7 most popular UK student cities

Darcy Nathan, Editorial assistant
October, 2023

Where you live has a big impact on your overall student experience, so it's important to consider your budget and lifestyle preferences when making your choice

With so many esteemed universities throughout the UK, it's important to make an informed decision on where you will thrive. Choosing the right city for you depends on your unique needs and preferences, such as your budget, lifestyle, and proximity to your university.

It's important to do your own research and consider your individual needs before settling on a university city.

Here are the seven top UK student cities according to StudentCrowd's Best Student Cities UK 2022 survey, which questioned nearly 7,000 students over 24 months about the cost of living, eating out, nightlife, shopping, and public transport in their university location.

Or, explore our tips on choosing the right student city by comparing UK universities.

Newcastle upon Tyne

With a thriving student population of around 45,000, Newcastle is a great place to study and live. This cosmopolitan city in the North East of England is home to two world-renowned universities - Newcastle University and Northumbria University.

The people of Newcastle are known for their warm hospitality and sense of community, and the city is also known for its affordable cost of living, with good value for money accommodation and living costs, currently sitting at 5th on NatWest's Student Living Index 2023.

Newcastle has a well-connected public transportation system, including a bus system that reaches into Northumberland and a metro system that connects the city to the beach. This makes it easy to get around the city and explore the surrounding area.

Newcastle also has a renowned nightlife scene, with a wide variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. You can explore the Quayside, a waterfront area with a variety of bars, restaurants, and shops, or see a show at the Newcastle Theatre Royal, a historic theatre that hosts a variety of productions.

In addition to its vibrant nightlife, Newcastle offers students several cultural activities. You can take a walk through the Dene in Jesmond, a beautiful park with gardens, a river, and a waterfall. Sports fans can also catch a game at St. James' Park, the home stadium of Newcastle United Football Club.


Liverpool is a city steeped in musical history, with a number of unique attractions. Among the most famous are the Beatles Museum, the Cavern Club, and Mathew Street, which all celebrate the city's musical legacy. The city is home to The University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Liverpool Hope universities.

With a thriving student community of over 50,000, there are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in extra-curricular activities and make new friends. The people of Liverpool are known for their hospitality, and students are sure to feel at home here. The city also has a lively nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants to suit all tastes.

Liverpool offers a range of cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, theatres, and music venues. The UNESCO World Heritage site, Albert Dock, is a cultural treasure, featuring a blend of museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants.

Art lovers will appreciate the Tate Liverpool, a world-renowned art gallery that offers a captivating journey through diverse exhibitions. Football enthusiasts can soak up the legacy of one of the world's most illustrious football clubs at Anfield, the ground of Liverpool FC.


Cardiff, the proud capital of Wales, is a city with a strong arts and culture scene and economy. This offers students various opportunities to get involved in internships and work placements, and to network with potential employers.

The city has a lively and diverse academic community, with over 33,000 students enrolled at its two globally esteemed institutions, Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Both universities are well-respected institutions with excellent teaching and research facilities. Cardiff University is known for its excellence in research, with academics working on innovative projects in a range of fields. The university ranks 2nd in the UK for research impact according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023. Cardiff Metropolitan University has a strong focus on employability, offering courses designed to prepare students for the workplace and developing links with employers in the region.

Cardiff is an affordable city, with low rent and living costs. According to the 2023 Student Living Index, Cardiff is the second most budget-friendly city in the UK for students. The city is also compact and easy to get around, and it has lots to offer students in terms of leisure and entertainment.

Explore our guide to saving money as a student.


Nestled in the heart of South Yorkshire, Sheffield is home to two prestigious institutions with a combined student population of over 60,000 - the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.

The University of Sheffield is a member of the Russell Group and is ranked among the top 150 universities in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2024 and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It is known for its research in a range of fields, including engineering, medicine, and social sciences.

Sheffield Hallam University is heavily focused on applied learning and is renowned for its strong industry links and work-integrated learning programmes. These give students the opportunity to gain real-world experience while studying. The university also has several specialist research centres, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre.

The Peak District National Park is a short hop away, presenting opportunities for hiking, biking, and climbing adventures. Alternatively, you can delve into Sheffield's industrial heritage at the Kelham Island Museum, which narrates the city's industrial legacy and offers a glimpse into its past.

Notable hotspots for nightlife include West Street, popular with both students and locals, and Division Street and Kelham Island, both featuring a vibrant selection of bars, restaurants, and breweries.


Known for its warm and inclusive atmosphere, Nottingham proudly hosts two esteemed institutions - the University of Nottingham, and Nottingham Trent University. Collectively hosting a thriving community of over 43,000 students, both universities offer a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a variety of subjects.

Nottingham is well-connected to the rest of the UK by road, rail, and air. This makes it easy for students to travel to and from home, as well as to other parts of the country. Throughout the year, the city comes alive with a vibrant array of festivals and events, including the Splendour Festival and the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

Nottingham's nightlife scene is just as bright as its cultural offering, with plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from, spread across distinct neighbourhoods that cater to different tastes. Hockley is a popular spot for students, with a mix of independent bars and restaurants, while the historic Lace Market offers a more diverse selection.

For those looking for cultural pursuits, Nottingham has a treasure trove of museums, galleries, and theatres to explore. With an affordable cost of living, Nottingham is a great choice for students.


As a North West hub, Manchester is home to two internationally renowned universities - The University of Manchester, ranked 32nd in the QS World University Rankings, and Manchester Metropolitan University, which is host to around 39,000 students.

Both universities offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, covering everything from engineering and medicine to the arts and humanities. Manchester is also a major centre for research, with both universities producing world-leading work in a variety of fields.

After graduating from one of Manchester's universities, students have access to a vibrant job market with strong links to some of the world's leading businesses. The city is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon and the BBC. The city also has a strong start-up scene, with over 2,000 new businesses created each year. As a result, Manchester graduates are in high demand from employers across a range of industries.

Manchester is also a busy and exciting city with a lot to offer students outside of their studies. Cultural enthusiasts will find their haven in Manchester, with an array of museums, galleries, and theatres awaiting exploration.

Amid all these attractions, the city remains relatively affordable, securing the sixth spot on the 2023 Student Living Index, meaning it's one of the most budget-friendly student cities in the UK.


As the third largest city in the UK, Glasgow hosts students from all over the globe. With its three universities, the University of Glasgow, Strathclyde University, and Glasgow Caledonian University, it attracts over 185,000 students each year. Glasgow is also home to several specialist universities, including the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Throughout the year, the city comes alive with a kaleidoscope of student-centric festivals and events, including Riverside and the TRNSMT music festivals, while iconic student haunts like Ashton Lane, Sauchiehall Street, and the Merchant City are always bustling with energy.

Sports enthusiasts can catch a game at Celtic Park or Ibrox Stadium, the grounds of Celtic and Rangers football clubs.

Glasgow is also known for its natural beauty. The central Kelvingrove Park is host to gardens, a picturesque lake, and a captivating museum, or you could take a day trip to the nearby Loch Lomond.

Standouts on the cultural scene include the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the dynamic Glasgow Science Centre, and the iconic Theatre Royal.

In the realm of affordability, Glasgow sits as the most economically viable option in Scotland, securing the 16th spot on the 2023 Student Living Index. With its excellent transport links, including a subway system, buses, and trains, it's easy to get around and explore all that the city has to offer.

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