As students plan nationwide rent strikes, annual report reveals priciest and cheapest locations to live as a student.

– Latest research from Accommodationforstudents.com (AFS) reveals average weekly student rent in the UK stands at £86.76, a £1.27 increase from 2015

– Average weekly rent costs are highest in London (£136.61) and South of England (£94.71)

– Average weekly rent costs are lowest in Wales (£71.13), the Midlands (£81.61) and North of England (£82.90)

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– The UK average rent increase has slowed in 2016 in comparison to the previous two years, but as a region, London has seen the sharpest increase (12%)

– The proportion of properties offering bills inclusive rent is at an all-time high of 63%

Accommodation for Students (accommodationforstudents.com), the UK’s number one student accommodation website, has released its annual report on the costs of student accommodation.  It reveals that the average rental value (ARV) in this sector has risen to £86.76 per week per bedroom, up £1.27 from 2015.

Although the growth curve in national weekly rent value shows that the price increase has slowed in 2016 compared with the previous two years, this will come as little conciliation to students embarking on higher education.  Students face increasing costs from all aspects; new inflation-linked upper limit for tuition fees of £9,250, the scrapping of maintenance grants and rising rents. Students in the London region have seen average rents increase by 12% in the last year, sparking plans for a nationwide student rent strike in October.

As expected, high rents remain concentrated in the South, where students pay almost £10 per week more than the rest of the country, and Greater London, where rent costs are some £50 more than most other regions. The top five cities with the most expensive average weekly rents are; London (£148), Uxbridge (£120), Kingston (£118), Exeter (£115) and Aberdeen (£109). However, there is also some correlation between those cities which offer the most expensive accommodation and their high positioning on the university league tables, with the exception of Loughborough which is ranked 7th but has an ARV of £77.

The cheapest place to live as a student is Wales, where students will find private accommodation is on average £10 per week less than anywhere else.  According to the report, Swansea is the 5th cheapest city (£68), some 28% less than the national average. The ARV for Cardiff is £72 and for Bangor is £75.

On average, university cities in the Midlands and the North also offer lower rents than the national average, with examples such as Sheffield (£84), Birmingham (£81), York (£79), Liverpool (£77) and Bolton (£65). However, many of the widest ranges of rents, from very low values alongside the provision of high-end accommodation, are found in these areas also. For example, the weekly rent cost range for Sunderland is from £34 to £175, Birmingham has a similar £140 difference (from £45 to £85) as does Leeds (from £59 to £198).

The proportion of properties offering ‘bills inclusive’ in the UK has grown to 63%, the highest level yet. The average cost of a bills inclusive room is £9 more than the cost of a non-bills inclusive room.

Simon Thompson, Director of Accommodation for Students comments: “Everyone deserves an education, not just the well-off, but increasing fees, changes to the grant system and rising rents are setting a prime example of elitism. London in particular is home to three of the best universities in the country (London School of Economic, Imperial College London and University College London), yet the severity of the housing crisis in the Capital means that some students are paying nearly the same as the private rented sector for accommodation.

However, with nearly £5.8 billion invested in the market last year (according to Knight Frank), there has never been such an extensive range of accommodation choice, from purpose-built student accommodation blocks to the more traditional shared houses offered by private landlords.  Students should not be deterred from attending their university of choice based on costs.

The accommodationforstudents.com website has a range accommodation at various price points in all major cities and can even help students in London find accommodation well below the city’s average rental price, with some rooms starting at £90 per week. Rental prices in cities can vary by as much as £140, so it’s worth researching well.”

It is now thought that nearly 25% of students opt to live at home during their university years to enable them to save on the cost of accommodation. “Although some students are reluctant to do this for fear of sacrificing on the social aspect of university, Student Unions, such as that of Manchester University, are trying to address this with Off-Campus student projects in the form of social and sporting activities to help form a community of students in similar circumstances” adds Thompson.

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