Go Higher: Scotland and Northern Ireland - The main attraction: Bright lights

STUDENT LIFE is never restricted to lectures, unions and halls of residence. Anyone travelling away from home to study needs an idea of the nightlife ahead, and it's certainly easy to go out on the town if you're studying in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Eating is, obviously, one of life's greatest pleasures and a full complement of cafes and restaurants is to be found in both regions, with many inexpensive eateries, offering plenty of diverse cuisines and bundles of atmosphere.

In the shadow of Glasgow University, Ashton Lane is an oasis of dining and drinking, with The Grosvenor Cafe starting at the budget end. Here you can chomp on salads, pizzas and their legendary all-day breakfast alongside local pop stars (Belle and Sebastian were formed in this humble establishment), while across the street The Ubiquitous Chip offers the best in Scottish dining for those being taken out by kindly relatives.

Edinburgh has an astounding selection of eateries with Kaffe Politik offering all manner of dishes on a budget.

Belfast's Mogwai cafe, set up by David Holmes, is a stone's throw from Queen's University.

Eating in Aberdeen can be pricey, but a good bet is the Wild Boar, which has a wide menu, relaxed atmosphere and ever-changing artwork. For some light refreshment, try Nice n' Sleazy for super cocktails or 13th Note for a wide selection of imported beers and nightly live music.

Edinburgh's Bar Kohl offers a stunning array of vodkas in cramped but stylish surroundings, while the Traverse bar is the place to be seen.

Aberdeen has many fashionable, if expensive bars, but try Ma Cameron's Inn or Cafe Drummond for lower prices and plenty of style. Clubbers should head for the Sub Club or young contender Yang for all manner of electronic sounds.

The Venue in Edinburgh is the place for hip-hop, rock and techno nights and The Limelight in Belfast for all manner of funkiness.

Aberdeen's premier club is The Pelican, with an eclectic blend of house, techno and dub.


Irvine Welsh: Author of `Trainspotting' and graduate of Heriot- Watt university