Manchester: Student City Guide
Manchester is well known for its huge student population and for that reason it has so much to offer students.
If you're moving to Manchester it is one of the bigger cities and you'll probably feel lost and swallowed up by a new and unfamiliar urban environment.
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. Especially seeing as Manchester has so much to offer to students.
With our quick city guides you'll never be stuck for ideas. Most importantly, you'll know you're getting the best out of your student city and life at university!
Manchester: Key facts
- Number of universities: 4
- Student population: 103,000+
- International students: 17,500+
- Average rent cost: £459 a month
- Average cost of a pint: £3.90
Everything you need to know about Manchester
Universities in Manchester
There are 4 Universities in Manchester. Here is what you need to know about each one.
The University of Manchester
UoM, founded in 2004, has been redeveloped many times from the original school of medicine and surgery in 1824. There are a number of reasons to pick Manchester to study at, including a multicultural environment; UoM prides itself on a student population from over 160 countries.
But if that's not enough to convince you Manchester also has a strong reputation for its research, innovation and graduate employment rate.
Manchester Metropolitan University
Another great university for research with campus buildings based in the heart of the city. MMU is only a 10 minute walk from Manchester central. They also have a large focus on the environment and were ranked the UK's most sustainable university.
MMU offers a range of varying degrees from finance to tourism and events, so it's unlikely they don't have a course you'd enjoy.
The University of Salford
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 specific courses makes this university ideal if you're looking to specialise in a particular field as they will likely have the most suitable programme.
Royal Northern College of Music
One of four conservatoires within the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of music situated between UoM and MMU which puta you in the centre of the student hub.
Of course, they don't offer the full range of courses like the other universities but if you’re looking to study music then RNCM is the definitely the best choice.
They have incredible facilities to help students develop including a theatre, two concert halls, studios and practise pods.
Where are the universities in Manchester?
This map shows the locations of each of Manchester's universities:
Cost of living in Manchester for students
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 £459. This is a lot higher than 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:
|Expense||Manchester average||National student average||Manchester compared to national average|
|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.
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 £97 to over £189 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 accommodation available for students which is typically used by first years. You'll find halls scattered but often located very close to campus.
RNCM offers residence within the Sir Charles Groves Halls which has rehearsal hours between 9 am-9 pm. They even offer a loan piano to students who request it! Further to this, families wishing to visit students here 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 worst, it's only for a year!
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.
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 Sainsburys.
However, for students attending Salford University, 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. There are many useful amenities around Withington including supermarkets, cafes and many lovely walks.
If you are located near Burton road there are also many independent bars and restaurants to frequent. Withington is also 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, as 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 uni dorms so it's important to know your rights as a tenant.
Transport in Manchester
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 3 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 those that are travelling to campus between Sackville Street and Oxford Road areas, the Magic 147 bus offers free travel for students and staff too.
The route connects Fallowfield and other popular student housing areas with the universities and right up to the city centre and main train stations.
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.
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 Hargroves Cycles.
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.
Employment opportunities in Manchester
According to our latest Student Money Survey, 66% 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.
Don't forget to consider jobs at your university or Students' Union as well, as these will fit around your studies well.
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 other fast-paced development and great transport links to other areas in England.
There are currently over 100 jobs listed on GraduateJobs which should be expected to continue increasing as Manchester is now considered the fastest-growing city in the UK.
In 2022 the University of Manchester was named by the Graduate Market as being the most targeted university by the UK’s top 100 graduate employers.
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 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.
There is a wide selection of drinks at varying prices, although notably cheaper than in London. If you stick with the student night clubs then the prices will be cheaper.
These are our top student nightclub picks to suit various tastes in music.
The indie scene is massive in Manchester and thus offers a wide range of music.
- The Venue Nightclub - A student favourite with great music and no dress code. Great for a cheap night out with many Indie events.
- 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 with a dress code. Used to be Tiger Tiger but has since been transformed into 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.
Dubstep, Drum & Bass & Techno
The Dubstep and the electro scene in Manchester have 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 - Opened in early 2010, 'the Factory' offers a wide range of music across three floors. Get involved with the latest dubstep and DnB on the top floor. The bouncers have been known to be a bit heavy-handed so be careful.
- 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. Look out for the night called Juicy!
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!
- The Ritz - Has an impressive interior and offers the best live music and a couple of club nights. Plays a mixture of everything.
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 often popular among students home to many vintage shops, independent coffee shops and lots of restaurants too.
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.
- Trof - With one in Fallowfield and just off MMU's campus, Trof has an inviting rustic edge, which attracts the creative student types. The tasty food is healthy and reasonably priced. Also a good venue for a few drinks out with friends.
- 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. Get a 20% discount with their free loyalty card.
- 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, Sangams and Lal Haweli. 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 - Recently voted the best Chinese Restaurant in the UK by Gordon Ramsey 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 upper floor which is worth knowing about.
- Manchester arena - 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 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 - For a well-deserved laugh head down to Deansgate Locks and the Comedy Store. Sunday performances are when the comedians practice their new gags and the price is something crazy like £2.
- Seasonal Attractions - Manchester boasts one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. Starting in late November, it's a great way to get in the Christmas spirit. Head over to Spinningfields 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. For bonfire night, head over to Platt Fields for a free spectacular fireworks display.
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, Fitness First is a popular student choice offering membership for around £20 a month.
For swimming head to the Aquatics Centre which is right near the universities. The Olympic sized swimming pool was used during the commonwealth games 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.