STUDENT CITIES IN THE UK
Combining varied countryside and cosmopolitan cities, the UK has plenty to please both nature lovers and culture vultures. British filmmakers, actors, musicians, designers and writers are known and respected across the globe, and this is reflected in strong arts and cultural scenes across the country, with a huge range of galleries, museums and venues to match. At the more relaxed end of the culture spectrum, you can embrace the national passion for sport (especially football/soccer) or the classic British pastime of going to the pub.
Universities in the UK are also microcosms of entertainment in themselves, full of opportunities for getting involved in sports, theater, volunteering, and just having a good night out. Most major UK cities and universities are highly multicultural, providing opportunities to get to know both UK nationals and students from around the world.
Find out more about some of the UK's top student cities...
The UK’s capital city ranks among the world’s best cities for students, and has an impressive 19 universities featured in the QS World University Rankings®. Home to nine million people, this large metropolis is the financial, cultural and political center of the country. London life is busy and fast-paced, so if you don’t like crowds or noise, it might not be the place for you! It has a (deserved) reputation for being expensive, so may also not be the best choice for those on a tight budget – but most of those who do study in London will agree that the city is worth every penny in the opportunities for culture, fun and networking on offer.
Home to many of the best libraries, museums, art galleries, nightclubs and theaters in the UK, and the hub of many of its most competitive professional sectors, London has more to see and do than you’ll have time to get to – even if you stay long enough to complete a PhD. Indeed, there are few places in the world which can guarantee as exciting and diverse an experience – both academicall and otherwise.
Manchester is famed for its music scene – few cities have produced as many prominent bands and acts (such as the Sex Pistols and Oasis) in the past 30 years. The city is home to an eclectic range of music venues, large and small, ensuring the city’s music scene is as vibrant and fast-moving as ever. The trendy-bohemian Northern Quarter is popularly considered the cultural heart of the city, while the Canal Street area – the center of the city’s gay community – is among its liveliest nightspots.
While Manchester is undoubtedly something of a party town, it’s also big on sports – especially football (soccer). The global fame of Manchester United is difficult to beat, while local rival Manchester City is one of the wealthiest clubs in the world. Manchester should also be on your shortlist if you’re a fan of architecture – you’ll find an interesting variety of styles, from Victorian and Gothic to contemporary skyscrapers. Multicultural in general, Manchester also has the third-largest Chinese population in Europe, and a thriving Chinatown area.
Among universities in Manchester, the top-ranking institution is the University of Manchester (which incorporates Alliance Manchester Business School), at 34th in the QS World University Rankings 2018. If you want to get more of a feel for the city, you could tune in to the University of Manchester’s student radio station, Fuse FM, or perhaps listen to MMU Radio, run by students from nearby Manchester Metropolitan University (ranked 801-1000). Also just outside the city center is the University of Salford(ranked 751-800), not far from the BBC’s MediaCity complex, and a cluster of cultural venues including the Lowry Centre and the Museum of Science and Industry.
The UK’s second-largest city, Birmingham rose to prominence during the industrial revolution. Today, Birmingham (or Brum, as it is known affectionately to locals) is a thriving commercial hub, home to the UK’s largest shopping area outside of London, and one of the most multicultural places in the UK. It offers thriving art, music and literary scenes, including the prestigious City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and a range of other cultural institutions.
Birmingham’s six universities also make it the UK’s largest center of higher education and academic research outside of the capital, while the ongoing Big City Plan aims to make Birmingham one of the top 20 most livable cities in the world within 20 years.
It may have lived for many years in the genteel shadow of Edinburgh (which, incidentally, claims the UK’s joint-fifth highest-ranked university, the University of Edinburgh), but Scotland’s largest city has, in recent years, shaken off its former gritty reputation to emerge as one of the UK’s most dynamic and desirable places to live.
With historic architecture, distinctive local traditions and museums to rival any city in the UK, Glasgow now also has enough trendy bars, restaurants and gig venues to keep even the most hardened hipster entertained (plus the world’s tallest cinema), while PETA has declared the city to be the most vegan-friendly in the UK. Although Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, it is not as overrun by tourists as Edinburgh and has a significantly lower cost of living. It also has the largest student population in Scotland (and the second-largest in the UK, after London).
In keeping with the city’s general upwards trajectory, universities in Glasgow have been climbing the rankings in recent years. The University of Glasgow now stands at 65th in the QS World University Rankings, while the University of Strathclyde is ranked joint 277th.
OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE
|Oxford and Cambridge|
Yes, Oxford and Cambridge are two separate cities, each with a distinct history and character. However, the two halves of Oxbridge are also bound together in the collective imagination as semi-mythical academic enclaves with a profound historic affinity, and they also share an ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek rivalry. Both are old medieval towns, built on rivers and situated towards the south of England not far from London, both are relatively quiet and peaceful, and both are completely dominated by their universities – the two oldest in the Anglophone world.
Oxford and Cambridge are both collegiate universities, and their constituent colleges loom large over the city centers, which you’ll also notice are teeming with the bright young attendees (usually on bicycles when they’re not relaxing on the river in a punting boat). While Cambridge is home to a large cluster of high-technology industries such as software and bioscience, earning it the name Silicon Fen (a play on Silicon Valley), Oxford has a long history of brewing and has been an important center of motor-manufacturing for years, with the main production site for Mini, now owned by BMW, based there. Both remain among the most famous and prestigious universities in the world, with the University of Cambridge ranked fifth in the QS World University Rankings 2018, while the University of Oxford is sixth. And, of course, both universities have more notable alumni than we could possibly list here.