The 15 Best Student Cities in the UK (2024) The 15 Best Student Cities in the UK (2024)

The 15 Best Student Cities in the UK (2024)

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The 15 Best Student Cities in the UK (2024)

13 June 2024

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by aparto student

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aparto student

Choosing the right city to study in is a big decision for any student. The UK is home to many fantastic student cities, each offering a unique mix of academic excellence, vibrant culture, and exciting opportunities. In this article, we will explore the 15 best student cities in the UK according to QS rankings, highlighting what makes each one special. 

Whether you're looking for world-class universities, a lively social scene, or affordable living, there's a perfect city for every student. Read on to find out which UK city could be the best fit for your studies and lifestyle.

Table of contents:

What’s the best student city in the UK?

London is very often considered top due to its world-class universities, diverse culture, and numerous opportunities. Edinburgh and Manchester are also highly rated for their vibrant student life and strong academic reputations.

Top 15 UK student cities

Choosing where to study can be challenging. To help you decide, consider these top 15 student cities in the UK, each offering unique benefits for students.

1. London

Big Ben in London

  • Population: Approximately 9 million
  • Student Population: Around 500,000
  • Main Universities: Imperial College London, University College London (UCL), King's College London, London School of Economics (LSE)

London is an exciting and diverse city that offers students a vibrant cultural scene, world-class universities like University College London and King's College, and endless opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

The city's extensive public transportation system, including the Tube and buses, makes it easy to explore neighbourhoods such as Camden, Shoreditch, and Notting Hill, each with its own unique character. 

With numerous libraries, like the British Library, museums such as the British Museum and the Natural History Museum, beautiful parks like Hyde Park and Regent's Park, and a wide range of events, students in London are never short of things to do or places to see. 

The city's bustling economy also provides ample internship and job opportunities, making it a fantastic place for students to start building their careers.

Looking for student accommodation? Discover Arbury Court

2. Edinburgh

Calton Hill in Edinburgh

  • Population: Approximately 550,000
  • Student Population: Around 60,000
  • Main Universities: University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a beautiful and historic city perfect for students. With its stunning architecture, such as the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, rich history, and vibrant arts scene, Edinburgh offers a unique and inspiring environment for learning. 

The city is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making it easy for students to feel at home. Edinburgh also hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival, providing endless entertainment and cultural experiences. 

The city's compact size and excellent public transport system make it easy to get around, ensuring students can easily access everything they need.

3. Manchester

University of Manchester

  • Population: Approximately 550,000
  • Student Population: Around 100,000 (Greater Manchester)
  • Main Universities: University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester is a dynamic city known for its lively music scene, sports culture, and diverse population. It's a great place for students, offering a range of activities and events to suit all interests. The city is famous for its music venues like the O2 Apollo and sports stadiums such as Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium.

The city's universities, such as the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, are highly regarded, providing excellent academic and research opportunities. 

Manchester's affordable living costs, compared to other major cities, make it an attractive option for students. And the city's central location and well-connected transport links make it easy to explore the rest of the UK, ensuring students can enjoy both local and national attractions.

4. Glasgow

Glasgow

  • Population: Approximately 635,000
  • Student Population: Around 185,000
  • Main Universities: University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, offers a vibrant and friendly environment for students. Known for its rich cultural heritage and thriving arts scene, Glasgow provides numerous opportunities for entertainment and personal development. Students can visit iconic landmarks like the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Glasgow School of Art.

The universities in Glasgow, including the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, are highly regarded and offer a diverse range of courses. These institutions are known for their academic excellence and strong student support services.

The city's affordable living costs and many student discounts make it a budget-friendly choice. Glasgow's extensive public transport network ensures that students can easily navigate the city and explore surrounding areas like Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Looking for student accommodation in Glasgow? Discover Glasgow West End

5. Newcastle Upon Tyne

Newcastle city centre

  • Population: Approximately 300,000
  • Student Population: Around 45,000
  • Main Universities: Newcastle University, Northumbria University

Newcastle Upon Tyne, commonly known as Newcastle, is famous for its vibrant nightlife, friendly locals, and strong sense of community. The compact city layout makes it easy for students to get around. Newcastle's nightlife features popular spots like the Bigg Market and Ouseburn Valley.

The city's universities, including Newcastle University and Northumbria University, are known for their quality education and strong student support services. Newcastle's lower living costs and numerous student discounts make it an attractive option for students.

Newcastle's rich history is evident in landmarks such as the Newcastle Castle and the Tyne Bridge. Cultural attractions like the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Theatre Royal provide ample entertainment. The surrounding countryside, including Northumberland National Park and the stunning coastline, offers many opportunities for exploration and leisure, ensuring a well-rounded student experience.

