- UK university students’ parents are set to dish out over £5,000 per child in financial support this academic year, collectively adding up to over £5.8 billion
- Almost nine out of ten (86%) parents will support their children through university, spending an average of £417 per month
- Parents can expect to contribute a total of £104 per month for household bills including £26 for energy, £22 for car insurance and £18 for broadband and TV
- They also shell out £101 per month towards rent and £71 towards tuition fees
- Parents estimate they could save over £650 per year in contributions to students’ household bills if they switched to better deals
- uSwitch.com is urging parents and students to shop around and switch suppliers to cut bills ahead of the new university term.
Parents are set to spend £417 per month, adding up to more than £5,000 over the year, supporting their child through university, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. With over 1.1 million full time undergraduate  or foundation degree students at universities across the UK, parents across the country will be collectively spending a staggering £5.8 billion per year.
Despite university being an opportune time for young people to learn how to effectively manage their finances, parents are still set to pick up a large chunk of their children’s household bills – to the tune of £104 per month. Contributions to energy bills will eat up £26 per month while £22 will be spent on car insurance, £21 on mobile phone bills and phone insurance, and £18 on internet and TV packages, according to the new survey.
However, accommodation is set to be parents’ single most expensive outlay, with contributions to rent costing them an average of £101 a month. Meanwhile, contributions to tuition fees, which have risen significantly in recent years, will cost parents a further £71 each month, while food adds another £44.
Table 1: Student household bill breakdown
||Average monthly contribution by parents
||Mobile phone (including insurance)
Source: uSwitch.com survey, August 2016
Parents believe their contributions to students’ bills are higher than they should be – with only a third (31%) thinking their children are on the best deals available. Across all household bills, parents anticipate they could be overpaying by over £54 per month, or £651 per year.
The biggest culprit for perceived overspending is the cost of mobile phone bills, with 17% feeling they pay more than they should. This is followed by car insurance (12%) and electricity bills (11%). By encouraging their children to shop around to find the best deal, parents could make significant savings. For example, switching to a different energy supplier can save the average household over £400 per year. Comparison sites are the easiest way to secure a better deal but fewer than one in five of those surveyed (19%) say they use them for every household bill.
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Notes to editors
Research was conducted online by Opinium between 27th July and 1st August 2016, among 1,003 nationally representative UK parents (with children in 2nd year of University up to children who have just graduated in the summer of 2016).
- When asked how much they spend per month on their child’s university expenses, respondents said the following:
- Tuition fees: average monthly spend of £71.49
- Energy bills (electric, gas or dual fuel): average monthly spend of £25.86
- Water bill: average monthly spend of £6.53
- Mobile phone (bill and insurance): average monthly spend of £21.17
- Contents insurance: average monthly spend of £9.78
- Car insurance: average monthly spend of £22.35
- Internet/landline/TV bill: average monthly spend of £17.60
- Rent: average monthly spend of £101.39
- Food: average monthly spend of £44.19
- Travel: average monthly spend of £26.59
- Subsistence (adhoc spend): average monthly spend of £40.76
- Emergency money: average monthly spend of £29.50
Therefore, the total average monthly expenditure is £417.22, and the average annual cost is £417.22 x 12 = £5006.64. Therefore, the total cost across the country is £5006.64 x 1,176,795 students = £5,891,788,918. Averages include parents who do not contribute financially.
- When asked ‘Do you support your child financially at university?’, 86% of respondents said yes
- When asked if they feel like the pay more than they should for their child’s household bills, respondents said the following:
- Energy bills (electric, gas or dual fuel): average monthly overspend of £14.16
- Water bills: average monthly overspend of £4.40
- Contents insurance: average monthly overspend of £4.55
- Mobile phone (bill and insurance): average monthly overspend of £10.37
- Car insurance: average monthly overspend of £8.27
- Internet/landline/TV bill: average monthly overspend of £12.55
Therefore, the total average monthly overspend on household bills is £54.30, and the average annual overspend is £54.30 x 12 = £651.60. Therefore, the total overspend across the country is £651.60 x 1,176,795 students = £766,799,622
- There are 1,176,795 UK-based, Full-time undergraduate or foundation degree students (source: Higher Education Statistics Agency). This figure does not include post-grad students, part-time undergraduate students or any international students from outside the UK.
- When asked ‘Do you think your child/children have ensured they are on the best deal/tariff possible for the below bills?’ on average 31% say yes across the different bills asked (as listed in point 1).
- When asked if they feel like the pay more than they should for their child’s household bills, 17% said that they pay more than they should for mobile phone bills, 12% said that they pay more than they should for car insurance and 11% said that they pay more than they should for electricity bills
- Between 1 March 2016 and 31 May 2016, people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with uSwitch saved an average of £403
- When asked if in general, they use comparison sites to compare the cost of bills, 19% answered yes – for all bills
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Uswitch is the UK’s top comparison website for home services switching. Launched in September 2000, we help consumers save money on their gas, electricity, broadband, mobile, TV, and financial services products and get more of what matters to them. Last year we saved consumers over £373 million on their energy bills alone.
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