Average student rents are up 3.1% this academic year to stand at just under £80 a week.
However, the rise has been driven by increases in student rent in the south, while rents in many northern cities have stayed the same or fallen. Student accommodation in the north is not only cheaper than in the south, but is more likely to include bills.
Website Accommodation for Students bases its UK-wide table of rents on over 125,500 properties in 92 locations, including London where the average student rent is £129 a week.
The second most expensive place is Egham, Surrey, at £115, followed by Newport where rents have increased the most, doubling from £56 to £113. Winchester and Middlesex also have average rents of over £100 per week.
By comparison, in northern university cities Manchester (£74), Leeds (£74), Sheffield (£69) and Nottingham (£76), rents have stayed the same or even fallen, and all are more than 6% below the national weekly average.
However, there are some exceptions such as Middlesbrough, which has risen by 18%, and Salford, up 15%.
This year’s best value locations for student rental accommodation are Walsall, Stockton and Wolverhampton with average weekly rents of £48, £49 and £52 respectively.
In contrast, those that have seen some of the greatest increases are all based in the south, with Luton up 20% from £71 in 2012 to £91 in 2013. Chatham, a home to the University of Kent, has seen its average student weekly rent increase 19% from £73 to £87, Bournemouth is up 16% to £90, and Bath and Southampton have also seen 10% rises. These locations all sit between 5% and 15% above the national average.
The major exception is Uxbridge, which despite being located within the London commuter belt and last year was the third most expensive place for a student to rent, has this year seen rents fall by 28% from £100 to £78. Kingston has also seen a fall of 12%, yet with rents at £100 it still remains the sixth most expensive location, down from second in 2012.
Private hall developments are popular in the UK as an alternative to university-owned accommodation or private student houses. Average rental value in private halls of residence has risen 1.5% and on average they are 63% higher in rental value than student houses at £129.45 against £79.42.
Simon Thompson, director of Accommodation for Students, said: “The student accommodation market remains robust and is still one of the most attractive yield classes for property investment. We are still seeing large-scale development in student accommodation up and down the country.”