The basics
THE UK: Destination Guides - Must read

Where to study in the UK that's NOT London

Want to study in the UK but not in London? We understand; the cost, the tourists and the traffic can all put students off. Read our guide to some British cities you may not have heard of...


While most international students who come to the UK are drawn to London, not everyone is so amoured with the hustle-bustle of London life which is understandable. So below we highlight some alternative study destinations in the UK if you want to be a little different...



Manchester has a thriving arts and music scene that transcends all genres from Indie cool to high cheese – its four main theatres often stage West End musical hits, for example… if that’s your thing. The city is packed with students – about a quarter of a million of them actually – so as you’d expect, the nightlife has a party atmosphere and is truly original. Put simply, the city has more pubs, bars and restaurants per head than anywhere else in Europe.

Best bit There are three universities to choose from: University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, not to mention the Royal Northern College of Music. A bit further out, there’s the shiny new University of Bolton too.

Worst bit An occasional downside is that with two massive football grounds in close proximity to the city, match days can make travelling around a bit of a hassle, and unadvisable if it’s late and you’re alone. However, if you’re a football fan, this might not be such a bad thing.



If the picture of Bath you have in your head is of gentlefolk standing around in tearooms discussing the healing waters, you’ll be in for a bit of a shock. Of course it is quite posh, but Bath is also a lighthearted, unpretentious and beautiful city with plenty of student hangouts away from the tourist trail. The University is also rather good at sports and its award-winning Sports Training Village will be used by Team GB, Paralympics GB and Malaysian athletes competing in the 2012 Olympics.

Did you know? Bath is one of England’s most popular film locations, especially the Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent, the Assembly Rooms, and the Circus. In recent years it has been the backdrop for BBC drama Larkrise to Candleford and the movies Vanity Fair, Persuasion, Dracula and The Duchess have attracted stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Amitabh Bachchan and Kiera Knightley to Bath.

Best not to know: Bath University campus is about two miles out of town and doesn’t share any of the city’s aesthetic beauty – it’s more of a 60s concrete mishmash in fact. However, renting in town is exorbitantly expensive… beauty doesn’t come cheap.



It’s in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the wildness of the Grampian highlands, but Aberdeen is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city. Aberdeen University dates back to 1495 and students mingle happily with the hardy kilt-wearing locals (ok, well perhaps they don’t wear traditional dress all the time, but we like to think they do). Don’t worry too much about the weather – there’s always the famous Scottish whisky to warm you up. Or if that’s not your thing, a pint costs about £2.20. Bargain.

Good stuff: The city is very pretty and has won the Beautiful Britain in Bloom title no less than 10 times. Also, being in Scotland, there are no tuition fees.

Bad stuff: It’s very cold. If you are coming from a country that normally enjoys a warm climate, be warned: The Scottish weather will take a wee while to get used to.



The third largest city in Wales, Newport is being redeveloped fast and is surrounded by stunning countryside. The University of Wales, Newport has two campuses at Caerleon and Allt-yr-yn and work is well underway on a new city centre campus based on the banks of the River Usk.

Highlights: Newport’s the place to be if you’re interested in golf. In October, the Ryder Cup will be hosted by the Celtic Manor Resort, just minutes away from Newport city centre.

Lowlights: It’s the birthplace of Goldie Looking Chain. If you haven’t heard of them already, check them out on Youtube.



Norwich is a pretty cathedral city with a relaxed, student-friendly atmosphere. The main draw to Norwich as far as students go is the University of East Anglia. A couple of miles out of town, UEA is probably not the place to go if you thrive on high-octane excitement as it’s possible for freshers to become enmeshed in its campus bubble and never leave, but the majority of students who go fall in love with the place and become East Anglians for life.

Must see: UEA holds an event called the inter-school Ziggurat Challenge. This involves hundreds of students and staff taking part in sporting events like a tug-of-war. Due to its cathedral, castle and proximity to the miles of lakes, waterways and fenland that make up the Norfolk Broads, Norwich is a hotspot for tourists, so if you’re family want to come over and visit, you won’t have to go far for a quintessentially English daytrip.

Must not: We should also mention that, as the birthplace of Colman’s, Norwich has a mustard museum. What more could you want?



Birmingham is becoming one of the most popular choices of university in the UK and it’s no coincidence. The shopping’s great, the nightlife could almost rival London’s, it has more canals than Venice, and is renowned for its curry culture. There is a range of universities to choose from, including the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University and University College Birmingham.

Upside: Great shopping, great food and a real mixture of cultures. Most cosmopolitan place outside of London.

Downside: The accent will take some getting used to. If you think you can speak English now, you may have to learn all over again once you arrive!


Find a course in the UK


Search for a course

Study level*
About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


'Study in the UK' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the UK into one handy digital book.