Northern universities best for a good night out, Which? University research reveals

Universities in the North came out on top for diversity of nightlife, while institutions in the South led the ratings for their political scenes, according to new research by Which? University.

Results from Which? University’s annual student survey reveal the top universities in the UK for a wide range of extracurricular aspects. Newcastle and Northumbria Universities came out on top for nightlife, with University of Oxford, London School of Economics and Political Science, and the University of Sussex being ranked most highly for political activities. Political activities included high turnout at student elections, having political guest speakers at the universities, and political activism.

The survey, conducted by Youthsight on behalf of Which? University, asked over 8,700 current students in more than 100 universities across the UK to rate their universities on five different categories – nightlife, sports, student unions, politics, and creative scenes.

Northern universities did the best for rankings on nightlife, with eleven out of 21 institutions ranked highly for nightlife located in the north of England, and four more in Scotland. The Royal Veterinary College at the University of London and University College London were the only representatives from the capital in the top group.

Meanwhile, Sheffield, Leeds, Cardiff and Loughborough Universities were rated the highest for the diversity of their student unions’ activities, for the second year in a row.

Loughborough University was rated top for sport again, but the research found universities that didn’t rank highly for sportiness were more likely to offer meditative and well-being activities, such as yoga or pilates, than their high-ranking counterparts.

Alex Hayman, Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, said:

“For many people university is much more than just an academic destination, so seeing how current students rate their universities on things like nightlife, student unions and sports can be really helpful when choosing where to study.

“It’s important to do your research and look into all aspects of study and life at different universities before making your decision.”

Which? University is a free website to help students compare universities on both extra-curricular and academic experience to help them make the right choice.

For the full results from the Which? University Student Survey 2017 visit:

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Notes to editors:

  1. YouthSight, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2137 undergraduate students at 127 UK universities between 16th March and 10th April 2017. Data was collated with figures from 2016, collected between 16th March and 29th April, bringing the total sample to 8,745 students. NB: 3rd Year students in the 2016 cohort were excluded from this year’s data set as they would have finished their course.

  2. Students were asked to rate their university according to its nightlife, students union, political and creative scenes, and sports.

  3. Which? University is a free and independent website to help students make more informed decisions about higher education, featuring more than 30,000 courses and 281 universities and colleges to search and compare. We bring together facts and statistics from official sources including UCAS, the Higher Education survey and combine it with real-life insight from students and the unbiased, expert analysis you’d expect from Which?

  4. See below for the top universities in each categories. Universities are grouped by statistical significance, with groupings indicated by darker lines



Newcastle University

Northumbria University

University of Sussex

University of Liverpool

University of Leeds

Manchester Metropolitan University

Nottingham Trent University

Royal Veterinary College, University of London

University of Manchester

Liverpool John Moores University

University of Bristol

Cardiff University

University College London, University of London

University of Sheffield

University of Strathclyde

Cardiff Metropolitan University

University of Glasgow

University of Birmingham

Sheffield Hallam University

Glasgow Caledonian University

University of Dundee


Student union

University of Sheffield

University of Leeds

Cardiff University

Loughborough University


Political scene

University of Oxford

London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London

University of Sussex

Goldsmiths, University of London

University of Cambridge

University of Manchester


Creative scene

Falmouth University

University of the Arts London

Norwich University of the Arts

University for the Creative Arts

Goldsmiths, University of London

Bath Spa University


Sports scene

Loughborough University

University of Bath

University of Stirling

Durham University

University of Chichester

Cardiff Metropolitan University

University of Surrey

University of Worcester

University of East London

University of Exeter

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