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THE UK: Destination Guides - Must read

The best student cities in the UK

We take you to some of the best student cities in the UK and discover what they have to offer international students, from history and culture to their universities.

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The UK continues to attract the attention of international students around the world. With internationally well-known universities, quality degrees and great student lifestyle it isn’t hard to see why. However, with quite a few universities to choose from, how do you know the best cities for students in the UK? 


We’re here to explore student life in the UK and show you the best student cities. Join us on a whirlwind tour of some of the best places in the UK for students to study and some of the institutions that may be the perfect match for you.


Before we start, don’t forget that this is not a definitive list of places to study in the UK, but focuses on cities that have been ranked for things like student experience, the number of international students, employment opportunities, university rankings, safety and liveability.





The capital of the United Kingdom, and its economic and cultural hub, has always been high on the priority list for international students. With an estimated 8.9 million people London is also known as a multicultural city, with over 300 languages spoken, where people from all over the world come to live, study and work.  It’s also the tourist capital of the world with over 17 million people visiting each year.


The city has a world-famous public transport system including buses, trains and the underground train system. In fact, it’s estimated that London buses alone travel the equivalent of 300 million miles (482 million kms) each year.  


You’ll also be able to see some of the most photographed sites in the world including the houses of parliament in Westminster, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge.



 Let’s not forget that London is also the home of many world-class universities and institutions including:





Located in the north west of England, Manchester is known for its culture and innovation. Manchester was the birthplace of competitive league football, the contraceptive pill and the submarine. The city has a reputation for a vibrant nightlife, music scene and culinary attractions. It is a city of about 550,000 people, meaning it’s big enough to give you a city lifestyle, but small enough for you to still feel part of a community.


The city is also on the map for its educational institutions and scientific breakthroughs, with the atom being split for the first time at the University of Manchester in 1919 and the first electronic program computer, which weighs almost 500kg, created at the same institution in 1948. Take some time to explore institutions in Manchester and within a short traveling distance from the city:






Newcastle upon Tyne is a large city in the north east of England.  The River Tyne flows through Newcastle and the city is famed for its seven bridges criss-cross it. Visiting Newcastle, you’ll also come across the Angel of the North statue, which has been declared an official icon by the UK government.


The city is home to about 800,000 people and has become known for its culinary inventions from chocolate to soft drinks. Newcastle is also the birthplace of famous British comedian Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr Bean). You’ll find a welcoming and warm atmosphere in the city, although it may take a little while to get used to the regional Geordie accent.



Newcastle has one of the top institutions in the UK in Newcastle University, which ranks in the top 30 institutions in the UK and top 200 in the world (QS World University Rankings 2023). Another of this city’s universities to check out is Northumbria University, Newcastle.  Don’t forget to look at some of the pathway options available in Newcastle  at INTO Newcastle University




The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is a city of over 500,000 people and is situated in the south east of the country. Edinburgh is well known for its castle which is built on an extinct volcano and is the second biggest city in Scotland. Edinburgh is ideal if you like open green spaces with over 100 parks to choose from, and, if you’re a fan of architecture, the city has the most listed buildings on the entire planet.


Edinburgh proved to be the inspiration for JK Rowling when writing some of her now world-famous Harry Potter stories in a local cafe and the city is known for a dynamic food and nightlife scene. You will not be at a loss as to what to do with your free time with many museums, tours and activities, many of which are free. 


The University of Edinburgh is the most well-known institution in the city and ranks in the top five universities in the UK and in the top 20 in the world (QS World University Rankings 2023). 



Some of the other institutions that call this part of Scotland home include:




Also known as England’s “second city”, Birmingham is located in the West Midlands region in the middle of England. It’s a large city with a population of over one million people and is noted as one of the youngest cities in Europe with more than 40 per cent of Birmingham’s residents being under the age of 25, which is great for student life in the UK. Although it is often noted for its central location and great transport links to the rest of the UK, the city has much to offer apart from this including:


  • The largest public library in Europe

  • Museums and art galleries

  • The Sea Life Centre

  • Cadbury World

  • Hippodrome theatre

  • Over 50 festivals a year

  • Parks, gardens and green spaces


Birmingham also has a reputation for being a city of intellectual curiosity and invention. The world-renowned Cadbury chocolate brand was started there, as was heavy metal music, led by bands like Black Sabbath. Some other inventions and discoveries that call Birmingham home include:


  • Lawn tennis

  • The steam engine

  • The discovery of oxygen in 1774

  • The postage stamp

  • Pacemakers

  • X-rays

  • The domestic vacuum cleaner

  • Electric kettles



As you can see, if you did decide to study in the city you’d be following in the footsteps of some very illustrious predecessors. Should the city seem like a good fit, why not have a look at some of the institutions there including:



You may also want to explore some of the other best cities for international students in the UK including:


Coventry (England)


Glasgow (Scotland)


Cardiff (Wales)


Brighton (England)


Bristol (England)


Hopefully you are now armed with a much better understanding of where you can find some of the best student life in the UK, some top UK institutions and where to find some of the best cities in the UK for international students.


If you’re considering studying in the UK you can also find information on how to apply for a student visa and some of the most popular degrees and subjects in the UK and the top universities in the UK.


Study in the UK


'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.

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