Top 10 Best Student Cities in the UK in 2019 | Top Universities

Top 10 Best Student Cities in the UK in 2019

By Chloe Lane

Updated March 23, 2021 Updated March 23, 2021

The UK claims 14 entrants out of the 120 featured in the QS Best Student Cities 2019 ranking meaning it has the most of any country (tied with the US).

The UK has once again claimed the number one best student city in the world, with London in first place. Additionally, there are four new entrants to the index: Bristol (97th), Sheffield (103rd), Liverpool (106th) and Leicester (118th) but unfortunately, despite scoring well, none of these new entrants make it on to the top 10 in the UK this year.    

The Best Student Cities ranking rates each entrant on six indicators, including desirability, affordability and student view, with the latter based on responses collected in our student survey.

All of the UK’s 10 entries are ranked within the top half of cities for student mix, an indicator which assesses the size and diversity of each city’s student population, but fare less well for affordability.

Below we’ll count down the 10 highest ranked student cities in the UK, all of which offer their own unique study abroad experiences, as well as at least two universities which feature in the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

Top 20 Best Student Cities in the UK

Based on the QS Best Student Cities 2019 Rakings

Ranking in the UK

World Ranking

Student City
























Newcastle upon Tyne







10. Brighton

Rising an impressive nine places this year in the world student cities ranking, Brighton is ranked 83rd in the world. The city is known for its relaxed attitude and  is one of the UK’s most popular seaside resorts with its sunny south coast beaches. The city is also famous for its thriving LGBTQ community and is packed full of creatives and vibrant individuals. 

Brighton has the largest student ratio of all UK student cities, with students making up 11.7 percent of the total population and international students making up 27 percent of the student population. The city, perhaps unsurprisingly, earns its best score in the student mix ranking, where it comes 24th in the world. Its highest ranked university is the University of Sussex, placing 246th in the QS World University Rankings® 2020

9. Aberdeen

Dropping one place this year, Aberdeen ranks ninth in the UK and 64th in the world (down nine places). Aberdeen has miles of coastline and countryside nearby, as well as excellent transport links to other cities, making it the ideal study destination for nature lovers. The city’s highest ranked university is the University of Aberdeen in 194th place.

Despite not being particularly cheap, Aberdeen scores higher in the affordability indicator than any other UK city, with living costs and rent lower than in other large cities in the ranking. Scottish students and those from the EU (excluding those from the rest of the UK) can study for free.

You can read about the top universities in Scotland here.

8. Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle-upon-Tyne (or simply Newcastle) drops two places in the UK Best Student Cities this year to place eighth and drops one place to rank 57th in the world. The largest city in north-east England, Newcastle earns high scores in the student mix indicator and the university rankings indicator; a reflection of the reputable universities in and around the city.

Newcastle and the wider area is home to some of the north east’s strongest universities, such as Durham University (ranked joint 78th in the QS World University Rankings® 2018) and Newcastle University in 146th place.

7. Birmingham

Up three places in the Best Student Cities ranking this year is Birmingham, in 49th place globally and remaining in seventh place in the UK. Birmingham is the UK’s second-largest city and is located in the center of the country. Its top university, the University of Birmingham, is consistently featured in the top 100 of the world rankings, most recently taking 81st place.

Famed for its industrial heritage, Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice and has excellent restaurants, large shopping centers and a rich history. It also hosts the largest Christmas market in the UK and more than 50 festivals annually, including the Birmingham Comedy Festival.

6. Nottingham

Ranked 48th in the Best Student Cities this year and one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, Nottingham is affectionately referred to as the ‘Queen of the Midlands’, known for its proud connection to the Robin Hood legend, as well as being named the ‘Home of English Sport’ in October 2015. The city contains two ranked universities, with the University of Nottingham scoring highest in 96th place.

The city earns the second highest score in the UK for affordability, with rent for a one bedroom apartment in the city center costing £588.89 (~US$759), 66 percent cheaper than London according to Numbeo.

Nottingham also has an award-winning public transport system and students in our survey describe the city as “affordable, easy to get around and overall a highly active city.”

5. Coventry

Entering the top 5 now, where Coventry remains solidly in fifth place, ranking 47th in the Best Student Cities index. Coventry’s top score is for the student mix indicator, where it ranks third in the world, with 42 percent of its students coming from outside of the UK – making it a very diverse place to study.

The University of Warwick is Coventry’s top ranking university, in 62nd place in the world university rankings this year. Warwick University’s Arts Centre is one of the largest art centers in the UK, and there are a variety of other theatres and art galleries around the city. In fact, Coventry was even awarded the title of ‘UK City of Culture 2021’.

4. Glasgow

Rising four places in the Best Student Cities ranking, Glasgow comes in in 39th place in the world, and remains in fourth place in the UK. Glasgow is in the top 50 for the university rankings, student view, desirability and student mix indicators, with a large and mixed student population.

The city is home to two universities which feature in the top 300 of the World University Rankings: the University of Glasgow, which ranks 67th, and the University of Strathclyde at joint 296th, with the former dating back to the 15th century. The largest city in Scotland, Glasgow is known for its rich history, varied contemporary culture and the friendliness of its locals.

In our student survey, one individual remarks, “the people are so friendly, the nightlife is fantastic and it’s a really artistic city”.

3. Manchester

We kick off the top three with Manchester, which also ranks29th in the world (dropping five places this year). Music is a big part of Manchester’s culture, with many famous bands formed here, such as Oasis, Joy Division, The Smiths and The Stone Roses.

The city gains its highest score for student mix, but generally scores well in all of the indicators. In our student survey, one respondent describes the city as “like a smaller, cheaper and friendlier London”. Another said ”It’s a well-connected city with affordable living costs and lots of job opportunities.”

Manchester’s highest ranked university, the University of Manchester is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and places 27th in the world rankings.

2. Edinburgh

The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, is in 16th place this year, and is known for its cultural attractions, such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which happens every August and attracts thousands of people to the city.

Home to the University of Edinburgh (in 20th place in the world rankings), the city is one of the UK’s highest scorers on the student view, student mix and desirability indicators. According to our survey, students admire the city’s “combination of nature, history, world class facilities and diversity”.                     

1. London

Ranking first in world for the second time in a row we have London, containing no less than 18 ranked institutions in the QS World University Rankings® 2020 – including two in the global top 10. It is therefore unsurprising that London is ranked the best in the world in the university rankings indicator and third in the employer activity indicator.

When asked in our student survey what the best thing about studying in London was, one respondent said: “the diversity of the people, opportunities and experiences” and another said they admired the city’s “employment prospects and social opportunities”.

You can read about the top universities in London here.

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Think there’s a UK city which deserves a place here? Rate it in our student survey, or let us know in the comments.

This article was originally published in October 2019 . It was last updated in March 2021

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