Considering studying abroad? You’re not alone. There’s a certain allure to branching out, setting down roots (even if just temporarily) in a new country, and soaking up a fresh culture. It’s about exploring new horizons while chasing that degree. And hey, if you’re leaning towards the UK, you’re onto something. More and more international students have been choosing British universities in recent years.
Why? Well, beyond the classic British charm, there’s a robust academic scene waiting for you. Whether you’re dreaming of those historic universities draped in centuries-old traditions or modern campuses with cutting-edge facilities, the UK’s got it.
The 10 Best UK Cities For International Students
Now, when it comes to pinpointing the best spots in the UK for international students, there’s many to choose from – and equally a number of factors to consider for each. Each city, with its unique character and flair, offers a distinct student experience. But we’ve done some digging; considering the academics, how much it can cost to live there, what the local areas are all about, what kind of job prospects there might be should you choose to remain and all the things in between.
What we’ve got is a curated list of ten cities that truly stand out for international students. Whether you’re looking for urban hustle, historical charm, or a blend of both, these cities promise a student life that’s memorable in every sense.
With a growing reputation as a favoured spot for international students, it offers a more intimate setting without compromising on opportunities. Notably, Coventry University consistently garners attention for its commitment to providing a global perspective in its prospectus.
Connectivity is another feather in Coventry’s cap. Efficient transportation links make those weekend getaways to London or Birmingham both quick and affordable. Plus, for those on a budget, the city has many shops, bars and attractions that offer student discounts, making life a tad easier on the pocket.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £16,800-£19,850
Average Monthly Living Cost: £700-£1,000 Per Month
Top Universities: Coventry University
Major Industries: Automotive, Advanced Manufacturing, Digital Technologies
A city that radiates a youthful zest, thanks in part to its sizable student population. The academic landscape is rich here, with Russell Group institution The University of Leeds leading the charge with its innovative research initiatives.
But Leeds isn’t just about hitting the books. It’s an epicentre of creativity, with a burgeoning arts and music scene. For those looking to meld theory with practice, Leeds’ position as a digital and media powerhouse in the UK means there are ample opportunities for internships, training, and part-time gigs.
The city’s transport network is efficient, and its location in Northern England makes it perfect for exploring other iconic cities with transport links to all 3 mainland capitals (Cardiff, Edinburgh & London).
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £16,300
Average Monthly Living Cost: £1,057-£1181
Top Universities: University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University
Major Industries: Digital Media, Finance, Arts and Culture
Drenched in folklore (ever heard of Robin Hood?) and brimming with vibrant street scenes, Nottingham has a charisma that pulls students in from across the globe. But it’s not just the tales of yesteryears that captivate; the city’s academic foundation is robust. Universities like the University of Nottingham consistently rank high for their research impact and student experience.
Beyond the classroom, Nottingham offers an eclectic mix of entertainment, from its indie music venues to cosy coffee shops dotting the Lace Market area. It’s a city that promotes a balanced student lifestyle, where one can oscillate between rigorous academic pursuits and leisurely canal-side strolls.
Getting around is also a breeze. With an extensive Tram & Bus network as well as rail links to local towns and cities further afield – Nottingham is set up as one of the transport hubs right in the centre of England.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £20,425
Average Monthly Living Cost: £900-£1200
Top Universities: University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University
Major Industries: Life Sciences, Digital Content, Clean Technologies
Newcastle, or as locals affectionately call it, the ‘Toon’, is a treasure trove for international students. With the iconic River Tyne coursing through it, the city marries its industrial heritage with a contemporary spirit. Newcastle University stands as a testament to the city’s dedication to academic excellence, offering a plethora of courses tailored to the needs of the international community.
For those moments of respite, Newcastle boasts a pulsating nightlife, crowned by its legendary club scene and theatres. But it’s not all about the late-night revelry. The city’s Quayside area, peppered with art galleries and gourmet eateries, is a haven for daytime explorers.
What’s more, the Geordie warmth is palpable. This friendly local demeanour, combined with the city’s compact nature, ensures that international students quickly find their footing, forging connections that last a lifetime.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £19,000-£24,488
Average Monthly Living Cost: £1,024-£1,328
Top Universities: Newcastle University, Northumbria University
Major Industries: Renewable Energy, Science and Research, Digital Tech
Bristol dances to its own beat, a city that effortlessly blends its maritime history with a cutting-edge arts scene. It’s no wonder that students from all corners of the globe gravitate here, looking to soak up its unique vibrancy. Institutions like the University of Bristol are renowned for their research-centric approach and inclusivity, ensuring that international students get a top-notch educational experience.
Outside of academia, the city promises a riot of colours and sounds. The annual Bristol Balloon Fiesta paints the sky, while street art (think Banksy) transforms urban spaces into open-air galleries. And if you’re a foodie, brace yourself for a culinary roller-coaster, with a host of international cuisines awaiting exploration.
Nestled conveniently in the southwest, Bristol also serves as a gateway to scenic spots like Bath and the Cotswolds. The city’s commitment to sustainability, exemplified by its cycling trails and green initiatives, further endears it to the eco-conscious student.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £15,500-£21,750
Average Monthly Living Cost: £800-£1,000
Top Universities: University of Bristol, University of the West of England
Major Industries: Aerospace, Film and Media, Microelectronics
Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, proudly wears its rich tapestry of history, music, and culture on its sleeve. Academic strongholds like the University of Glasgow offer international students an immersive learning experience, with curriculum frameworks that are both contemporary and globally relevant.
