Some of the Fresher's Week purchases sent in to Varsity reached well into four figuresLouis Ashworth for Varsity

Ahead of Freshers’ Week, 115 Cambridge students completed our self-selecting anonymous survey about their weekly student budget. 

A Typical Weekly Budget

On average, a Cambridge student spends a total of £277 a week with around £174 a week going on rent. This is largely consistent with the median rent reported in the Varsity rent survey last term which averages rent around £180 a week, assuming a 30-week contract across the year.

The majority of student budgets fall between £200-300 per week. However, outside of this average range, we found a large variation in weekly budgets, particularly in the top 25% of student budgets which ranged between £425-£700. The bottom quarter of weekly budgets rather ranged from £95-£150.

How do Cambridge Students support themselves?

Romilly Norfolk & Suchir Salhan

Most Cambridge students who filled out our survey supported themselves through a combination of student and maintenance loans and money from their parents, guardians or other relatives. The vast majority of these students also used their personal savings, as well.

17% of the students who completed the survey did not rely on any form of financial support from parents, guardians or family relatives. Most of the students in this group also relied on bursaries provided by the college and the university. 

Huge Disparity in Weekly Student Budgets

Variation in the Weekly Budgets of Cambridge StudentRomilly Norfolk & Suchir Salhan

Below are two graphs which reveal the income sources for the ten most expensive student budgets, and the ten cheapest student budgets.

“It’s not fun to have to count your coppers while people afford to eat out, shop designers and go clubbing every week thanks to their mummy and daddy”

Including rent, the largest reported weekly budgets were £600 and £700, totalling up to about £17,000 in an academic year. The two students who reported these budgets respectively spent £150 and £250 on essentials, such as food. Out of the top ten most expensive weekly budgets, seven declared that they received some support from their family, with two stating that they relied exclusively on family support to live in Cambridge.

On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest reported weekly budget including college rent was £75. This student spent only £30 on essentials and their weekly rent cost around £37.


May Balls, Winter Balls and a Cambridge Union membership were the stand-out expenses for most students surveyed. However, several students told us that they have to forego attending May Balls because they simply cannot afford to go.

90 students shared information about their termly spending on going out to restaurants, coffee shops or cafes. Students spent an average of £115 over a term indulging in the Cambridge food scene. The student with the second-highest weekly budget spent a total of £750 in Cambridge cafes and restaurants across a single term, or £93.75 a week. Most of our top spenders reported spending around £400 across a term. However, several students told us that they chose not to engage in Cambridge coffee culture at all, as a cost-saving measure.

Cambridge students on average spent less on clubbing, pubs and joining Cambridge societies than they spent in cafes and restaurants. The average termly budget set aside for entertainment and societies (reported in Michaelmas when many societies ask members to pay annual or lifetime fees) was £171. There was a large amount of variation observed here – with one student spending £960 across a term, while several students reported spending less than £50 across an entire term.