Cardiff or Nottingham: Where to Study?

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Samir Badawy

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02 May, 2023

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9 mins read

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The UK is full of various interesting places to study and prestigious universities spread out all over the country. If you’re torn between studying in Cardiff or Nottingham and wondering which to choose, we will break down the pros and cons of each city and present you with the final recommendations!

Whether you plan to study in England or in Wales, there are various things to consider; these include the city itself, your institution of choice, your budget, and in some cases, your future plan in the city, such as employability.

Background of Both Cities


Nottingham City is located in the county of Nottinghamshire on the River Trent. The Anglo-Saxons first settled in the city, which ruled the area until the Danish conquest of the area in the 9th century and its incorporation into Danelaw. However, in 1066, with the arrival of the Normans, they added new settlements near the older Anglo-Saxon settlement. 

The Anglo-Saxon and Norman settlements prospered through trade as the town had a vital market established between both settlements. Today, the city is marked by the famous Nottingham Castle, which has been associated with the legendary character of Robin Hood.


The city has also been associated with various literary figures such as Lord Byron, and its location in the east midlands of England has allowed it to become an essential service centre in England, not to mention that the city attracts various students to come study at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University—the city of Nottingham houses over 60,000 students.

Some of the city’s top attractions include the Old Market Square, the Wollaton Hall, Gardens, Deer Park, the Nottingham Castle, the Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, and the Nottingham Arboretum, among many other unique sites.


Cardiff City is the capital of Wales and is located in Glamorgan County by the Bristol Channel. The city was initially founded during 1 CE, starting with a small Roman fort which later became the foundation of the Norman-built Cardiff castle. It was only during the 11th century that the town flourished under the Normans, who ruled from Cardiff Castle, and it remained the seat of power for the regent of Wales for the next 450 years.

Cardiff later flourished as a market city, and in 1776 the Bute family became the lords of Cardiff when the title was passed down through their marriage to the Herbert family, first made lords of Cardiff in 1550 by King Edward VI. 

The Bute family are credited with Cardiff’s development as a whole as well as the Cardiff Castle, which they have become the keepers of. The city of Cardiff had various Gothic-styled buildings added by architect William Burges. Cardiff later became the biggest coal exporter thanks to its large port and coal mines, which has led it to flourish even further.

Today, the city is known for being the centre of Wales as well as its main economic, educational, governmental and cultural centre. It also holds an important position in Wales’s economy through its diverse economic sector which includes: food processing, commerce, media, and higher education.

Cardiff’s student population makes up 20% of the population, with the biggest institution, Cardiff University, having 33,500 students making it the ninth-largest UK university in terms of student body.

Some of the city’s most iconic landmarks are Cardiff Castle, Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff Bay, The Senedd (the Welsh senate) building, the Pierhead, Bute Park, and many other sites, which include a variety of castles, parks, cathedrals, and museums.


Cardiff vs Nottingham

If you decide to study in England or study in Wales, both Cardiff and Nottingham have a lot to offer and are both incredible student cities. So in this next segment of “Cardiff or Nottingham: Where to Study?” we’ll be breaking down the differences and similarities between the two cities.

Higher Education and Institutions

If you’re asking yourself where to study? Cardiff or Nottingham? Then one thing is for sure: both cities attract many students, as previously mentioned, and both have high-ranking institutions.


Nottingham has Two major universities and is regarded as the ninth-best study destination in the UK and the 50th worldwide. Both universities have a student population of 60,000 students. Its two major universities are listed as the following.

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is among the highest-ranked universities in the UK, ranking 114th worldwide according to the QS world ranking. The University has a wide range of programs for all levels, which includes Bachelor’s, Master’s, PHD’s, and PHD’s. The University’s main fields of study are Arts and Humanities, Business and Management, Engineering and Technology, Natural Sciences, Life Sciences and Medicine, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences and Medicine. The University of Nottingham currently has an acceptance rate of 11%. 

Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham Trent University is another big higher education institution if you’re looking to study in England in the city of Nottingham. NTU ranks 501-600 worldwide, according to Times Higher Education’s ranking. The University of Nottingham Trent currently has an acceptance rate of 15%. The University offers various fields with various outcomes, including Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD’s, apprenticeships, and professional courses.


If you’re looking to study in Wales, there is no better place than Cardiff. The student city attracts more than 31,000 students thanks to its five major institutions. The five major institutions are listed as the following.

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cardiff Metropolitan University ranks 101-140 worldwide according to the QS University world ranking, making it among the top universities in the UK and one of the top institutions to study in Wales. The Cardiff Metropolitan University has the following schools: the School of Art & Design, the School of Education & Social Policy, the School of Management, the School of Technologies, and the School of Sport & Health Sciences. The Cardiff Metropolitan University currently has an acceptance rate of 64%. 

Cardiff University

Cardiff University ranks 180 worldwide according to Times Higher Education’s ranking and 166 according to the QS world ranking, making it among the UK’s prestigious universities. The University has 24 schools in a variety of fields that, include:

  • Welsh School of Architecture

  • School of Biosciences

  • Cardiff Business School

  • School of Computer Science and Informatics

  • School of Chemistry

  • School of Engineering

  • School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

  • School of Psychology

  • School of Social Sciences

University of South Wales

University of Wales

The University of Wales is one of the oldest universities in Wales and is located in Cardiff. The University was established in 1893 and offers various subjects, including Accounting & Finance, Psychology, Business & Management, Hotel and Hospitality Management, Journalism & Media, and Sport, among other disciplines.

