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Activity 6 - Money & Budgeting at University

Activity 6 - Money and Budgeting at University 


Welcome to activity 6! This activity is focused around managing money at University and understanding why having a budget is vital. When you go to University, you learn how to be financially independent and develop confidence in managing your budget. University allows you to gain a sense of control by learning how to manage your money as a student.


By taking a realistic look at what money you have coming in, and what you'll need to spend, you have to estimate your student budget thoroughly to ensure you aren't struggling to make ends meet. You could also identify where you need to make savings, or find extra income through getting a part-time job, alongside your studying. 


Before you make a start on activity 6, I want you to consider the activity below ... 


Pre-task activity: Should students pay for their tuition fees?


When you go to University in the UK, you have to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are payed to enable you to study your chosen degree subject. Tuition fees in the UK are roughly £9000 pounds a year, and with most UK degree courses being three years long, this will end up leaving you with around about £27,000 or more of student debt.


In the UK, students studying at University are able to attain a "student loan" which will cover the cost of tuition fees! However, when you graduate from University and get a job, if you earn over a certain amount of money in your career, you will start to pay back your student loan. This will be done gradually, paying a little bit out of your wage (your earnings from your job) each month.  


Some Universities in other countries around the world, offer free University tuition, including Finland, Sweden, Spain and Greece. However, in the UK, tuition fees have actually risen in the past 10 years, from £3000 a year, to the figure we currently pay for University tuition, £9000 pounds a year. 


Consider the following debate ... Should University be free in the UK? Consider both sides of the debate below and write a few sentences about whether you think it should be free to study at University in the UK or not. Make sure to justify your answer and write down why you think this should be free/not free. 


REMEMBER - this is all based on your opinion! There is no right or wrong answer. 


Popular reasons for YES vote:

  • Education should be seen as an investment - bettering ourselves through further education
  • Higher Education benefits the economy - more people in high skilled careers
  • Education is a human right, everyone deserves the chance to be educated
  • Tuition fees will never actually be paid back (they are wiped after 30 years)

Popular reasons for NO vote:

  • If free more people would choose to do a degrees 
  • Fees help students to value education and take it seriously - help us learn how to budget! 
  • It’s not fair to increase everyone’s taxes to pay for our education - taxes fund Universities, how would University lecturers be paid if there were no tuition fees?
  • Fees are a contribution to the costs of going to university - we should be paying for higher education, it is a choice to go to University, not a requirement like school

An Introduction to Money and Budgeting at University

This activity considers money and budgeting whilst at University, and how students are able to manage the cost of living and their tuition fees when studying. When watching the video, take notice of the tasks below. PAUSE the video to complete the task.

Task 1 - PAUSE the video at 2 minutes.
Task 2 - PAUSE the video at 4:26 minutes.
Task 3 - PAUSE the video at 6:45 minutes.
Task 4 - PAUSE the video at 9:25 minutes.

Task One - How much does University cost? (PAUSE THE VIDEO AT 2 MINUTES)


Going to University does cost money. There are lots of costs at University, which can be split into two different areas.


Tuition Fees: This cost is for studying your chosen degree course. This is usually around £9000 pounds a year. 


Living Costs: Your living costs are what you might spend on the accommodation you chose to live in, food, travel, doing fun activities with your friends and participating in societies and clubs. 


Students are not expected to pay for their tuition fees and living costs by themselves. University students are able to take out a "student loan" - to help pay for the cost of University. All students are entitled to a loan to enable them to study, covering the cost of their tuition fees. 


Some students are able to access a "maintenance loan". This covers living expenses. The amount paid out for this loan depends on:

  • Whether your Mam/Dad/Carer has a job
  • How much they earn 

Keeping all of this in mind ... This is your first task:


1. Imagine you have been given a maintenance loan of £3500 for the term (around 3 months). 

2. Your university flat is going to cost you £2500 to live in for the term.

3. You have to catch the bus from your university flat to your lecture building - a bus pass for the term is going to cost you £250.

4. To help with your studying, you decide to sign up for access to the library printer, this will cost you £20 for the term. 

