What are the most hipster universities in the UK?


The Old Bookshop – Bristol

Ever wondered how important the 'coolness' of a city is to students choosing where to study? We asked 3,000 students to share their thoughts and the verdict is...

  • 76% of those surveyed said the 'coolness' of a city had an impact on the one they chose.
  • 48% said the number of craft beer pubs in the city was the biggest 'cool' factor.
  • 19% of students nominated art and design courses as the most 'hipster' of all the options (closely followed by sciences, then fashion). 

The most interesting part? More than half of participants admitted they'd rather go to a lesser-known university that's located in a vibrant city offering a broader cultural experience, than a top university in a quieter location. 

After realising how much a city's street cred could sway students, we decided to uncover the top ten 'hipster' universities from the UK's 127 choices. To rank each university, we looked at its Total University Guide Art and Design score, plus the number of record shops, vintage clothes shops and craft beer pubs in each city.  

The UK’s most hipster universities in descending order are:

10. Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

The City Cafe – Edinburgh

• Vintage shops: 15

• Art and design score: 93.8

• Record shops: 7

• Craft beer bars: 17

Scottish universities were led by Heriot-Watt, which beat stiff competition from the University of the Arts London and Leeds Beckett University to clinch the final top ten spot.

Any self-respecting hipster student in Edinburgh should check out Summerhall; a creative arts space with bars, cafes and fooderies. Afterwards, hit the hidden speakeasy Hoot the Redeemer (if you can find it).


9. Northumbria University, Newcastle

Pleased To Meet You – Newcastle

• Vintage shops: 17

• Art and design score: 92.5

• Record shops: 15

• Craft beer bars: 27

Northumbria University is 9th on our list, and the first of two universities found in Newcastle. Students at Northumbria are advised to check out the many galleries, including Northern Print, Mushroom Works and Vane.

The hippest neighbourhood is Ouseburn, where you’ll find a cornucopia of quirky local businesses, music venues and trendy bars, such as the Cumberland Arms, as well as arty destinations like the Biscuit Factory.

8. Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool

Dead Crafty Beer Company – Liverpool

• Vintage shops: 22

• Art and design score: 84.5

• Record shops: 7

• Craft beer bars: 32

8th on our list, students at Liverpool Hope are advised to fuel their studies with a latte from Bold Street Coffee, then grab some avocado on toast at the achingly cool Kazimier Gardens.

Merseyside is home to a bevy of craft beer establishments and breweries, including the tip top Dead Crafty Beer Company and Black Lodge Brewery.


7. University of Brighton, Brighton

To Be Worn Again – Brighton

• Vintage shops: 32

• Art and design score: 88.7

• Record shops: 12

• Craft beer bars: 14

It’s no surprise that Brighton hit the top 10, but perhaps more shocking that it’s not number one. Brighton came second in vintage clothes shops, with top destinations like Snoopers Paradise and London export Beyond Retro offering some of the best threads in town.

Once you’ve had your fill of old school Adidas jackets and scuffed Doc Martens, you won’t struggle to find an eatery that caters for your needs. Brighton is the vegan capital of the UK, so be sure to check out the Lydea Café for a bite.

6. University of the West of England, Bristol

The Old Bookshop – Bristol

• Vintage shops: 14

• Art and design score: 91.3

• Record shops: 4

• Craft beer bars: 38

If you’ve got the taste for a refreshing pint, Bristol is home to a whopping 38 craft beer pubs, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to quaffing an artisanal stout or a bottle of imported pilsner.

We couldn’t talk about the University of the West of England without mentioning The Bear Pit; the city’s famous square, full of street art, trendy bars and local coffee shops. Just don’t mention Banksy.


5. Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool

Dig Vinyl – Liverpool

• Vintage shops: 22

• Art and design score: 87.8

• Record shops: 7

• Craft beer bars: 32

Another hit for Liverpool in the hipster stakes, students at Liverpool John Moores’ are advised to check out the nearby Jenever Gin Bar to knock back a few cocktails, or grab a beer in the exposed brickwork and wood-panelled surroundings of Tom Thumb.

Institutions like Dig Vinyl are a must-visit for record collectors, or you could grab a cold pint as you dig through the crates at The Jacaranda.


4. Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham

Bodega Social Club – Nottingham

• Vintage shops: 17

• Art and design score: 93.2

• Record shops: 8

• Craft beer bars: 31

Nottingham Trent is the younger cousin of the University of Nottingham, with a thriving fashion, design, art, and creative scene. Hockley is the top destination for hipsters looking for a good time, with hangouts like the Bodega Social Club and the retro clothing Narnia that is Vintage Warehouse.

Clubs and gig destinations like Stealth, Rock City, Rescue Rooms, and Spanky Van Dykes also contributed to Nottingham Trent’s admirable position of 4th.

3. Newcastle University, Newcastle

RPM Music – Newcastle

• Vintage shops: 17

• Art and design score: 100

• Record shops: 8

• Craft beer bars: 27

Newcastle University makes it two for Tyneside by reaching the 3rd spot. The uni’s perfect art and design score edged it in the end, as well as a menagerie of craft beer hangouts, record shops and vintage clothes emporiums.

When you’re not ‘getting mortal’ on craft ales at the Free Trade Inn, Ernest, or Kommunity, students in Newcastle would be remiss not to visit Barrio Comida – a shipping container-turned-shack which serves Mexican cuisine.

2. University of Leeds, Leeds

Brudenell Social Club – Leeds

• Vintage shops: 23

• Art and design score: 94.5

• Record shops: 7

• Craft beer bars: 28

The University of Leeds is in the cosmopolitan capital of the North East, nestled in the rolling hills of Yorkshire. Here you’ll find an array of craft beer bars and pubs, including tasty veggie cuisine and fancy ale purveyors Bundobust, North Bar and Headingley’s Arcadia.

The capital of hipsterdom in the city is the Brudenell Social Club, where you can watch a huge range of live music without a rolled down jean leg in sight.

And the winner is...

1. Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester

Piccadilly Records – Manchester

• Vintage shops: 34

• Art and design score: 93.7

• Record shops: 15

• Craft beer bars: 40

Manchester Met tops the list! From Fallowfield to the Northern Quarter, the student domains of the city are home to a seemingly endless number of trendy bars, cafes and creative hangouts.

Birthplace of the Stone Roses, The Smiths, Oasis, Joy Division, and New Order (to name a few) the city has tremendous pedigree when it comes to nightlife and music. Ravers could do a lot worse than the annual Warehouse Project takeover, or the smorgasbord of late night destinations peppering the north west’s favourite city.

With 7 of the top 10 found in the North and Midlands, it looks like your best bet for the true hipster experience as a student is in the North of the UK.

Is your university the most hipster? Or spotted something unbelievably hip in any of the places named above? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

The Most Hipster Universities in the UK

Image sources: The City Café, Pleased to Meet You, Dead Crafty Beer Company, To Be Worn Again, The Old Bookshop, Dig Vinyl, Bodega Social Club, RPM Music, Brudenell Social Club and Piccadilly Records.