Home to two top-tier universities that collectively welcome over 50,000 students each year, Bristol is one of the best student cities in the UK. Being small enough to remain friendly but bringing with it plenty of interest and excitement, the city is also the region’s vibrant cultural epicentre, showcasing international festivals and live music, and being the home of the king of street art, Banksy. With a thriving business economy and many employment and training opportunities to prepare students for graduate life, there is no better time to study in Bristol. We’ve brought together all of the important information about the city’s student scene.

University of Bristol

The University of Bristol is ranked as one of the top 50 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings. With its innovative, first-rate teaching and research facilities – including a whopping nine libraries with specialist subject librarians – it’s no coincidence that 13 Nobel Prize winners are linked to the university. Leading the way in student wellbeing, the University of Bristol has great mental health support services including confidential, high quality counselling. Creative expression is also fostered on campus, with notable talented alumni including Simon Pegg and Derren Brown.

University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol

UWE is a University Alliance university, with a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and has exceptional business connections. Having been ranked 11th in the UK for student satisfaction, UWE has more than 600 courses spanning the creative industries, science, business, environment, technology and more. The university is also involved in internationally-renowned research pioneering fields such as robotics. Specialist course facilities include a mock courtroom, a nursing simulation suite, multimedia broadcast studios and a flight simulator, and this year a further £300m will be spent on state-of-the-art learning spaces and accommodation.

Clubs and societies

Bristol is home to over 500 student clubs and societies, so students are bound to find something to pique their interest. The University of Bristol has dozens of sports societies catering for all skill levels, and its popular Drama Society runs musicals, plays, dance and improvisations throughout the year. At UWE, sports societies benefit from outstanding facilities including fully-equipped fitness suites, multi-sports pitches and a climbing wall. UWE’s Hallslife programme offers a range of events and activities to help students settle in and make the most of campus life.


When it comes to nightlife students are spoilt for choice, as the city has everything from cosy pubs serving West Country cider to great cocktail bars and stylish clubs hosting regular student nights. Party enthusiasts can stay out all night at legendary Tribe of Frog events, or go clubbing on a boat at Thekla. Bristol’s iconic music venues range from intimate gig spaces to a renowned underground scene. There are many LGBT+ friendly bars and clubs in the city, with Queenshilling being a student favourite.

Arts & culture

Bristol has a fantastic arts calendar filled with film events, fringe theatres, street art and regular free-of-charge festivals, so students can join in on the fun. The University of Bristol runs its own festival during welcome week, featuring events in venues across the city. Its Students’ Union building has exceptional arts facilities including two theatres, a pottery studio, music practice rooms, a radio studio and dance studios. The SU’s Anson Rooms have hosted big-name acts including Amy Winehouse and Ed Sheeran.

Green city

Bristol is among the country’s greenest cities, and its universities play their role in maintaining this status. The University of Bristol was one of the first UK universities to declare a climate emergency, and it has numerous green campus initiatives including vegware cups in its Source cafés. Its world-renowned Cabot Institute brings together over 600 experts collaborating on research solutions to climate challenges, and the Green Lab-accredited School of Biological Sciences has a research focus on ecology and environmental change. Students at UWE are just as committed, developing a solar-powered glider.

Graduate prospects

With its buzzing industry, Bristol is an ideal city to gain job experience or kick-start a professional career. The University of Bristol is the fourth most targeted university by top UK employers. Students in its faculty of engineering benefit from industry-specific links, and its Law School offers a professional mentoring scheme. The university’s entrepreneurial hub, Basecamp, offers workshops, networking events and summer internships.

UWE Bristol has close links with leading employers such as the BBC, Rolls-Royce, the NHS and Aardman Animation, and over 200 students undertake internships funded by UWE annually. Many employers see UWE as the go-to university for graduate recruitment, and more than 9,000 work placements are undertaken by its students every year. UWE’s annual Meet the Employers student and graduate fair is the largest in the south-west, with over 180 employers from a range of sectors exhibiting.

Three of the best graduate schemes:

Rolls-Royce: offers manufacturing engineering graduate programmes, with the chance to work on transformative technologies in its civil aerospace, defence and power systems businesses.

PwC: provides graduate audit training programmes with hands-on coaching, a variety of work tasks and great networking opportunities.

Hays: has a nine-month graduate recruitment consultant training programme. With regular possibilities for promotion, most trainees reach senior recruitment consultant level in two years.