6. Bristol

Air balloon festival in Bristol

  • Population: Approximately 465,000
  • Student Population: Around 60,000
  • Main Universities: University of Bristol, University of the West of England (UWE)

Bristol is a vibrant, creative city known for its cultural diversity and independent spirit. Students can enjoy live music at venues like the O2 Academy and Thekla, street art in Stokes Croft, and festivals like the Bristol Harbour Festival and Upfest. 

The University of Bristol and UWE offer strong academic environments. As a tech and creative hub, the city provides numerous career opportunities with startups and established companies in areas like Temple Quarter and Paintworks.

Bristol's compact size and excellent public transport make it easy to navigate. Green spaces like Brandon Hill and Ashton Court Estate, along with the nearby Mendip Hills and Cotswolds, make it perfect for outdoor activities. 

Whether cycling along the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, exploring the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or enjoying Park Street's nightlife, students have ample options for relaxation and adventure.

7. Coventry

Coventry

  • Population: Approximately 370,000
  • Student Population: Around 50,000
  • Main Universities: Coventry University, University of Warwick

Coventry is a city with a rich history and modern outlook, making it great for students. The city's universities, including Coventry University and the University of Warwick, are known for innovative teaching and strong industry links, providing excellent academic and career opportunities. Coventry University excels in automotive and engineering, while Warwick is strong in research and business studies.

Coventry offers a lower cost of living compared to other UK cities, making it budget-friendly. Affordable accommodation, student discounts, and lower expenses help students manage finances effectively. The city's central location and good transport links, including Coventry Railway Station and extensive bus routes, make it easy to explore the UK.

Cultural attractions like the Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry Cathedral, and parks such as War Memorial Park offer plenty of leisure options. The welcoming community and diverse population create a supportive and enjoyable environment, making Coventry a dynamic place to study.

8. Birmingham

Newman University

  • Population: Approximately 1.1 million
  • Student Population: Around 80,000
  • Main Universities: University of Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University

Birmingham, the UK's second-largest city, offers a diverse and dynamic environment for students. Known for its vibrant cultural scene, the city boasts theatres like the Birmingham Hippodrome, music venues such as Symphony Hall, and festivals including the Birmingham International Jazz Festival.

Birmingham's universities, including the University of Birmingham, Aston University, and Birmingham City University, are highly respected and offer a wide range of courses. The city's central location and excellent transport links, including Birmingham New Street Station, make it easy for students to travel around the UK. Affordable living costs and numerous student discounts add to its appeal.

The city's rich history, with landmarks like the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the historic Jewellery Quarter, along with diverse communities and a welcoming atmosphere, ensure a memorable student experience. Birmingham's markets, vibrant neighbourhoods like Digbeth, and green spaces like Cannon Hill Park offer a balanced lifestyle for students.

9. Nottingham

Nottingham Trent

  • Population: Approximately 340,000
  • Student Population: Around 60,000
  • Main Universities: University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham is a lively, student-friendly city known for its vibrant cultural scene and rich history. The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University offer wide-ranging academic and research opportunities. Nottingham's compact size and excellent public transport, including buses and the NET tram system, make it easy for students to navigate.

The city's lower living costs make it budget-friendly, with affordable accommodation and numerous student discounts. Landmarks such as Nottingham Castle and the City of Caves showcase its history, while cultural attractions like Nottingham Contemporary and the Theatre Royal provide entertainment. Green spaces like Wollaton Park and the Arboretum offer relaxation.

With a welcoming community and diverse student population, Nottingham provides a supportive environment for students.

10. Leeds

Leeds Trinity

  • Population: Approximately 800,000
  • Student Population: Around 70,000
  • Main Universities: University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University

Leeds is a vibrant city known for its universities, lively music scene, diverse culture, and friendly atmosphere. 

The University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University offer strong academic environments. Leeds also offers a range of activities for students, from shopping at Trinity Leeds and dining on Call Lane, to live performances at the O2 Academy and First Direct Arena. Sports enthusiasts can catch games at Elland Road or Headingley Stadium. Green spaces like Roundhay Park provide relaxation.

The city's affordable living costs and numerous student discounts make it attractive too. And with excellent transport links, including Leeds Railway Station, the city is a great base for exploring the UK.

11. Liverpool

Beatles Statues in Liverpool

  • Population: Approximately 500,000
  • Student Population: Around 60,000
  • Main Universities: University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University

Liverpool is a vibrant city with good universities and many cultural attractions, making it ideal for students. The University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University offer strong academic programs and industry connections, providing excellent learning and career opportunities.

