Sizing up the UK Gen Z student demographic

Photo of Gen Z Female

Find out exactly how many students are in the UK – and understand how these Gen Z digital natives are earning and spending their cash.

How many students are there in the UK?

In total, there are around 2.4 million students enrolled in university programs across the UK. This number is, of course, subject to change – every year the number of students refreshes, as sixth formers enter the higher education system and a new cohort graduates.

The total UK student income

In the UK, student income is in part funded by loan drops – which come termly via Student Finance England. 94% of eligible students take out a student loan to fund their degree fees, maintenance costs or both. Other sources of income include part-time work (23% of students have a job) and family contributions (1 in 5 UK students is supported financially by their family).

In total, UK students receive an annual income of £20.9 billion – an average of £8,725 per uni student.

Five people stood in front of graffiti wall

Total UK student spend

For many Gen Z students, this will be the first taste of independence – they’ll be making their own shopping decisions and understanding how to budget for the very first time.

In total, UK students spend £12.7 billion per year, which averages out at around £5,322 per year per uni student. This tells us that Gen Z students are financially savvy – they’re living well within their means, and making sensible decisions about their purchasing habits. For uni students, the split between essential and discretionary purchases is close to 50:50.

What are Gen Z students buying?

With a significant amount of disposable income, Gen Z students are well-placed to explore their interests and make identity-forming purchases across a range of verticals. As you’d expect, groceries, rent and bills are big outgoings – students are funneling around 15% of their spend into groceries, and 19% into rent and bills.

Once the essentials are covered, Gen Zs spend the most on restaurants, takeaway, and fashion items, which occupy 9% of their spend apiece. Fashion, in particular, is a consistent favourite for this demographic – it frequently ranks as Gen Zs’ most-shopped category across year groups and territories.

Closely following this is events and activities – students typically spend around £39 per month within this vertical. Our student panelists provided this response in June 2021 – just before COVID-19 restrictions were fully lifted in the UK. It’s a positive sign for the events industry, and no doubt this figure will continue to grow as Gen Zs confidence increases. 

Now you know how they’re spending, it’s time to find out what makes them tick. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Gen Z today.

12 Days of Insights

Unlock your Gen Z strategy for 2022