The value you get from going to university is a very individual thing – it depends on your priorities and what you want out of life afterwards. It is possible, however, to put together a sort of league table of the best value universities in the UK by looking at the tuition fees they charge, the average student rent and their academic reputation, as measured by their position in various university league tables.
In general, this type of analysis reveals that many of the best value institutions are in Scotland, the North of England and Northern Ireland. The worst value – solely because of the massive rents chargeable in the South East of England are in London and Greater London.
No surprise there, but some of the universities in the top 10 may get you thinking...
Leader of the pack is one of the two universities in Northern Ireland. Its top value rating is down to a combination of:
Ranking second, Robert Gordon is providing excellent value with tuition fees £1000 per year lower than Ulster, none of which is payable by Scottish students or EU students. It also ranks 52 in academic league tables but is let down slightly by the higher average rent charged for living in Aberdeen compared to Belfast - £70.79 per week.
If you value academic reputation for the university you would like to attend, Glasgow may well be your first choice as its 17 in academic league tables. It has an outstanding international reputation for research and teaching. The average rent here is very similar to Aberdeen - £70.73 per week – but its tuition fees are higher at £6750 per year. Remember that students resident in Scotland get this paid for them, making the University a Glasgow a hot contender for Scottish uni applicants.
Tuition fees are the same as Glasgow but Stirling makes 50th place in the academic league tables. Rents are cheaper though – only £62.90 per week on average.
Lancaster is the English university highest in the value list – not surprisingly as it sits at 9th position in academic league tables and has an average student rent of £57.46 each week. The tuition fees of £9000 per year put it below the Scottish leaders in the top 10 for the UK.
One of the academic heavyweights, Durham is fifth in the academic league table and its rents are good too - £66.75 per week. Those tuition fees of £9000 per year take it down to its sixth slot in our value league table.
Ranked academically at number 3, Oxford slides down the value top 10 because of its tuition fees - £9000 per year – and its relatively high rents, being in the southern part of England. Students here expect to pay an average of £80.12 per week.
Queen’s University is the second Northern Irish university but it loses position compared to Ulster because of its higher fees - £9000 per year and its lower position (25th) in the academic league tables. Average rents are, of course, the same (51.10 per week) as Belfast is a great value place to live, no matter which of these great institutions you attend.
Being sent to Coventry is not as bad as all that! With good value rents of £58.50 per week and lower-than-average tuition fees of £7500 per year, Coventry has a lot going for it. Slightly lower in the academic league tables, but still a respectable 65th.
Going to uni in Birmingham means paying higher fees – the maximum £9000 per year. However, you get an institution that is higher in the academic rankings (23rd) and only slightly higher weekly rents of £59.37, putting Birmingham University in tenth position.
In terms of value, the University of East London, South Bank University and Middlesex were the bottom three. All have the maximum tuition fees and while their academic reputations are not terrible by any means, they are let down by their location. Rents in London and Greater London come in at a whacking £108.03 per week, and that’s for university halls of residence, not just the private sector.