The 6 Hidden University Costs

Article1_blogHunting for freebies, filling in online surveys in hope to win some extra cash, or shopping in the discount sections is probably not how you were imagining ‘the best years’ of your life. The Government’s decision to triple tuition fees; the constant rent and travel rates increase; or the employment hunt in an unstable job market are limiting students’ choices about their future in higher education.

Alongside these expenses, which are being given at least some compensation in a form of the outrage of the public, here comes another list of costs students need to put up with. And very often without being aware of them before they start the course. According to the NUJ’s recent report on the ‘Hidden University Costs’, not all University-related expenses are as transparent as they should be.

1. Graduation


Attending your own graduation can be more challenging to your wallet than you think. Starting with the gown and graduation hat hire, you may be surprised by the price as high as £60. If none of your family members are good enough at taking photos, paying for the package of 10 photos taken by the ceremony photographer can cost you more than £100.  And in addition to all these expenses, you have to think twice about how many friends and family members you’ll take to the graduation ceremony as one ticket can cost as much as £30. But don’t worry, at least you can enter for free 🙂

2. Printing  

PrintingPrinting was the second highest ‘hidden’ expense for students in the academic year 2014/2015. And not only that. According to the NUS survey, printing was also the second most unexpected cost, students weren’t aware of. Students in the UK spend an average of £136 every year on printing, photocopying and stationery. What may seem like a small investment at the beginning quickly grows into a regular ‘top up’ visit of the always busy library computers, where students leave much more money than they initially plan.

3. Lab Kit

Medical students do not only pay higher tuition fees, but they also need to pay for their own laboratory kit, which is far from being cheap. The essential medical kit starts with a stethoscope, which costs around £50; a lab coat which will cost £20 and more, as well as a watch and maybe your own goggles. Some universities across the world have already set up a lab kit fee, which is normally subtracted from the tuition fees and covers the lab equipment costs.

4. Music Instrument Hire 


As well-equipped as the university music department may appear, when they show you around on the open day, your very own music department won’t be that rich. Students have to get their own music instruments with all the necessary equipment by themselves. Those who can’t afford to buy their own, use the help of charity institutions that loan the music instrument to them for the time of their study.

5. Mandatory Checks 


Next time you think about skipping one of your finals, remember that even this decision will affect your budget. Resit and re-assessment fees can range from £5 up to £620. Some of the student ambassador schemes require criminal background checks, which cost around £26 and more. Lastly, the most expensive ‘Training Support Fees’, often called bench fees are designed to provide funding to the department allocated to assist students in completing their PhD.

6. Textbooks


The latest numbers show that students are spending  the amount equivalent to their monthly salary on coursebooks and other study materials. Students outside of London have spent around £500 on textbooks compared to London students who have spent more than £600 on textbooks, IT and other equipment in 2013/2014. Some universities offer bursary cards which can be used for the purchase of books in the Bursary stores or online, but not all the universities have established this system yet.

Being a student is getting more challenging every year. In this daily financial struggle for the higher education, one could question whether just being a student, is not one of the hardest exams to pass.


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