What is the University of Glasgow REALLY like?

This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 21 April 2022

Thinking of applying to the University of Glasgow as an international student? Then read our guide to get the lowdown on what the uni and city are really like.GB Mag Survival Service creative - 2021

What are the best things about studying in Glasgow?

Glasgow is known for its friendliness and welcoming nature– hence its slogan, “People Make Glasgow.” Which is important because it is the most populous city in Scotland and the third in the UK! Glasgow is also the most diverse city in all of Scotland with residents hailing from all over the world. And when you want a break from the bustle, Glasgow’s other nickname is “The Dear Green Place” given it has a high percentage of green spaces. This makes it the perfect city if you like walks or are a runner and the best place has to be the Glasgow Botanic Gardens where you’ll get your dose of exercise and the benefits of being surrounded by hundreds of plants.

Thanks to its large and diverse population, Glasgow is a hub of art, culture and music. In fact, it is a designated UNESCO City of Music and hosts the Scottish Opera Company, the National Theatre of Scotland, the Glasgow Jazz Festival and the Scottish Ballet. Not only will your ears be ringing with amazing music, but you can feast your eyes on some beautiful art. The Gallery of Modern Art, Kelvingrove Gallery, The Riverside Museum and the Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail are all worth checking out. And keeping up with the latest fashion trends only takes a stroll down Glasgow’s “Style Mile” in the city centre– which has both high end stores and more affordable shops.

And the not-so-great things?

Pack your raincoat because Glasgow has the highest number of days with rain in the UK – with an average of 170 days per year. If you walk or bike to get around and save money, this might be inconvenient. 

Glasgow also has a history of sectarianism that is still felt in the city today. The tension is heightened by the football rivalry between Glasgow’s two main clubs, Celtic F.C. and Rangers F.C– whose fan bases are Roman Catholic and Protestant, respectively. So sometimes football matches can become overly rowdy and aggressive. While religious passion has turned violent in Glasgow in the past, these incidents have declined over the years. 

Glasgow also has the highest homicide rate in Scotland, accounting for 19% of all homicides in the country. And just like with any big city, it is important to be aware of crime and take necessary safety precautions. However, the number of violent crime offences in Glasgow halved between 2002 and 2015 and this trend has continued in both the city and Scotland generally.

Is Glasgow multicultural?

Glasgow is the most diverse city in Scotland with 17.3% of the population identified as an ethnic minority. This is well above the 13.8% UK average. The largest ethnic group minority group in Glasgow is Pakistani. At the University of Glasgow, students and staff come from 120 different countries and 15% of the student population are international students. 

The Al-Furqan Mosque is only a few minutes walk from campus and there is a Hindu temple, Buddhist temple, synagogue, and multiple churches all within a 15 minute bus ride from the uni. You also won’t have to go far to find the comfort of home cuisine in Glasgow. International Foods, a large multi-ethnic supermarket is a 20 minute bus ride from campus. Halal Butchers can be found in the Maryhill area and SeeWoo, a Chinese supermarket, is in The Point shopping centre. 

What is Glasgow famous for?

Glasgow is an old port city and shipbuilding has historically been its main industry. The River Clyde runs right through the city and has an interesting history. Once too shallow for ships to dock, engineers worked to deepen the river during the late 18th and early 19th century. This allowed Glasgow to participate in the booming sugar and tobacco trade. In 1812 the engineer and inventor Henry Bell began giving people rides up and down the River Clyde on his steam boat Comet – the first time that a steam boat provided passenger travel in Europe! During World War II, a town on the north bank of the River Clyde called Clydebank was bombed by German forces. The large shipbuilding business on the river made it a target. And around 1,000 people were killed and many buildings were destroyed leaving people homeless. Yet the shipbuilding industry miraculously survived and continued to manufacture wartime ships and supplies. Nowadays, the river has transformed into a bustling residential, recreational and business area. 

The Glasgow Necropolis is a famed Victorian graveyard where many rich and notable people of the area are buried. Due to their status, many graves are marked by sculptures and ornate monuments. Overall, approximately 50,000 people have been buried there – including magician and theatre owner David Prince Miller and poet William Miller. Not only is it a uniquely beautiful cemetery, but it boasts fantastic views of the city as it is situated on one of Glasgow’s highest hills. You can find the Necropolis next to the Glasgow Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland. And a fun fact is that following the foundation of the University of Glasgow in 1451, the first classes were held in the cathedral’s chapter house!

Where does the University of Glasgow rank?

The University of Glasgow was ranked 86th in the world in 2022 by Times Higher Education. This is a significant improvement from its 128th spot in 2011. It is ranked as the 16th best uni in the UK by Complete University Guide and was Good University Guide’s 2022 Scottish University of the Year. The University of Glasgow is particularly prestigious in the clinical, pre-clinical and health field, as it was ranked 49th in the world for these courses by Times Higher Education. 

How much does it cost to study at the University of Glasgow?

Tuition for international students runs at about £20,400 a year for the arts and social sciences (including undergraduate law). If you are studying science, engineering, nursing or plan to enrol in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences programmes, you will pay about £23,950 a year. For a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery or other clinical programmes, £52,000 is the typical tuition. 

The cost of housing will depend whether you decide to live in a student accommodation or find your own flat. Generally, the university’s student accommodations range from £100-£200 per week depending on the accommodation and if you are in a single or shared room. If you plan to find your own place you will be happy to know that housing costs are significantly cheaper in Glasgow than in Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh.

