New guide reveals Cambridge, Oxford and St Andrews are best universities in the UK

by Ray Clancy on April 28, 2017

Universities in the UK are popular with overseas students and the latest guide shows that graduates have better employment prospects and more money is being spent on student facilities and services.

Overall Cambridge is named as the top university, followed by Oxford and then St Andrews in the 2018 Complete University Guide. The London School of Economics is fourth, then Imperial College London, Durham, University College London, Warwick, Lancaster and then Loughborough completing the top 10.

Although the universities in the top 10 remain the same compared to the previous guide, the order in which they have ranked has changed. In addition to St Andrews, University College London has climbed three places to seventh. Loughborough has fallen three places to tenth, while the London School of Economics and Imperial College London have both fallen by one place.

Cardiff remains the top university in Wales, but Cardiff has slipped one place to 36th. Swansea is Wales’ second placed university once again after climbing one place to 44th. Aberystwyth is the most significant climber in Wales, moving 19 places to 68th, mostly resulting from impressive improvements in the university’s scores for student satisfaction, and graduate prospects.

Scotland’s second highest ranked university, Edinburgh, is down four places to 23rd while Glasgow slips from third to fifth in Scotland after falling seven places nationally to 36th, and is overtaken in the region by Heriot-Watt at 28th and Dundee at 29th, both of which climb six places.

The University of the West of Scotland recorded the biggest climb in Scotland, up 10 places to 100th, due to increased scores in a number of measures including student satisfaction, graduate prospects and a high number of graduates achieving a 1st or 2:1.

Dr Bernard Kingston, chairman of the Complete University Guide, said that in the decade since the online guide was launched the top players have stabilised, indicating accuracy, independence and robustness.

Following a drop of nine places to 24th in 2017, Bristol has climbed seven places and Nottingham is the only other new entrant in the top 20, climbing three places to 18th, but two universities have dropped out with Edinburgh down four places to 23rd and Southampton down nine places to 26th.

Coventry, in 43rd place, has climbed seven places and there are two new institutions in the main table in 2018 with Birkbeck, University of London entering at 115th and Suffolk in 129th place.

It is a new high ranking for St Andrews, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge both studied. ‘Our values are those of a small, Scottish, and highly international university. We are outward looking, inclusive and focused on excellence,’ said principal Professor Sally Mapstone.

In separate listings for 70 subjects, Cambridge features in the top 10 in all 44 subjects it teaches, topping the table in 34. Oxford features in the top 10 for all 38 subjects that it offers, finishing first in five, while Imperial College London appears in the top 10 for all 14 of the subjects it provides, topping the table in one.

Durham features in the top 10 of 32 of the 33 subjects it teaches, finishing first in three, while St Andrews makes the top 10 for 23 of the 25 subjects it offers, topping the table in two.

Strathclyde appears at the top of three subject tables, a total only surpassed by Cambridge and Oxford. A number of universities with relatively few top 10 appearances still secure the top place in a subject table. One such example is Queen Mary, University of London which tops the table in dentistry.

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