommodation. The Which? Student budget calculator offers a rough breakdown of living costs per month that you can tailor to your own situation. 

Student A – living in catered accommodation in Exeter

Accommodation Average £233 per week for 32 weeks* £7,456
Books and equipment   £300
Food – lunches, coffees, etc Approx £20 per week for 32 weeks £640
Clubs and societies   £300
Clothing   £250
TV license   £145
Travel home   £200
Toiletries and haircuts   £150
Phone and internet Approx £27 per month for 8 months £216
Social life Approx £35 per week for 32 weeks £1,120
House deposit for next year   £400
TOTAL  £11,177

 

Student B – living in self-catered accommodation in Exeter

These are term-time costs for 32 weeks only but include rent for 40 weeks - generally, rent is payable for 40-44 weeks of the year in self-catered accommodation.

Accommodation Average £151 per week for 40 weeks* £6,040
Books and equipment   £300
Food – all food Approx £35 per week for 32 weeks £1,120
Clubs and societies   £300
Clothing   £250
TV license   £145
Travel home   £200
Toiletries and haircuts   £150
Phone and internet  Approx £27 per month for 8 months £216
Social life  Approx £35 per week for 32 weeks £1,120
House deposit for next year   £400
TOTAL  £10,241

*Accommodation figures are based on data for the 2021/22 academic year.

Aside from accommodation, living costs during your first year at university may be higher than subsequent years because of initial costs needed to help set you up for the next few years. For example:

  • Household essentials - ranging from kitchen equipment to bedding. Check what your accommodation provides before purchasing, and remember if you forget something, there are plenty of shops near campus to stock up.
  • IT equipment - While computers are available to use on campus, you might want to buy a computer to take with you to university. This cost is worth factoring in if you are saving up before you start.
  • Course costs - All courses will have different requirements in terms of the extras that you might need to buy. Some courses will require you to buy very little, whereas others may have suggested or essential costs, such as books, field trips, or lab equipment. You can check with your relevant subject/department before you arrive if you are unsure of what you need.

Budgeting at university

There are plenty of ways that you can keep your spending to a minimum while you are at university.

The following tips might be useful to consider:

Buy second-hand 

Remember that many of the things you might need for your new home, such as kitchen equipment, could be bought second-hand. Course textbooks might either be available second-hand or to borrow from the library, if they aren’t available as online copies.

Home-made is best

Cooking at home is cheaper than eating out, especially if you cook in large batches to make several meals at once, or take it in turns with your housemates. You could also get yourself a reusable coffee cup and make your own hot drink at home before you leave for lectures.

Student discounts

As a university student, you can sign up for student discounts to get money off a variety of services and outlets including food, clothing, technology and leisure. You can also get a discount at some supermarkets – if in doubt, just ask at the till!

Shop around for phone deals

Mobile phone contracts can be costly, but that doesn’t mean it should stop you keeping in contact with friends and family. Ask for a student discount on mobile phone contracts or make use of student sim cards e.g. Voxi, ID mobile, giffgaff.

More budgeting tips can be found on the Students' Guild website.

If you anticipate that you will require additional financial support, it is worth checking if there is other funding available that you may be entitled to. There are scholarships and bursaries, UK government grants and loans, and a range of financial support available to students who meet certain eligibility criteria.

Be sure to allow plenty of time to arrange financial support. For Tuition Fee loans, we recommend looking into this once you’ve received an offer from us.

If you are coming to the University of Exeter from another country, there may be a few extra things to consider budgeting for, including visas, travel costs and varying exchange rates.

Scholarships

On our Scholarships for International Students page you can find information about scholarships available for your subject.

We also advise you to seek information about scholarships from your own Ministry of Education, from the appropriate inter-university organisation or from the British Council.

Working in the UK

If you are an international student, your visa may include conditions relating to your right to work. Find out more about working in the UK here. You can also find information on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

Finally, if you need to clarify anything about your eligibility to work in the UK, please get in touch with the International Student Support Team.

The Students’ Guild in Exeter and the Students' Union in Cornwall provide advice to students on a range of issues, including finance and budgeting. They can also provide guidance if you are struggling with finances.

Lots of our students get casual work during their studies – our Career Zone supports students finding jobs and runs a dedicated part-time job service if you decide to work alongside your studies.

If you are a mature student or have children, our Mature Students webpage includes information on financial support and childcare you may find useful.