Belfast Telegraph

£48.80 - what Northern Ireland students expect to pay for booze and bills per month

Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Belfast students are spending more on alcohol than household bills, a survey has found.

The Ulster Bank Student Living Index showed Belfast students enjoyed lower rent than most, with an average monthly cost of £325.90 - one third less than the UK average of £486.

This could explain why just 14% of Belfast students say they are stressed by money worries - the joint lowest total alongside Glasgow and around half that experienced by London students (27%).

Local students are also considerably less worried about university life, with 33% describing studying as "very stressful", compared to the national average of 45%.

A month's worth of alcohol can be bought for £25.90, Belfast students say, which is slightly more than the expected spend of £22.90 on household bills. This spending takes place in a comparatively restrained 25.4 hours of socialising a month, behind the 28.2 national average and way below the 42 hours enjoyed by Oxford students.

The amount of time hitting the books has dropped this year, with 57.3 hours of study reported each month compared to 86.8 hours reported in September last year.

Part-time jobs take up the same amount of monthly hours compared to last year (previously reported as 23.2 hours) with Belfast students tied for fourth place out of all UK cities.

Parents and families, bursaries and student loans are still said to account for a low proportion of income for local students.

Overall, this year's index has shown Cardiff to be the most affordable city for students in the UK.

Ulster Bank's head of personal banking Terry Robb said: "It's welcome that students in Northern Ireland aren't as stressed as their peers when it comes to money management.

"We know that better money health leads to better mental and physical health.

"Starting university is a big change.

"In addition to your course, students have to think about managing all their bills and outgoings effectively."

In September last year, the same survey painted a costlier picture of student life, finding Belfast to be the sixth most expensive city for students.

After interviewing 102 students, it was said, somewhat incredulously, that most expected to spend £7.20 on a pint in Belfast - more than any other UK city.

The previous report also said that nights out in Belfast were £10 more expensive than any other part of the UK, with students spending £56 on a night out.

Last year it was also found that while rent and tuition fees are far lower in Belfast than across the UK, contributions from student loans and other sources were also smaller.

This month, a slight drop was reported in the number of 18 year olds from Northern Ireland applying to go to university.

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) released the figures, saying just under half (46.9%) of 18 year olds here applied to UCAS by the end of June, a drop of 0.7% from last year.

Northern Ireland still has the largest proportion of 18 year olds applying for university compared to other UK regions.

This year, 10,510 18 year olds in Northern Ireland applied for university, down from 11,050 last year.

In total, the amount of university applications from students of all ages in Northern Ireland students this year was 18,250, down from 19,310 in 2018.

It meant that for the first time ever, the number of Chinese students applying for places at British universities (19,760) surpassed those from Northern Ireland.

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