Frugal Finances Cost Comparison: UK Universities

Frugal Finances Cost Comparison: UK Universities

Newcastle upon Tyne, in the North East of England, has an estimated population of about 300,000 people. The city, or the Toon as it is referred to locally, is synonymous with culture, a welcoming atmosphere, and the usual infamous poor weather of England. 

As of 2019, two of the top universities in the city, Newcastle University, and Northumbria University, boasted 23,000 and 26,000 students respectively. Taking those stats into consideration, almost a sixth of the entire population in the city are college students — and this has a major impact on the region.

Student Hut ranked Newcastle as the number one city for students in the UK, thanks to its vibrant nightlife, well-connected transport system, and over-arching value for money. Beating off stiff competition such as London, Leeds, and Manchester is no easy feat, however, the home of the Magpies definitely held its own when it came down to the nitty-gritty. 

That got us thinking, some of the biggest rivalries in the UK exist between North and South. Take music for example: Queen vs The Beatles, Rolling Stones vs Dire Straits, and Coldplay vs Oasis. However, drumsticks aside, how do the two compare when it comes to cost, especially for a student about to take the leap into further education? In this article, we pit Newcastle in the North, against London in the South. 


Rumour would have it that the nightlife in Newcastle consists of nothing more than trebles and party goers venturing outside without a jacket on in the depths of winter. Although the previous two claims may boast a smidgen of truth, the city does actually offer significantly more in the way of entertainment. Stack, a recently developed shipping container complex located in the city center at the end of Northumberland Street, plays home to a variety of alternative eateries and bars, and regularly hosts live music sessions. 

For a more classic vibe, Tyne Bar, nestled in between the picturesque Ouseburn Valley and Tyne Lock, is a rustic pub which screams Geordie lifestyle. £1.60 beers on a Monday, free food Tuesday, do we need to go on? 

Alternatively, Jesmond, the suburb which houses most of the second and third-year students, consists of a variety of bars which host daily drinks promotions. 

Venture into town after dark and you can call upon the world-famous trebles deals, at the likes of Basement, Mimo, or Soho Rooms. Remember to take your student card along with you on every occasion to unlock a host of exclusive deals. Fortunately, few clubs in Newcastle make you part ways with your student loan in exchange for entry, and the ones which do, often provide the opportunity for guest list. 

One of the main stand-out features about the North East, compared to most alternative UK destinations, is the cost of taxis. As most students live within a five-mile radius of the city center, a standard taxi fare certainly won’t break the bank. 

Average night out price in Newcastle costs around £30 

It should come as no surprise that the UK capital is a hub for bohemian modernity. Hipster bars and quirky clubs litter the streets of London offering students a variety that you would struggle to find anywhere else in the world. Camden Lock, once the workplace of Amy Winehouse, is one of the most happening areas in the city, with more terrace bars and street food stands than you could shake a stick at. Get your hands on a ‘Camden Card’ to take advantage of 20 per cent discounts in a host of bars. 

In order to keep the bar tab down, bars such as the White Post Cafe in Hackney Wick are particularly popular among students. If you arrive between 5-7 PM you can get your hands on half price drinks, while chilling out to a range of DJ sets, live music, and everyone’s favorite – dogs navigating their way around the bar. 

On the other hand, if a pint or two is more up your street, then get yourself down to the Bavarian Beerhouse. Erdinger on tap, delivered in their specialty six-pint jugs, is accompanied by traditional German cuisine. 

Obviously, the club scene is electric in London. Junction East in Shoreditch, and the Roxy in Soho have both established themselves as perfect student venues thanks to cheap midweek drinks deals. 

The one significant drawback of a night out in London is the steep cost of taxi fare home (remember Uber is less commonplace). For a similar journey distance to that in Newcastle be prepared to pay up to four times the price for transportation. 

Average night out price in London costs around £60 


One of the main bonuses of living in Newcastle is the fact both universities are situated slap bang in the city centre. Thankfully, the vast majority of halls are positioned a maximum of 15 minutes’ walk away, ensuring that you get indulge in another brief spell of sleep in the morning. Claude Gibb halls are one example of student accommodation which sits right on the doorstep of Northumbria University. These digs are often a popular choice for students in first year, providing the opportunity to immerse yourself in the whole university experience. Choose between £74.90 per week for non-catered, or £116.90 per week to include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

In the following years of study, students typically relocate to the neighboring suburbs of Heaton, Jesmond, or Sandyford, where rent prices can vary from £70 per week to £120 per week, often with bills included. 

Due to the fact London has 40 universities and more than 400,000 students, pinpointing a place of choice to live generally hinges on the institution. Popular areas in the North include Camden and Finsbury Park. In the East, Mile End and Stratford attract large student populations. West London hot spots include Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith, while Brixton and Tooting have existed as firm favorites among students frequenting in South London for quite some time. 

Obviously, depending on location and quality of accommodation, you can expect to pay approximately £150 per week in a shared house in London, with university halls costing around £200 per week for first year students. 

Both cities have a lot to offer in regard to student life, whether it be daily activities, night life, or of course, a quality education. However, as we have noted there exists a massive disparity in terms of cost of living.

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