Glasgow is a large city in Scotland and is an educational powerhouse of the country. Not only does it have lots of character, but it also has plenty of shopping, dining, entertainment and things to see and do. It’s a coastal city and the gateway to the lowlands and highlands and a short drive from the capital, Edinburgh.
So, if you’re considering studying in Scotland, Glasgow could be a great option!
But what’s student life in Glasgow like? Is it cheap to live there? Is it easy to get around?
Student life in Glasgow
First, let’s tackle the big question. What universities are there in Glasgow?
The two extras are The Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which are not technically universities, but offer degree-level courses.
The University of Glasgow is the main university and usually ranks within the top 10 universities in the UK. It’s known for animal science, dentistry and education, but offers a wide range of courses.
The University of Strathclyde is also in Glasgow and is one of the oldest and highest rated universities in the country. It is particularly well known for hospitality, tourism, marketing, forensic science, architecture, business and management, and engineering.
Glasgow Caledonian University is a newer institution known for the quality of its research. It offers a range of courses from computing and engineering to business and health and life sciences.
All three offer high-quality education and are internationally recognised for that quality.
Living costs for students
You’ll be pleased to know that studying in Glasgow is relatively inexpensive. You’ll pay city prices for things, but it’s cheaper than many cities down south.
Living costs in Glasgow are lower than many other places in the UK. This is reflected in rents, the price of food, taxis, beer, and many of life’s essentials. As long as you’re careful with money, there’s no reason why you couldn’t live easily within your means.
As with many northern cities, wages are lower up here than further south, which is reflected in those living costs. So, as long as you don’t need to get a job to supplement your income, you should find living here easy.
Glasgow is a decent-sized city and has lots of bars, cafés, bistros, restaurants, and even a couple of food trucks.
If you like eating out, choice is something you’re definitely not short of. Highlights include KoolBa, Bentley’s Grill, The Gannet, Filling Station, Ketchup, the Grosvenor, Hanoi Bikeshop, Friends Café, Mono, Madras Café, Fanny Trollopes, E-Street Café, Puti vegan café, Scran, LL Italiano, Mini Grill Glasgow Steakhouse, Boteco Do Brasil, Roastit Bubbly Jocks, Dakota Bar & Grill, Pizza Punks, Number 16 and Ashoka Ashton Lane.
There’s a real mix of fast food, informal dining, and more formal restaurants, which means every taste is covered.
Plus, did you know that Glasgow has won the Curry Capital of Britain title four times over the past decade? So, if you like your food spicy, you’re in the right place!
Glaswegians like a night out, which is great news for potential students! As there are three universities in the city, the range of options is huge, from big clubs to late-night cafés.
Glasgow is also a UNESCO City of Music, so if you like live bands or a show, this is the city for you.
Highlights of Glasgow nightlife include Stereo, Broadcast, Bloc, Bar Soba, Yesbar, King Tut’s Wawa Hut, Once Upon a Whisky, Gin71Glasgow, Revolution Renfield Street, Bon Accord, Fore Play, The Corinthian, Ben Nevis Pub, The Scotia, Laurieston Bar, The Clutha Bar, The Grove, Swing, The Barrowlands, the SSE Hydro, SWG3, Poetry Club, Sub Club, Shimmy, Firewater, The Art School, O2 ABC, Polo Lounge, Kushion and many others.
Shopping as a student
Shopping as a student in Glasgow is a pleasure. There is everything here – from chain stores, shopping centres and quirky independents.
Shopping in Glasgow should include The West End as it’s definitely the best place for shopping in the city. Merchant City is definitely worth a look too. Lots of old warehouses converted into stores and bars, although they can be pricey.
Otherwise, the Barras Market, Sloans Market, and Blochairn flea market offer a wide range of goods for relatively low prices.
Student accommodation in Glasgow is the usual mix of university halls, private halls or private landlords. There’s also the usual mix of quality and price, with more options than usual to achieve both within a sensible budget.
University halls have seen steady investment, so would be your best option for your first year. After that, private halls like our own would offer superb student accommodation at low prices.
Sanctuary Students has six properties across the city that offer well-maintained accommodation where everything is included in the rent.
Private landlords offer a range of terraced houses and tenements in student areas but are a mix of high quality and very basic. Rents don’t always reflect the quality at the lower end of the scale, so we would definitely recommend visiting before you pay your deposit!
Places to visit
It’s great being a student in Glasgow. Not only is the nightlife fantastic, but you also have plenty of things to see and do. Some of them are even free.
Highlights of Glasgow include Glasgow Cathedral, Mackintosh's Art Academy, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, George Square and the Merchant District, the Necropolis, The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Riverside Museum and Tall Ship, Glasgow Science Centre, Pollok Country Park, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Kibble Palace, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Green, the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, Kelvingrove Park, River Clyde Cycle Path, Air-Space and The Style Mile.
Glasgow has to be one of the easiest cities to get around. It has plenty of public transport, good road links and three airports within less than 50 miles. Arrive by air and you’ll use either Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport or Edinburgh Airport, which is only 34 miles away.
Glasgow Central station is a busy railway station with local routes and Intercity covering Scotland and the rest of the UK. Glasgow Queen Street station also handles numerous lines into Scotland and to Edinburgh.
Glasgow Subway is widely regarded as an excellent way to get around and offers cheap travel across the central city.
Buses are also plentiful, with multiple services run by multiple operators across the urban sprawl. Buses do thin out the further you get from the city centre, but offer an accessible way to get around.
Glasgow also has a decent road network with the M8, M73, M74, M77 and M80 all within easy reach. Smaller roads within the city are also easy to navigate for a city of this size.
Working as a student
Working as a student in Glasgow can be both simple and difficult, depending on what you want to do.
The city is not the wealthiest around. Neither does it have the most opportunity for locals. That said, there’s a lot of industry and technology around the city, but opportunities for students can be limited.
You will have the option for retail work, bar or restaurant work and the usual student fare, but you may find other options more difficult to come by.
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