Best Universities for Value for Money 2022
No matter which way you look at it, choosing to go to university is an expensive decision. Even for those students who choose to live at home, or manage to get some sort of scholarship, the costs can still stack up, especially for international students.
However, value for money is a tricky thing to measure. That's why hearing directly from students about their perceptions of value is more important than ever. Our league table below reveals the top 20 best universities for value for money as voted for by real students.
How is our top 20 league table worked out?
We’ve crunched the numbers on 15,871 university reviews submitted on StudentCrowd between June 2020 and May 2022 to find out the best universities for value for money in 2022. The annual StudentCrowd University Awards are the only UK university rankings based entirely on authentic student reviews. At StudentCrowd, we only allow reviews verified by a valid ac.uk email address, to ensure all the opinions on our site are real students’ views.
What is value for money at university?
Deciding whether university is good value for money is definitely a personal opinion. However, we believe it tends to be a combination of many factors.
Perceptions of high quality teaching is usually a key metric to determine the value for money of a course or university. This can simply be how engaging the lecturers are, the quality of the resources provided, how useful the content is, the research behind the material or the amount of contact hours per week. All of these are good markers of quality teaching and can help provide a perception of value.
Graduate outcomes are also important to determine the value for money, as they show how many students secure jobs after finishing university. For example, 92% of graduates from Durham University (#12) are in, or are due to start, employment or further study within 15 months of graduating.
The quality of campus facilities and services provided are another indicator of good value. For instance, a large 560-acre campus at Lancaster University (#5) could provide great value for some students, with one saying they have “highly-rated facilities”.
Higher graduate salaries show better value for money being provided by universities, especially with the job market’s instability post-COVID pandemic and tuition fees at an all-time-high. Average earnings for economics students five years after graduating from the University of St Andrews (#2) are £63,500, compared to an average UK full-time employee at £30,420. This shows some of the highest earnings in the country five years after graduation.
How to get the biggest bang for your buck at university
Living costs at university are one of the only things students have control over at university, as tuition fees are fixed. Living costs will be determined by accommodation costs and the cost of living at the university location and there is a great deal of variance in both across the country. Students might be surprised to find out that the cost of accommodation is one of the major annual costs in their budget.
There are significant differences in price between locations as can be seen from our cheapest cities for accommodation article. Student accommodation can vary from an average of £4,472 to £13,728 a year depending on where you live (this is a comparison between Bradford and London). You can save a lot of money by going to university in a cheaper location which could be seen to offer better value for money.
Is university worth the money anymore?
We definitely think so! A university experience is much more than just a degree at the end of it. It’s about lifelong friendships, gaining independence, learning life skills, motivation, self-development and more! Going to a university is an investment in yourself. There isn’t usually an immediate pay off but you’re gaining access to higher-paying jobs after graduating, so you are setting yourself up for life!
We can now reveal the top 20 universities for value for money according to students below!
Find out more…
Find out about the rest of StudentCrowd’s Best UK Universities in 2022 across our review categories.
The Top 20 UK Universities for Value for Money
“All the staff are lovely and clearly care about their jobs. They reply to queries fast and are happy to help. The course flows well and even during Covid allows for optimal on campus time...”
Coming in at number one for value for money is Robert Gordon University! RGU has recently invested more than £100-million into the development of its campus, facilities, resources and study areas in the tranquil parkland around campus. Located next to the river Dee, there is always something happening on campus or in the bustling city of Aberdeen. Notably, Aberdeen was ranked #14 out of 71 cities for cost of student accommodation in 2021, providing further proof of it being excellent value for money for students. RGU has also been awarded third place in our teaching quality award for 2022, meaning students can be confident of receiving fantastic value from RGU’s outstanding teaching.
“A fantastic institution with world-leading lectures and researchers all dedicated to bringing the most out of students.”
Featuring in the top three last year, the University of St Andrew’s renowned teaching quality continues to provide great benefit to students. St Andrews is one of only two universities to have won an award in every category this year. That is a testament to how their excellent career prospects, wide range of societies, well-equipped campus and lively Students’ Union come together to offer fantastic value to students.
