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Student cities

Manchester: Student City Guide

Manchester is well known for its huge student population and for that reason, it has loads to offer students. So where to start? This guide has all the info you need.

Manchester city skyline

Credit: zaeball – Shutterstock

Manchester is one of the bigger cities in the UK. If you're moving there you won't be the first to feel a bit lost and swallowed up by such a massive new and unfamiliar urban environment.

Manchester has so much to offer students that even after their first year, most students still have a lot to learn about their adopted city. This applies especially to students moving out of halls to find a suitable student house.

Our 'Student City Guide' series aims to fill the gaps in your local knowledge as well as enlighten you on the best places to go, whilst always keeping a typical student budget in mind.

Below we've put together all the key insider info to help you ensure you're getting the best out of Manchester and life at university.

Manchester: Key facts

  • Number of universities: 5
  • Student population: 120,000+
  • International students: 27,000+
  • Average rent cost: £418 a month
  • Average cost of a pint: £4.69

Universities in Manchester

There are 5 universities in Manchester. Here is what you need to know about each one.

  1. The University of Manchester

    University of Manchester building

    Credit: amirraizat – Shutterstock

    Part of the Russell Group's research-intensive universities, UoM was founded in 2004 after numerous redevelopments and now forms the largest single site university in the UK.

    There are a number of reasons to pick Manchester to study at, including a truly multicultural environment, with a student population from over 177 countries.

    But if that's not enough to convince you, Manchester also has a strong reputation for its research and graduate employment rate, and ranks first in Europe and second in the world for social and environmental impact.

  2. Manchester Metropolitan University

    Manchester Metropolitan University building

    Credit: EQRoy – Shutterstock

    MMU is another great university for research. With campus buildings based in the heart of the city, it is only a 10 minute walk from Manchester Central.

    The university also has a large focus on the environment and ranks amongst the UK's greenest universities.

    MMU offers a range of varying degrees from finance to tourism and events, so it's unlikely it doesn't have a course you'd enjoy.

  3. The University of Salford

    Salford University building

    Credit: Yuangeng Zhang – Shutterstock

    If a busy city centre isn't for you, then Salford might be a better suit. Located on the city's outskirts, in Greater Manchester, Salford still offers the perks of Manchester life with great transport links to get to the city centre quick.

    Offering a large range of industry specific courses, the University of Salford is ideal if you're looking to specialise in a particular field. It is the only university with a MediaCityUK campus, which it shares with BBC and ITV.

  4. Royal Northern College of Music

    One of four conservatoires partnered with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Royal Northern College of Music is situated between UoM and MMU, putting you right in the centre of the student hub.

    If you’re looking to study Music in Manchester, then RNCM is definitely the best choice. It is continually recognised as one of the world's most forward-thinking conservatoires and ranks as the UK's leading music college for research.

    It has incredible facilities to help students develop, including a recently redeveloped 744 seat concert hall, a theatre, large studio spaces and practice pods.

  5. University of Bolton

    Situated in Greater Manchester, Bolton offers another great option if you'd prefer to study in a smaller town whilst still being in easy reach of Manchester.

    Just a 20-minute train journey from the city, the University of Bolton prides itself on providing a supportive and positive environment, offering a range of courses focusing on employability after training and small class sizes.

    Living costs in Bolton are also significantly lower than in the city, meaning students have more money to spend enjoying what's on offer.

Where are the universities in Manchester?

This map shows the locations of each of Manchester's universities:

Before you head off to uni, make sure you know how much money you're going to receive – our Big Fat Guide to Student Finance has you covered.

Cost of living in Manchester for students

Hands holding piggy bank

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Compared to London, and most of the south, living costs in Manchester are pretty low.

In our latest Student Money Survey, we took a look at how student spending in Manchester compares to the national average.

We found that the average rent is £418. That's around £20 below the national average – but it's worth remembering that this can vary depending on whether you're living in halls or private housing.