5. You have decided to sign up for two societies this term - Football club and cookery club. The cost of your membership is going to be £30 for the term. 

6. You have to purchase a few textbooks to help you with studying your course. Books can be very expensive. Each textbook is going to cost you £12. You have to buy four of them. 


How much will you have remaining?


Once you have worked out how much of your maintenance loan you have remaining after taking out the above costs, you need to think about what you would do with the remaining money. Consider the below points and write down a couple of sentences about what the money would be used for.


  • Food
  • Fun activities with friends (meals out, cinema trips etc)
  • Sporting activities and events (gym membership?)
  • Household necessities (cleaning supplies, paying to wash your clothes, toiletries like shampoo and toothpaste)
  • Clothes
  • Would you save any money?


How could you increase the amount of money you have? 


After thinking about what your money is going to be spent on, I want you to write down a couple of sentences thinking about how you could make some extra money whilst at University, so you can increase your budget. Be creative in considering how you could do this, alongside your studies and assignments. For example:


  • Part-time jobs - students often get a part time job, working a couple of hours a week in places like cafes, restaurants and clothes shops.
  • Selling some of your unused items - e.g. clothes, video games, trainers 

Task 2: Budget Challenge (PAUSE the video at 4:26 minutes)


Now you have had a go at considering the cost of living and studying at University, we are going to take a look at how important it is to budget, so the money we have can stretch even further! This is a great practice for saving money, regardless of whether or not we are at University. 


1. What is a budget? - Write down a couple of sentences/key words about what you think a budget is. 



2. It is really important to consider how we should spend our money wisely. For many people, when they are at University this is the first time they will have to take their own spending budget into account, as this is usually done by our parents when we are living at home. 


Consider the following items - how much do you think they cost?  Have a guess and note down your answers.


  • Loaf of bread
  • Pasta
  • Bananas 
  • Milk 
  • Packet of biscuits 
  • Pack of chicken 


Continue watching the video at 6 minutes for the answers ... Compare the answers you have written down. Are they similar or very different? Challenge a sibling or family member to see if their answers are any closer than yours. 


Task 3: Budgeting Scenarios (PAUSE at 6:45 minutes)


We are going to consider a few budgeting scenarios that you could be faced with in the future when studying at University. We are going to consider what we would do in each of these scenarios and consider whether our choice would mean that we were spending money, saving money, or somewhere in the middle. 


Resume the video to listen to the following scenarios ...


1. A friend has asked you if you want to go out for pizza. What would your decision be? Chose an option from the three choices below and note down why you have chosen this option.


a) Yes! You have had a long week and have worked hard. You deserve a treat.

b) No! I need to save my money.

c) Shall we get a pizza from the super market and watch a film instead?


2. You have seen a top in the shops that you really like. What would your decision be? Chose an option from the three choices below and note down why you have chosen this option.


a) Buy the top without thinking. You NEED this top, it's so nice!

b) Consider if you have bought a lot of clothes recently. Is there anything you could sell, give to a friend or donate to charity to make room for a new top and earn some extra money?

c) Ignore the urge to buy the new top. You don't need a new top anyway. 


3. Your teacher has recommended a book that would be helpful for your University course. It is quite expensive. What would your decision be? Chose an option from the three choices below and note down why you have chosen this option.


a) My teacher has recommended the book. It should help with my studying, so I will buy it.

b) I'll have a check online and in the book shop to see if they have any second hand used copies for a cheaper price. 

c) I think they have a copy of the book in the University library. I'll go the library and hopefully it is available, then I can borrow the book. 


Task 4 - The £30 Challenge! (9:25 Minutes)


You have been given £30 to last you a week. What are you going to spend this money on? Make a shopping list and research the price of each item. You might need to make some difficult decisions about what essential items you need to include in your shopping list and what needs to be left out of your weekly budget. The following items must be considered in your budget:


  • Essential food shopping list
  • Going out for a meal with friends
  • Cinema trip/other social activities with friends
  • Household items (cleaning supplies/toiletries)


Once you have completed the task, ask your parent/carer or an older sibling to check through your budget. Check out the budget plans below for some inspiration of how you could draw up your budget plan in a creative way. 



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