The Best Colleges & Universities in Manchester, England

Manchester, England, is the center of the largest bustling metropolis in northwestern England. 

It is rich in history—claiming to have been the first of a “new generation” of industrial cities in the 1800s—and has much to offer in terms of culture, architecture, scientific and engineering advancement, and more. 

The city itself went through a cultural revival at the front end of the 21st century, now boasting institutions such as the Lowry, the John Ryland University Library, and the Whitworth Art Gallery. 

Manchester also has a vivacious pop music scene, and there is no end to the artists performing at venues such as the AO Arena and the O2 Apollo.

Although Manchester is a busy urban area, it also has beautiful parks for those who need a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Fletcher Moss Park & Botanical Gardens and Heaton Park—which covers over 600 acres—are two notable outdoor attractions within the city.

Along with much to do when visiting, the city is home to some of the highest-ranked colleges in university in all of England. 

Those desiring to make Manchester their home away from home while pursuing higher education would do well to attend any of these five prestigious colleges. 

University of Manchester 

University of Manchester
AMUoM, Sackville Street Building, University of Manchester, CC BY-SA 4.0

The University of Manchester is a result of the merging of two universities that worked closely together for years— the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and the Victoria University of Manchester—in 2004.

For many years they have been at the forefront of innovation. They have amassed world-changing accomplishments, such as being the first to discover the nuclear nature of the atom and starting the country’s first nursing degree.

Times Higher Education ranked this prestigious university as the 50th in the world and 8th in the United Kingdom in 2022. 

The University of Manchester is the third largest college in the UK, with students from over 160 countries worldwide.

Some of their highest-ranking areas of study include Endocrinology and Metabolism, Economics and Business, and Physics.

Nobel Prizes have been awarded to many alumni of the University of Manchester, including Sir Arthur Lewis, who pioneered much research in economic development, and Neville Francis Mott, who investigated and added much knowledge to what we know about magnets.

Regardless of the rigorous academics of this university, there is much to do on campus and in the surrounding city. 

Its gorgeous campus is full of a mix of Victorian and modern buildings, gardens, and cafes to catch up with friends. 

The list of extracurriculars is extensive and has many opportunities for students to partake in volunteering, play sports, and get involved in the arts.

Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University
Foblmmu, Manchester Met Business School campus, CC BY-SA 4.0

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is a well-respected public research university.

Although its overall international ranking has dropped in recent years, it is still the ninth most popular university in the UK in drawing applicants.

The campus boasts of being a center for groundbreaking discoveries, embracing creativity, and blazing new trails for the sciences. MMU has no shortage of these exemplary accomplishments.

One such example from 2019 includes MMU’s ranking as one of the UK’s “greenest” Universities by People and Plant. 

This university is clearly dedicated to taking care of the planet, and many of its efforts were highlighted— including its success in recycling over half of the university’s waste between 2017-2018, and its commitment to netting zero carbon emissions by 2038, thanks to its pioneering organization Zero Carbon Manchester Framework.

In terms of social life outside academics, the surrounding city is excitingly modern and the campus offers many extracurriculars and events. 

Students can join societies such as the Cheese and Wine Society, Debating Society, or the Girls Who Code. 

University of Salford

The current University of Salford is a merger of two colleges that is now spread across three campuses. 

It is currently ranked at #72 Best Global Universities in the UK by U.S. News and has an enrollment of over 17,000. 

According to the National Student Survey, 83% of all Salford graduates were satisfied overall with their education.

Like other competing schools in the surrounding area, the University of Salford has a wide variety of undergraduate programs to choose from—482 to be exact—and has something for every student. 

Some of their most popular, highly ranked programs include Civil Engineering, Music, and Communication and Media Studies.

Salford takes the quality of its education seriously, and according to the REF 2021, 78% of the research conducted at the university was rated top-notch, even internationally. 

The main campus in Peel Park is a short walk from the Manchester city center and is situated along the River Irwell. 

One of the other two campuses, MediaCityUK, is based in the MediaCity building which houses BBC, ITV, and over 250 other media companies and studios. 

This close proximity encourages collaboration between students and professionals in the industry—which is a big draw for potential students aiming to land in the media industry. The campuses combined cover over 60 acres.

University of Bolton

Students looking for a bit of a smaller university in the Greater Manchester Area would do well to look into the University of Bolton. 

The on-campus student body sits at around 6,000, and the school prides itself in keeping the student-to-professor ratio reasonably low. 

This university was ranked 46th best university in the UK by the Guardian, and as fourth in the UK for teaching quality by the Times & Sunday Times. 

These rankings are based on nine different indicators and not just on quantitative surveys alone. 

Bolton is known for having an industry-relevant curriculum and providing career-focused degree programs to help students succeed after university.

The university’s most popular and high-ranking programs include Accounting & Finance, Criminology, and Creative Writing.   

The school takes pride in its facilities and has made some impressive investments over the years. 

One such building would be the National Centre for Motorsports Engineering—which, according to the school’s website, is the only one of its kind in the UK—that houses the school’s motorsport engineering program. 

Like most of the colleges in urban settings, Bolton has many on-campus social events and clubs that encourage students to get out and explore the surrounding area. 

They also have an on-campus Job Shop that helps students find part-time jobs to work while pursuing their education.

Royal Northern College of Music

The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) has been the UK’s top music college for research since 2014. It was founded in the 1970’s after the merging of the Royal Manchester College of Music and the Northern School of Music.

The school has under 1,000 students that it shapes into future-equipped and extraordinarily-versatile musicians. It has both a theater and concert hall and affords its students the consistent opportunity to perform for the public—and to work alongside professional musicians. 

While there are three routes of undergraduate study—Bachelor of Music with Honors, Bachelor of Music with Honors in Popular Music, Graduate Diploma of the RNCM—there are different schools of study, such as the School of Composition or the School of Conducting. 

The school has no on-campus accommodations but there is a hall for students right next to campus. The school grounds are only a short walk from the city center, and like the other surrounding institutions, offer much to do within the city. 

Some of the school’s notable alumni include Stjepan Hauser, a Croatian cellist who is a member of 2CELLOS, and Ali McGregor, an Australian opera singer.