Does it offer funding or scholarships to international students? 

Yes– and the university makes it easy with a search engine that can match you to the exact scholarships you are eligible for. If you are an applicant from the EU, there are a variety of scholarships just for you. The EU Welcome Award awards £5,000 per year and is for all EU international undergraduate and postgraduate students. There is also the Vice Chancellor EU Award which is specifically for EU international postgraduates and covers either £8,000 or £12,000 per year depending on what you are studying. This scholarship is awarded on the basis of academic achievement. The Undergraduate Excellence Scholarship is for both EU and all international students and grants £7,000 per year based on academic achievement. It is useful to know that you cannot combine EU scholarships with other scholarships from the university– so don’t plan on stocking up on multiple scholarships.

What’s the campus like?

The main campus at the University of Glasgow is Gilmorehill. It is compact, walkable and at its centre is the Gilbert Scott building which has the iconic bell tower that is one of Glasgow’s most prominent landmarks. Gilbert Scott designed the building in Gothic revival style and it was built in the late 1860s. Gilmorehill is located in the heart of the West End of Glasgow and is surrounded by shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, supermarkets and a cinema. Gilmorehill also hosts indoor sports facilities (including a 25 metre swimming pool), two student unions, a museum/art gallery and library with over 12 floors. The campus is only a short (about 15-20 minutes) subway ride to Glasgow’s city centre. 

The Garscube Campus hosts the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Wolfson Hall of Residence and outdoor sports facilities. It is just four miles away from the Gilmorehill campus in the north-west boundary of Glasgow. 

Dumfries Campus is home to the university’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies and is in the rural town of Dumfries in south-west Scotland. It is about an hour and a half car ride from Gilmorehill. The campus is set in a picturesque parkland with views of the Solway estuary and is close to hiking and cycling trails. It is also only a short bus ride away from Dumfries’ historic town centre.

What’s the student accommodation like?

Both undergraduate and postgraduate first-years at the University of Glasgow are guaranteed offers of accommodation. After your first year, student accommodations are allotted on a first-come first-serve basis. 

Some accommodations are very close to campus, such as the Student Apartments and Thurso Street. Others such as Queen Margaret Residences, Lister House, Firhill Court and The Murano Student Village are about a 20 minute walk. All accommodations either house a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students or are exclusively undergraduate. The only exception is the Maclay Residences– the only exclusively postgraduate accommodation.

The Murano Student Village is the largest hall and thus hosts many parties and gatherings. If you are more introverted, Brooke House has all single rooms but is located at the Dumfries campus. Wolfson Hall at the Garscube campus is the only catered accommodation and is mostly veterinary students. If you do not want to live in a student accommodation, private accommodations are available throughout the city for a reasonable price– a one bedroom flat in Glasgow averages at about £600 a month.

Does Glasgow have a good nightlife?

Glasgow arguably has the best nightlife in all of Scotland– many find it even better than the capital city Edinburgh. Whether you are looking for a traditional Scottish pub or a lively dance club, Glasgow has it all. Sauchiehall Street, a popular shopping street in the city centre is littered with bars popular among students for their affordable prices. If you want to go out closer to Gilmorehill campus in the West End, Tennent’s Bar is an old pub with loads of history. There is also Record Factory, a bar with live music that caters to a student’s budget. Live music is a Glasgow staple and you can find it at clubs like King Tut’s on St. Vincent Street and The Garage on Sauchiehall Street. If you want to dance the night away, clubs like Bamboo, Campus, Sub Club, or The Hive– which is the student union’s own nightclub– will do the trick! 

Will I be able to find a part-time job in Glasgow?

Yes– and one of the easiest ways to find part time work is on the university’s Student Job Hub which posts local and on-campus job openings. There is also the Internship Hub, which posts internship opportunities exclusive to University of Glasgow students. 

If you want to find a part-time gig outside the university, retail is popular among students because Glasgow has numerous shopping centres. The Buchanan Galleries, Glasgow Fort, Princes Square, and St. Enoch Centre are all viable options. 

What is the transport like?

The Glasgow Subway is convenient for inner city travel, as it runs in a circle with the River Clyde down the middle. It includes 15 stops with the Hillhead station only a two minute walk from the Gilmorehill campus. An all day subway ticket will cost you £4.10.  First Bus Glasgow is also a great transport option within the city. It has over 80 routes and offers student discounts

Glasgow has the most widespread rail network of any UK city apart from London. The two main train stations in the city are Glasgow Central Station (GLC) and Queen Street Station (GLQ). From GLC you can travel to the south of Scotland and northern England. From GLQ you can travel to central and northern Scotland including Edinburgh and Aberdeen. 

If you like to bike from place to place, Nextbike has over 700 bikes for hire throughout the city. Also, it is important to note that Glasgow Airport is more accessible to fly into than Edinburgh airport. More international flights come through Glasgow than anywhere else in Scotland.

What’s different about studying in Scotland vs England?

The biggest difference is that an undergraduate degree takes four years to complete in Scotland and only three in England. This extra year allows students to take courses outside their area of study and more time to change their degree if it no longer suits them. 

Also the Scottish accent is quite distinct from the English and some find it more difficult to understand– so you may want to watch some Scottish television or film to prepare! 

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