City guides: Preston

Posted 1 year ago

Historic architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene

Preston is a northern city on the Ribble River in Lancashire. It’s a nice city with a relaxed feel, friendly locals and plenty to see and do. It’s also a great place to be a student. It’s scenic, characterful, not too crowded and cheap. The University of Central Lancashire isn’t bad, either! So, if you’re considering studying in Preston or have already signed up, Sanctuary Students is here to help.

We know Preston well and have experience of the town and its surroundings. We will use that experience to provide an accurate overview of the town from the perspective of a student.

Universties in Preston

There is one university in Preston, the University of Central Lancashire. There is also Preston College, Cardinal Newman College and the Royal Preston Hospital, which is a teaching hospital.

The University of Central Lancashire, UCLan, has had many names in its long and illustrious history and is based in the town centre. There are around 25,000 students at UCLan, a combination of undergraduates and postgraduates.

The university is known for its wide range of courses and also research. The university has links to NASA, BAE Systems, the Department of Health, the Football Association, the Professional Golfers Association and the International Olympic Committee.

Living costs for students in Preston

Preston is a northern city that has transformed itself from its industrial past and is now thoroughly modern. Living costs for students are modest, but not the cheapest. As Preston is a hub for aerospace and defence industries, there are some well-paying jobs around, which has pushed up some prices.

It is still cheaper to be a student in Preston than in many southern cities, though. Not all property prices are higher than average but some are. There are still thousands of low-cost terraced properties throughout the city, so rents can be cheap. The general cost of living is okay too. Beer, food, taxis, bus and train are all reasonably priced considering this is a city.

Eating out in Preston

Eating out in Preston is surprisingly good. There is a wide variety of food and drink available and lots more a short drive outside the city (you’ll come across hundreds of restaurants, tea houses, cafés and eateries across Lancashire).

Local highlights include Ginger Bistro, Honeywells Farm Shop, Town House Coffee and Brew Bar, Black Horse, Cafune South American Café, Il Gusto d’Italia, The Blue Anchor Inn Bretherton, Sai Surbhi, Jonah's, Bistrot Pierre, Greekouzina, The Stags Head Goosnargh, Haighton Manor, Azuma, The Larder, Macdonald Tickled Trout Hotel and 1842 Restaurant & Bar.

Shopping as a student in Preston

Shopping as a student in Preston is actually pretty good. There are opportunities both in the city and wider county, depending on what you’re looking for. Preston has St George’s Shopping Centre, Fishergate Shopping Centre and Deepdale Shopping Park. Each has a decent mix of independents and chains to browse.

St George’s is in the city centre while Fishergate and Deepdale are slightly outside. The city centre itself has plenty of shops, again, both chains and independents. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it here.

Nightlife in Preston

Nightlife is a key consideration for any student in Preston, and you won’t be disappointed. While it isn’t the clubbing capital of the north, there are plenty of bars, pubs, cafés and things to do once night falls.

Highlights include Roper Hall, Old Black Bull, Rift Bar, Cameo, Evoque, The Warehouse, Adelphi, the Lamb and Packet, Greyfriars, Cafe Manyana, The Academy, Reflex, Assembly, 53 Degrees, Mad Ferret, Squires New York New York, Lava & Ignite and Exit. If you’re after a big night out, Blackpool is a short drive west while Manchester and Liverpool are a longer drive south.

Student accommodation in Preston

Student accommodation in Preston is the same mix you’ll find anywhere. University halls, private halls and private landlords. Many former working terraces have been converted into HMOs and student rooms, with varying levels of success and living standards.

University halls are pretty good and a lot of money has been invested recently. Private halls include those run by Sanctuary Students. We have two buildings, one on Moor Lane and the other on Walker Street. Both are within a short walk of UCLan and the city centre and provide warm, safe accommodation for very competitive prices. All rents are inclusive too!

Top places to visit in Preston

Preston is a lively city with a decent student population. It also has a strong local identity and vibrant economy, which means there’s plenty going on.

You’ll find most interests covered, including Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Brockholes Nature Reserve, Beacon Fell County Park, Avenham Park, Miller Park, Ribble Steam Railway, Winckley Square, Guild Wheel, Lancashire Infantry Museum, Moor Park, Preston Docks, Turbary Woods Owl and Bird of Prey Sanctuary, Forest of Bowland, Bowland Wild Boar Park, the British Commercial Vehicle Museum, Cuerden Valley Park and Ribchester Roman Museum.

Venture further afield and the entirety of Lancashire opens up, including Blackpool and the many towns and villages just a short drive from the city.

Getting around Preston as a student

  • Preston is relatively easy to navigate as a student. It has plenty of roads, a good bus service and is part of the rail network. The M6 M55 and M65 all pass close to town while the A59 takes you to Ormskirk. Local roads are pretty good with reasonable traffic at peak times and modest competition for parking.
  • Preston railway station is on the West Coast Main Line and links to London Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. There are also a good number of local services around Cumbria, the Lake District and Lancashire.
  • Preston bus station handles local bus routes and National Express. Local buses are plentiful and reasonably priced and cover most student areas and central neighbourhoods.
  • The closest airports are Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport. Both are around 40 miles south of the city.
  • Cycling around the city is okay but busy in the city centre. The Guild Wheel is a cycle route that circumnavigates the entire city, which is a good day out.

Working in Preston as a student

Preston has a lively economy that is pretty diverse. Working in Preston as a student can be relatively simple depending on what you want to do. The main employer in the city is BAE Systems who don't really have a need for temporary workers. However, there are smaller industries in and around the city that might.

Then there’s the usual retail, waiting and bar work. Considering how many bars, restaurants and cafés there are in the city, you should be able to find something that fits within your schedule.

Check out more city guides for all the other cities Sanctuary students reside in and get exploring! Share with us any discoveries you make @sancstudents.