The first thing that comes to mind while considering studying abroad is the cost of living in a foreign land and spending in foreign currency. Given the exchange differences between your currency and the British Pound, it's important to learn how to save money for a comfortable and peaceful study experience in the UK.
Scholarships and bursaries significantly reduce the financial burden of studying in the UK. As crucial as scholarships are in deciding the course of your choice, living costs still carve out a major chunk of your study expenses and hence need careful planning and consideration.
But fret not; we've put together some really fantastic money-saving tips while studying in the UK to plan your study-abroad journey to the UK accordingly.
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How to Save Money While Studying in the UK?
There is always a ready stock of the usual advice like low-priced groceries, saving schemes, self-cooking, public transportation, etc. While all those tips are doable and actionable, they're just not enough to significantly impact your finances. So, you need a plan – a proper think-out to strategise your study and living expenses to experience hassle-free education in the UK. Here are some money-saving tips from the experts:
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1. Make full use of your Student Discounts
Exploit the advantages of being an international student in every way possible because while in the UK, you need to be living on a vigilante budget to ensure your finances don't drain out before the holiday season! Here are some discount schemes available for students studying in the UK:
- Student ID Card/Library Card - These could save you a few pounds in local shops, cafes and restaurants.
- National Union of Students (NUS) Extra Card - Starting at £12 a year, the NUS card offers more significant discounts on the high street and online brands.
- 16-25 railcards for cheaper train travel and lesser transport costs.
- Young Persons Coachcard for cheaper bus fares.
- Benefitting as these are, it's prudent to be cautious of your spending habits and not stock up on things just because they're cheap – at the end of the day, you still have to pay for it all!
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2. Drive A Hard Bargain With Rent
Rent is one of the biggest expenses while studying abroad, and saving some money on rent or stalling it from increasing by itself would help you plan your finances better. Take a look at these steps to drive a fair price on the rent:
Though the rental amount depends largely on the choice of accommodation, it is necessary to learn the differences in rental charges across the various choices.
Be informed of the average price of rentals and prepare to negotiate a fair deal if your landlord charges more than the market price.
Understand the requirements and conditions stipulated by the landlord and stick to them to avoid any increase during rental renewal.
3. Review Your Expenses Regularly
To experience and feel at home in a foreign country, you would obviously need your creature comforts - from heaters to furniture, cutlery to broadband, there are dorm room essentials you cannot do without. Hence, you'll need proper budgeting to avail of the same.
Review your expenses regularly in terms of affordability, and look for cheaper alternatives available in the market. For instance, if you only watch 'catch-up' TV (not BBC) or on-demand streaming services, or if your accommodation is covered by a licence (i.e., halls of residence), you don't need to buy a licence. So, assess your preferences and make rational choices to avoid spending extra money.
Ensure that you pay your bills on time and avoid late payments and surcharges.
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4. Be Thrifty
Now, and as much as you can, you've got to be thrifty with your spending, be it the supermarket or the gym. Analyse your requirements and choose the more economical option or wait for discounts and offers for products that can be bought later.
For instance, cotton buds and cotton wool cost less in the baby section than in the beauty counter. Similarly, fruit juices and milk with longer shelf life are cheaper than refrigerated ones. So, if you're stocking up on provisions, analyse the prices of different options before impulsively buying things off the counter.
5. Make Use of Cashbacks
If you're eligible for a retail cashback, remember to redeem it before it expires. Cashback companies such as Quidco or Topcashback offer multiple cashback offers on every purchase made with their credit/debit card rather than on selected brands/stores.
As attractive as cashback are, there are a few things to keep in mind before making purchases with your card:
Measure the benefits of cashback against the student discounts available to you and choose the ones that offer the maximum benefits since you cannot use both at the same time.
Ensure that you can afford the product with the cashback offer and not be tempted to buy it for the available offers. Be prudent in your buying choices since you have to spend money on it irrespective of the discounts.
Also, if you're using a credit card, ensure to settle your bills on time to avoid late fees and excess interest, which defeat the purpose of cashback.Read More: How to write an effective statement of purpose?
6. Part-time Work Opportunities in UK
Consider taking up part-time job opportunities to support your living expenses. International students in the UK can work up to 20 hours a week and full-time during holidays. Doing a part-time job can help you earn up to £9.50 per hour if you're 23 and above (known as the National Living Wage), £9.18 per hour for those aged between 21 - 22 and £6.83 per hour for those aged between 18 - 20.
Most universities provide career counselling and list internship opportunities on their website and student centres to help international students make the most of their study-abroad experience.
While these are some simple ways to save money while studying in the UK, there are other ways to save money by contributing to saving schemes and availing scholarships. Given the high living costs in the UK, penny-wise is the best way to be.
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1. Is studying in the UK affordable?
Studying in the UK is generally more cost-friendly than studying at equally ranked universities in other popular study destinations like the USA or Australia. Given that degree programmes are also often shorter than those in other destinations, students are likely to get more value for money by pursuing a British education.
2. What is the average living cost in the UK for an international student?
Undergraduate: £10,000 - £26,000 annually
Postgraduate: £11,000 - £30,000 annually
Diploma: £18,000 annually
£350 - £550 per month if you prefer outside accommodation
£50 - £75 per week
£30 a month
£470/year for your Immigration Health Surcharge
£348 for student visa
£30 - £50 a month
3. How many hours can international students work while studying in the UK?
A student visa issued for full-time, degree-level courses allows students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time. This is a maximum of 20 hours in total in any one week, including paid or unpaid work for one or more organisations.