If you’re reading this, then chances are that you are already pretty much set on going to university, but perhaps aren’t so clear on where exactly you’d like to study.
Luck for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to pursue a higher education in the United Kingdom. The way we’ve compiled this list isn’t only based on the academic institutions in each location, but also factored in things like accommodation, things to do, student city vibes, whether it’s a good destination for international students, affordability, cost of living, and graduate job opportunities.
So without further ado, we present your best options for studying in the UK.
London, the UK’s capital city, makes it to the top of our list for sheer iconic status – and for so many more reasons.
It’s the number one student city in the UK with over 400,000 students living here, and boasted a whopping seventeen academic institutions in the QS World University Rankings 2018, including two in the global top 10. So you know if you’re looking for the best education available in the UK, London is where it’s at.
A big plus for London is that it’s also a hive of business activity and is ideal for career networking. There’s an abundance of work opportunities to be seized, which makes for an exciting buzz in the city – you literally never know what’s going to happen next!
That buzz spills over into the social aspect of student life in London – there’s an endless array of nightlife options, with pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, as well as sports activities, festivals, libraries, parks, and more. You’ll never tire of things to do in the Big Smoke!
If you can overlook the fact that living costs in London are higher than in other parts of the UK, the pros outweigh the cons by far. One of the most diverse cities in the UK, you’ll meet people from all over the world – 300 languages are spoken here and there’s an international student population of 42%.
Amongst the incredible academic higher education institutions here, you can opt to study at:
- University College London (UCL)
- London School of Economics and Political Sciences
- King’s College London
- Imperial College London
- Queen Mary University
- SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies
- University of London
- Queen Mary University of London
- Brunel University
- The Royal Holloway University of London
Next up on our list of the best places to study in the UK is Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.
This city is internationally famous for its cultural and historical attractions such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Castle. It’s also particularly attractive to students, as it offers excellent educational opportunities and an amazing student experience.
Aside from being visually stunning, swathed in greenery and beautiful Hogwarts-esque architecture, there’s plenty to see and do during your time here. Think contemporary theatres, galleries, museums, as well as clubs, pubs, shopping centres, restaurants, and a ton of other activities. Not to mention that it’s incredibly diverse, with 40% of the population hailing from different countries.
Is it any wonder that students are drawn here year after year?
If we had to mention one downside, it might be the cost of living. While not as expensive as London, Edinburgh is one of the most expensive cities in the UK.
However, we reckon it’s worth it – all you have to do is look at this list of world-ranking universities situated in Edinburgh to know that an investment in this city is an investment in your future:
- The University of Edinburgh
- Heriot-Watt University
- Edinburgh Napier University
- Queen Margaret University
- Royal College of Surgeons
- Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)
Manchester is a big draw for international students and domestic students alike, thanks to its world-ranking academic institutions, buzzing social scene, healthy employment opportunities, and more affordable cost of living.
With one of the largest student populations in Europe, you’ll be entering a young, vibrant city, iconic for its music scene. (Think Oasis, Joy Division, The Smiths and Buzzcocks).
The city of Manchester has undergone regeneration projects in recent decades, which has led to a boom in business and development – which can only be a good thing if getting a graduate job is high on your agenda!
Another big plus for Manchester is that there’s plenty to see and do, but it’s also compact enough to not feel overwhelming if you’re new to the city. You can walk to most places or easily get a bus, and there’s a welcoming, community feel to the city.
The highest-ranked institution in Manchester is the University of Manchester, which is a Russell Group university and one of the most reputable universities in the world. The Uni of Manchester isn’t the only attractive prospect if you’re looking to study here. Take your pick from:
- The University of Manchester
- Manchester Metropolitan University
- University of Salford
- The Royal Northern College of Music
Glasgow continues to be a popular choice among UK and international students, ranking in the top 50 for university rankings and student prospects.
Here you’ll find a diverse population alongside buzzing history and culture. There’s a ton of museums, theatres, pubs, restaurants, live music venues, and much more to enjoy in Scotland’s most populous and welcoming city.
In recent years, Glasgow has become one of the UK’s leading hubs of commerce, research, and intellectual pursuits. If you study here, you’ll be studying alongside some of the UK’s finest minds, and will be able to take advantage of the many graduate job opportunities on offer here.
Not only that, the city has a comparatively lower cost of living than in many other UK cities, and it’s easy to get around using the city’s subway system. If you’re into the arts, you’ll be in your element here; ballets and operas are popular forms of entertainment and art appreciation is an essential part of the city’s culture.
Oh, and it has even been declared the world’s most vegan-friendly city by PETA.
