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Five top unis for music-loving students

Published 22 May 2014 by

What will you be looking for when you choose your university? Whether or not it offers the course you want to do is a given, as is how well rated it is and how far away from home you’ll have to move. However, if you’re a music fan it’s a safe bet the ease with which you can indulge your passion will also be critical to your search.

Here’s our roundup of five of the best places to study if you love music.

University of Manchester/Manchester Metropolitan University/University of Salford

There’s no denying Manchester’s rich musical heritage; from The Bee Gees to The Smiths, and The Stone Roses to Oasis – the city even inspired its very own brand of music, Madchester. It’s hardly a surprise, therefore, that it’s one of the most popular cities in the UK with music-lovers.

If you decide to study at one of Manchester’s renowned universities, or at the nearby University of Salford, you’ll be a stone’s throw from some iconic music venues. In fact, there’s usually a gig happening somewhere in the city on every night of the week.

As well as the Phones 4u Arena and Manchester Academy (also home to University of Manchester’s student union), there are countless small gig venues. Among the best is Roadhouse on Newton Street, where you can see bands on the cusp of going stellar (Coldplay, Biffy Clyro, The White Stripes and The Verve have all played here). Night & Day Café in the Northern Quarter AND The Deaf Institute off Oxford Road are other great venues to hear the best in new music – and the latter’s an awesome club venue too. In Salford, Islington Mill is an art space set in an old cotton mill that doubles up as a gig venue.

University of Central Lancashire

Once a polytechnic, the University of Central Lancashire has expanded to become one of the largest unis in the UK in terms of its student population. And while Preston is one of the country’s smaller cities (it was only granted city-status in 2002), it offers plenty to keep music-loving students happy.

The Continental is the place to go for Preston culture vultures; offering the best of indie art, cinema and music. Plus, you can grab a specially-brewed house ale and a tasty bite to eat while you’re here. Korova Arts Café & Bar is another hub of culture – catch an evening of jazz or even a play.

If the latest in indie music is what you’re after, The Ferret should satisfy your appetite; with an impressive roster of indie and rock bands taking to the stage each week. However, if you’d prefer to catch a big-named band on your home turf, 53° is the place to do it. This is also the student union venue, so you’ll probably get to know it quite well.

University of Bristol

Just a couple of hours’ travel outside London, Bristol has long been popular with students from the north and south of the UK. It’s one of the top universities in the world, and the city is renowned as a hub of music and culture.

One of the most iconic music venues in the city is The Louisiana, which is situated in a Georgian terrace. It’s a tiny venue, but attracts some of the best emerging talent, and the likes of Elbow, Florence And The Machine and Goldfrapp have all played here. The Fleece is another live music staple, where Amy Winehouse, Pulp, Radiohead and even Status Quo have all performed in the past.

For something a little different, make your way to The Old Duke in the heart of Bristol. This New Orleans-style jazz venue offers live music every evening. Continuing the quirky theme, The Thekla is a gig venue and nightclub with a difference – it’s a boat that’s moored in one of the city’s docks.

University of Leeds/Leeds Metropolitan University

“Everything is brilliant in Leeds”, asserted the t-shirts of many a Kaiser Chiefs’ fan a few years ago – and many of the students who attend the city’s University of Leeds or Leeds Metropolitan University would agree. Certainly, if music’s your passion, you won’t be disappointed when you move here.

Brudenell Social Club has an open music policy, so you can expect to hear a host of different sounds when you come here. It’s also known for holding secret gigs, so be sure to keep an ear out – you could be in the audience for the next big thing. The Cockpit is another of Leeds’ favourite music venues and hosts club nights too – all of which take place between three railway arches.

A 15-minute train ride away from Leeds is Wakefield, which is home to a vibrant music scene of its own. The Snooty Fox is the place to go for rock, while Warehouse 23 – the self-proclaimed largest live music venue in the city – has bigger acts on the bill, as well as lots of tribute artists. And of course, if you go to uni in Leeds you won’t have far to travel for the iconic Leeds Music Festival.

University of Glasgow/University of Strathclyde/Glasgow Caledonian University/Glasgow School of Art

Scotland’s second city has a buzzing nightlife and there’s always something happening – especially if you like music and the arts. Nice’n’Sleazy near the Glasgow School of Art has welcomed the likes of Arab Strap and Mogwai to its stage during the 20-plus years since it first opened its doors. Today, it continues to invite some of the hottest new acts in music to join its line-up – and even if there’s no one you want to see playing, you can tuck into something tasty like a haggis burger and listen to the tunes on the famous jukebox.

As any music fan worth their salt will know, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is where Oasis played one of their earliest gigs and were signed by Alan McGee (despite having to argue their way into the club after originally being denied entry). It’s small and sweaty and one of the best places to hear the bands that will be playing on your radio in a few months’ time. The Arches is another underground venue – literally. When there aren’t gigs happening here beneath the train tacks of Glasgow Central Station, there are theatre or club nights to choose from.

The Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom is one of the most iconic music venues in the city, and a great place to catch up-and-coming bands from overseas. And if you just want to hunker down at one venue all night, check out The 13th Note, where you can enjoy indie music, comedy and theatre, as well as tucking into some vegan delicacies.

Wherever you go to university though, you can be sure your time there will have a great soundtrack.