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The basics
THE UK: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Manchester

Manchester is one of the UK’s most famous cities. With a rich history and energetic modern cultural scene, it continues to attract international students from around the world. Find out why.


Manchester has made a name for itself throughout history. The city has been a driving force in industry, science, and technology, and it was also the birthplace of the Suffragette women’s rights movement. As such, it makes sense that Manchester’s motif is the worker bee, and you’ll see this little symbol everywhere you go in the city.


If you’re looking to study in the UK, Manchester is a top choice destination, home to approximately 19,000 international students. A friendly northern city famed for its welcoming locals (known as Mancunians) and vibrant cultural scene, Manchester is a city with striking architecture and rich heritage, not to mention a prestigious Russell Group university.


What is Manchester like?

Location and demographics

With a population of nearly 600,000, Manchester is renowned not only for being multicultural but for embracing and celebrating the many cultures of its diverse residents.


Manchester is in the northwest of England between the coast and the Peak District National Park, you can reach either by car in under an hour. Nearby cities include the likes of Liverpool, Leeds, and Sheffield, all under 50 miles away.


Culture and history

People have lived in Manchester since before Roman times, but the city started to make a name for itself during the Industrial Revolution when it became a centre for textile manufacturing. The wealth this brought in enabled Manchester to grow very quickly.


These days the city is a global centre for business with a rapidly growing economy. It is famous worldwide for its music scene and the enviable privilege of being the home city of bands such as Oasis, The Stone Roses, and Joy Division.


If you need inspiration you can discover some of the famous alumni who studied at UK universities.



What universities are in Manchester?

Manchester is a leading city for education, and the University of Manchester is ranked 28th globally by the QS World University Rankings 2023. This prominent institution is also a member of the UK’s exclusive Russell Group and has famous alumni in almost every field, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Norman Foster, and physicist Brian Cox, not to mention 25 Nobel prize winners.


For performing arts students, the city is also home to the Royal Northern College of Music, a conservatoire ranked 33rd in the QS World University Rankings for Performing Arts 2022. Don’t forget that you can also check how universities in the UK rank by using the Complete University Guide League Tables 2023. Other institutions of note include:




What does Manchester offer students?


What is transport like in Manchester?

For many, walking or cycling is a cheap and favourable choice to travel short distances. However, with weather in the north being unpredictable, you’d be wise to consider other transport options as a back-up. Manchester offers efficient bus and tram timetables which operate through the night. You can buy individual tickets or purchase a pre-paid Get Me There smartcard that offers some price reductions.


If you’re travelling further, the city has many train and coach links and is well-connected to most UK cities. Manchester also has the added benefit of an airport with direct flights to 199 destinations worldwide.


What about entertainment and food?

Manchester is a hub for entertainment. From its legendary music scene to its sporting expertise, there is something for everyone. If museums and galleries are your idea of fun you’ll be perfectly situated in Manchester, and better yet, many of them are free!


When it comes to food, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Mancunians are proud of their food, or ‘scran’ as it is known locally. And although many people’s minds might jump straight to the city’s famous pies, there’s far more than just those on the menu.


Manchester has hosted an annual food and drink festival since the 1980s. The city is home to over 650 restaurants, including its famous Curry Mile, the largest concentration of South Asian restaurants outside of Asia.


Discover the types of British accents you’ll come across when studying in the UK.


What is the accommodation like in Manchester?

For students living in the UK, it’s common to reside in university-owned halls of residence, at least for their first year.


The University of Manchester has plenty of accommodation options: over 20 halls of residence with students able to choose between catered or self-catered. For students living on campus, the university’s accommodation costs range between GBP 110 and GBP 175 a week.


If you prefer the idea of renting privately, you can opt for a room in a private hall of residence. These are often larger but more expensive than university-owned rooms. Alternatively, there are plenty of flats and houses available to rent with or without flatmates. Just make sure you do your research to make sure you’re getting a good rate.


You can always speak to your university to understand your accommodation options.


Want to find out more about the best student cities in the UK?


Are there public services for students in Manchester?

All the city’s universities offer several services specifically for international students to help them settle into living in Manchester.


The University of Manchester, for example, has a designated Student Services Centre set up to help international students in all aspects of university life.


Another great option unique to Manchester is The International Society. It’s a not-for-profit organisation supported by the city’s universities that welcomes people from all backgrounds and helps international students get used to living in Manchester by linking them to various social activities.


Find out how to apply for a student visa in the UK.


How much does it cost to live in Manchester?

The general cost of Manchester

Manchester is frequently voted in the top 10 most affordable student cities in the UK. These statistics are based on the general cost of living combined with tuition fees, and luckily for its students, Manchester excels in both areas.


Read more about how much tuition fees cost in the UK.


Student budget

Of course, you’ll still need to budget carefully to make sure you don’t have any nasty financial surprises while you’re studying. The University of Manchester recommends a weekly budget of around GBP 230 and GBP 300.


Discover what you need to know about the student cost of living in the UK.


What are Manchester’s main attractions?


Studying in Manchester comes with plenty of attractions for your free time. It’s an energetic city with things to see, and it does not matter what your interests are. Why not take a stroll through the vibrant Northern Quarter to get a real taste of its eclectic side? Here you’ll find stunning street art, boutique stores and independent restaurants. You won’t want to miss it.


Perhaps you’ve been drawn to Manchester for its music scene. If so, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a vibe for everyone, from the vast AO Arena (Europe’s largest indoor concert venue) to more intimate settings like the Deaf Institute, which hosts everything from well-known bands to comedy newcomers. It’s also well worth getting tickets to the annual music festival Parklife.


If you’re feeling energetic, you’ve come to the right city. Host of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, there’s plenty of sporting infrastructure to make use of. Mancunians famously love sport, and the city is home to several stadiums for Rugby Union, cricket, and football (soccer). Both Manchester United and Manchester City football teams are high in the UK’s Premier League, so if you get the opportunity, stop by to watch a game.


And if you just want to chill in a calm environment, it’s not hard to come by. Why not visit one of the city’s many museums or galleries? Or attend the annual Manchester International Festival, a celebration of creativity showcasing exciting work by new and leading artists.


Whatever your interests, if you’re a student in Manchester, you’ll never be bored. Remember to search for your perfect degree and university using our course matcher tool. You may find yourself studying in Manchester.


Study in the UK


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