Not all universities need a student to have a car for independent transport during their three years course. Some are on campus and some don’t have sufficient parking, but many encourage cars use and even organise car sharing clubs.
The instinctive reaction of a parent is a £4000, small, efficient car for the duration of the course. But this is not necessarily the cheapest and is definitely not the safest way of doing it. A little old car may have had many owners and you cannot be sure of its history. During your ownership, it will probably require tyres and repairs in addition to the routine service that any car will need. It will need an annual MOT, which may require repairs to get it through.
As an alternative, a new Vauxhall Corsa, new tyres, first MOT at the end of the course and based on an average student use of 5,000 per year, the car will be due one and at worse two services. If anything goes wrong, then it’s under manufacturer warranty and its brand new with all the very latest safety designed in from day one.
Insurance for young drivers is expensive and our experience is that its better to add them to your own policy whilst they get some years under their belt. There are specialist in doing this, such as the AA.
Of course there are alternatives to the Corsa, such as the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Aygo and the Fiat 500. All great cars and a fantastic first car.