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The basics
THE UK: Destination Guides

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...

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While most international students who come to the UK are drawn to London, not everyone is so armoured with the hustle-bustle of London life - which is understandable.


Here 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 ManchesterManchester 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.



Based in the midlands in the borough of Leicestershire, Loughborough is traditionally known as a market town yet has the atmosphere of a buzzing city. One reason for this may be because it is home to Loughborough University; one of the UK’s leading institutions, ranking in the top 10 in recent national league tables. Renowned for its passion for sport, Loughborough university has excellent facilities such as a 50m Olympic swimming pool! Another major appeal of Loughborough is the low cost of living and proximity to nearby cities such as Nottingham or Leicester. Or, if you fancy escaping to the countryside, the Peak District is only an hour drive from the town!


Best bit:

At Loughborough University, every course has the option of a placement year so you can gain work experience during your degree, no matter what subject you choose!



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.



Best bit:

The city is very pretty and has won the Beautiful Britain in Bloom title no less than 10 times.



Coventry is a convenient one-hour train journey from London and just 20 minutes south of Birmingham, offering heaps for visitors, locals and students. Having said that, Coventry is a quieter and slower-paced city compared to other parts of the country. In fact, Coventry University ranks as the 13th best institution in the UK according to The Guardian University Guide 2019. Steeped in art, culture and history, Coventry is the perfect setting for a campus university. In the town centre, you can admire the iconic architecture, such as the remains of Coventry Cathedral which was badly bombed during World War 2.


Best bit:

If you choose to study in Coventry, everything you will ever need for your house can be bought at the local IKEA store!



Liverpool has gained a reputation as a buzzing and innovative city with a strong sense of pride and identity. Unsurprisingly, Liverpool is popular among students, for the low living costs and the wide range of things to do. The University of Liverpool is a Russell group institution which ranks among the top 200 universities in the world. Situated in the north west of England, Liverpool is famous for being the birthplace of The Beatles and holding world-renowned football clubs such as Everton and Liverpool. With the most galleries and museums outside of London, Liverpool has become an epicentre for arts and culture. For lovers of the outdoors however, Liverpool also offers long stretches of beach and green spaces to escape the busy city.


Best bit:

Liverpudlians or “scousers” are some of the friendliest people in the UK and known for being very down to earth! Perfect for anyone moving to a new city for the first time.



A metropolitan city situated in the beautiful county of Yorkshire, Leeds ranks at number 5 on Lonely Planet’s Top 10 European Travel Destinations of 2017. A once industrialised mill town, Leeds has developed into a vibrant city with beautiful architecture, live music venues and an eclectic art scene. Home to the University of Leeds, there is a huge student community which attract further innovation to the area. Leeds is also well connected to other parts of the country so that you can easily explore the rest of the UK.



Best bit:

Leeds is a cheap city compared to other parts of the country, which makes life far easier for students on a budget.



A south-eastern city on the coast of England, well-known for its maritime heritage. Southampton is one of the UK’s major ports, with a large and thriving student community. Southampton is close to lively cities such as Portsmouth and Brighton, but is also known for its vibrant night life and music scene. It may be due to this reputation that student choose to study at the University of Southampton, which ranks within the top 100 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2019. Although a busy student city, Southampton has lots of parks such as The Common, which is a great spot to relax with friends.


Best bit:

Southampton has a marina located in Ocean Village which houses many restaurants where you can gaze at the yachts in the waterfront.



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 BirminghamBirmingham City University and University College Birmingham.


Best bit:

Great shopping, great food and a real mixture of cultures. One of the most cosmopolitan places outside of London.



Take a look at other cities and study abroad destinations in the UK


Study in the UK


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