It’s been many years since I was a student, facing the marvels of a new city, new friends and a world of late nights, strange places and the inevitable kebab at 3am in the morning….
Some things haven’t changed though. The modern dangers of crime and violence are as much a part of student life now as they were 20 years ago. 
A person living in or around a student residential area will on average be 2.5x more likely to be subjected to violent crime than those in the general population. Nottingham, as a university city, has recently been reported [1] as having 3x the national average level of reported crime in these student populated areas. Making Nottingham 18th out of 64, of towns and cities across England and Wales with the highest reported crime rates (approx. 300 reported crimes per 1000 residents). Compared to other Towns or Cities with 2 or more Universities, Nottingham ranks on overall safety 31st out of 32 (1 place ahead of Manchester). However, if comparing violence against the person, then Nottingham has the highest crime statistics with 10.7 crimes per 1000 population [2].
Whilst your best bet is to avoid becoming a student altogether, or sign up for a course in Dentistry at the University of Somewhere in the Sticks, these are neither practical nor (I assume) desirable options for most young scholars. Odds are, you chose the University based on a combination of course, reputation of the institution and other social factors (e.g nightlife, sporting facilities, social opportunities, and maybe the mythical ratio of male to female students) then what remains is a series of precautions you can take to reduce the risk and empower your own personal safety. Ultimately, follow some common sense advice [5]: invest a small amount of time in some form of physical street-based self-defence system. This must be one (if it is to be effective) that will give you an all-round appreciation of confrontation, violence, and the effective tactics and skills to deter, counter and get home safely (with or without the obligatory early morning kebab). Just learning a bit of kicking and punching really won’t cut the mustard. You need the contextual knowledge of recognising threats and dealing with conflictual situations. This is what we, at Krav Maga Nottingham, provide in our “Student Safe” courses. An 8 week programme focussed on maximising your chances of staying safe, based on the kinds of threats students, as a group, are most likely to encounter. 
The longer term general trend in violent crime [4] has shown a decrease, year on year since 2001 (except for 2008), and most recently 2014 had a 10% decrease in violent crime across England and Wales compared to 2013. However, the findings also confirmed a demographic trend that those most at risk of serious violence-related injury continue to be males aged 18-30, add to this the location factor that those living in a student area are 2.5x more likely to be subject to a violent crime and then the longer term trend has only a comforting effect for post-Uni-living.
There are no guarantees, after all self-defence is really those thin slices of things that might make all the difference in a situation where you’re really already screwed [6].