10 of the Cheapest Top Student Cities in the UK 2018
UK cities that are budget-friendly for students may seem like they’re few and far between. According to the QS Best Student Cities ranking, London is the number one student city in the world this year, and unsurprisingly so, given the wide range of top universities based in the UK capital.
However, it’s no secret that, along with its captivating appeal for residents and tourists alike, the famed capital is also one of the most expensive places to live in the world.
Fortunately, there are plenty of relatively cheaper student cities in the UK that equally boast a high quality of education and lifestyle, as well as plenty to see and do.
Read on to discover the most affordable top student cities in the UK this year – starting with the most expensive.
Ranked as the world’s number one city for students overall, London is also ranked 82nd for affordability.
A historic city that is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and sites, tourist attractions and cultural diversity, London is famously not the cheapest city to live or study in.
With a single person’s monthly cost of living averaging US$1,005 without rent, according to Numbeo, students who opt to study in England’s capital city can also expect to pay up to US$21,200 per year on tuition fees. However, you will find that living in London is a lot cheaper in comparison to rival metropolitan cities, such as New York, where rent is almost 32 percent higher.
London is home to 17 internationally ranked universities, with its highest-ranked institution, UCL (University College London) ranked 10th in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings 2019.
Famed for its relaxed and sunny predisposition, Brighton is a well-loved seaside resort that’s just an hour’s train ride from London. It’s ranked joint 80th for affordability and 92nd overall.
According to Numbeo, rent prices in the beachy town are over 62 percent lower than in London. Overall, monthly cost of living is about US$1,400 cheaper (including rent).
Brighton has two internationally ranked universities, of which its highest-ranked – the University of Sussex – is currently 227th in the world. Tuition fees here aren’t much cheaper than in London, with undergraduates expected to pay around US$20,600 per year.
Located in the West Midlands in England, Coventry is a charming medieval city that was once a part of Warwickshire. It’s the second largest city in its region (after Birmingham), the ninth largest in England and the 12th largest in the UK.
Coventry also ranks 71st for affordability in the best student cities index, and 44th overall. It’s home to two internationally ranked institutions, including the University of Warwick, which ranks 54th in the world. Tuition fees for international students certainly aren’t the world’s cheapest – costing an average of US$24,300 per year.
As for cost of living, Warwick University’s official page calculates this year’s on-campus accommodations to cost between US$98 and US$235 per week, depending on the hall of residence and your let length. As is the case with most student accommodations, rent at Warwick University includes heating, gas and electricity, water, a high-speed internet connection, basic cleaning, and basic contents insurance.
The stunning, mountainous capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, was the filming location for much of the popular Harry Potter movies, and is renowned for its green, picturesque sceneries, old medieval castles and Georgian architecture. It is the 16th best student city in the world and the 66th most affordable in this year’s ranking.
Home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities – the University of Edinburgh, which currently ranks 18th in the world – Scotland’s capital has three internationally ranked institutions in total, across which tuition fees for international students cost an average of US$28,000 per year.
Rent in Edinburgh is over 51 percent cheaper than in London (as estimated by Numbeo), and according to the University of Edinburgh’s official website, international applicants of 2018-19 are estimated to pay a minimum living cost (including rent) of around US$891 per month.
As the largest city in the West Midlands area of England, Birmingham is a major business hub, displaying several inspiring 18th century landmarks that proudly echo its significantly historic role in the era of the Industrial Revolution.
Having been ranked as the 51st best student city in the world, it’s also the 64th most affordable. Birmingham is home to one of the world’s most highly-regarded institutions, the University of Birmingham (ranked joint 79th), as well as Aston University, and average international fees are around US$21,400 per year across both universities.
Students will find that, overall, the cost of living index in Birmingham is almost 22 percent lower than in London, according to Numbeo.
In the western Lowlands of Scotland lies the port city of Glasgow, renowned for its classical art nouveau architecture and a wealthy heritage which lays claim to its trade and shipbuilding past in the 19th and early 20th century. Today, Glasgow is a cultural hub, boasting some of the Scottish nation’s most acclaimed museums and institutions of the arts; the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland.
Ranked 59th for affordability and 43rd overall, Glasgow is also home to two universities which are ranked within the world’s top 300, of which the highest-ranked is the University of Glasgow (joint 69th).
Tuition fees at both of the city’s ranked universities average US$23,800 per year, while the general cost of living in Glasgow is only slightly lower than that in Edinburgh (eight percent, according to Expatistan). Glasgow is 38 percent cheaper than London, with rent costing over half the amount it does in the capital (56 percent).
Situated in the heart of England, Nottingham, affectionally titled ‘Queen of the Midlands’, is well-renowned for its famous affiliation with the legendary tale of Robin Hood. With the historic city’s eminent Nottingham Castle Museum sitting at its pinnacle, as well as the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery, there is plenty to see and do here.
According to this year’s ranking, Nottingham is the 57th best city for affordability and is ranked 47th overall.
Nottingham is home to two internationally ranked institutions; the University of Nottingham is the most noteworthy, ranked joint 82nd in the world. Tuition fees for undergraduate students average just US$18,900 per year across both ranked universities, which is cheaper than all the universities listed so far. Additionally, the Telegraph recently named the University of Nottingham as the second-cheapest institution for studying in the UK, with an average total weekly spend of approximately US$235 (about US$940 monthly).
The city of Newcastle lies on the River Tyne in the north-eastern region of England. Having been a major center for shipbuilding and manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution, it’s now a hub for business, sciences and the arts.
As a university city, Newcastle is ranked 56th in the world and 54th for affordability. It’s home to three internationally ranked universities, of which two are in the top 300 (Newcastle University in joint 141st place and Durham University in joint 74th).
Student life in Newcastle is frequently praised due to the city’s well-known friendly atmosphere and relatively cheap living costs. Although tuition fees here aren’t inexpensive, averaging US$22,100 per year, the cost of living is 39 percent cheaper than in London, with the cheapest available rent 65 percent lower than in the capital, according to Expatistan.
Manchester is the UK’s second biggest city and is also ranked as the second most affordable UK city for students. Globally, it’s ranked 51st for affordability, and 24th overall.
A major north-western city with a vast industrial heritage, it was once a textile powerhouse, and fragments of this can be seen in the still-existing 18th century canal system in the Castlefield conservation area, as well as the interactive Museum of Science & Industry. Manchester is also home to one of the world’s most iconic football stadiums, Old Trafford, home to Manchester United.
Students who wish to study at any one of Manchester’s internationally ranked institutions, including its highest-ranked university the University of Manchester – which is ranked 29th in the world – can expect to pay around just US$16,100 per year on tuition fees. Cost of living is estimated to be approximately US$1,137 per month, according to the University of Manchester’s official website.
Nicknamed the ‘Granite City’ after its long-existing grey-stone buildings and walls, Aberdeen is a port city located in the northeast of Scotland. The city’s most monumental landmark is the Marischal College – a Victorian structure that has acted as the headquarters of the City Council since 2011.
Aberdeen is ranked 55th in this year’s Best Student Cities ranking, but is the only UK city in the top 50 for affordability, ranking 47th.
Home to the fifth oldest university in the UK, the University of Aberdeen (joint 172nd in the world), the city is also one of the most affordable for students, with the monthly cost of living estimated to be over US$3,215 cheaper than in London.
Across Aberdeen’s two internationally ranked universities, tuitions fees average US$17,900, which is cheaper than most UK universities.
This article was originally published in August 2018 . It was last updated in January 2020