For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Study Tips

Top 10 UK universities 2024

The 2024 UK university league tables have been published, and we've taken a look at the top 10 universities this time around.

university with trophy over it

Every year the Complete University Guide (CUG) publishes league tables ranking 130 UK universities. This includes 74 subject tables and an additional ranking of 12 Arts, Drama, and Music colleges and conservatoires.

We've taken a closer look at the top 10 unis that the UK has to offer, according to CUG's stats.

Have Oxford and Cambridge got a monopoly on the top of the table once again, or has another uni taken the gold medal? And, most importantly, is your uni one of the best in the country?

We also have a complete list of the easiest (and hardest) UK unis to get into.

How is the university league table ranked?

Before we get into the glamour of the top 10, we want to be clear that CUG ranks UK unis on a number of measures.

It takes all of the following into account:

  • Entry Requirements indicating the average UCAS score of new students entering the university
  • Student Satisfaction
  • Research Quality
  • Research Intensity
  • Graduate Prospects (outcomes), indicating the proportion of graduates in employment or further study 15 months after leaving uni
  • Graduate Prospects (on track), indicating the proportion of graduates who agree that their current activity aligns with their future plans
  • Student-Staff Ratio
  • Academic Services Spend
  • Facilities Spend
  • Degree Completion, indicating the proportion of students completing their degree and not dropping out of uni.

If you're looking at the league table in full, make sure to check out each uni's scores for the measures that matter to you.

Find out how eco-friendly your uni is with the ranking of the greenest UK universities.

Best UK universities 2024

These are the 10 best universities in the UK:

  1. Lancaster University

    Lancaster University has entered the top 10 list of universities this year, after placing 11th last year.

    It ranked well in some subject league tables – especially social work, which it ranks first for.

    Alumni from Lancaster University include TV presenter James May, journalist Ranvir Singh and winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off, Edd Kimber.

  2. University College London (UCL)

    ucl university college london

    Credit: Steve Cadman - Flickr

    University College London (UCL) is always a sure bet to make the UK's top 10. It excels in the more academic aspects of the league table, such as Research Quality and Entry Standards.

    But UCL is no stranger to leading the way, too. It was the first uni to admit students of any race, religion or political beliefs, and to welcome women on equal terms with men.

    Its impressive mix of famous alumni includes Jonathan Ross, Chris Martin of Coldplay, and the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell.

  3. Durham University

    Durham University was founded in 1832. It's consistently one of the highest-ranked unis in the UK and has one of the highest proportions of privately educated students in the country.

    Durham has its fair share of famous former students, too. The list includes Gabby Logan, Ed Gamble and Nish Kumar.

    Durham has excellent scores for Degree Completion and Graduate Prospects according to CUG. However, it does fall down slightly on its Student Satisfaction rating.

  4. Loughborough University

    Loughborough University, which is best known for its penchant for athletics (it was also Team GB's HQ during the London Olympics), ranks highly. This is thanks (in part) to its great engineering department, as well as art and design.

    Loughborough places a lot of emphasis on students graduating with an all-round skill set. As such, it offers all undergraduate students the chance to complete a year in industry as part of their degree.

  5. Imperial College London

    imperial college london uni

    Credit: Andrew Crump - Flickr

    Founded in 1907, Imperial College London was initially part of the University of London but gained independence in 2007. Imperial specialises in science, engineering, business and medicine.

    The university has around 17,000 students and among its alumni are the author H.G. Wells and Brian May (the guitarist in Queen), the latter of whom studied astrophysics there.

    With a score of 96%, Imperial's Graduate Prospects (outcomes) are the highest in the UK. So, your chances of finding a job when you graduate are even better than at Oxford or Cambridge!

  6. University of Bath

    The University of Bath has climbed three places this year, making it into the top five.

    It has some of the best Graduate Prospects of the unis in the overall top 10. And, of course, it's based in the stunning World Heritage Site city of Bath.

    While you may not recognise many of Bath's alumni by name, it's worth pointing out that a whole host of successful athletes studied there – including some Olympic medallists.

  7. University of St Andrews

    St Andrews was founded in 1413, making it the oldest uni in Scotland.

    As you may know, St Andrew's alumni include the likes of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who met while studying there.

    The university consistently ranks as one of the best in the land. However, it really seems to excel in Student Satisfaction – St Andrews is top in the UK with a score of 84%.

  8. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

    The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has never finished outside the top five in CUG's UK university rankings. And this year it's third, taking the number one spot in London.

    The university's list of famous alumni is also pretty impressive. It's played host to the likes of Mick Jagger and David Attenborough. Plus, the former Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, was a lecturer there.

  9. University of Oxford

    While the exact date of formation is unknown, the University of Oxford is widely considered to be the oldest in the English-speaking world. In fact, there's evidence of teaching as far back as 1096.

    As you might expect, Oxford's list of famous alumni reads like a who's who of world-renowned names. This includes Stephen Hawking, J.R.R. Tolkien, Malala Yousafzai and loads more.

    But getting a place at Oxford doesn't guarantee you a top-class degree. One student found this out for himself when he tried to sue the university for £1m because he didn't get a first.

  10. University of Cambridge

    cambridge university Trinity college building

    Credit: Pajor Pawel - Shutterstock

    Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is the second oldest uni in the UK. As you probably already know, Cambridge also boasts lots of well-known alumni including Richard Ayoade, Thandiwe Newton, Stephen Fry and David Mitchell, among others.

    Cambridge consistently occupies one of the top two spots on league tables for UK universities.

    They've previously recruited a Professor of Lego too, so it's tough to argue that the number one spot wasn't well deserved!

    And don't let Cambridge's elite reputation put you off. If you're unsure whether it's for you, take inspiration from our interview with Ibz Mo, the YouTuber who smashed boundaries at Cambridge.

You can look at the full rankings table from the Complete University Guide. Here, you can compare rankings for each subject as well as overall performance.

We're forever told that UK unis are some of the best on the planet, but how do our cities rank? Find out the best places to study in the world.


Tweet / Instagram DM / Facebook DM / Email