Cultural attractions like the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Tate Liverpool, and landmarks such as the Royal Albert Dock and Liverpool Cathedral offer plenty of leisure options. The lively nightlife in areas like Concert Square and the Baltic Triangle adds to the city's appeal.

Liverpool's lower cost of living, affordable accommodation, and numerous student discounts make it budget-friendly. The compact city layout and excellent public transport make it easy to get around.

12. Belfast

Belfast city centre

  • Population: Approximately 345,000
  • Student Population: Around 40,000
  • Main Universities: Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University

Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a city with a rich history and vibrant cultural scene. The city's universities, including Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University, are highly regarded and offer a wide range of academic opportunities.

Belfast's compact size and excellent public transport, including an extensive bus network and the Glider rapid transit system, make it easy for students to navigate the city. Affordable living costs and numerous student discounts at local shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues make it a budget-friendly option.

The city boasts cultural attractions like the Titanic Belfast museum, the Ulster Museum, and the Grand Opera House. Green spaces such as the Botanic Gardens and Cave Hill Country Park provide spots for relaxation and outdoor activities.

13. Sheffield

Firth Court in Sheffield

  • Population: Approximately 580,000
  • Student Population: Around 60,000
  • Main Universities: University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield is a welcoming city with good universities and many cultural attractions, making it an excellent choice for students. The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University are renowned for their strong academic programs and industry connections, offering ample learning and career opportunities.

Cultural attractions like the Millennium Gallery and the Crucible Theatre, along with green spaces such as Weston Park and the nearby Peak District, provide diverse leisure options. Sheffield's lively nightlife and friendly community enhance the student experience.

Sheffield's affordable living costs, budget-friendly accommodation, and numerous student discounts make it an attractive option for students too. And the city's compact size and efficient public transport, including buses and trams, ensure easy navigation.

14. Aberdeen

Aberdeen beach

  • Population: Approximately 260,000
  • Student Population: Around 15,000
  • Main Universities: University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University

Aberdeen, in northeastern Scotland, is a vibrant city known for its strong academic reputation. The University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University offer diverse courses and research opportunities, excelling in energy, life sciences, business, and health fields.

Aberdeen's compact size and excellent public transport make it easy to navigate. Lower living costs make it budget-friendly, with affordable accommodation and student discounts.

Cultural attractions like the Aberdeen Maritime Museum and Aberdeen Art Gallery provide entertainment, while Duthie Park and nearby beaches offer relaxation. The surrounding countryside, including Cairngorms National Park, adds exploration opportunities.

Looking for student accommodation? Discover The Combworks

15. Brighton

Brighton Pier

  • Population: Approximately 290,000
  • Student Population: Around 40,000
  • Main Universities: University of Sussex, University of Brighton

Brighton is a lively city known for its beautiful seaside location. It’s also home to good universities. The University of Sussex and the University of Brighton offer a wide range of academic opportunities, with Sussex excelling in research and Brighton in art, design, and media.

Brighton's compact size and excellent public transport make it easy for students to navigate. Higher living costs are offset by student discounts at shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, plus plentiful part-time job opportunities.

Cultural attractions like the Brighton Dome, Royal Pavilion, and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery provide entertainment. Outdoor activities at Brighton Beach and the South Downs offer relaxation and adventure.

Looking for student accommodation? Discover Vogue Studios and Stoneworks

What factors should you consider when choosing where to study?

Choosing where to study is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure a fulfilling and successful university experience. Here are the main factors you should consider:

Academic Reputation: 

  • Evaluate universities' strengths in your field.
  • Research faculty, resources, and facilities.

Location:

  • Decide between a bustling city or a quieter town.
  • Consider the cost of living, accommodation, and transport.
  • Assess campus culture and student life activities.

Support Services:

  • Look for academic advising, career services, and mental health support.
  • Check for internship and job opportunities.

Campus Visits:

  • Visit campuses to experience the environment firsthand.

To Sum Up

The UK boasts a variety of exceptional student cities, each offering unique experiences, vibrant cultures, and strong academic opportunities. From the historic charm of Edinburgh and the dynamic urban environment of Manchester to the creative spirit of Bristol and the friendly atmosphere of Sheffield, there's a perfect city for every student. While these are some of the top 15 student cities, there are many other university cities worth considering, each with its own distinct advantages.

At aparto, we understand the importance of finding the right place to live while you study. That's why we provide welcoming, modern student accommodation across the UK, ensuring you have a comfortable and supportive environment to make the most of your university experience.

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aparto student

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