Surviving the recession as a student

A recent National Union of Students (NUS) survey on hardship has found that there are two main factors in the current economic climate which directly affect student choices. These are:
  • An increase in living costs
  • The relatively short supply of part-time jobs

The good news is that living costs are reasonably priced in Birmingham when compared to other UK cities that cater for a student population. The recently published Push survey placed Aston University well below the national average.

The 2009 Survey measured weekly living costs by focussing on student housing, drinks and groceries and reported its findings from 139 higher education institutions across the UK. Aston University was reported to be 93% of the national average (7% less expensive than the national average). Therefore as the United Kingdoms second city, Birmingham is a much cheaper alternative to London which was up to 47% higher and therefore more expensive than the national average.

Students' JobShop

Aston University provides several services for its students to assist them with the process of obtaining employment to supplement their student income.

The Aston University funded jobshop can be found within the Aston Students’ Guild and is open between the hours of 10.00am – 4.00pm Monday – Friday. Their contact details can be found below.

The Students’ JobShop
Aston Students’ Guild
Aston Triangle
B4 7ES 

Telephone 0121 204 4844
Fax 0121 204 4858

You may also like to browse the JobShop website which lists current vacancies.

Aston University Careers Services

The Aston University Careers Service is located on the first floor of the South Wing in the University and you may book an appointment with an adviser if you require assistance with your Curriculum Vitae (CV), job applications, and general assistance in your job-search. 

The Careers Service is accessible via the main building entrance ‘L’ lift opposite the reception desk and the address is:

Aston University Careers Service
Aston University,
Aston Triangle,
B4 7ET

Telephone 0121 204 4757

If you are due to graduate or have recently graduated and you are searching for careers opportunities you may wish to register your details on the web-based job vacancy service known as Prospects.co.uk

Learning and Development Centre

If you are searching for a part-time job you may find that a visit to the Learning & Development Centre beneficial as they provide basic mathematics tuition which may assist you in obtaining casual employment.

The Learning & Development Centre can be found in the Library:

Learning Development Centre
1st Floor, Library
Aston University
Aston Triangle
B4 7ET

Telephone 0121 204 3040 
Fax 0121 204 4908
E-mail ldc@aston.ac.uk

Managing your finances

International or European Union students may wish to take advantage of the free English Language tutorials which the Learning & Development Centre provide during term time.

If you are looking for ways to spend less money and manage your finances you may wish to explore the following options:

If you are a home (UK) student and you are applying for a Student Maintenance Loan it is preferable to request an income assessed Student Maintenance Loan via Student Finance England as you are more likely to receive a 35% increase in support through this loan for your living costs – this is dependent on your household income.

There are many ways of spending less money on your essentials and we have listed some options which you may like to consider.


This is a useful website which you can utilise to compare grocery prices at 4 of the main online supermarkets who provide a delivery service. These include Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s. This is a useful free web based tool which enables you to compare how much you could save on your weekly shopping bills.

On-line grocery shopping can be less costly than visiting the store in person. Avoid shopping in smaller branches of supermarkets such as Tesco Metro, Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local as these smaller stores invariably have higher prices, less choice and fewer purchase offers or discounts and mainly cater for professional people living and working in the city centre.

It may also be beneficial for you to apply for your supermarkets loyalty card as you may receive further discounts which are exclusive to members.



The following website is a good starting point for building your budget when applying to university in the UK.  This online student calculator is free and you can find out what funding you could get for your time at Aston University.


Accommodation choices

It is important that you only choose your accommodation after you have had confirmation of the total student support you are going to receive through student loans, sponsorship, scholarships or bursaries. You should not rely on the chance of gaining a part-time job to supplement your income. 

If choosing accommodation in Birmingham city centre that is en-suite you should note that the rent will be much higher than the average rental for student accommodation in Birmingham. Although it may appear attractive (as you will save money on travel costs into the University of around £14 per week) the local area where you will be purchasing your weekly essential living costs such as food, will be much more expensive than for example choosing traditional student accommodation in an area such as Erdington. According to the Push Survey the average weekly student rent for Aston University students is £68.32 whereas living in the city centre can atract rents in excess of £100 per week.

Try not to be persuaded by glossy advertising branding for private halls of residence which can cost from £99 - £150+ per week.  High penalty charges for non-payment/late payment of rent also apply. These private companies generally entice students into contracts by advertising an independent and attainable yet luxury style of living. Generally the total cost of accommodation in these type of buildings far outweigh an average students income via the Student Loans, Grants and university bursaries leaving limited funds for other essential living costs. 

Checked and updated PCJ 18/09/2012

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research