Choosing the right University can be tricky. It’s a big decision, which is likely to be an investment of at least three years of your time, plus a substantial amount of money. By the time you count your tuition fees, accommodation costs and living expenses you will need to allow for an average of £22,000 p.a.

Getting it right is really important, both in terms of enjoying your time at University and getting the return on the money you are investing in your studies.

The Best Places to study

A good way to start to choose a good place to study is to look at the University ranking systems. One the best known is operated by the Times Newspaper and is generally considered to be one of the most credible source of information on how Universities are performing.

You can visit the full ranking here. In the UK, the top Universities are those you might expect to rank very highly  – Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College and so on.

Unless you are planning on attending an elite University, you will need to look at the rankings in a different way. In addition to being very difficult to gain entry too (hence their elite status) they can be expensive place to study. London, for example has 4 Universities in the top 10. Imperial, University College London, London School of Economics and King’s College are all wonderful places to study. However, the UK’s capital is among the most expensive places to live in the UK and is likely to cost significantly more than the average of £22,000 pa.

Ranking Improvements.

Another way to use the ranking system is to identify those Universities that are making the biggest year on year improvements in the rankings. This is a good indication of a University which is on an upward trajectory and with a good chance of delivering a positive experience. They are also likely to be located in cities which offer an attractive cost of living.

Northumbria University

Based in the famously student friendly and vibrant city of Newcastle, Northumbria University has seen a significant improvement in rankings this year. In addition to the attraction of Newcastle as a place to study it is a relatively low cost city, with accommodation averaging £78 per week for a shared house and £148 for a private hall, both of which are well below the national average.

Great place to stay – UK Guarantor recommends Hello Students Metrovick House a high end, but affordable accommodation close to Northumbria University.

University of Hull

A compact Northern city, Hull is home to a University which has risen dramatically up the University rankings over the last 12 months. Tuition fees for international students from outside of the EU start at £13,000 and it is possible to secure a houseshare for a modest £78 per week.

Heriot Watt University

Also making significant gains this year, Heriot Watt University offers the benefits of an attractive University Campus combined with a close proximity to Edinburgh City Centre. Not necessarily the cheapest city in the UK, it is still possible to pick up a shared house or private halls for just above the national average.

UK Guarantor recommends – The Student Housing Company’s Arran House, which offers affordable luxury in the heart of Edinburgh and a short bus ride to Heriot Watt

University of Swansea

The University of Swansea continues to improve its position in the university rankings and cement its position as an increasingly innovative institution. Swansea is particularly attractive to students as a low cost destination to study with some of the cheapest places to live in the whole of the UK.

UK Guarantor recommends – St David’s – Fresh Student Living. First class student accommodation based in Swansea.

University of Essex

This campus based University continues to show improvement in the Times University Rankings. Tuition fees start at £14,000 for international students and, should you choose to live off campus, you can pick up a shared house for just under the national average, at £82.

We recommend The Maltings, which is a short walk from the University Campus.

If you are interested in finding out more about our tips on where to study, need a great place to live or need help securing a Guarantor get in touch with us at

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