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Top unis for nightlife: Which? University Student Survey 2018

When the sun goes down, will your university keep you entertained for three years? Or will your options run dry before the end of your first term? 

We surveyed more than 10,000 undergraduates in the Which? University Student Survey 2018 to find out how they rate the pubs, bars, clubs, music venues, theatres and more, on their doorstep.
 

Which universities have the best nightlife?

The top-end of the nightlife category is significantly less crowded this year with 10 universities being rated highly by students.

Here they are, in alphabetical order. Click to read why students rated them highly plus tips for where you should head if you find yourself on a night out there:
Note, while union bars on campus are usually only for those who study at that university, you won’t be restricted when it comes to places and venues in town. So if you’re a Liverpool University student, check out the comments from Liverpool John Moores University students too they’re just as relevant.

If a great night matters to you when making your university decision, you’ll want to head up north: seven northern universities made up our top 10, plus one Scottish university. 

The cities of Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester all saw their main two universities rated highly. That's a solid indicator you’re in for a good time, regardless of which uni you choose here. In fact, Newcastle University and Northumbria University were rated overall joint-top last year, so they have some competition on their heels.

But if you don’t want to head too far up north perhaps you don’t want to stray far from home you don’t have to deprive yourself of a good time. Nottingham Trent University and Sussex University are holding the fort down for the midlands and south, respectively, when it comes to hotspots once the sun sets.

It's interesting to note that no capital cities were highly rated despite what you would expect of large, populated cities such as London or Cardiff


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    What students said: tips and recommendations

    We asked students where they would take a friend visiting them for a night out in their uni city. This is what they said…
     

    University of Leeds

    University of Leeds - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    Feeling fruity?

    'Fruity is the biggest student night and plays mostly classic tunes.' 
    Second year student, University of Leeds | 2016

    'Fruity Friday in the student union, all you will ever need.'
    Second year student, University of Leeds | 2016

    'Fruity – best night out in the union, cheesy music!'
    First year student, University of Leeds | 2017

    '[Fruity is] on every Friday and plays really good music. After summer exams, it's free.'
    Fourth year student, University of Leeds | 2016
     

    Not a club fan?

    '[I would take a friend visiting me at uni on a] pub crawl – it gives a better feel of the area and is less overwhelming.'
    First year student, University of Leeds | 2017

    'There’s the Otley Run, which is a pub crawl consisting of about 18 pubs running from Headingley into town. They are often themed and a great way to socialise with other people on your course or in your society.'
    Second year student, University of Leeds | 2016

     

    Jazz fan?

    'As a jazz musician, there are plenty of venues. I would start in Headingley, taking them to the Head of Steam, which is a laid back but fun start. I’d move on to LS6 for a more upbeat live music scene, then onto Smokestack which is [a] lively and cheap place to have a great time.'
    First year student, University of Leeds | 2017


    Read about University of Leeds or student life in Leeds.

     

    University of Liverpool

    University of Liverpool - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    There's still one main place to head to...

    'Concert Square is really good for a decent night out as all the clubs and bars are within a 30-second walk of each other – Baa Bar, Level, Mccooleys, Medication, Soho etc.'
    Second year student, University of Liverpool | 2016
     
    'The nightlife is the best that I've ever seen. It beats Malia, Leeds, Newcastle and probably loads others. In Liverpool, Concert Square is the centre of the nightlife on most nights, as this then branches off into the bigger clubs down the streets adjacent to it.'
    First year student, University of Liverpool | 2016

    '[There are] different places to go, each unique with a vibrant and almost continental atmosphere.'
    First year student, University of Liverpool | 2016
     
    'Concert square – all the main clubs are there and there are many student nights. There’s also takeaways and food nearby to have before and after a night out.'
    First year student, University of Liverpool | 2017

     

    Best of both worlds

    'I would take them to the William Gladstone (named 'Pub of the Year') for its reflection of Liverpool's historical heritage. Then for clubbing or for music I would take them to the Cavern Club or Concert Square for its diverse available venues.'
    First year student, University of Liverpool | 2017

    'The nightlife in Liverpool is simply amazing, having the diversity of London areas while still retaining expectation of northern prices.'
    First year student, University of Liverpool | 2016


    Read about University of Liverpool or student life in Liverpool.

     

    Liverpool John Moores University

    Liverpool John Moores University - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    Put the cab money away

    'The nightlife in Liverpool is fantastic and definitely one of the best parts of the city. Always something different to do every night.'
    First year student, Liverpool John Moores University | 2016

    'There are places everywhere and from the John Moores Mount Pleasant campus, the centre of town is at most a 10 minute walk so no need to waste money on taxis really!'
    First year student, Liverpool John Moores University | 2016

    'Liverpool has a huge variety of clubs/pubs etc which are all very close to each other. Most are within walking distance (so no need for excessive taxi rides like Birmingham and similar places).'
    Fourth year student, Liverpool John Moores University | 2016

     

    Not to go on about Concert Square or anything, but...

