Best Universities for Value for Money
Let’s face it, university can be an incredibly expensive business, which will either take years to save up for or years to pay off.
So, probably the most basic question on all students' minds is “Am I going to get good value for money on this course or university experience?”
But the answer to that question isn’t an easy one.
How are the Top 20 worked out?
We’ve crunched the numbers of our 19,323 student review scores to find out directly from students which courses they think offer the best value for money. We’ve used this to reveal our top 20 league table of the best universities for value for money based 100% on students' views!
With the costs of university soaring, this university ranking is going to become even more important.
How do you know if a university course is good value for money?
Perceptions about value for money are usually a combination of a number of things. Some of the fundamentals include: typical salaries for graduates on your course, contact time, good quality teaching and access to services when you need them.
So, if the graduate earnings for your course are very high, then you’ll be more likely to think your course is good value for money. Like Imperial College’s (#8) impressive average graduate salary of £47,800 after 5 years of graduation.
Contact hours are often used as a measure of value for money. Simply put, the more time in lectures, seminars and labs classes, the better the value for money.
The quality of teaching is important here too. Being taught by an expert in your field or someone with great communication skills can make all the difference. The teaching facilities can make a huge impact, like the University of Aberdeen’s (#11) £35m investment in their new Science Hub, providing a high-spec learning environment.
Other areas that get factored in are things like support services: are you able to get the additional learning support you need, or access to counselling when you need it?
Then, there are the more subtle aspects, like the quality of facilities and a well kept campus, or opportunities to develop your transferable skills, all of which can balance out lower graduate salaries.
University reviews from students just leaving university can be a great way to find out if the course you are interested in is good value for money.
Check out our Cheapest UK Cities for Student Accommodation league table to see how expensive your favourite universities are.
Find out about the rest of StudentCrowd’s Best University Awards 2021 here.
Published: 29th July 2021
Glasgow Caledonian University
"Great faculty and quality learning for all educational departments."
Topping our list is Glasgow Caledonian University, being located in one of the most reasonably priced cities in the UK. The university is committed to its social mission to promote the Common Good and to contributing to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is ranked in the top 70 globally in the Times Higher Impact Rankings 2021. Teaching methods aim to explore new and beneficial techniques to encourage students to apply their learning into the working world, with facilities such as the media studios and virtual hospital simulating real world scenarios for students in an environment where they can improve their skills with support from tutors and peers.
University of Cambridge
"First class teaching and learning resource."
Cambridge graduates repeatedly top the table in HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey. Cambridge offers a world class education experience for university students. This is borne out by Cambridge topping the charts for teaching quality, course content and personal tutors in StudentCrowd University Awards. This demonstrates their commitment and investment in the student experience.
University of St Andrews
"The student experience and teaching quality is excellent."
St Andrews, Scotland’s first university, is placed 3rd for value for money due to its exceptional standards of student experience and ensuring everyone enjoys their time at university. St Andrews holds a world class reputation for their high quality teaching, historical backdrop and amazing student satisfaction, so it is no wonder it ranks so highly in our University Awards.
Harper Adams University
"Amazing rural university that specialises in land based degrees."
98.8% of Harper Adams graduates are employed 15 months after finishing their course, which explains their high levels of student satisfaction. As demonstrated by its TEF Gold award, Harper Adams is known as a specialist provider of higher education for agricultural and rural education. Alongside this, Harper Adams has links with over 700 employers, which is why their graduates get jobs!
University of Liverpool
"My department provides access to all equipment needed to do my course. Very much satisfied with my student years at the University of Liverpool."
Did you know Liverpool has more museums and galleries than any other city in the UK except London? Located in a city thriving with culture, the University of Liverpool makes it to the top 5 in our value for money category. One student said they thought the UoL is underrated, as their tutors were really involved in teaching students and the university was well organised throughout. With 400+ undergraduate and postgraduate courses to choose from, the UoL offers a subject for everyone.
Robert Gordon University
"Very good course! Fantastic lectures and great experiences on placements so far!"
Established next to the picturesque River Dee, Robert Gordon University combines academic study with a great outdoor setting to enjoy in your free time. Graduates have said the tutors are friendly and are always willing to help students expand their knowledge, which was a key factor in improving their overall academic experience and preparation for the world of work. Being based in the small city of Aberdeen means you will find community both on campus and with the other university nearby.
University of Glasgow
"UofG is a good university with good course coordinators and tutors who help students study a lot."
As Glasgow is 43% cheaper to live in than London, it's an amazing city to choose if you are looking to save the most money whilst getting your degree! The University of Glasgow has committed to investing £1 billion into their extended campus facilities in the next 10 years. This includes the £90.6m James McCune Smith Learning Hub, which will extend learning and teaching space to 2,500 students.
Imperial College London
"The course is of outstanding quality - would highly recommend"
If you are looking for high graduate prospects, Imperial College London is for you. The average graduate earnings are £47,800 5 years after graduation for ICL students, proving that they are able to show students how to best perform in the workplace. Imperial College London focuses on the four main disciplines of science, engineering, medicine and business and it is one of the world’s most international universities with 60% of students from outside the UK.