But there’s more to Glasgow than lectures and libraries. Its music scene is legendary, producing iconic acts and hosting vibrant festivals that draw global crowds. The city’s Victorian and art nouveau architecture serve as constant reminders of its storied past, while areas like the West End brim with bohemian vibes, offering an array of cafes, vintage shops, and theatres.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £20,066-£38,490
Average Monthly Living Cost: £1,250-£1,458
Top Universities: University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Strathclyde
Major Industries: Engineering, Life Sciences, Tourism and Events
Manchester? It’s not just a city; it’s a vibe. Sure, there are world-class universities here, with the University of Manchester leading the pack. But it’s also the kind of place where you can chat about quantum physics in one moment and jam to an Oasis track the next.
Speaking of music, Manchester’s given us some serious legends. Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths – yeah, they all started here. And when you’re not diving into your studies or exploring the city’s rich music scene, you might find yourself getting lost in the eclectic Northern Quarter or doing some retail therapy at Trafford.
And for all you football fans, this is basically heaven. Manchester United and Manchester City? Both call this place home. But beyond the music, the shopping, and the sport, what makes Manchester truly special is its people. Warm, welcoming, and wonderfully diverse – it’s the kind of city where everyone, no matter where they’re from, feels right at home.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £23,375
Average Monthly Living Cost: £1,099-£1,400
Top Universities: University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University
Major Industries: Media and Digital Production, Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences
Birmingham, with its rich industrial legacy, has metamorphosed into a bustling hub of education and multiculturalism. Universities like the University of Birmingham offer international students state-of-the-art facilities and a curriculum that’s tailored for the global market.
Yet, Birmingham offers more than just an academic haven. The city’s extensive canal system, often likened to Venice, provides serene escapes amidst urban hustle. The culinary scene in Birmingham is a melting pot, thanks to its diverse population, offering everything from tantalising Balti curries to gourmet delicacies.
Culturally, Birmingham doesn’t skip a beat. The iconic Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the bustling Bullring shopping centre, and a plethora of festivals ensure there’s never a dull moment. Given its central location in England, Birmingham also presents a logistical advantage, making travels across the UK a breeze for eager explorers.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £14,600-£24,660
Average Monthly Living Cost: £1,341-£1,389
Top Universities: University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University
Major Industries: Engineering and Manufacturing, Financial Services, Creative and Digital
The Scottish capital, with its historic charm and modern dynamism, offers international students an experience unlike any other. The renowned University of Edinburgh, with its impressive alumni and groundbreaking research, sits at the heart of the city’s academic offerings.
Edinburgh isn’t just about mediaeval castles and cobblestone streets, although they’re undeniably enchanting. The city comes alive annually with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, turning the city into a global stage. Book lovers will revel in its literary legacy, with festivals and tours celebrating the likes of Sir Walter Scott.
Nature enthusiasts aren’t left behind. From climbing Arthur’s Seat for a panoramic city view to strolling through the Royal Botanic Garden, the city has it all. The welcoming nature of the Scots and the vibrant international community ensures every student feels integrated and cherished.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £23,385-£30,650
Average Monthly Living Cost: £1,739-£1,934
Top Universities: University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University
Major Industries: Finance, Tourism, Creative Industries
A city that hardly needs any introduction at all, London sits firmly as a dream destination for countless international students. The city’s universities are among the best on the planet, with world-famous institutions like Imperial College London, King’s College London, and UCL leading the academic charge.
But London is so much more than its renowned universities. It’s a tapestry of cultures, a place where history meets the avant-garde. The resounding chimes of Big Ben and the sprawling greenery of Hyde Park are just two of the well-known things that create a mesmerising backdrop for a vibrant student life.
London isn’t just a city; it’s a world in itself. From the glitz of the West End theatres to the bustling markets of Camden and Brixton, there’s always something happening. Its status as a global financial hub also provides students with unparalleled opportunities for internships and job placements.
Average International Students Tuition Fee: £22,200
Average Monthly Living Cost: £1,500-£2,500
Top Universities: Imperial College London, King’s College London, University College London (UCL)
Major Industries: Finance, Media, Technology, Creative Arts
Navigating the IELTS: Your Gateway to UK Education
So, you’ve got your heart set on one of those splendid cities in the UK for your academic journey. Great choice! But before you pack your bags, dance a little jig, and bid adieu to your homeland, there’s an essential step you can’t skip: the IELTS.
What is the IELTS?
IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is a standardised English proficiency test. Since the UK’s primary medium of instruction is English, universities and institutions want to ensure you can keep up, both academically and socially. Think of IELTS as your passport to seamless communication in your chosen city.
Why is it so important?
For starters, most UK universities have a minimum IELTS score requirement. But it’s not just about getting your foot in the door. A good score can bolster your application, and in some cases, even fetch you scholarships or financial aid. Plus, navigating daily life, making new friends, and participating in student activities will be a breeze if you’re confident in your English skills.
How to Ace It?
Understand the Format: The IELTS test is divided into four sections – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Familiarising yourself with the format is half the battle won.
Practice, Practice, Practice: There are countless resources online, including mock tests, sample questions, and interactive lessons.
Stay Updated: Engage with English media – read newspapers, watch English movies or series, and tune into English radio channels. It’ll enhance your comprehension skills and make you familiar with various accents and dialects.
Stay Calm and Confident: It’s natural to feel nervous, but remember, it’s just a test. Keeping a clear head and believing in yourself can make a significant difference.
Once you’ve cracked the IELTS, the next steps in your UK academic journey will start to unfold. From university applications to student visas, and from accommodation hunts to airport landings – your dream is about to become a tangible reality.
Note: Research conducted by assured marketing