Top 5 Student Cities in the U.K.

Global Ed

You have your acceptance and your global ed journey to the UK is about to begin. But what about life beyond the uni? The newness of the place and budget issues can get intimidating.

Here’s what we’re looking at today…

  • Studying in London
  • Studying in Edinburgh
  • Studying in Manchester
  • Studying in Glasgow
  • Studying in Coventry

Here’s all about student cities and resources in the U.K.

Student cities in the UK

QS Rankings, in addition to their university lists, also publish a list of the best student cities for international students. It is built out of indicators that include university rankings, student mix, desirability, employer activity, affordability, and student view. And this was their 2021 list

UK Ranking World Ranking Cities
1 1 London
2 15 Edinburgh
3 29 Manchester
4 39 Glasgow
5 47 Coventry
6 48 Nottingham
7 49 Birmingham
8 57 Newcastle upon Tyne
9 64 Aberdeen
10 83 Brighton

Picking a place to live

If you are not living on campus, choosing a place to live is probably the next big decision you will have to make after courses and university. How, you ask? Cost-time benefit analysis. You balance travel time (to and from your university), cost of travel and cost of living, because, let us face it, places like London aren’t easily affordable.

But that’s not all. Being an international student also means immersing yourself in the local culture and finding a spot that suits your personality. Are you a foodie? Do you look for an artsy ethos? How much do you socialise? Downtown or the suburbs? Or any other thing that will make your transition into a new country more comfortable.

And here are some of the things you can do to, irrespective of the city you are in, to live on a shoestring budget.

Living on a student budget

  • Showcase your student-hood. Carry your student id around. Many places in the UK have special discounts and offers for students––whether it is restaurants, pubs, grocery stores or even some shopping outlets. Have a list of those in your locality to make the best use of it.
  • Loyalty cards, discount coupons, Groupons and the like are your best friends.
  • UNiDAYS is the way to go. Sign in and verify your student id there to get exclusive deals in restaurants, pubs, clothing, tech, etc.
  • Budget hard and strong and do not deviate much from it.
  • Thrift stores, local markets and wholesale stores work out less expensive than getting take away.
  • Look for used furniture and kitchen equipment online and hustle for the best deal.
  • Use public transport as much as you can.
  • Explore free entertainment around your locality, like a picnic in a park, a walk through a boulevard or a historical area, or even a local library.

But, if you do find yourself in one of these cities, here is a guide that will help for the top five student cities in the UK.

the top five student cities in the UK

Studying in London

Areas to live in

  • Woolwich, Deptford, Leytonstone, Stratford, Streatham and Docklands if you are looking for budget accommodations
  • Brixton, if you are looking for student-friendly, thriving nightlife
  • Dalston and Shoreditch for the artist hipster in you, a Banksy-vibe
  • Richmond, if you don’t mind the travel. Beautiful countryside with plenty of open spaces

Cheap Eats and Student Discounts

  • Camden and Borough Markets for mouthwatering street food
  • Restaurants like Cabana The O2, Ping Pong Southbank, Honest Burgers Holborn and Absurd Bird Soho have dedicated days for student discounts and UNiDAYS offers
  • Bar Kick, The Fire Station at Waterloo and the Miller Pub for a fun weekend night out with friends

Student spots

Skating at Somerset House, the afternoon teas, student bars, free parks and museums, Covent Garden, The Scoop, Angel Comedy Club, Westminster Abbey, Platform 93/4 at King’s Cross


  • Oxford Street – one of the busiest in the U.K.
  • Westfield Shopping malls
  • Camden, Regent Street and the King’s Road for smaller, street markets
  • Greenwich for fun arts and crafts items
  • Pimlico, Notting Hill Gate for thrift shopping

Top Universities in London

Imperial College, UCL, King’s College, London School of Economics and Political Science, Brunel University, SOAS University
top universities in London

Studying in Edinburgh

Areas to live in

  • City Centre
  • Fountainbridge – the perfect balance between the bustle of the city and the quiet of the suburbs
  • Haymarket – close to the city centre, you get to experience rugby fever
  • Newington – heavy student population, known for its restaurants and bars for the foodie in you