    'All the clubs and bars are centred around Concert Square so there’s a huge variety in one area. You can dip in and out of all the different bars depending on your taste and what offers they have on. Because it is all centered around one place, it feels very safe with police and club bouncers, so I feel confident walking [around] as two girls on their own. Liverpool is a lovely place and has a great student environment.'
    First year student, Liverpool John Moores University | 2016


    Read about? Liverpool John Moores University or student life in Liverpool.

     

    University of Manchester

    University of Manchester - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    The Northern Quarter boasts a lot

    'First I would take them to the Northern Quarter and pick out one of the many restaurants in the area that are reasonably priced. [We’d] go to one of the cocktail bars nearby to start off the night, then head nearer the student area (near and around the Palace Theatre) and go to one of the pubs around there. After this, I would take them to one of the popular student clubs, so FAC251, Fifth or 42s because they are cheap but fun.'
    First year student, University of Manchester | 2017

    'I'd take them around the Northern Quarter as it's filled with vintage shops, cute tea rooms and amazing bars!' 
    First year student, University of Manchester | 2017

    'Northern Quarter. Great food, live music, good bars, good clubs.' 
    First year student, University of Manchester | 2017

     

    Like a laugh?

    'The comedy scene in Manchester needs more recognition because it's great.'
    First year student, University of Manchester | 2017

     

    Also, this was quite sweet to read...

    '42s nightclub because it has good music and nice people.'
    First year student, University of Manchester | 2017

     
    Read about University of Manchester or student life in Manchester

     

    Manchester Metropolitan University

    Manchester Metropolitan University - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    Strapped for cash? Not a problem, whatever you’re looking for

    'Font is a really cheap cocktail bar that has a friendly vibe and good music. Footage is a good cheap pub and also shows football matches. Revolution has happy hour deals on Oxford Road.' 
    Second year student, Manchester Metropolitan University | 2016

     

    Right at the heart of things

    'The nightlife around MMU is amazing. There are so many clubs, bars and pubs to choose from. Student club nights and events are run every single day of the week, in various locations. It is very social and MMU is right in the centre, making everything easy to get to.'
    First year student, Manchester Metropolitan University | 2016

    'MMU campus has a billion different clubs, pubs and music venues on its doorstep. There are more clubs than I can count and a pub on every corner. Huge variety of types, no matter what you're into you'll find a club/pub/venue for you within walking distance. Amazing.'
    First year student, Manchester Metropolitan University | 2016

    'Manchester is the biggest city in the UK outside of London (and its a hell of a lot cheaper than London) and MMU is right in the heart of the city nightlife. There must be hundreds of pubs, clubs and venues within even half a mile of the university, and there is something that caters to everyone.'
    First year student, Manchester Metropolitan University | 2016

    'I love Manchester. It has a great music scene - from shopping for records on Oldham Street to gigs at numerous venues and venues, in particular in the NQ [Northern Quarter] of MCR [Manchester]. I personally love the NQ.'
    First year student, Manchester Metropolitan University | 2016


    Read about Manchester Metropolitan University or student life in Manchester.

     

    Newcastle University

    Newcastle University - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    Find yourself behind bars

    '[Go to] Sinners – there's a cage and they play hella cheesy music.'
    First year student, Newcastle University | 2017

     

    Nostalgic in Newcastle

    'I would take them to Bierkeller and get them to sing cheesy songs from the 2000s while dancing on the tables, because we're millennials and singing to Take That and [doing] the macarena has been ingrained in our psyche.'
    First year student, Newcastle University | 2017
     

    The 'trebles' are still a thing

    'I'd take them to a few trebles bars – [it’s] free entry and three trebles for a fiver. Then we could go to a club nearby – you can walk everywhere in the city centre – and we'd probably go to Quids In at Illegitimate. It's cheap, highly populated with students and a great time.'
    First year student, Newcastle University | 2017


    Read about Newcastle University or student life in Newcastle.

     

    Northumbria University

    Northumbria University - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    Boredom is impossible, plus it’s friendly on your wallet

    'Taxis to and from accommodation are dead cheap, and so are the drinks and entry fees. Remember to put your name on guest lists! Loads of different bars with no entry fees (to save money) eg Sinners, Bierkeller, Gotham (for killer trebles), Sam Jacks… The list goes on! I LOVE the nightlife here. You will never be bored and you can be confident there will ALWAYS be something on every single night of the week.'
    First year student, Northumbria University | 2016
     

    Everybody’s welcome

    'For nightclubs the best place for student deals are places around the Bigg Market or Digital on a Monday. However I prefer places like Rusty's, which is an area known as the 'Pink Triangle' where all the gay bars are, and which I think has the best music.'
    First year student, Northumbria University | 2016

    'A very friendly and safe gay scene.'
    First year student, Northumbria University | 2016

    'Powerhouse is open until 4am – longer than all the other places – and is a good way to finish the night.'
    First year student, Northumbria University | 2017
     

    Don't worry if you're not into clubbing

    'I would take them along the Quayside as it has a range of different restaurants and bars with a very good atmosphere and scenery.'
    First year student, Northumbria University | 2017

    'There are lots of different theatre/concert venues such as the Theatre Royal, City Hall, the Sage Gateshead, Metro Radio Arena and the O2 Academy, which cater for all different tastes and budgets.The Gate and Stowell Street (Chinatown) are really great places to go for a meal as there’s a lot of selection and it’s very close to the centre of town if you want to go out clubbing afterwards. ZaZa Bazaar is a great place for really cheap student meals.'
    First year student, Northumbria University | 2016

    'There’s a huge variety of nightlife around Newcastle – from the bars on Northumbria campus, the cheap trebles bars, a huge gay bar scene and various pubs and clubs, varying in prices, types of music and styles. There's pretty much something for everyone, and everything is within walking distance.'
    First year student, Northumbria University | 2016


    Read about Northumbria University or student life in Newcastle.