University of South Wales

The University of South Wales has its main campus in Pontypridd, Wales, however, it does have a campus in Cardiff. The University ranks 1001-1200 worldwide according to the Time Higher Education 2023 ranking. Some of the University of South Wales, Cardiff’s top studies include Games, Design, and Fashion and Film. It is among the best places to study in Wales if you’re looking for a creative study field.

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD), also known as the National Conservatory of Wales, was ranked first in Drama studies in the UK according to the 2018 Guardian League Tables ranking.

Cost of Living

Costs of living are one of the main factors to consider before moving to any city; when it comes to Cardiff, however, the city takes the lead, being named the most affordable UK city in Natwest’s 2022 student living index.

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Rental Costs

Nottingham’s one-bedroom apartments near the city centre cost you between 700 to 900 pounds per month and get lower outside the centre ranging between 500 and 700 pounds per month. The average rent for one-bedroom apartments is 765 pounds in the city centre and 591 pounds per month.

Some of our most affordable options for student accommodation in Nottingham include:

Cardiff’s one-bedroom apartment near the city centre costs you between 700 to 900 pounds per month, and for options outside the city centre, prices range from 550 pounds per month to 750 pounds per month. 

The average rent for one-bedroom apartments in the city centre is 784 pounds per month, while the average goes to 645 pounds per month for one-bedroom apartments outside the city centre.

Some of our most affordable options for student accommodation in Cardiff include:

Through Casita, we can help you find the cheapest student accommodation in Nottingham and the cheapest accommodation in Cardiff. At Casita, the lowest student housing options are found in Cardiff, with the listed options being below 550 pounds per month. However, if no student accommodation is available, we can always allocate you private accommodation options.

Living Expenses

Nottingham’s living costs are an average of 759 pounds per month, while Cardiff’s average living costs are 702 pounds per month. 

These expenses do not include rental costs. The difference in grocery costs between Cardiff and Nottingham is 20%, with Cardiff being 20% cheaper. Salaries are also higher in Cardiff compared to Nottingham. Nottingham is only cheaper regarding rental prices.

Living in Both Cities

One thing is for certain if you’re planning to study in England or planning to study in Wales; both Nottingham and Cardiff are among the favourite cities for students coming to study in the UK. In the following section, we’ll break down what it’s like living in both cities before answering “Cardiff or Nottingham: Where to Study?”. 


Nottingham is the definition of what a student city should be like, with a massive student population of more than 60,000 students, countless exhibitions and sites, and a variety of green spaces that cover 20% of the city’s area. 

Nottingham also boasts a rich music scene with some of the biggest music venues, such as Rock City, and is among the UK’s top shopping destinations. The city is also the sixth largest in the UK and is one of its major economic centres. Nottingham’s location also makes it ideal for commuting as it has a central location, and city residents enjoy great walkability through the city’s streets. On the downside, the city is a bit expensive.


The City of Cardiff is another major student city in the UK, accommodating a student population of more than 31,000 students. Similarly to Nottingham, Cardiff enjoys large green areas, so if you love nature, this city will be ideal. The city has various listed parks, such as Cefn Onn Park; other famous parks include Roath Park and Bute Park. 

The city of Cardiff is also one of the most affordable UK students, which gives you plenty of money to spare on the city’s various leisure activities, sports events, and the city’s rich food scene. One thing is certain, however, and this city will provide you with a nice work/life balance with its beautiful attractions and its budget-friendly costs of living.

Cardiff or Nottingham

The Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a traditional student city, then Nottingham comes to mind as it is your typical student city, and when it comes to options, Cardiff has more institutions than Nottingham. 

The cost of living in Cardiff is also much more affordable than in Nottingham, which is something to take into consideration when wondering: “Cardiff or Nottingham: Where to Study?”. One thing is for certain, however, whether you choose to study in England or study in Wales, then these two cities should be on your list of options.

If you are looking for multiple options for institutions to study, affordability, green spaces, and a city with a rich history, then consider Cardiff, especially as it offers a wider variety regarding acceptance rates.

At Casita, we encourage you to widen your options, especially when considering the universities or colleges you apply to. We recommend that you read about the cities you plan to move to. Once that’s done, our accommodation experts at Casita will assist you in finding your ideal student accommodation.


1. What is the Ranking of Nottingham University?

The University of Nottingham is among the highest-ranked universities in the UK, ranking 114th worldwide according to the QS world ranking.

2. Is Cardiff a good place to study?

Cardiff is among the top study destinations in the UK and contains several high-ranking institutions, including Cardiff University, which ranks 180th worldwide. Asides from the city’s high-ranking institutions, the city is also known for its affordability and beautiful nature and sights. The city offers a diverse range of institutions and study options.

3. Is Nottingham a good place to study?

Nottingham is one of the best-known university cities and among the top study destinations, with a student population of more than 60,000 students and plenty of places for students to hang out. The city of Nottingham also contains two high-ranking universities: the University of Nottingham, which ranks 114th worldwide, and Nottingham Trent University, which ranks 501-600 worldwide.


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