International student costs in London fall as Sydney becomes most expensive place to study outside US

11 October 2017

Savills World Research, using data supplied by, has calculated that living and studying costs in London have dropped as fluctuations in the value of sterling has made the city cheaper for international students. Boston, New York and San Francisco, however, have retained their positions as the world’s top three most expensive cities for international students, each costing in excess of $5,500 a month, 20% more than the next dearest city. This is now Sydney which has taken fourth place for the first time, replacing London, with a monthly cost of $4,700, mainly due to a strengthening Aussie dollar.

View the ranking of the monthly international student living and studying costs by city here. 

Mainland European cities, however, stand apart for their affordability and are well positioned to attract cost-conscious globally mobile students. According to Savills, Prague, Berlin, Vienna and Warsaw are the cheapest cities in which to study, on par with Shanghai. Tuition costs in these cities are minimal, accommodation costs are half the average of the 20 cities examined, while quality is improving thanks to increasing amounts of purpose-built student housing being developed.

The rapid growth in international student numbers has underpinned demand for high quality student housing across the globe, but the type of product they want varies by region. Data from shows that students from the Middle East and China typically take the longest tenancies, 90% and 87% respectively for a full academic year, which may increase accommodation costs for students from these regions, while those from the US and Asia Pacific (including Australia) are most likely to rent for shorter periods. When it comes to room type preferences, there is relative uniformity across the globe. Students from the Middle East are slightly more likely to rent an entire property or studio, however, echoing their typically larger average budgets.

Marcus Roberts, Director in the Residential Capital Markets team at Savills, adds: “The optimum ratio for student housing varies not only by country, but by town or city. Many universities supply their own accommodation, but lack the funds or expertise to upgrade this to modern standards. This opens up opportunities for JVs and partnering arrangements with private sector operators to deliver housing that ticks the boxes with students, particularly in the under-served middle tier between lower-quality university stock and more expensive premium products.”

Luke Nolan, founder and CEO of, comments: “Students will always opt for at least some level of privacy, especially for the space in which they sleep and consistent feedback is that being close to campus is the number one priority, even if this involves compromising on extensive facilities. The most popular social spaces revolve around fitness, entertainment and study. Overall, students expect more and the industry loves delivering to student requirements, which drives an upward pressure on rents – especially since most mature markets still don’t have enough student housing. Honestly, in the end, the winning factor is the community and not specs, so if you want to invest in anything, invest in the student experience.”

View the full Savills World Student Housing Report 2017 here


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Key Contacts

Marcus Roberts MRICS

Marcus Roberts MRICS

Director - Europe
Residential Capital Markets

Savills Margaret Street

+44 (0) 20 7016 3799


Paul Tostevin

Paul Tostevin

Associate Director
World Research

Savills Margaret Street

+44 (0) 20 7016 3883