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Is Warwick affordable?

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Let’s picture the scene. You, an aspirational, discerning denizen of Year 12 are researching universities. You, of course, emerge none the wiser about where to invest three years of your life, because league tables are but hieroglyphics to us mere mortals.This is an important decision though. It decides where you pay £27,000. That’s probably enough to finance a small independent film.

This is where the new research by Gocompare.com, the monsters behind the most infuriating television adverts of the decade, comes in. They have crunched the numbers in order to determine the relative cost of living at higher education institutes across the country.

This is worth commending. Cost of living is clearly an important factor in choosing where to study, and it throws up lots of interesting facts. It openly defecates on the concept of a maintenance loan, as the full amount is nowhere near enough to fund even the most ascetic lifestyle.

You…emerge none the wiser…because league tables are but hieroglyphics

But if right now you are punching the air, yelling to the universe about your newfound freedom to finally evaluate universities solely on the basis of financial factors, I’m afraid that I must let you down. It is inconceivable that the information provided by Gocompare.com is in any way useful to applicants.

In the first instance, the information provided by Gocompare.com is opaque. The ‘Books’ category is deeply unhelpful – some people will splash out for every text they come across, and others will take their chances in the cut-throat world of library materials.

It is inconceivable that the information provided by Gocompare.com is in any way useful

The ‘Social’ tab may well be an average, but that belies that reality that people spend wildly different amounts. If you are not to be found enacting an impromptu geometry lecture in Smack with all the shapes you drop, I suspect your expenditure will be low.

Most Russell Group universities are within a few thousand pounds of one another. Obviously, thousands of pounds sounds like a lot – but it is clear that cost of living cannot be adequately represented by one number. As in much of adulthood, ‘it depends’ is probably the most accurate way to answer questions about cost of living.

That belies that reality that people spend wildly different amounts

But do not feel browbeaten, for I have devised an elegant solution. I address this final part of my article solely to Universities Minister Jo Johnson, and trust that those not fortunate enough to be the said personage will read no further.

Jo, we’re alone now. Here’s my pitch – make maintenance loans different for each university, sufficient to meet the broad costs of living identified by Gocompare.com. Yes, they are deeply, deeply flawed figures. But they probably reflect a level of expenditure most people can stick within.

I address this final part of my article solely to Universities Minister Jo Johnson

People already do factor cost of living into their university choice to a greater or lesser extent, and it is unhelpful to offer one-size-fits-all maximum loan amounts. Places have different costs; people have different needs. Let students borrow less rigidly. This new data from Gocompare.com proves the untenable iniquity of the current system.

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