Two of Glasgow’s universities make it into the top 300 of the World University Rankings: the University of Glasgow, which ranks 65th, and the University of Strathclyde at joint 277th.
Here are some of the universities you can choose from here:
- University of Glasgow
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- University of Strathclyde
- The Glasgow School of Art
Possibly the most underrated of all the university cities on this list, Coventry is well worth your consideration as one of the best cities to study in the UK.
6.8% of the city’s population are students, with 40% of them being international students, which all adds to the buzz and diversity of the place.
The city has a long history of leadership in manufacturing and design, and there are plenty of job opportunities to be seized once you’ve graduated. When you’re not studying, you can take advantage of Coventry’s rich cultural scene, in the form of music, dance, theatre, poetry, and literature. In fact, Coventry is a cultural hub, having won the title of UK City of Culture 2021, thanks to features like the Warwick Arts Centre, the second largest arts centre in the UK after London’s Barbican.
The city also regularly hosts major sporting events like ice hockey and rugby.
The University of Warwick is one of the best universities in the UK, while Coventry University is also highly esteemed and is one of the most affordable universities in the UK for international students.
The universities on offer here are:
- The University of Warwick
- Coventry University
- Arden University
The second-largest city in the UK, Birmingham is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most exciting cities and an attractive prospect if you’re looking for a diverse, fun city full of social life and culture.
Aside from some excellent universities, here you can indulge in shopping, entertainment, restaurants, nightlife, history, and culture. It hosts the largest Christmas market in the UK every year and is home to more than fifty festivals annually, so there’s always something to do!
Birmingham is also super diverse, being one of the UK’s most multicultural cities, so you’re bound to make friends from all over the world.
The UK’s largest centre of higher education outside London, Birmingham has five universities within city limits. These include:
- The University of Birmingham
- Aston University
- Birmingham City University
- Newman University
Affectionately referred to as the ‘Queen of the Midlands’, and famous for being the home of Robin Hood, Nottingham is up there with the best student cities in the UK.
That’s thanks to its nightlife, affordable cost of living, award-winning public transport system, friendliness, diversity and, of course, some reputable universities.
The perfect mix of modernity and British tradition, Nottingham blends historical attractions, academic scene, and a buzzing social scene. When you haven’t got your head between the books, you can get stuck into an endless array of restaurants, clubs, shopping centres, and theatres. If you’re into sports you’ll love it here – it was named the Home of English Sport in 2015.
The city’s universities have a great reputation for being hubs of education and leading research, and there’s a big international presence. In fact, the Uni of Nottingham has such a significant foreign student population that it has campuses abroad in Malaysia and China.
For academic choices, take your pick from:
- The University of Nottingham
- Nottingham Trent University
Near to Nottingham, you’ll find another excellent student city which is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for the best places to study in the UK. We’re talking about Sheffield.
Made famous by its production of steel, these days Sheffield is more famous for being one of the greenest cities in the UK, with over 60% of the city forming part of the stunningly beautiful Peak District national park. So if you enjoy getting out and about in nature after a long week of exam revision, you will be in your element here.
Sheffield is also one of the most affordable cities to live in in the UK, and the universities offer quality education without breaking the bank.
Alongside jaw-dropping natural views, affordable living, a thriving social and leisure scene, unique and stylish student accommodation in Sheffield, you can get a sterling higher education at:
- The University of Sheffield
- Sheffield Hallam University
Making it to ninth place on our list of the best places to study in the UK is the capital and largest city of Wales, Cardiff.
Cardiff is a unique choice for domestic and international students, as it has a little bit of everything, while providing a real sense of community.
Alongside a fantastic academic education, you can enjoy nightclubs, shopping arcades, coffee shops, and bars, all within walking distance in this friendly, compact city. Not to mention that you have the chance to practise your language skills by learning native Welsh! Gwych!
Here you’ll find two of the most prominent educational institutions in the world:
- Cardiff University
- Cardiff Metropolitan University
Our final entry on the list of the best places to study in the UK is Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast.
This northern Irish city offers a fascinating experience for anyone interested in history, religion, and culture.
Belfast is bursting with life. Its student population enjoys affordable living, an electric clubbing culture with a multitude of bars, pubs and clubs, and a decidedly welcoming vibe.
We couldn’t mention Belfast without talking about its rich musical heritage – here they’re very proud of their music culture, and you’re going to love it too!
You can get to just about anywhere in the city on foot or by bike, which makes it an eco-friendly and cheap city to get around.
All that, alongside two internationally-acclaimed universities:
- Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)
- Ulster University ‐ Belfast campus
|So there you have a list of our top 10 best places to study in the UK! All that remains is to take your pick – and have a blast at uni!|