Cheap Eats: Nile Valley Cafe, Oink Grassmarket, Phenecia, The Police Box Coffee Bars

Student Spots

Walk along the Water of Leith, Dancing at Sneaky Petes, Dinner and drinks at the Devil’s Advocate, picnic and games with friends in the Meadows to the south of the city


  • Stockbridge Sunday market for cheese pops, homemade bakers and fresh produce
  • Oxfam, Mary’s Living and Giving and Barnardo’s for thrift shopping
  • Princes Street, George Street and Multrees Walk where you can window-shop for designer goods to your heart’s content

Top Universities in Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh, Edinburg Napier, Leith School of Art

Studying in Manchester

Studying in Manchester

Areas to live in:

Of all the major cities in the UK, Manchester is probably the most budget friendly. You will find a lot of international students living around Withinington and Fallowfield.

Cheap eats:

  • I am Pho, Vivid Lounge, This & That, Rudy’s Pizza, Yard & Coop serve big portions at affordable prices
  • Arndale and Manchester markets have great street food that you can grab on the go.
  • Having a Tastecard account can get up a 50% discount in over a 120 restaurants in Manchester.

Student spots

As an international student living in Manchester, you can explore its world renowned music scene and its industrial heritage. Walk around the docks, about a 100 km of canals and enter the world of steam engines. Manchester’s night life is also abuzz, thanks to the live music scene.


  • The Markets: Levenschulme, Northern Quarter, Castlefield, Altrincham and the Markers Market – explore these areas for fresh produce, local crafts and vintage memorabilia at affordable prices. You might even get to experience live gigs and local artists performing.
  • Afflecks is a Manchester institution. This indoor market gives you a relaxed, indie vibe and is filled with bars, shops, tattoo parlours and live events.
  • If you are a music buff, Manchester is the place to explore vinyl records. This is a dangerous path, wallet-wise, but is definitely worth window shopping and drooling over.

Top Universities in Manchester

The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Royal Northern College of Music, University of Salford

Studying in Glasgow

Studying in Glasgow

Areas to live in

Finnieston, Hillhead and Partick are student centred areas around the University of Glasgow

Maryhill and Anniesland are slightly further away but are also less expensive.

Glasgow City Centre or Dennistoun would be a better choice if you are enrolled in Strathclyde or Caledonian University.

Cheap eats

The 78, The Flying Duck, Bar Soba and St Judes are some of the spots worth trying out.

Student Spots: With hundreds of bars and clubs, Glasgow’s night life will never disappoint. But if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Loch Lomond or even the Glasgow Necropolis (yes, it is a graveyard) will give you some beautiful sights.


Style Mile is the place to be, as most of the shopping spots of the city are concentrated here. From top designers to thrift stores, Style Mile gives you the best of all worlds.

However, to truly experience the culture of Glasgow and to do so on a budget, it is the weekend markets that need to be explored for everything from produce, clothes and home decor.

Top Universities in Glasgow

University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Strathclyde, The Glasgow School of Art

Studying in Coventry

Studying in Conventry

Areas to live in

Earlsdon, Stoke, Barras Heath, Canley are the areas you begin with

Cheap Eats

  • Slug and Lettuce, The Pod Cafe, Chi Bar, Millie’s Kitchen, Gourmet Food Kitchen
  • Factory at FarGo village is a place worth checking it. It brings together local kitchens and traders with music, craft beer and cocktails.

Student spots

  • Richoh Arena for the rugby fans
  • A stroll along the canal
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon, if you are a Shakespeare buff
  • Relaxing at the War Memorial Park or Coombe Abbey
  • Nightlife: Kasbah, The Phoenix, The Aardvark, and of course, Scholars


Check out the Coventry Market, FarGo village, Central 6 Retail Park Bannerbrook Park and Cross Point for all your shopping needs.

Top Universities in Coventry

Coventry University, University of Warwick, Coventry College

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