Manchester its wonderful its full of chip pies and gravy !! LOL I think Manchester is far better than birmingham it got evey shop,bar and nightclub you can want student life is amazing there and alot more friendly than birmaingham from my experiences.
Manchester! My favourite place in the world, I've heard it's a great place to live as a student, and I can see how it would be. Loads of cheap but decent places to eat and drink, a really friendly atmosphere and loads of different types of people and places and stuff. I love it.
But I've never actually been to Birmingham so I probably shouldn't be answering. Ah well
I've been to both (albeit it fleetingly) and Manchester made an MUCH better impression on me. It looks nice, has a better atmosphere, better stuff in the centre, e.t.c.. Edit: I'm considering Manchester Uni for my postgrad study. I would love to live there. Birmingham was grey and full of overweight and depressed looking people. I have no particular intention to go there again.
I am from Birmingham but have lived in Manchester for a couple of years now. I can honestly say there is nothing Birmingham does which Manchester does not do better. The nightlife in Manchester is infinitely better in variety and quality, and as a more public-transport oriented city you can get everywhere by walking/bus which you can't in Birmingham. Manchester is also cheaper for most things. Birmingham has Oasis, Manchester has Afflecks, Birmingham has Snobs, Manchester has 42's. Shopping they both have huge shopping centres, not sure about crime rates but in terms of atmosphere Manchester has an air of superiority and effortless cool which Birmingham doesn't. And music... not even a competition. The Smiths, Joy Division, Stone Roses, Oasis, Courteeners, New Order,
Can't really speak for Birmingham, Manchester on the other hand...
It's a city with a lot to offer, no matter what you're looking for. Oxford Road and the surrounding areas has lots to offer in the way of popular student bars, live music venues, and restaurants. Near Victoria station you've got the Printworks with its bars and restaurants, as well as the Arndale Centre, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols for shopping (depending on your budget of course). There's also the national Fooball museum and Urbis. Northern Quarter is home to the more alternative. Live music, so many quirky cocktail bars, boutiques, and alt shopping Mecca Affleck's Palace. Huge LGBT scene, especially on Canal Street and the streets leading off of it. Of course if sport is your thing, there's Old Trafford for both Cricket and Football, as well as the Etihad. There's Manchester Velodrome for cycling and the aquatics centre for swimming.
As for crime, the same goes for any major city. Keep your wits about you, don't start flashing your wealth and don't wander off into the night by your drunken self, because that's asking for trouble wherever you go. Drunken fights are known to break out, particularly at the Printworks. If you see it kicking off, make yourself scarce. There are of course pockets of run down areas but they extend beyond the scope of the city centre, so you'd have to make the conscious effort to end up there. Areas like Longsight, Moss Side, Openshaw, and Cheetham Hill are best avoided at night but again you won't end up there unless you make a conscious effort to. Rusholme is close to Fallowfield and can be a bit dodgy at night but chances are you'll only be there for a curry, then it's straight into a taxi and back home or out to the centre so it's all good
This is just scratching the surface but it gives you an indication as to what Manchester has to offer. I've visited Manchester often (I work there) and there's always something going on, both during the day, the evening, and the night.