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How to cut costs while studying in the UK

Learn different ways to cut costs while studying in the UK.

In this article:

Accommodation and food

Accommodation and food will form a significant part of your budget. These costs depend on various factors like the city you are in and the type of accommodation you choose (on-campus dormitories, private hostels, rented apartments). By planning your meals and choosing your accommodation wisely, you can save a large chunk of money. 

Here are a few pointers that might help with this:

  • Compare the prices of different accommodations before choosing one. Remember to consider all the additional expenses like electricity, water and maintenance that comes with the accommodation. Sometimes these are included in the rent. 
  • Go for a private non-catered hall or a shared accommodation as they are generally the cheapest options.
  • Try to cook instead of going out or buying take out every time.

For more on accommodation read, 'Student accommodation in the UK'.

Transport

As a student, you will use public transport a lot. You can buy subsidised student transport cards to save while travelling. To begin with, you can get: 

  • Student bus passes – Buses connect every town and city in the UK. By getting a bus pass, you can save a lot of money while travelling within your city.
  • Railcards – buy a railcard for £24 and save almost one-third of train fares while travelling all over the UK for a year.

Shopping

Planning while shopping for groceries, clothes, or other items can also help cut down your costs. Use the following pointers to help save.

  • Student discounts – Many retailers and shops offer student discounts. Before paying the bill, ask to check if the shop offers a student discount if so, show your student ID card and save. You can get even more discounts if you buy an NUS card for £13.
  • Cashback offers – You can look out for retailers that provide cashback offers. Many online retailers have more cashback offers than retail stores.

Partying and exploring

Letting loose and partying is also a part of the international student experience. You do not have to stay back in your room and avoid going out with your friends to cut costs. Instead, you can:

  • Plan in advance - Start by exploring nearby local sights and go with a group of friends to share the costs. Booking your flights and hotels in advance during off-season times can also help.
  • Scout the city - Go around your city and find cafes, restaurants and pubs that offer student discounts. Once you find a few, you can make them your regular hangout spots. 
  • Go out to your University’s bar - These places are usually budget-friendly and often sell drinks at lower prices. 

Utility bills

Keep a close watch on your utility bills like electricity, gas and water. Monitor your usage and corresponding bill. In most places, you can get a meter to watch how much you are using. 

Mobile and internet charges

Using your home country’s mobile plan in the UK might be a bit costly. You can get a basic mobile phone and a sim card after moving to the UK. Using the UK sim to make calls inside the country can help save a lot of money. You can make internet calls using Wi-Fi to talk to people back at home. 

Healthcare costs

As an international student with a Tier 4 student visa, you will benefit from the UK's National Healthcare System (NHS). Make sure to read up on the benefits and procedures. Instead of going to a private hospital, register with a GP through the NHS and save. 

For more on the UK's healthcare system read, ‘International student's guide to the UK's healthcare system’.

International transaction fees

Instead of using your home country’s bank account, open a student account after moving to the UK. Visit various banks local to your city, compare the transaction fees, freebies, and offers before finalising one. For more on this read, ‘How to open a bank account in the UK as an international student?’.