For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Student News

Which universities have the best and worst nightlife?

To support our site, we may use links which earn us a commission at no extra cost to you.

The best and worst places in the UK for a night out have been revealed – and we did not expect some of the results. Read on to find out where your university city ranks.

People dancing in club with thumb emojis

Credit: dwphotos – Shutterstock

Let's face it: the quality of a night out depends pretty heavily on where you are. That's why deciding where to go to university can be kind of a big deal.

If your local nightlife options are mostly packed bars and clubs with eye-watering prices (we're looking at you, London...), it's not easy to properly enjoy the night. But if there are affordable drinks and a great atmosphere, you've got yourself a night out to remember (ish).

Thankfully, research has revealed the best university towns and cities for nights out, and the top 10 places in the UK have been revealed. Drum roll, please...

This study was done in 2019. Rankings and prices will vary. We will update the article when new data is published.

Ranking the best universities for nightlife

A lot of unis in the UK boast great nightlife, so narrowing it down wouldn't have been easy. But these rankings, compiled by I Saw It First in 2019, focused on what's most important to students.

The rankings were worked out based on a number of factors and then calculated together to find overall winners. These factors were:

  • Nightlife options (the number of different clubs and bars)
  • The price of a pint
  • Cost of a taxi
  • Safety index
  • The number of takeaways (a very important one).
Nightlife is one thing, but how does your uni rank for sustainability? Check out the league table of the most eco-friendly universities.

What are the best universities for nightlife?

These places have the best unis for nightlife:

  1. Huddersfield
  2. Derby
  3. Chester
  4. Liverpool
  5. Sheffield
  6. Newcastle
  7. Leeds
  8. Stoke-on-Trent
  9. Preston
  10. Middlesbrough.

Northern towns and cities in England are the clear winners for nightlife in this study, with not a single uni town from the South making the top 10.

At number one was Yorkshire's Huddersfield. When these rankings were compiled, a pint could set you back £3.05. Although they cost a little more now, you can still find pints for just £3.20.

There were also an incredible 163 takeaways to choose from. Although, we’ve since seen on Just Eat that there are now over 200 options!

And Derby was a very close second place, with a massive 72 different nightlife options and pints for just £3.

The top 10 uni towns and cities for nightlife also have some of the biggest and most prestigious universities in the UK. These include the University of Liverpool, the University of Sheffield, Newcastle University and the University of Leeds.

So, you clearly don't need to compromise between a great social life and a uni that ranks well in the more traditional league tables.

You can make homemade pizzas for just £1.50 with our super easy recipe. It's ideal if you're looking for a quick meal to line your stomach at pre-drinks.

Which universities have the worst nightlife?

drinks in a nightclub

These are the cities and towns with the worst unis for nightlife:

  1. Northampton
  2. Portsmouth
  3. Worcester
  4. Cheltenham
  5. Guildford
  6. Gloucester
  7. Dundee
  8. London
  9. Luton
  10. Oxford.

While these rankings aren't completely comprehensive (16 places were omitted from the study due to lack of data), there are still some pretty interesting names in I Saw It First's bottom 10 university towns and cities for nightlife.

Take, for instance, the University of Oxford. It may frequently rank as one of the top UK universities for academia, but for nightlife? Its hometown ranked number 61 out of 61. Sorry, Oxford.

And what about London? Despite boasting some of the best universities in the world, including Imperial College London, the London School of Economics and Politics (LSE) and University College London (UCL), the UK's capital city found itself third from the bottom for student nightlife.

There's no doubt that London's ranking was brought down by its high prices. When the rankings were released, it had by far the most nightlife options (1,326, which was over 1,000 more than the city with the next highest total).

But, London's expensive alcohol and taxi prices, plus its relatively poor reputation for safety, dragged it down the rankings.

Have you tried these easy cocktails to make at home? The list includes a Fluffy Duck and, for the name alone, we're sold.

Best universities towns and cities by category

Based on the factors used to measure places in this study, some university towns and cities have been revealed as the best for particular things, such as the price of drinks and safety.

As we mentioned earlier, for the number of nightlife options, London was crowned as the winner with 1,326 places to go on a night out. The city in second for this measure was Manchester, with a comparatively low (but still impressive) 228 spots for a night out.

The cheapest pints were in Bolton and Lancaster at £2.50. However, you can now expect to pay around £2.80 - £3. While London might have had more nightlife options, its pints were recorded as costing twice that much.

The basic cost of a taxi was the cheapest in Derby. But for trips any distance over 1km, the lowest prices were in Belfast.

St Andrews (where Prince William and Kate Middleton studied and met, no less) was said to be the safest student city.

And finally, for the most amount of takeaways, it was Birmingham. Given it's everyone's favourite part of a night out, we think that's the decision made in terms of where to go for our next night out...

As great as nights out are, we all love a night in with friends now and then. With our guide, you can host a stand-out dinner party on a budget.

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
Read more


Tweet / Instagram DM / Facebook DM / Email