Research has revealed that university students are left with as little as 50p a week to live on, with the majority of their maintenance loans being spent on rent alone.

A report from student accommodation charity Unipol and the Higher Education Policy Institute found that the average cost of student rent in England is roughly £7,566.

With the average student in the UK expected to receive £7,590 in maintenance loans, many would have just £24 to cover their living costs for the year – which works out to be roughly 50p a week.

The poorest students, coming from households where their parents earn less than £25,000 a year, may receive larger maintenance loans. But it is thought around 75% of their student loan would be eaten up by rent costs.

There is concerns that working class students who cannot be financially aided or supported by their parents may be priced out of university.

“As soon as I get my student loan, it’s gone as I have to pay rent.. and it only covers half of it”

Charlotte Hartley

The report also focuses on student rentals in major regional university cities.

Nottingham has seen increased pressure with rental prices being up by 15%, with the average cost being £8,427.

Charlotte Hartley, 20, who currently studies Broadcast Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, said working-class students such as herself are feeling financial pressure, and have growing concerns that students may be priced out of going to university in some cities.

She works 25-hours a week  at a local pub around her studies to make ends meet, but this has added more anxiety around managing her studies workload alongside her job.

Video: Charlotte Hartley talks about her financial struggles.

According to the HEPI, the cost of student rent has soared by 15% in the last two years and with other outgoings also rising, many of those at university are struggling and have turned to food banks to ease the pressure.

Since 2022, Salaam Shalom Kitchen (SaSh) has been serving food at The Bridge Centre, in Hyson Green, Nottingham, every Wednesday.  It offers hot meals as well as take-away meals and groceries. The centre has seen a dramatic rise of students relying on the kitchen as their food source, because of financial strains.

Project Co-ordinator, Jo Boulton, has been working at the kitchen since July 2023 and feels “the service that the kitchen provides to the local community is vital for people to survive this hard time”.

Average annual student rents in the academic year 2023-24 in selected UK University cities

Bristol £9,200

Exeter £8,558

Nottingham £8,427

Leeds £7,627

Glasgow £7,548

Bournemouth £7,396

Portsmouth £7,183

Cardiff £6,632

Sources: Unipol, HEPI. Data collected from student accommodation providers operating 125,913

The Department for Education said the highest levels of support are targeted at students from the lowest-income families but if students are worried they should speak to their university. “To support universities to help their students we are making £276m available this academic year, which institutions can use to top up their own hardship schemes,” it said.