COST OF LIVING: Most expensive college revealed

We found a stunning £74 difference in the weekly cost of living between the most and least expensive.

| UPDATED Catz cheapest comparison cost fines Formal hall meal kfc laundry Library living most expensive pint Selwyn Wine

The Tab looked at the cost of accommodation, formal, 15 hall meals, the Kitchen Fixed Charge, two pints in the college bar, a bottle of college wine, a load of laundry, a taxi from Cindies and a late library fine to find the weekly cost of living for an average student at each Cambridge college.

Downing is the college with the most expensive cost of living, with a weekly cost of £264. Selwyn, Jesus, Clare Hall, Queens’, Newnham and Robinson all cost more than £230 a week.

Catz is the cheapest college, with a minute £179 weekly cost. Sidney Sussex, Magdalene, Medwards, Churchill, Christ’s, Pembroke and Homerton all also come in at less than £200 a week.

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An anonymous student at Selwyn, the second most expensive college, said “This doesn’t surprise me. I have found Selwyn to be rather expensive. Rent is unsurprisingly steep: a year after I matriculated, the College completed the upgrade of Cripps Court, making it the second out of three courts with all ensuite rooms, which are notoriously more expensive. Old Court has larger set-rooms, which are expensive by virtue of their square footage. In essence, there aren’t many decent and cheap rooms available.”

“Having said that, the College was extremely supportive with my financial difficulties and provided me with a bursary during the last academic year. The Buttery has also recently started providing cheap meals. I don’t think a jacket potato with baked beans is my cup of tea, nor do I believe it’s that healthy, but it’s good to know that the College is aware of student budgeting and is willing to compromise where possible. Yes, Selwyn is expensive, but it’s also extremely friendly and I believe the Council are capable of addressing this”

Upgrades to Selwyn’s Old Court may be the reason it’s so expensive

Sam Trizuljak, a student at Catz, was surprised at how cheap it is relative to other colleges. “Don’t really know why Catz would be the least expensive of colleges” he said ” but I think it may be the case that they are just a really nice people. I think we also have more travel grants available than most other colleges. Recently the College has also introduced an additional Entrance Bursary scheme, which essentially tops up your Cambridge UK/European bursary automatically depending on your household income. The college is thus generally very generous.”


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There is a huge variation in the costs of formal. Wolfson has the most expensive formal, costing £18.50, although wine is included in that price. Formals, on average, cost about £10 with the majority of colleges charging between £8 and £11. Caius charges a mere £4.16 and Magdalene only £5.50

Hall Meal

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Hall meals, too, vary widely in cost and have a large impact on the overall cost of living at each college. Clare Hall, Downing and Selwyn had some of the most expensive butteries, charging more than £5.50 for an average meal. On the other end of the scale, a meal can be found at Newnham for as little as £2.30

Kitchen Fixed Charge

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Not all colleges have a Kitchen Fixed Charge, with students at colleges like Wolfson, Emma, Girton and Homerton saved between £120 and £196 a term. Murray Edwards and Corpus have the highest charges while Kings charges a reasonable £127.40.

Drinks in the College Bar


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College wine on average costs about £7.20 but Clare’s £12 college wine is more than double Churchill’s cheap £5 bottle.

Two Pints

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Two pints will cost about £4.50 in most college bars, although students at Newnham and Fitz get a particularly good deal while those at Homerton and Pembroke are charged more than £6.


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Lucky students at Jesus, Caius and Emma pay nothing for laundry while at Churchill a single load costs £3.80.

Taxi from Cindies

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Students at colleges close to Cambridge’s centre are saved the fairly expensive cost of a taxi home after a night out. Residents of Wolfson and Homerton pay the most for a taxi, which costs them £9.20 and £8.80 for a one-way trip.

Library Fines

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Most colleges charge between 20p and 50p per day for late library books, although nine college libraries charge nothing. Selwyn and Trinity are the most expensive, fining students £2.50 and £1 respectively.

Where possible The Tab has used publicly or privately available data. In some cases, we have used estimates from students. If there are any corrections, please email [email protected].