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Best university cities in the UK for international students

The UK has a lot to offer to international students coming here
The UK has a lot to offer to international students coming here

From the vibrant and varied cultural scene and breathtaking scenery to a rich historical and intellectual heritage and thriving student societies and clubs, the UK has a lot to offer to international students coming here. The countries' universities also provide excellent student support services and a high level of safety and security on their campuses. All of this explains why overall international student satisfaction with the university experience is so high: according to one study conducted in 2015, it stands at about a whopping 90 %.

And, of course, it's not surprising that, despite the relatively high cost of living, London with its many universities (including highly prestigious ones) and countless things to explore and be excited about still tops the QS Best Student Cities 2024 list ranking the most student-friendly cities in the world. Other UK cities are well-represented, too.

The QS Best Student Cities ranking is put together by a famous British company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) specialising in the analysis of higher education institutions worldwide. We have dived deeper into this ranking as well as a large British student review platform StudentCrowd to find out which UK university cities provide the best student experience in the country - from a good public transport system and personal safety to affordability and activities that make every student's stay a memorable one.

10. Leeds

Universities: University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University and Leeds Arts University

What makes it great: a vibrant food scene, a shopper's paradise, one of the biggest city parks in Europe (Roundhay Park), Leeds City Museum

9. Nottingham

Universities: Nottingham Trent University (NTU), University of Nottingham

What makes it great: one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, an award-winning public transport system, an excellent music scene, the UK's oldest pub

8. Birmingham

Universities: University of Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University, University College Birmingham, Newman University

What makes it great: travel links, a shopper's paradise, history, entertainment, a variety of places to eat out, a cultural scene, over 50 festivals each year

7. Coventry

Universities: The University Of Warwick, Coventry University, Arden University

What makes it great: culture, parks, walks, nature reserves and outdoor spaces, entertainment, the largest arts centre in the UK after London’s Barbican (the Warwick Art Centre), many international students

6. Bristol

Universities: UWE Bristol, University of Bristol

What makes it great: one of the best and most friendly cities to live in the UK, culture and creativity, a fantastic music scene, green and great for cycling, a thriving food scene

Universities: Newcastle University, Northumbria University

What makes it great: travel links (fast and frequent services to London, Edinburgh and Leeds), one of the UK's largest city-centre malls, hospitable and friendly, culture, a relatively low cost of living, public transport

4. Glasgow

Universities: University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, University of the West of Scotland

What makes it great: rich historical heritage and culture, friendly people, a creative and award-winning food scene, excellent museums, nature, relatively affordable

3. Manchester

Universities: Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Manchester

What makes it great: one of the largest student populations in Europe, a thriving music scene, affordable food, friendly people, great transport links, surrounding nature, festivals

2. Edinburgh

Universities: University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot-Watt University

What makes it great: one of the greenest cities in the UK, employment prospects, a wide range of cultural events and places to go, one of the best cities for inclusivity and self-expression

1. London

Universities: Imperial College London, UCL, King’s College London

What makes it great: a multicultural melting pot, exceptional public transportation, rich history and art, countless places and activities to discover, excellent parks and much more

Want to know more about British education? LEO International Online School offers a diverse and intensive two–year A-Level programme designed to prepare students for entry to universities in the United Kingdom. Learn more about this programme and our other courses here, and don't hesitate to contact us at

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