Lancaster University & University of Manchester

The Explore England college tour continued with Lancaster University and the University of Manchester. Two complete opposite universities. What I love about touring is really getting a sense of the best fit university for a particular student. Touring is amazing. It’s a way to get to view not just the university, but the surrounding community and the university in its full form. You see students studying, hanging out, you taste the food, you ride the public transportation, you walk into the learning spaces and meet with faculty. It’s incredible. It’s a way for a student to start to really get down to the nitty gritty of what would be the academic and social environment for not only the best learning, but the best experience ultimately creating independence, confidence and a strong platform for an even stronger university.

Check out the recaps below and I always encourage you to go directly to the universities websites. There’s SO much information, it’s never enough room to fit and the website will always have the most up-to-date and accurate information. Also remember that each university will have an admissions or university representative/counselor who can help answer any questions, connect you to people you’ll want to meet and give you all the facts. So do reach out! 

Lancaster University

Running path wraps around campus at Lancaster University, Lancaster is incredibly into sustainability given their natural environment it makes sense!

As we left Northumbria University and headed into Lancaster, we couldn’t have pickedmore contrasting university environments. We drove through the England countryside and exited to find Lancaster University. A smaller-medium sized university nestled in the smaller city (I’d consider a town) of Lancaster.

Take out the major metropolis and add a small campus with a BIG thriving student community and you have Lancaster. A very internationally diverse campus and one with involved students that make up for a tight-knit group regardless of where you came from. Lancaster’s clubs and societies included everything from religious clubs, music, dance to sports clubs. Students literally wouldn’t need to leave campus as the small community boasted shops, restaurants, hang out spaces and living communities known as colleges.


Students reside within a college. The colleges are living communities each having their own flair, a kind of Harry Potter-esq feel giving you a smaller identity within the university. Students seemed involved, happy and open. Although they could choose to stay on campus, second and third year students were more likely to live in downtown Lancaster surrounded by more shops, restaurants and options for things to do.

The student body participates in an annual event called Roses that really is a three-day tournament showcasing sports, clubs and student organized events for one big bash. I’m seriously considering re-doing this whole college thing again!

The campus focuses quite a bit on sustainability and has a farm on campus. They even recycle, give away and re-sell items leftover from dorms when students move out.

Quick stats:

  • About 13,000 students 
  • Located in Lancaster, population about 140,000
  • Ranked university, strength in science, technology, business management and more
  • 97% of graduates placed within 6 months of graduation in career of study or post-graduate work
  • Living communities on campus called “colleges” giving a smaller community and active student life and social connections

If you liked St. Andrew’s University you may enjoy Lancaster for its similar feel. Check the recap of my St. Andrew’s College Tour HERE. Lancaster would be ideal for the student that maybe feels a bit more intimidated of a larger city and wants a real campus, college feel and a smaller community.

Check out the university profile HERE

Take a virtual tour of campus HERE

University of Manchester

Manchester is a metropolitan city full of museums, culture, sporting events, concerts and students…lots of students! A very-urban environment with a lot to take in, but similar to Newcastle Upon Tyne in that is felt pretty easy to navigate.

The University of Manchester is one of the largest universities in England with about 40,000 students. Its campus is widespread, but very walkable. We were lucky to come in on a sunny day and enjoyed a nice walk throughout academic buildings and the Whitworth art museum with an incredible cafe located inside surrounding by all glass windows and even more stunning exhibits all accessible to students.

Quick stats:

  • 40,000 students, about 27,000 undergraduates, large, globally diverse population with 25% international students
  • 14:1 student-faculty ratio
  • 93% on time graduation rate 
  • Member of the Russell Group (U.K. Ivy League equivalent) 
  • Ranked world-leading research 
  • Unique program in International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response connecting humanitarian social work with medicine, politics, organizations and creating big change
  • Nobel Laureates on staff
  • Whitworth Museum, John Rylands Library 
  • Strong programs include Business, Law, Art History, Sociology, Sciences, Medicine and more!

    Whitworth Museum, University of Manchester
Original Van Gogh’s housed at the Whitworth Museum

You may enjoy the University of Manchester if you’re looking at colleges such as University College London, King’s College, University of Edinburgh, Boston University, Yale University.

Take a virtual tour of campus HERE

Something to note when considering U.K. universities 

  • Many universities do have partnerships with American universities. So do research if you’re not looking to complete your entire degree abroad, there may be a dual program that is appealing. Again, search by program and ask for more information!
  • International universities have international representatives that are there to help you! They WANT to talk to you, to connect with you and to connect you to the opportunities that may fit you best, so connect, call and ask and start utilizing them as a HUGE resource.
  • Federal loans from the FAFSA may transfer over! There are quite a few abroad universities that will allow you to use your FAFSA federal loans while abroad, so check THIS RESOURCE for more information. Or again…ask!
  • It never hurts to research. Really! Don’t deny yourself an opportunity that may be an INCREDIBLE one because it seems scary. See the incredible world that isn’t as far away as it seems.
  • Campus housing is often single room occupancy (which means no having to split your room and draw a line down the middle!) but still connected with anywhere from 5-12 students with a common kitchen area giving you a smaller housing community.
  • Clubs are called societies. Majors are called courses. Dorms are called flats. And there’s a whole slew of terminology that although commonly connected by English are quite different across.
Lancaster University
Our bus tour heading down towards our next stop!


Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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