“This course has been amazing in producing engaging content, the staff are amazing in their teaching and always very welcoming. I feel confident going into work after completing my degree”
For students dreaming of a busy city teeming with life, but worried about the substantial costs associated with it, Glasgow might be a good fit. Glasgow is 43% cheaper to live in than London and GCU is situated right in the centre. Despite being less expensive, GCU maintains excellent student satisfaction rates, delivering impressive value for money to its students. GCU's career-focused programmes, innovative teaching and world-class facilities continue to set the university apart at this value point.
“...Class sizes are small, that made me feel valued and that staff had time for me, even in 1st year. Sometimes it felt like I was at an Ivy league.”
Superb teaching quality results in 91% of graduates from the University of Aberdeen being in, or due to start, employment or further study 15 months after graduation. As one of the oldest universities in the UK, Aberdeen has extensive facilities, including three museums on campus! One student commented, “class sizes are small, that made me feel valued and that staff had time for me”. A good ratio of students-to-lecturers helps to optimise learning environments.
“...The flexibility of the BSc is great and allows you to tailor your degree to whichever career you are interested in and the careers team here is amazing at helping you start your career straight after your graduate.”
Investment in the facilities at Lancaster University has clearly paid off, being featured once again in our top 20 universities in value for money. Students at Lancaster get to enjoy 560 acres of green campus, teeming with fantastic facilities and places to relax. This beautiful environment, coupled with bright careers prospects, provides students with exceptional value for their money.
“Very exciting course and provides me with the opportunity to go into a great job in the future”
Ulster University offers excellent teaching quality combined with state-of-the-art facilities and resources which students have highly praised in reviews. REF’s 2021 assessment positions Ulster University in the top 10% for exceptional research in the UK and they have a particularly strong reputation in the fields of geography and environmental science. They enjoy an extremely high graduate employment rate and have won a spot in our top three universities for prospects this year. Students studying at Ulster can view their degree as an investment for years to come.
“The uni is full of facilities for anything a student might need, and the staff are friendly and helpful, both on academic topics and more personal ones.”
The market town of Huddersfield ranks #23 out of 71 towns and cities in the UK for cost of student accommodation, contributing to the university's reputation for providing good value for money for students. The University of Huddersfield is renowned for their top-rated placement years in industry, with 100% of undergraduates having the opportunity to take one. 90% of graduates from Huddersfield were in, or due to start, employment or further study 15 months after the end of their course, proving the positive impact of investing in their education.
“... The university offers a large variety of courses, with teaching from some of the world's top researchers, and access to world-class facilities...”
The University of Sheffield is the only university to be an overall winner and feature in all 10 sub-awards from StudentCrowd this year! Performing excellently in all areas, students considering Sheffield can be confident in the fantastic value for money being offered. The city is teeming with shops, bars, resturants, clubs and energy. Moving between these places is easy too, with cost effective public transport available around the clock. For the price, few universities can compete with such a well rounded and comprehensive experience.
“As a place of research, not many places in the world are as good as imperial, the campus, although small, has great facilities and some genuinely brilliant staff members.”
Retaining a top-10 spot on our list, Imperial College London's teaching quality is world-famous and students benefit from the research-led approach to teaching and learning. Students can co-create important research in their fields of study, alongside highly professional academic staff. Imperial is located in the heart of London, with nine campuses spread around the city. Students have access to a plethora of resources in the capital, from museums and shops, to the ability to study in the British Library. Imperial College may be based in the most expensive city in the UK, but offers an exceptionally high quality education.
“The course is interesting and related to the modern world. Very creative and fun teaching system. All the tutors are very helpful.”
As a member of the Russell Group, the University of Southampton provides excellent teaching quality across its 300+ undergraduate courses. This high standard of teaching translates to employment rates, with over 92% of students employed or in further study within 15 months of graduating. Reviews of the university regularly feature praise for the friendly atmosphere, helpful and supportive staff, as well as extensive resources available to students. This combination of strengths provides students with an incredible education for their money.
“Prestigious university fully accredited by the RIBA with years-long reputation and high employability of its graduates”
Being right in the centre of the Welsh capital, students at Cardiff University can expect a lively time with easy transport connections within Cardiff and to further afield. Within their well-known Student’s Union, The Great Hall and Y Plas venues regularly host events and live music. With over 200 societies to join, there is something on offer for everyone. Excellent teaching quality and a focus on research makes Cardiff a solid choice for anyone wanting to gain a top degree in a capital city that doesn't cost a fortune.