     

    Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    One place came up a lot

    'Rock city! Best night out for students.' 
    First year student, Nottingham Trent University | 2017

    'Rock City [is] a great alternative club and live music venue.'
    First year student, Nottingham Trent University | 2017

    'My all-time favourite place to go is Rock City as it has different rooms with different music to suit everyone. It also has cheap drinks and deals!'
    First year student, Nottingham Trent University | 2016

    'I would take [a friend] to Rock City because it's a fun and lively night out.'
    First year student, Nottingham Trent University | 2017

    Read about Nottingham Trent University or student life in Nottingham.

     

    University of Strathclyde

    University of Strathclyde - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    Perfect location

    'Strathclyde is right in the middle of the busy Glasgow nightlife so there's something to suit everyone. The union is one of the best in Scotland.'
    Second year student, Strathclyde University | 2016

    'The nightlife around Strathclyde is some of the best you'll find in Scotland. It is in the centre of Glasgow so it is really just everything that the centre of Glasgow has to offer.' 
    First year student, Strathclyde University | 2016

    'Strathclyde is close to the centre, which is good for getting home after nights out. There are lots of lovely small music venues for smaller artists and many different pubs for different tastes.'
    Second year student, Strathclyde University | 2016

    'We also have a student pub called Todd’s Bar in the middle of the student accommodation. There are about another 20 pubs that sponsor different clubs, so there is almost definitely someone from Strathclyde in these other pubs at some point (Bar Home being a very good example).'
    Fourth year student, Strathclyde University | 2016
     

    What’s your trivia knowledge like?

    'The union is good on quiz nights. Great atmosphere and cheap drinks, good food too.'
    First year student, Strathclyde University | 2016


    Read about? University of Strathclyde or student life in Glasgow.

     

    University of Sussex

    University of Sussex - Which? University Student Survey 2017: Nightlife

    The famous Lanes aren’t just for shopping

    'While West Street is probably the most infamous street for a night out, don’t underestimate the Lanes – great little pubs run amok down there and lots of them have a great atmosphere. You might not get a student discount or deals there, but the service is top notch.'
    Second year student, University of Sussex | 2016

    'The great thing about nightlife in Sussex is that while there are clubs for typical student nights, there are also numerous quaint pubs in Brighton, as well as lovely smaller music venues for a more personal gig experience.'
    Second year student, University of Sussex | 2016
     

    Part of a sports club? It has its extra benefits…

    'The nightlife is really good in Sussex. Apart from it being quite expensive at times, there are ways to get around it. The sports societies are able to get decent deals with local clubs.'
    First year student, University of Sussex | 2016
     

    Variety by the sea

    'Brighton is a 20-minute bus ride from uni, and has the most varied nightlife anywhere in the UK! It has everything from Irish pubs to LGBT+ bars, and whatever you could want in between. Coalition and The Haunt are particular favourites.'
    Second year student, University of Sussex | 2016

    'Brighton is full of rad clubs and venues. And of course, it's by the sea and you've got the pier and that. Everyone loves the pier.'
    Second year student, University of Sussex | 2014


    Read about University of Sussex or student life in Brighton 



    Read the full results of the Which? University Student Survey 2018 including who came top for student union, sports scene and more.

     

    About the Which? University Student Survey 2018

    We asked students to score their university on how diverse the local nightlife is, as part of the annual Which? University Student Survey. Each year, Which? commissions this independent survey of current higher education students in the UK to find out more about their experience of university.

    We surveyed a total of 5,081 students from over 127 institutions this year, merging findings from our 2017 and 2016 surveys to give an overall sample of 10,754 students. The survey sample used to analyse the nightlife category was as follows: third years responding to the 2018 survey; second and third years responding to the 2017 survey; and all respondents to the 2016 survey. Our minimum threshold was 30 respondents per university – standard for our surveys that use this linear plotting technique, and is based upon empirical testing of a range of sample sizes we carried out in 2014.

    Statistical differences between groups of universities were identified as follows. For each measure, a mean score on the 1-10 scale was calculated for each university. Analysis of variance was used to establish whether there were any significant differences between the means, and then a linear plotting technique was used to identify significant breaks between the means of groups of universities. The groups with the highest mean scores were reported as 'highly rated'.

    All surveys were conducted by YouthSight on behalf of Which?, in March/April of the respective year.

    Please note, student comments in this feature range from 2014-2018.
     

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