Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland as well as its second-largest city, with a population of just over half a million. For students, Edinburgh is a very welcoming city with a small-town feel, so it never gets overwhelming. From the majestic castle overlooking the city, to all the hiking opportunities, for example, at Arthur’s Seat just on its doorstep, there are plenty of things to see and do here.
As a university town, Edinburgh is widely known as one of the most popular cities for students, second perhaps only to London. It has a large student community in relation to its size, with about 10% of residents studying at any one time. Nearly 40% of those students are international, making for a very diverse atmosphere.
The city’s largest and most well-known university is the University of Edinburgh. It ranks among the top 20 universities in the world and is located right in the heart of the city. As one of the oldest universities in the UK, it has long held a reputation for academic excellence. Over 40% of its 37,000 students are from overseas, and its largest departments are in the arts and humanities.
Queen Margaret University (QMU) is a much smaller campus and student body of less than 6,000. It was established in 1875 and is situated just outside Edinburgh. Its focus is on arts and social sciences, with a smaller college concentrating on the health sciences.
Heriot-Watt University, founded in 1821, regularly ranks among the 500 best universities worldwide. Notable alumni include writers Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and Muriel Spark.
Edinburgh is famous for its festivals, particularly the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world. The comedy aspect is possibly the most popular part of it, and many well-established comedians began their careers here.
The cost of living is quite high, but Edinburgh is the city of fun, and as well as the many festivals including The Fringe, Hogmanay is widely celebrated. This is the Scottish celebration of New Year’s Eve, and the parties in the streets of the city can get quite raucous. Edinburgh is also famed for its many bars and restaurants, as well as museums and a large music scene. You will constantly find something to spend your money on, which is the only downside of this picturesque and friendly city.