AFS Student Research

Emma Seton·12 August 2022·6 min read
AFS Student Research

It’s official - the best student cities are in!

At AFS, we surveyed over 1,700 students, asking them to rate their student city against 13 different criteria. We’ve added up these scores to find out which cities score best overall, and we’ve broken down our findings so you can see which cities rate well against the 13 criteria.

If you’re looking for a university, our research might be something to keep in mind.

Best overall city

We added up the scores from our 13 criteria to find out which universities had the best overall scores. The top 10 universities, rated by students were:

1. Newcastle

2. Chester

3. Hull

4. Falmouth

5. Kingston Upon Thames

6. Aberdeen

7. Leeds

8. Manchester

9. Liverpool

10. Cambridge

Now, let’s look at a breakdown of the different criteria…


We all know that the student loan often doesn’t stretch very far, making affordability very important for students. Here are the top 5 cities for affordability:

1. Hull (8.7)

2. Middlesbrough (8.3)

3. Keele (8.2)

4. Newcastle (7.9)

5. Preston (7.7)


Another important factor when looking for your student city, we all want to be somewhere which feels pleasant and clean. Here are the top 5 student cities for cleanliness:

1. St Andrews (Fife) (9.0)

2. Falmouth (8.7)

3. Bath (8.5)

4. Chester (8.3)

5. Aberdeen (8.2)

Environmental initiatives

When it comes to environmental initiatives, we all know that we need to do our part for the environment, whether that’s through recycling, or trying to use less water. Here are the top 5 universities for having the best environmental initiatives:

1. Falmouth (8.7)

2. Cambridge (7.9)

3. Keele (7.4)

4. Aberdeen (7.7)

5. Chester (7.7)

Finding Jobs

As students, we all know how important that part-time job can be for giving you a little bit of extra spending money. Here are the cities which are rated as the best for finding part-time jobs:

1. Gloucester (8.6)

2. Chester (8.1)

3. Keele (7.6)

4. Leeds (7.5)

5. Kingston upon Thames (7.3)

Leisure facilities

As students, when we’re not studying, we need those places to kick back and relax. Perhaps to play different sports or go for a quick swim. Here are the cities which are rated as having the best leisure facilities:

1. Falmouth (8.2)

2. Kingston upon Thames (8.2)

3. Liverpool (8.2)

4. Manchester (8.2)

5. London 8.1

Public transport

Whether you use public transport to get to university, to get home from a night out, or whether you only use it for trips home, we all know how important good transport links are. Here are the cities which are rated as having the best public transport:

1. Kingston upon Thames (9.2)

2. London (8.7)

3. Nottingham (8.5)

4. Strawberry Hill (London) (8.5)

5. Manchester (8.4)

Quality of University

Whether you’re concerned with the quality of your teaching, or the quality of the facilities on offer, we all know that attending a good quality university is important. Here are the universities which are rated as having the best quality:

1. Falmouth (9.2)

2. Loughborough (9)

3. St Andrews (Fife) (9)

4. Gloucester (8.9)

5. Hull (8.8)


Feeling safe in your student city is very important, here are the top 5 cities for safety:

1. Falmouth (9.7)

2. St Andrews (Fife) (9.5)

3. Stirling (9.2)

4. Keele (9)

5. York (8.9)


Whether you prefer a large university, or a small university, size is often an important factor for many students. Here are the universities with the best rankings for size:

1. Leeds (8.8)

2. Liverpool (8.7)

3. Manchester (8.7)

4. Chester (8.6)

5. Newcastle /Strawberry Hill (London)/ Ormskirk (8.5)

Social Life

For many students, social life is an integral part of the university experience. Here are the universities ranked as having the best social life:

1. Newcastle (9.2)

2. Kingston upon Thames (9)

3. Leeds (8.7)

4. Liverpool (8.7)

5. Manchester (8.6)

Quality of Student Accommodation

Having good quality accommodation is often a very important factor for students, here are the top 5 cities for good quality accommodation:

1. Hull (8.3)

2. Newcastle (8.2)

3. Liverpool (8.1)

4. Loughborough (8)

5. Gloucester (8)

How student friendly the city is

As students, its good to know that your city caters to your needs, that’s why being in a student friendly city is very important. Here are the top 5 student friendly cities:

1. Loughborough (9.5)

2. Newcastle (9.3)

3. Kingston upon Thames (9.1)

4. Brighton (9)

5. Chester (9)

Likeliness to recommend

It’s important to be in a city that you love, and that you’d recommend to others. Here are the top cities that students would recommend:

1. Newcastle (9.4)

2. Falmouth (8.8)

3. Hull (8.7)

4. Leeds (8.7

5. Liverpool (8.7)

6. Manchester (8.7)

When you’re looking for a university it’s important to consider which factors are important to you. Keep these figures in mind when making your decision and weighing your options.