The South West of England is made up of seven counties, with key student cities including Bristol, Plymouth, Bournemouth, and Bath. This largely rural corner of the world is a go-to for those seeking peace, tranquility, and mindfulness. That said, it also hosts Glastonbury – ideal if the festival is on your bucket list. Cornwall, Dorset, and Devon are coastal favourites, with idyllic beaches and waves to test the bravest surfers. Cider and cheese buffs will be more than content, with both produced locally. You can always walk it off in Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks – but watch out for the ‘Beast of Exmoor’, an elusive big cat spotted roaming the wild terrain since the 70s.

Providers in the South West

City guides

Counties of the South West


Bristol is home to the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, plus Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, City of Bristol College, and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.



Tucked between Somerset and Gloucestershire, many forget that Bristol is both a city – known for its alternative and creative culture – and its own county.


Cornwall is home to Falmouth University, plus Cornwall College and Truro and Penwith College.


With over 300 miles of coastline, Cornwall’s magnificent beaches, dramatic cliffs, and Bronze Age remains will dazzle you.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite on the waves, there are plenty of tasty local treats too – from Cornish pasties, to fudge and ice cream.


Devon is home to the University of Exeter, Plymouth University, and Plymouth Marjon University, plus City College Plymouth, Exeter College, University Centre South Devon, and Plymouth College of Art.


Life moves at a gentle pace around these parts, with small seaside towns scattered across its two coastlines.

Meanwhile, its two biggest cities, Plymouth and Exeter, have everything students could want, like shopping and nightlife.


Dorset is home to Bournemouth University and the Arts University Bournemouth, plus AECC University College and Bournemouth and Poole College.

Just under half of Dorset is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while the captivating Jurassic Coast is England’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretching almost 100 miles.

It’s no wonder Dorset has inspired authors, filmmakers, tourists, and now students alike. 


Gloucestershire is home to the University of Gloucestershire, Hartpury University, and the Royal Agricultural University, plus Gloucestershire College.



Many consider Gloucestershire to offer the quintessential English experience: from Cheltenham’s rows of white regency architecture that look like perfect Viennetta ice-cream, to the cute villages of The Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Somerset is home to the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, and University Centre Weston plus Bath College, Norland College, and Yeovil College University Centre.


Largely rural, with a small population for its size, Somerset’s main city is Bath: a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its preserved Roman baths and Georgian architecture.

Plus, many believe Cadbury Castle to be the fabled Camelot of King Arthur.


While Wiltshire doesn’t have any universities, it does have a number of colleges and centres that offer higher education qualifications, like Swindon College and Wiltshire College and University Centre.

Rural Wiltshire has some intriguing landmarks, most notably Stonehenge. Attracting over a million visitors every year, the prehistoric monument has baffled experts.

Lesser known are Wiltshire’s White Horses, carved in the rolling hills across the county