Every year the QS higher education data analysts rank the best student cities in the world. Their ratings are based on several factors including the number of universities in a city, student culture, the local job market, affordability and quality of life.
Many British cities made the list—with London coming up trumps at number one—and were rated pretty highly. After all, it is absolutely no secret that the UK is home to some of the best universities and student communities in the world. This is why nearly 500,000 international students travel here each year to experience British uni culture first hand. There really is nothing else like it.
If you’re considering which UK city might be best for you, here is a list of the top 10 student cities in the UK, courtesy of Fresh Student Living.
The Old Smoke has been voted as the best student city in the world. With around 40 universities, there is no doubt that there is something for everyone here, no matter what kind of experience you’re after. It is also the largest city in the UK, meaning that there are a million and one things to do outside of uni. Forget New York, this is the city that never sleeps. From art, culture and historic sites to bars, nightclubs and all the eateries you could ever dream of, London really does have it all.
While London is not the cheapest place to live (we are speaking from experience), there are definitely several reasonably priced and even free things to do that will keep you entertained. Check out our sister site, Secret London, if you’re after more inspiration.
(Global Rating: 1)
Edinburgh comes in at a close second and is easily one of the best places to live while you study. While the city isn’t that big, students are never short of things to do. With the friendliest locals, a buzzing entertainment scene and plenty of places to dine and drink, it is not surprising why so many students flock there.
And let’s not forget, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. It has the most scenic landscapes and is full of history and culture. Not to mention its famous castle.
(Global rating: 15)
If ‘work hard, play hard’ is your motto, then the mighty Manchester is the city for you! With a number of world-class universities, our fabulous city is one of the best places for students who want a stellar education. And when it comes to spending your free time, you will have plenty of cool events and activities to choose from.
Manchester is known for its thriving music scene, so if you love live music you will be spoiled for choice. And when it’s time to let your hair down, Manchester’s nightlife is unrivalled. The Northern Quarter, The Gay Village and Deansgate Locks are but a few areas offering a great night out!
(Global Rating: 29)
This beautiful city is known for its architecture and landscapes but is also a wonderful place to be a student! It is Scotland’s biggest and arguably most vibrant city. For those interested in art and music, Glasgow has you covered, with art galleries and music events left, right and centre. And with several high-ranking universities to choose from, what’s not to love? Check out our sister site, Secret Glasgow, if you’re after more inspiration.
If thats not enough, on average graduates in Glasgow earn around £26,195 a year, making it the best place to live post degree.
(Global Rating: 39)
In Coventry you will find both Coventry University and the University of Warwick. This city attracts thousands of students each year for its high standard of education and extremely fulfilling student life. Coventry was voted the UK City of Culture for 2021 and with the number of theatres, galleries, museums, music and sporting events here, it is not hard to see why!
(Global Rating: 47)
Nottingham is a wonderful place to be a student, with multiple academic options and a large student population. The city is filled with so many things to do that even after finishing a whole degree, you will surely still be discovering new places. There are plenty of shopping, cultural and entertainment options to keep you busy. And the cherry on top is that the locals are renowned for their welcoming nature.
(Global Rating: 48)
In Birmingham, you will be spoilt for choice with five high-ranking universities to choose from. It is second-biggest city in the UK and is a favourite among international students. As a result of this, Birmingham is very culturally diverse!
With the city tailored to its large student community, there are plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants all over, as well as music festivals and sporting events throughout each year. While this city is buzzing, there is also a lot of greenery and nature weaved throughout, for when you’re after a slightly slower pace. Check out our sister site, Secret Birmingham, for more inspiration.
(Global Rating: 49)
8. Newcastle Upon Tyne
Newcastle is one of the UK’s most lively cities, famous for its industrial heritage and popular nightlife. Pub crawls, club nights and bars are definitely not few and far between here. Newcastle also has a thriving student community and a very low cost of living—it’s the best of both worlds. Saving money on living costs means you’ll have extra to splash out on all the activities the city has to offer. Plus, Geordies are some of the friendliest people in the UK, so you’ll have that to look forward to as well!
(Global Rating: 57)
Students from all over the world flock to Aberdeen for its stellar academic opportunities, cheap cost of living and breathtaking scenery. This Scottish city also has a flourishing entertainment and art scene, so there will never be a dull moment. While there is plenty to do in this cosmopolitan city, the countryside is nearby for when you need a break from the hustle and bustle.
(Global Rating: 64)
Brighton has a beautiful beach with a pier and, to be honest, I’m already sold. Beach aside though, Brighton is one of the most thrilling cities to be a student. With several universities in close proximity and one of the largest student populations, the energy here is unmatched! And this lively city has so many cool places for you to spend your free time, from bars and clubs to vintage stores and vegan eateries. There is definitely something for everyone.
And the quality of life here is much higher than many other student cities, too. According to an investigation by the Higher Education Policy Institute, 93% of students said they were ‘very happy’ with their experience in Brighton.
(Global Rating: 83)