Why I stayed in London to go to university

Many students see university as a chance to get away from home and discover a new part of the country... so why do so many Londoners choose to stay in London to study?

For many, attending university is an opportunity to get away and explore a new city for at least three years of their lives. However, many young Londoners opt to remain in the capital. The lure of London’s world-class universities is difficult to ignore.

London is home to several Russell Group institutions which top the league tables each year and a host of specialist schools, such as Ravensbourne, RADA and Trinity Laban, which are highly acclaimed in their respective fields. But still, why would you choose to remain in the same city you grew up in? We asked some Londoners to find out.

The size of London was one of the leading factors to stay. Although this is often framed as a negative when discussing the city, we found that for some young Londoners it was a big reason to stick around.

"One of my favourite things about living in this city is how big and diverse it is, how I can go from South London to North London and feel as though I had entered a completely different world," says one Londoner who stayed in the city to study. 

"London is big," adds another. "This meant that moving from the misty lands of Zone 5 West London to study in Central London and live in North London felt like almost as much of a change as actually moving city."


London is less a cohesive city and more a collection of smaller communities, each with their own atmosphere. Areas of East London are very modern and busy - full of large roads, trendy cafes and businesses; West London is more residential in atmosphere, with a reputation for being a bit posh. South London has thriving nightlife and North London a slightly quieter pub and café culture. Within these, you can also find stark differences.

"It’s cliché to say, but when you live in London you actually get to live in several places at once. You just have to get on a bus or tube going in any direction for 10 minutes to be somewhere new and somewhere different."

With this size comes a wealth of opportunity - there is always something going on somewhere in London - and often for free. From museums to galleries, restaurants to pubs, theatres to cinemas, there's something for anyone if you take the time to look.

"The vast amount of events and opportunities that are constantly running for free was definitely a factor in my decision to stay in the city for school. University is not always about the books – it's about the events and the societies you attend."



London’s diversity is also a big draw. London has a large mix of people, from all corners of the world. In London, no matter how ‘different’ you may be, you will always be able to find people with shared experiences.

It’s a beauty of diversity that is often not discussed - with so many people and so many communities existing alongside each other, no one should ever feel alone and isolated.

"London provides me the opportunity to be myself in an environment that could easily be not as accepting, I am a bilingual black girl of immigrant parents who is able to find her own community from the millions of people in this city."

"I am able to explore the cultures of the people I meet on a daily basis whilst still feeling as though I belong and that I deserve to be here."

London is clearly a unique place to live and study. When looking at where you want to study, it important to think about more than just the academic side of things; the town or city the university is in also matters. For many, and not just lifelong Londoners, London is the place to be.

"I enjoy the hustle and bustle of it all – the busy-ness of everyone around me and the feeling of being able to accomplish anything."

People are talking about this article Have your say