Almost a fifth (18%) of students felt the pandemic negatively affected their ability to achieve their degree – particularly for students studying at Durham where it rises to over one in four (27%) students. Only one in ten students valued the online resources provided by their university.  

The full 2021 NatWest Student Living Index is released in full on Friday 6 August, having surveyed more than 2300 students across the country. Students were asked a range of questions, on fraud and scams, on how much they spend on essentials such as food, rent and bills, and how much time they spend studying, working and socialising. 

Cambridge students gave their university top marks for the overall support they were given during the crisis, with over one in four (27%) feeling highly supported compared to the UK average of under one in five (18%). In comparison, Durham received the lowest score of 8%, followed by Oxford at 11%. 

The move to an online education didn’t just impact how students were taught, it also affected their social lives. Four in five (78%) students found it difficult to make new university friends while learning remotely, with London standing out as the easiest place to socialise (38%) and Durham the toughest (10%).

The mental health of students has also taken a hit during lockdown. Over nine in ten (92%) students used some kind of mechanism to cope with stress. The most popular method to alleviate stress was a hobby (59%) while nearly half (49%) sought support from friends. More students said they turned to alcohol (11%) than accessed their university’s mental health resources (9%).

Andy Nicholson, NatWest Head of Student Accounts said: “The pandemic reshaped the way most of us work, and for many students this meant staying at home for lectures over Zoom, our 2021 NatWest Student Living Index reveals just how much this impacted students. As students begin to return to face-to-face learning, we have designed our Student Account offer to help students once again make the most of their time at university.”


Find out more about the 2021 NatWest Student Living Index

NatWest’s Student Living Index covers 21 university cities and towns, looking at the spending habits, lifestyle and the cost of living for students across the UK and uses the information to determine the most affordable city for students to live in. 

Audience: n=2337 University Students Living in the UK

Survey period: 4 June – 17 June 2021. Respondents were given a small incentive to take part in an online survey. The survey was unbranded for all respondents.

Panel Provider: YouthSight: Experts in student and young professionals research 



This is for media use and not a financial promotion.

Student account: Apply online only. You must be 17+ and a UK Citizen or have been living in the UK for at least 3 years.

Study details: You need to be full time undergraduate student (on at least a 2 year course at a UK University/College) or you need to be completing a full time postgraduate or nursing course lasting a year or more. You can apply within 6 months of your course start date.


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