Northern universities dominate for best nightlife again

Northern universities have been rated the best for nightlife while southern universities are rated highly for their sports and creative scenes, in the annual Which? University student survey.

Which? University’s annual student survey has revealed the best universities for sports, nightlife and students’ union, according to students themselves.

Northern universities topped the survey for the nightlife, with the University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, University of Manchester Manchester Met University, Newcastle University and Northumbria University leading the polls for their local pubs, clubs, restaurants and music venues.

The University of Sussex was the only south based university to top the best nightlife category, while Nottingham Trent University held the fort down for the Midlands, and the University of Strathclyde for Scotland.

Which? University asked over 5,000 students across 127 universities what they loved about their university, focusing particularly on how students rated extra-curricular activities such as nightlife, sports, student’s union, creative and political scenes.

When it came to students’ union Cardiff University, University of Leeds, Loughborough University, University of Sheffield, along with newcomers Dundee University, Harper Adams University, Imperial College London came out on top. These universities were rated highly by current students who praised the range of societies on offer and the union’s engagement with the student body on key issues.

With northern universities dominating the best nightlife and students’ union categories, higher education institutions in the south were rated highly for their creative and political scenes.

Falmouth University, Goldsmith, University of London, Norwich University of the Art and University of the Creative Arts were the best-rated universities for the creative opportunities offered, such as campus exhibitions and artistic activities, for the third year in a row. Art University Bournemouth also joined this year’s highly rated universities for a creative scene.

On the political spectrum, the universities in the south dominated with the University of Cambridge, Goldsmith, University of London, LSE, University of Oxford and the University of Sussex impressing students with the diversity of opinions on campus and the opportunities to discuss important issues. The University of Manchester was also ranked among the best for its political scene.

The University of Bath, Cardiff Met University, University of Chichester, Durham University, University of Exeter, Loughborough University, University of Stirling, University of Surrey and University of Worcester won a gold-medal approval for their sports scenes. Students were impressed by the stellar sports facilities and range of clubs and teams available.

The University of Nottingham and Brunel University London were also ranked among the best for sports, for the first time.

Alex Hayman, Managing Director of Which? University said:

“Deciding on a university is an important decision for many, and while there are different league tables that help prospective students make an informed decision, it is always best to hear from current university students.

“Students may have different priorities beyond their academic objectives when it comes to choosing a university. Extra-curricular activities can play a pivotal role in the overall student experience, so it is important they consider all factors of university life before making a decision.”

For the full results from the Which? University Student Survey 2018 visit:

Notes to editors

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

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?

See below for the top universities in each category (in alphabetical order):


Best Nightlife
University of Leeds
University of Liverpool
Liverpool John Moores University
University of Manchester
Manchester Metropolitan University
Newcastle University
Northumbria University
Nottingham Trent University
University of Strathclyde
University of Sussex


Student Union
Cardiff University
Dundee University
Harper Adams University
Imperial College London
University of Leeds
Loughborough University
University of Sheffield


Sport Scene
University of Bath
Brunel University London
Cardiff Metropolitan University
University of Chichester
Durham University
University of Exeter
Loughborough University
University of Nottingham
University of Stirling
University of Surrey
University of Worcester


Creative Scene
Arts University Bournemouth
Falmouth University
Goldsmiths, University of London
Norwich University of the Arts
University of the Arts London
University of the Creative Arts


Political scene
University of Cambridge
Goldsmiths, University of London
University of Manchester
University of Oxford
University of Sussex

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