Monthly student living expenses in Manchester

Here's how living costs in Manchester compare to the national average:

ExpenseManchester averageNational student averageManchester compared to national average
Rent £418£439-£21
Takeaways & eating out£53£66-£13
Going out & socialising£63£69-£6

If you want to go a step further, you can use our table of average student living expenses at each individual university to compare your university to the rest of the UK.

Wondering how much money your parents are expected to give you at uni? We've done the calculations for you...

Where to live in Manchester

The majority of students in Manchester live in the South of the city. For student digs, the average rent can range from £89 to over £270 a week, obviously depending on the location and quality of the house.

When choosing a student house in Manchester try to find one close to Wilmslow Road and the main bus route to University. Check out our guide to viewing a student house.

There are a lot of student houses in Manchester so you don't have to worry about finding somewhere to live.

Halls of residence

Each of the universities has halls available for students. These are typically used by first years and are located very close to campus.

RNCM offers residence within the Sir Charles Groves Halls, which has rehearsal hours between 9am-9pm. Here, you can even loan a piano on request! Further to this, families wishing to visit students can stay in the guest flats here, saving your relatives from accidentally booking a hotel on the other side of the city.

Deciding which halls to go for can be a slightly stressful experience, but there's no right or wrong answer – it's all down to your own personal preference and budget. Also remember, if the worst comes to the worst, it's only for a year!

Private halls

As one of the most popular student cities, there are plenty of private halls of residence cropping up in Manchester. If you don't manage to get a place in halls through your university, you can choose to move straight into private halls.

However, they tend to be much more expensive, so make sure you budget for it.

Private housing

student housing

Credit: Manchesterphotos - Wikimedia

There are a number of popular areas for students in Manchester such as Fallowfield and Withington, which have a large number of student accommodations. Other popular areas (or 'ghettos'!) are: opposite Owen's Park, along Mauldeth Road and Ladybarn Road behind Sainsbury's.

However, for students attending Salford or Bolton universities, accommodation in Greater Manchester would be more suitable than in the south of the city.

Withington is furthest to the city and will take around 35 minutes on the bus to UoM and a little longer to get into the city centre. However, Withington has all the amenities you need including supermarkets and cafes and also many lovely walks. If you are located near Burton Road there are also many independent bars and restaurants to frequent.

Withington is considered a safe suburb in Manchester which is always a positive for students travelling from lectures or work at later hours.

Fallowfield is about 0.4 miles north of Withington, making it slightly closer to the university and the city. This area is more commonly known as the 'student area', with many different accommodation types to suit its occupants. There are also many shops and bars for students to go out locally, as well as green spaces such as Platt Fields Park for a nice walk.

If you're looking for good student properties (and don't fancy getting ripped off) go through Manchester Student Homes. All the local properties are shown here making it easy to compare and decide with your roommates. Private housing is slightly different from living in halls so it's important to know your rights as a tenant.

Once you've found somewhere to live, it's time to prepare for shared living!

Transport in Manchester

Student waiting for a Stagecoach bus

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Manchester has a well-integrated transport network, including a tram system. So travelling across the city is pretty easy.

For students getting to the universities along the Oxford Road corridor, the bus is by far the most popular option.

Getting in and out of Greater Manchester is just as easy, with three major train stations connecting students to their hometowns across the country, including a direct train into London.


Rumour has it that Manchester has the busiest bus route in Europe. Standing along Oxford Road you can see why, there's literally a bus going past every minute! For University of Manchester students and staff travelling between Sackville Street and Oxford Road areas, the Magic 147 bus offers free travel.

The route connects Fallowfield and other popular student housing areas with the universities and right up to the city centre and main train stations.

Students are best off buying the annual bus pass with Stagecoach. These allow you to travel on almost any bus in Manchester at any time, day or night.

Alternatively, you can opt for a weekly pass.

The price of a single ticket varies depending on the route taken and the bus company. You're looking at around £2 - £3 for most student routes.

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


Manchester is starting to get better with cycle lanes. One links the main student living hubs (i.e. Fallowfield/Withington), the universities and the city centre. So there are a good number of students who choose to cycle into university.