“The courses were very rewarding and interesting. This year was special, but the tutors did their best to provide dynamic online courses. They gave us all the resources we needed to spend a nice year.”
Founded in 1832, Durham University has been at the forefront of world-leading research for quite some time! Research quality is a reliable marker of university status so combining that with a supportive and constructive teaching environment has led to Durham graduates being sought-after in the job market. A massive 92% of graduates are in, or due to start, employment or further study 15 months after graduation, making a degree from Durham a solid financial investment.
“Best course with the top module leaders making the difficult task learning in a very easy way. Ranking in top 5 for research worldwide.”
It's no wonder that Cardiff Metropolitan University features in our top 20 list. Their unique approach focuses on subject-specific teaching and applied research, arming students with an array of digital skills that will equip them for their future vocations. These skills are strongly desired in the workplace, and as CMU has close links with more than 5,000 employers, graduates can be confident that they will that their time at university will help them thrive in their future careers.
“Beautiful campus with excellent facilities and a variety of societies and sports clubs for all levels of interest and ability. Teaching is excellent, night life is good and location is great.”
Royal Holloway is one of the top research-led institutions in the UK but still puts a strong emphasis on successful career acquisition. Royal Holloway has one of the most stunning parkland campuses in the UK yet is only a short train journey into London, so students have endless options for recreation and leisure. Students are able to enjoy their proximity to the capital city and yet benefit from the friendly atmosphere on campus and a plethora of clubs and societies to dive into!
“i love my course! it’s so well structured and the staff is great. the content is not too heavy, but hard enough i keep me studying”
Keele University continues to prioritise innovative teaching and renowned facilities, to give students access to all the resources they need to become highly employable. Students are provided with excellent support through subject-specific personal tutors to help them develop and reach their potential. This results in a massive 92% of graduates being in, or due to start, employment or further study 15 months after graduation.
“Outstanding quality of teaching [...] Supportive and helpful staff made us feel like we are part of a community. My personal tutor and other lecturers have helped me achieve my goals and improve my academic and professional career.”
The University of Liverpool features in a whopping nine subcategory awards this year and was in the top five last year for value! The Liverpool city centre campus offers a whole host of green spaces whilst also being in the middle of a buzzing city. From specialist sporting facilities and bars to museums, there's always something going on. The Liverpool Guild of Students offers an abundance of services and over 200 societies.
“Love this course, lecturers are brilliant. Very hands on and labs make it interesting. So glad I picked this course.”
Located in the centre of Glasgow, one of the UK's most affordable and friendly cities, is the University of Strathclyde. Evidently deserving to retain its place in our top 20, Strathclyde has managed to generate high levels of student satisfaction, with over 90% of graduates in work or further study 15 months after graduation. They are investing a great deal in their campus over the next few years, ensuring their facilities remain cutting-edge and facilitate a conducive learning environment.
“The courses combine traditional and digital part of marketing. The balance here prepares students for many career paths in the future.”
Situated on a 750-acre estate of green space and staggering lakes, the Warwick campus is a sight to behold! Warwick’s fantastic teaching facilities, combined with engaging lecturers who deliver content to the highest standards, create a wonderful learning environment for students. With over 250 societies, students are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking extracurricular activities. With superb employment prospects, as well as an excellent student experience, it's no wonder Warwick feature on our shortlist for best value.
“... I loved my time there. It is a vibrant, stimulating community with great facilities in a lovely parkland campus [...] My experience there shaped me for a successful life and career and I'm still in touch with many friends I made there.”
Highly valued for its research output and teaching quality, the University of Reading has won a total of nine subcategory University Awards this year, ranging from internet and personal tutors to the Students' Union. Students highly rate the beautiful campus spaces and variety of facilities and activities available. The University of Reading provides good value to students by developing transferrable skills, utilising their business links and preparing them for their chosen careers.
“UEA has so much to offer from sports clubs, societies and support to all students. The campus is beautiful [...] UEA aims to make all students feel at home and make the most of all the opportunities given to us.”
The University of East Anglia’s campus has copious amounts of green space, beautiful architecture, over 15 eating spots and is home to their £30-million Sportspark, one the UK's top sports facilities. Students also have access to over 200 societies and clubs! The diverse, thriving and supportive community at UEA helps to provide some of the best student satisfaction. The sense of community is created by both the students and teachers, with students quick to praise the supportive staff in reviews.