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Top 10 UK universities 2023

The 2023 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 13 Arts, Drama, and Music colleges and conservatories.

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 2023

These are the 10 best universities in the UK:

  1. University of Warwick

    Unsurprisingly for a university of this calibre, Warwick excels in most fields. But it ranks especially well for Research Quality and Graduate Prospects.

    As with all the unis on this list, Warwick's seen a lot of famous faces pass through its doors over the years. Ruth Jones, Stephen Merchant and Frank Skinner are just a handful of its notable alumni.

  2. University College London (UCL)

    ucl university college london

    Credit: Neil Turner - 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, class or religion, 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. University of Bath

    Stability is the name of the game at the University of Bath. It's now placed in the top 10 for a fourth consecutive year.

    The university 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 a tonne of Olympic medallists.

  4. Loughborough University

    loughborough university

    Credit: Phil McIver - Flickr

    Loughborough University makes the UK's top 10 for a seventh consecutive year.

    The university, which is best known for its penchant for athletics (it was also Team GB's HQ during the London Olympics), ranks highly 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. Durham University

    Durham University was founded in 1832 and, after Oxford and Cambridge, it was the first uni to open in England for more than 600 years. 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 former Bond actor Roger Moore and comedians 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.

  6. 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, and has now been in the top five unis in the UK for seven straight years.

    The university has around 18,000 students and among its alumni are the author H.G. Wells and Brian May (the guitarist in Queen), the latter of whom studied astrophysics at the university.

    With a score of 92%, Imperial's Graduate Prospects are the second highest in the UK. So, your chances of finding a job when you graduate are even better than at Oxford or Cambridge!

  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 85%.

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

    lse london school economics

    Credit: David Tansey - Flickr

    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 Sir David Attenborough. Plus, the former Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, was a lecturer there.

  9. University of Cambridge

    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. Last year, it slipped from first to second place, but it previously held the top spot for 10 years in a row.

    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.

  10. University of Oxford

    oxford university

    Credit: Pablo Fernández - Flickr

    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.

    Last year, Oxford finally grabbed the top spot from Cambridge and it has remained here in the 2023 league table.

    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.

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.


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