However, you do need to be careful as the lane runs along the busy bus route. Just remember to be on your guard, check your brakes and wear a helmet! Unfortunately, Manchester's got a pretty bad reputation for bike theft so it's also wise to invest in a decent D-lock.

For local bike repairs and supplies try the Bicycle Doctor at the end of Rusholme. The student market on Wednesdays at the UMSU usually has a few second-hand bikes for around £50.

If you're looking online, you can get a good deal on a bike delivered to your door from 99 Bikes.


Manchester has three major train stations: Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria and Oxford Road. Manchester Piccadilly has a direct line to London Euston which takes just over 2 hours.

If you can, make sure you book your train ticket in advance online for big savings at First Trans Pennine Express.

For up-to-date information about public transport in Greater Manchester, have a look at the TfGM website. Also, check out our guide on how to get cheap train tickets.

Employment opportunities in Manchester

Part-time jobs

According to our latest Student Money Survey, 56% of students turn to a part-time job for money at some point during their degree. If you think that will be you, then it's unlikely you'll be stuck for work somewhere like Manchester.

Our Manchester student job search is a great place to start or try the University of Manchester careers service, Manchester Met's Jobs4Students (or another student employment service).

Don't forget to consider jobs at your university or Students' Union as well, as these will fit around your studies well.

Graduate jobs

As a large city, there are many opportunities for graduates seeking a job.

Here are some key facts about employment prospects and the graduate job market in Manchester:

  • Manchester has one of the most competitive job markets due to its fast-paced development and great transport links to other areas in England.
  • In 2023 the University of Manchester was named by the Graduate Market as being the most targeted university by the UK’s top 100 graduate employers.
  • Over the past three years, Manchester has recorded a higher concentration of jobs advertised per 10,000 workers than London
  • Manchester has a developing technology and creative digital sector which attracts over 1000 graduates a year.

Lifestyle in Manchester

Manchester is a super vibrant city – there's plenty to see and do, lots of events and festivals to attend. And, as it's situated in the heart of Yorkshire, you're only a short bus ride away from some of the most stunning scenery in the UK. Here's a quick rundown of what to expect...


Manchester Deansgate Locks with Lola Lo

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Manchester is known for its music scene. The city has plenty of student type bars and clubs to cater for all tastes, as you would expect for a large city with a long history of music.

These are our top student nightclub picks to suit various tastes in music.

Indie Rock

The indie scene is massive in Manchester so you'll never be far from a bar or club playing all the classics. Some of the best include:

  • The Venue Nightclub - A student favourite with great music and no dress code. Great for a cheap night out with many Indie events.
  • 42's (previously 42nd Street) - This is a favourite student haunt on Bootle Street. Again, cheap drinks and all the latest in indie rock n' roll.

Pop & Retro

Pop (and cheese!) is well catered for in Manchester with all the clubs aiming to please. Many clubs offer dedicated nights to the joys of the 60s, 90s and naughties!

  • Revolution - Along the popular night strip Deansgate Locks' Revolution hosts some decent student nights.

R&B, Funky House and Hip-Hop

If you're into these genres of music then The Printworks in Manchester city centre is the place to go.

  • Cargo - Lavish club offering 4 rooms and a 3000 capacity. A fantastic venue for clubbing, brunches, Christmas parties and so much more!
  • Lola Lo - Located near Deansgate Locks and popular with students. Lots going on here with events every day as well as cocktail masterclasses.

Drum & Bass, House & Techno

The dance music scene in Manchester has grown a massive student following in recent years.

  • The Warehouse Project - A year-round lineup of critically acclaimed DJs and artists from around the world. Experience a heavy night with top music and an unbeatable atmosphere. Worth saving a few quid for.
  • Fac251 - More commonly known as 'Factory', this venue is host to some of the biggest student club nights in the North-West. Offering a wide range of music across three floors, you can get involved with the latest DnB on the top floor.
  • Joshua Brooks - Opposite Fac251, this bar-cum-club plays some great music and is a bit more low-key. A bit expensive in student terms. Great venue for a birthday night out.

Rock & Live Music

From heavy metal to grunge, Manchester is a great place to "rock out".