University of Warwick
"Despite the lockdown, all the teaching and administration staff are providing high quality education to students."
University of Warwick graduates rank in the top 10 for earnings after 5 years across 11 subjects. If you are interested in socialising, they have over 300 student-run societies and clubs perfect for meeting your new friends for life! Looking for part-time work alongside your studies? Warwick offers more than 8,000 on-campus work opportunities for students, so you can earn money and develop your skills for the future.
The University of Sheffield
"The university offers a large variety of courses, with teaching from some of the world\'s top researchers, and access to world-class facilities."
As a member of the Russell Group, The University of Sheffield demonstrates its excellence in teaching and research across the campus. Also, The Sheffield Students' Union tops our University Awards demonstrating how it prioritises student needs!
University of Aberdeen
"Courses are well constructed and there is lot of effort out into providing students with outside school activities such as sports clubs or various societies."
Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is the 5th oldest university in the UK, with historically beautiful campus buildings to show for it. One of its latest campus investments is the £35m Science Teaching Hub, which will be completed by 2022, offering state-of-the-art scientific teaching spaces and laboratories. The historical buildings combined with the modern high-end teaching spaces, means you can enjoy the beautiful architecture without giving up the standards and preparation for employment.
University of Bath
"Amazing experience. I am extremely satisfied and happy to have studied here."
Students have commented on the high standards of the sports facilities, including an Olympic-size swimming pool and the £35m Sports Training Village, which accommodates facilities for more than 50 sports. In addition to this, job prospects are noticeably high for Bath graduates, with two thirds of students choosing to do a placement or study abroad year.
University of Nottingham
"Plenty of practical experience combined with fantastic theoretical content. Wide range of topics covered with the option to choose modules after 2nd year."
The University of Nottingham have invested £300m into university-wide teaching and sports facilities in the last 5 years. Investments into the student experience have clearly paid off for the UoN, as the average salary for graduates after 5 years sits at £33,200, which is above average in comparison to the rest of the country.
University of Strathclyde
"My first year at university was great! My course was easy to follow thanks to the lecturers and facilities offered ..."
The University of Strathclyde is located in Glasgow, one of the world’s most affordable and friendly cities, explaining its place on our top 20. What’s more, the university offers a £1,000 accommodation bursary for tuition fee-paying undergraduates from England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Ireland who choose to stay in the Strathclyde Halls. This means the low living costs are pushed even lower, making the University of Strathclyde a great choice if you are looking to save money.
"Really good course content and lots of stimulating information."
Situated in the north of England, student living costs are lower on average than competitors in the south, and Newcastle is no exception. Moreover, the university has invested £30m in brand new and refurbished spaces, including a world-class gym and additional sports facilities. If you are thinking about life beyond university, Newcastle offers access to their careers services for up to 3 years after graduation so you will feel supported both during and after your studies.
"As someone who has never done business before, this course is great! ...lecturers provide so many guest speaker lectures and help you connecting with people in the industry for future use!"
With a relatively cheap cost of living and great graduate prospects, it's not difficult to see why Loughborough University makes it into the value for money top 20. Loughborough has a strong reputation for sport, business and engineering, making it the obvious choice for anyone wanting to gain a top degree in a location that doesn't cost a fortune.
University of Exeter
"...professors are always willing to help with any questions or problems you may be having... Every lecture is also recorded and put online so if you ever miss any or want to rewatch older ones when revising you are able to."
47% of your university fees go towards teaching, learning and research at the University of Exeter. This explains why their courses have been described as ‘intellectually stimulating’ by students. Additionally, more than 95% of students are in further study or work within 6 months of graduating from the University of Exeter. This reflects the value employers place on a degree from the University of Exeter.
University of Portsmouth
"Good mix of lectures and practical work, wide range of teaching subjects across the whole spectrum of palaeontology, highly knowledgable staff."
At the University of Portsmouth, students can expect outstanding academic and personal support from tutors. Fantastic career opportunities and employability services also show how much Portsmouth values those who study there. Students have said there are lots of options within the courses, giving them choices to study the topics they most enjoy. Add in the TEF Gold standard of teaching across the university and it’s clear that Portsmouth sets a high standard for student satisfaction and value for money.
Nottingham Trent University (NTU)
"Good teaching quality ... Good course content and strong links with businesses for placements and graduate jobs."
Nottingham Trent University continues to go from strength to strength in its employability figures, with a typical graduate earning £27,000 after five years. That, combined with being able to study in a relatively cheap city, makes NTU a great option for someone looking for a city experience at a great university. Many of its departments have an excellent reputation in the job market with great links to industry.
"Thoroughly enjoyed my first year at Lancaster Uni...I've really enjoyed my course. Being able to chooser a minor subject for first year was interesting as you got to learn about another subject you are interested in."
The college system at Lancaster University is excellent if you are interested in socialising and joining clubs alongside your academic studies. Recently, the university completed an £11m extension to its main library facilities, increasing its capacity by 400 spaces. This means 1600 spaces are available for you to use for study. Alongside this, you will enjoy 200 mbps+ internet speeds; perfect for online learning with ease. Who could ever complain about that?
Think your university deserves to be in the StudentCrowd top 20? Leave a review now for our 2022 University Awards!