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Student cities

Lancaster: Student City Guide

Lancaster provides the perfect university home from home, small enough to feel safe while maintaining a lively atmosphere so you’ll never feel trapped in the Lancaster bubble, as it’s fondly referred to by students.

Lancaster University building

Credit: Peter_Fleming – Shutterstock

Starting university is a daunting time in every budding student’s life. So many questions and discoveries to be made!

This Student City Guide seeks to provide curious freshers and current students alike with helpful facts and information about your university city.

When it comes to Lancaster, this historic city full of – you guessed it – history is the perfect environment to make your own mark! You will no doubt find yourself stumbling upon hidden gems throughout your university experience, whether it’s your first or last week in Lancaster, and you’ll never cease to discover new places to love.

So without further ado make sure you take in this guide in order to make sure that you're getting the best out of your student city and life at university!

Lancaster: Key facts

  • Number of universities: 2
  • Student population: 13,000+
  • International students: 5,000+
  • Average rent cost: £435 a month
  • Average cost of a pint: £3.45

Lancaster living costs

Examples of what students can expect to pay in Lancaster

ExpenseBirminghamLondonNational student average
Rent£435£505£421
Groceries£102£107£101
Takeaways & eating out£44£44£41
Going out & socialising£41£57£47
Travel£22£71£34

Lancaster is full to the brim with deals and offers!

If the Italian Meal Deals in Sainsbury’s don’t take your fancy after a day of lectures and seminars then the variety of high street shops and cafes will tickle the pennies right out of your purse, so much so you’ll be avoiding checking your bank balance even after fresher’s week.

Lancastrian transport, food, drink and entertainment are so much cheaper than in any of the other big cities in the UK making this an ideal new home for many students.

Universities and Colleges

1. The University of Lancaster

Lancaster is home to three universities, the better known being Unitersity of Lancaster which operates a collegiate system. Under this system, the university operates 9 colleges - 8 undergrad and one post-grad - to which each student is assigned.  Each of the colleges are known individually with accommodation blocks, common rooms and unique activities. They also take part in inter-college sporting competitions. Here is a list of the colleges:

  • Bowland
  • Cartmel
  • County
  • Furness
  • Fylde
  • Graduate
  • Grazedale
  • Pendle
  • Lonsdale

Lancaster provides the perfect balance between a campus and a city student lifestyle with each college providing a unique vibe for its members. Some colleges brand themselves as the ultimate party college or the sporty college, or the college with the best bar.

Through the intimate college systems, you are given the opportunity to meet people within your college before branching out to make friends with the entire student population. Plus it gives new students a better opportunity to mix with older students to settle in quicker.

Under Lancaster university's wing is their Management School, offering a variety of subjects focused on business and finance. Ranked in the UK's top 10 business schools by the Financial Times, LUMS is well-established with a quadruple accreditation. put. simply, this means they're a global leader in this area of teaching.

2. University of Cumbria in Lancaster

While technically not an original Lancaster university, Cumbria uni operates a campus in Lancaster giving its students to benefits of living in this inspiring, and slightly cheaper city. The campus' facilities enable it to focus on delivering sports performance, health and education programmes in this location.

Students also benefit from the use of performance labs, x-ray and ultra-sound suites, ambulance simulations and more making it ideal for students wishing to pursue studies in nursing and rehabilitation.

Student Accommodation

Lancaster University accommodation is fantastic, proven by the campus halls having earned the title of ‘best university halls’ in the National Student Survey 8 times since 2010.

The accommodation Lancaster has to offer really has a home-from-home feel; cosy yet spacious, each room is capable of offering you a space to make your own. You will be spoilt for choice and all the colleges offer a variety of accommodation, varying from a standard room with a wash basin starting at £78.75 per week, to superior en-suite accommodation at £122.70 per week.

For students attending any of the universities wishing to live off-campus, or returning students, Lancaster and Cumbria support the property search with their own uni homes website which showcases a large list of halls, houses and flats that are approved by the unis.

Student houses are spread across the city with students at Cumbria having many options close to their campus. The majority of student homes are located around Scotch Quarry Urban Park and slightly south of the Cumbria campus off of Bowerham road.

When choosing a student house in Lancaster make sure you check out our guide to viewing a student house first.

Transport

Buses

The bus service to and from campus into town provides a great link between the two hubs of Lancaster.

A year bus pass is well worth the money for all those spur-of-the-moment trips into town to buy fancy dress costumes!

The Stagecoach X1 bus runs every 20 minutes directly to the train station and the Sainsbury’s bus runs every week too, so doing your weekly shop couldn’t be easier.

