Living in Scotland for international students
Stirling is the ideal base to explore Scotland – the world’s most beautiful country (Rough Guides ‘Most Beautiful Countries in the World’ 2019) – with quick rail links to the country's largest and most lively cities.
Visit the arts and festival city of Edinburgh to fully embrace the Scottish cultural scene. Or check out Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city, to enjoy a shopping paradise.
Outside of its cities, Scotland's natural wonders are second-to-none. From magical mountain ranges to breathtaking ancient caves, there are endless natural attractions and landmarks to explore.
What makes Scotland popular for students?
- Natural landmarks – Scotland is renowned for its highlands, lochs, glens, forests, coastlines and unique wildernesses.
- Low costs – get more for your money in Scotland, where the cost of living is lower than much of the UK.
- Award-winning food – Scotland is famous for its food; discover excellent international restaurants serving fresh local produce.
- Attractions – from castles and historic sites to museums and art galleries, Scotland has a wealth of popular attractions to enjoy.
- Famous festivals – Scotland has a lively calendar of festivals, from the Edinburgh Fringe and the Highland Games to Burns Night and Hogmanay.
What can I do for fun in Scotland?
There are plenty of things to see and do while living and studying in Scotland. Just some of the most popular include:
- Listen to live music in Glasgow. Glasgow is home to the 2nd biggest music economy in the UK and is a UNESCO City of Music.
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe. An annual celebration of arts and culture, the Edinburgh Fringe is the world's largest festival of its kind – featuring comedy, music, theater shows and exhibitions.
- Glasgow Style Mile. Full of high street and high-end shops, the 'Style Mile' is home to the UK's 2nd busiest shopping street.
- Monthly festivals in Glasgow. There's always something going on in Glasgow – from big St Andrew's Day celebrations in November to food, film, music, book and comedy festivals throughout the year.
- Eat exceptional food in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the best city for food lovers in the UK (MuscleFood 2022), home to everything from top Michelin star restaurants to the tastiest takeaways.
- Cairngorms and the highlands. Home to five of the UK's six tallest mountains, Cairngorms is a dream for explorers. There are also more forests, lochs and charming villages than you can imagine!
Discover more things to do in Scotland here.
What sports can I enjoy in Scotland?
Scotland is for sport lovers. At the heart of many communities across the country, popular sports include golf, rugby, football, tennis, curling and shinty – a game that is said to have inspired hockey.
There are many sports complexes and leisure centers across the country to play your favorite sports, but if you'd rather stay close to the INTO Center there's one right on your doorstep. The University of Stirling is Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence and you'll have free membership to its sports center during your preparation program. Facilities include:
- a 50m swimming pool
- a nine-hole golf course
- six indoor tennis courts and three squash courts
- an eight-court sports hall
- a fitness suite with more than 50 weekly fitness classes
- a 400m athletics track.
For ice skating and climbing, head to The PEAK in Stirling's Sports Village. There's even a sauna and steam room to relax in after your workout.
What's the food like in Scotland?
Scotland is known for its excellent quality of food and is home to some of the country's most popular destinations. Edinburgh is the UK's top city for food and drink (Which? 2021) while Glasgow is home to more than 2,000 restaurants, cafés and bars managed by people from all over the world.
You'll discover some of the best local produce that Scotland has to offer in Stirling. From British, French and Italian to Indian, Mediterranean and Asian, you'll find food from across the world here. There are plenty of halal, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, too.
Check out Stirling's international and Asian grocery stores to recreate your favorite meals from home. You can not only find ingredients from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, but wider Europe and the Middle East too.
What's the student cost of living in Scotland?
Get more for your money in Scotland, where the cost of living is lower than much of the UK. Stirling is a particularly affordable student city, with the cost of living up to 61% lower than bigger UK cities like London. Examples of costs include:
Student bus fare (single journey)*:
- £0 in Stirling for Scottish residents under the age of 22
- £1.65 in London
Eating out (inexpensive meal)*:
- £12 in Stirling
- £20 in London
- £5 in Stirling
- £13 in London
Gym membership (monthly)*:
- £22.20 in Stirling
- £44.79 in London
- Estimated costs sourced from Numbeo.com (August 2022)
Is it easy to travel around Scotland?
There's a great rail network throughout Scotland for you to go on weekend adventures. Or get the bus for free travel – the Scottish Government has introduced zero-cost bus travel to Scottish residents under the age of 22, including international students. Popular Scottish cities include:
Stirling – home to INTO Stirling:
- One of the happiest cities in the UK (Rightmove Happy at Home Index 2021).
- Home to spectacular medieval landmarks including Stirling Castle and the Battle of Bannockburn site.
Glasgow – Scotland’s biggest city:
- One of the world’s top 25 student cities (QS Best Student Cities 2023) and the friendliest city (Rough Guides ‘World’s Friendliest Cities’ 2021).
- A national cultural hub famed for its shopping, lively music scene, museums and theaters.
Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital city:
- One of the world’s top 10 student cities (QS Best Student Cities 2023).
- A festival city home to the world's largest arts and comedy festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as large international festivals.
Dundee – a coastal city in Scotland:
- 2nd safest city in Scotland (The Complete University Guide 'How Safe is Your City?' 2022).
- The UK's only UNESCO City of Design, Dundee is a creative and vibrant city with impressive contemporary design features.
Aberdeen – known as 'The Flower of Scotland':
- The happiest city in the UK to live and work in (Shawbrook Bank Happiest Cities Index 2021).
- Home to Duthie Park where you'll find one of the UK's biggest indoor gardens with tropical and exotic plants and flowers.