  • Satan's Hollow - Free bar on Tuesday and an awesome artistic interior complete with a sculpture of satan himself!
  • O2 Ritz Manchester - Has an impressive interior and offers the best live music and a couple of club nights. Plays a mixture of everything.
You're probably getting excited for freshers' week, but make sure you don't make these common mistakes!


As expected of a large and growing city, there are many shopping centres to get everything you could need. Manchester Arndale and The Trafford Centre offer a wide range of well-known retailers alongside large department stores.

For a fancier day out, King Street and Spinningfields are known for hosting designer shops in their boutique region - though this area doesn't tend to contain student-budget shops.

But if that's still not enough to satisfy you, The Northern Quarter is popular among students with its many vintage shops, independent coffee shops and lots of restaurants too.

Eating out

Being one of the biggest cities in the UK, Manchester offers plenty of choices for eating out to meet any palette. Of course, you'll find all big restaurant chains like Pizza Express, Zizzi's and Nando's to name only a few. But if you prefer something a little different and unique to Manchester then check our top restaurant picks.

  • Gusto - A bus ride away from Fallowfield in West Didsbury, Gusto offers some of the finest Italian food in Manchester. It has a really good atmosphere making it a good choice for a date.
  • Curry Mile - You simply cannot avoid experiencing the culinary delights of one of the many curry houses along Rusholme. A few student favourites are Lal Qila, Mughli and MyLahore. Most of the time you can reach a deal with the doormen to get a discount or bring in your own drinks. A good place to eat out when your parents are in town.
  • Sweet Mandarin - Recognised as one of the best Chinese restaurants in the UK, this cute eatery is one of the crowning glories of Manchester. Whilst the food is fantastic, it can show on the bill if you're not too careful!


Every city has its major attractions and entertainment hot spots. Manchester is a city of great heritage and a mixture of modern and retro architecture.

There are loads of places to visit along with some great shopping hot spots and scenic parks.

It boasts a large amount of entertainment all year round and is one of the many reasons why the city attracts so many students from across the world!

  • Northern Quarter - Just off Piccadilly Gardens, the Northern Quarter is centred around Oldham Street. It's a fantastic quirky area to explore for shopping and just as good at night with plenty of live music and chilled bars. Perhaps the single biggest attraction is Affleck's Palace, a former department store which has been turned into a multi-storey bazaar for alternative clothing and off-the-wall knickknacks. There's an impressive fancy dress shop on the second floor which is worth knowing about.
  • AO Arena Manchester - This is the major gig venue in the city. You can get cheaper tickets in advance online. Other popular gig venues are the Manchester Academy and the O2 Apollo.
  • The Printworks - In the city centre this block is full of nighttime entertainment. With an Odeon cinema and an array of popular bars, restaurants and clubs.
  • Manchester Museum - For something a bit more educational, check out this free museum along Oxford Road adjacent to Manchester University's Whitworth Hall.
  • The Comedy Store - Though the original venue closed, if you're looking for a well-deserved laugh, you can now find The Comedy Store at The Bierkellar in the Printworks on weekends and every Thursday at Escape to Freight Island.
  • Seasonal Attractions - Manchester boasts one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. Starting in mid November, it's a great way to get in the Christmas spirit. Head over to Cathedral Gardens for ice skating! Throughout the year there are lots of festivals in the parks. The student festival Park Life at Heaton Park usually has a great line-up and is always a sell-out.


You'll have no problem keeping fit and healthy in Manchester. There are loads of gyms which offer student discounts and trials. However, the best option for students usually comes from the universities.

The Armitage and Sugden sports centres offer great deals for students. Alternatively, PureGym is a popular student choice offering membership from £15.99 a month. Students can also get a further 30% off memberships.

For swimming, head to the Aquatics Centre which is right near the universities. The Olympic sized swimming pool has recently reopened after a £30 million investment and offers discounts for students.

For jogging or running, there are plenty of parks and open spaces in South Manchester. For Fallowfield, there is Platt Fields Park and closer to the universities off Rusholme is Whitworth Park.

Interested in other unis in Northern England, too? Check out our other student city guides.


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