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The 10 coolest places to go to university in the UK

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the bearpitThe Bear Pit (pictured), a famous square full of street art, trendy bars, and coffee shops, is one of the cool hangouts for students of University of the West of England.Instagram/southseawanderer

It’s well known that students like beer and music — and now it appears that they’re also making their university choices based on these things.

Liberty Living conducted a survey of over 3,000 students and found that over half (52%) would rather go to a “cool” university than one that is top of the league tables but in a quieter location. 

The survey found that a high number of craft beer pubs (48%) was the top reason for a university being considered “cool,” followed by the number of record shops (29%), and a thriving art scene (23%).

Liberty Living set out to find out exactly which UK universities are the “coolest” based on these measures.

The ranking took into account the number of record stores, craft beer pubs, and vintage clothes shops in each city, as well as each university’s art and design score from the Complete University Guide. 

It appears the north is the place to be, as seven of the top 10 coolest universities are found in the north and midlands. 

Scroll down to see the 10 coolest universities in the UK, ranked in ascending order along with some of the best places to check out in the respective cities.

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10. Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

• Vintage shops: 15

• Art and design score: 93.8

• Record stores: 7

• Craft beer bars: 17

Heriot-Watt led the way for Scottish universities. It also beat out close competitors the University of the Arts London and Leeds Beckett University to clinch the final top ten spot.

Anyone in the know should take a peruse around Summerhall, a creative arts space with bars and cafes, followed by a cocktail at the hidden speakeasy Hoot the Redeemer (pictured).

9. Northumbria University, Newcastle.

• Vintage shops: 17

• Art and design score: 92.5

• Record shops: 15

• Craft beer bars: 27

Northumbria University is one of two universities in Newcastle and both made this list. The city is home to a thriving art gallery scene with highlights including the Biscuit Factory, Northern Print, Mushroom Works, and Vane.

Apparently the “hippest” neighbourhood to live in is Ouseburn (pictured), also known as Newcastle’s “cultural quarter,” where a number of music venues and trendy bars reside, such as the Cumberland Arms.

8. Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool.

8. Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool.

Photo by Marcus Cramer on Unsplash

Vintage shops: 22

• Art and design score: 84.5

• Record shops: 7

• Craft beer bars: 32

There are plenty of cool hangouts for students living in Liverpool, including Bold Street Coffee, Kazimier Gardens, and many more craft beer establishments like the Dead Crafty Beer Company and Black Lodge Brewery.

7. University of Brighton, Brighton.

• Vintage shops: 32

• Art and design score: 88.7

• Record shops: 12

• Craft beer bars: 14

Brighton is probably a cool place for anyone to live, but for students who like to peruse a rail or two, there are an impressive 32 vintage shops in this city, including iconic outlets such as Snoopers Paradise (pictured) and London export Beyond Retro. Overall, Brighton came second in terms of vintage shopping. It also has a very strong vegan cafe offering.

6. University of the West of England, Bristol.

• Vintage shops: 14

• Art and design score: 91.3

• Record shops: 4

• Craft beer bars: 38

If you’re partial to an artisan ale or two, “Brizzle” is home to no less than 38 craft beer pubs, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Bear Pit (pictured), a famous square packed with street art, trendy bars, and coffee shops, is also a must-see.

5. Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool.

• Vintage shops: 22

• Art and design score: 87.8

• Record shops: 7

• Craft beer bars: 32

Record stores like Dig Vinyl (pictured) are worth the trip for any vinyl-hunting students of Liverpool John Moores University. 

4. Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham.

• Vintage shops: 17

• Art and design score: 93.2

• Record shops: 8

• Craft beer bars: 31

Nottingham boasts a thriving fashion, design, art, and creative scene. Hockley is the area for hipsters to sniff out, with places like the Bodega Social Club (pictured) and retro Vintage Warehouse. It also has plentiful club and gig options like Stealth, Rock City, Rescue Rooms, and Spanky Van Dykes.

3. Newcastle University, Newcastle.

• Vintage shops: 17

• Art and design score: 100

• Record shops: 8

• Craft beer bars: 27

Newcastle University‘s perfect art and design score pushed it ahead of its fellow Tyneside establishment, Northumbria. There are plenty of craft ale haunts in the city — 27, to be exact — including the Free Trade Inn, Ernest, Kommunity, and Barrio Comida – a quirky shipping container turned Mexican taqueria. Pictured above is the RPM record store. 

2. University of Leeds, Leeds.

• Vintage shops: 23

• Art and design score: ;94.5

• Record shops: 7

• Craft beer bars: 28

Nestled in the rolling hills of Yorkshire, Leeds is a vibrant city with great shopping, nightlife, and a huge student population. The Brudenell Social Club (pictured above) is a popular music venue among students. 

1. Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester

Vintage shops: 34

• Art and design score: 93.7

• Record shops: 15

• Craft beer bars: 40

Manchester Met was crowned the coolest university in the UK by Liberty Living. Manchester is packed with creative hangouts from Fallowfield, a densely-populated student area to the trendy Northern Quarter. The city has a legendary music and clubbing scene that is steeped in history, and an impressive 40 craft beer watering holes.

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