The buses also regularly run to Preston and the Mega Bus has a drop-off and pick-up point at the university, brilliantly convenient and cheap!

For long-distance travel by coach or bus, many students choose to take the Megabus (budget) or National Express.

Trains

The train station in Lancaster is small and efficient with a great Costa Coffee between platforms 3 and 4 to set you up with a caffeine boost for your journey home.

Virgin and Trans Pennine Express both operate regular services out of Lancaster, providing direct links across the country.

More advice in our guide on cheaper train tickets.

Walking/Cycling

The beauty of having a countryside campus within a cityscape is the freedom to choose to walk or cycle between the two.

There are plenty of secure places to leave bicycles on campus and in town, and cycling is most definitely encouraged. Lancaster offers many walks and a favourite of mine has to be along the canal past Chancellors Wharf.

Best Student Nightclubs

drinks in a nightclubLancaster's student nightlife does not have as much on offer as the other major cities in England but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.

Here are a few of the top student haunts!

The Sugar House

There’s only one club in Lancaster worthy of the title ‘best student nightclub’ and that honour falls upon The Sugar House. The holy grail of Lancaster nightlife, where memories are made and swiftly forgotten, Sugar is there to entertain you every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, each night providing a different theme.

  • Wednesday - your mid-week dose of Sugar in the form of Jinxed, an Urban Vs Indie night, where rock and hip-hop duel it out for your attention across the two rooms.
  • Friday - Old’s Cool delights you with a retro mix of 70s, 80s and 90s classics versus Commercial House and Drum n Bass. The resident DJs never fail to get the whole room bouncing and this is just the warm up to the main event on Saturday night!
  • Saturday - Sweet As, DJ Cawky pumps up the volume on RnB and Urban hits mixed with in-your-face House Classics. Sweet As truly is the cherry on top of The Sugar House’s three nights and no one ever wants to miss it.

Each night sees a variety of tempting drinks and entry offers; don’t forget your Purple Card, and the recent renovation to include swanky purple booths has really improved the place. The Sugar Bus runs to and from campus on the hour so everyone can enjoy a sugar rush even on a week night!

If that doesn't satisfy your urge to party, party, then pay a visit to the likes:

  • The Friary
  • Lounge
  • Toast
  • & Dalton Rooms

Eating out

The study room is a well-known restaurant.  among students due to their great Thursday night quizzes. The food is decent too, offering burgers, loaded fries and nachos.

For the sweet-tooths there's Wallings. Serving over 40 flavours of ice cream along with waffles, pancakes and sundaes.

There are plenty more to choose from depending on whether you fancy Thai, Chinese, Japanese or local pub food. Lancaster has so many different foods to choose from and they're all super close to most student accommodation.

For those students in a rush, there's your usual GO Burrito, McDonalds and KFC that will satisfy a rumbling tummy. Bella Italia also offer discounts with your Lancaster Purple Card.

New cafes are always opening alongside a number of Costa Coffees and Starbucks, so your taste buds will never be dissatisfied and you won’t ever go hungry.

Things to do

Activities

The university campus has a cinema, comedy nights and pool and darts clubs, and ultimate Frisbee has become quite a craze.

Societies make up a large part of the entertainment on campus and every Wednesday afternoon is dedicated to sports, meaning the whole student population is off timetable and therefore able to take part in sports and society activities.

A less energetic but no less competitive activity which is extremely popular are the Sunday night quizzes held at the colleges. Great fun, inexpensive and what better way to wind down the weekend?

Seasonal attractions play a big part of the student social scene and every year, Winter and Summer balls take place. Firework displays are held both on and off-campus and this event draws students from all colleges to come together, not just to watch the sparkling displays but to experience the infamous pancakes from ‘The Pancake Man’.

Christmas sees campuses transform into a winter wonderland, adorned with fairy lights and a couple of cute reindeer. You can’t help but feel the Christmas cheer; the cold north winds will also have you reaching for a warm mince pie or two!

Moving away from entertainment directly on campus, Lancaster is home to a beautiful butterfly house, The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, and also has great links to Blackpool if you feel like a seaside jaunt.

Health and Fitness

You will have no problem keeping fit in Lancaster as huge investment has been made into the health and fitness programmes offered at the university and last year the multi-million-pound sports centre opened on campus.

Featuring an Olympic-sized swimming pool, climbing walls, a mega gym and running a variety of classes including Zumba and Spinning, the new sports centre is perfect for fitness fanatics and those who would like to take up something new.

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