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Top 10 UK universities 2022

The 2022 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 that rank 130 UK universities (including 70 subject tables), plus an additional ranking of 14 Arts, Drama, and Music colleges and conservatoires. This is done by assessing different qualities and categories that are important to students, with the aim of helping them decide where to apply to uni.

We've taken a closer look at the top 10 unis that the UK has to offer for the upcoming year of study according to CUG’s stats.

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

We've also got 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 universities based on a number of different measures.

It takes all of the following into account:

  • Entry Requirements indicating the average UCAS tariff 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 individual measures that matter most to you!

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

Best UK universities 2022

These are the 10 best universities in the UK:

  1. University of Warwick

    university of warwick building

    Credit: EQRoy – Shutterstock

    After a couple of years out of this list (when, granted, it was still 11th), the University of Warwick has regained its place in the top 10 unis in the UK.

    Unsurprisingly for a university of this calibre, Warwick excels in most fields – but it ranks particularly well for Research Quality, Student-Staff Ratio and, perhaps most importantly, Graduate Prospects.

    As with all the universities 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 the uni's notable alumni.

  2. University of Bath

    university of bath

    Credit: Claudio Divizia - Shutterstock

    Stability is the name of the game at the University of Bath, placing ninth for a third consecutive year after three years in a row at 11th.

    The university has some of the best Graduate Prospects of any of the unis in the overall top 10 and is, of course, 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.

  3. University College London (UCL)

    ucl university college london

    Credit: Neil Turner - Flickr

    The very definition of a mainstay, University College London (UCL) is always a sure bet to make the UK's top 10. The uni particularly excels in the more academic aspects of the league table, such as Research Quality and Intensity, and Entry Standards – both of which it ranks in the top 10 for.

    But UCL is no stranger to leading the way, too, having been the first university to admit students of any race, class or religion, and to welcome women on equal terms with men.

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

  4. Loughborough University

    loughborough university

    Credit: Phil McIver - Flickr

    Down one place from last year but still a very respectable seventh, Loughborough University makes the UK's top 10 for a sixth consecutive year. Hardly surprising when it was recently found to offer more value for money than any other university in the UK.

    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 fashion and textiles.

    Loughborough places a lot of emphasis on students graduating with an all-round skillset. To this end, it offers every undergraduate student the chance to complete a year in industry as part of their degree if they want to.

  5. Imperial College London

    imperial college london uni

    Credit: Andrew Crump - Flickr

    Imperial College London was founded in 1907 – initially as part of the University of London, but becoming fully independent in 2007. Imperial specialises in science, engineering, business and medicine, and despite falling one place this year, it was previously in the top five universities in the UK for five straight years.

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

    With a score of 95%, Imperial's Graduate Prospects are the highest in the UK – so your chances of finding a job when you graduate are even better than if you'd studied at Oxford or Cambridge!

  6. Durham University

    durham university

    Credit: EQRoy – Shutterstock

    Durham University was founded in 1832 and was the first university to open in England for more than 600 years. It's consistently one of the highest-ranked universities 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, including former Bond actor Roger Moore and the comedians Ed Gamble and Nish Kumar.

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

  7. University of St Andrews

    st andrews university

    Credit: stu smith - Flickr

    St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland, and although the exact foundation date is unknown, we know it was some time between 1410 and 1413.

    And, as you'll no doubt be aware, the university'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 universities in the land, but it really seems to excel in Student Satisfaction – St Andrews is joint top in the UK with a score of 86%.

    That said, its Graduate Prospects are the lowest of all the unis in the UK's top 10, so clearly you can't have it all!

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

    lse london school economics

    Credit: David Tansey - Flickr

    Number one in the list of the best universities in London, and third in the UK, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has never finished outside of the top five in CUG's UK university rankings.

    As the uni's name suggests, LSE ranks particularly well for pretty much all of the social sciences, making it a safe bet for anyone interested in a degree in any of these subjects.

    The university’s list of famous alumni is also pretty impressive, including Mick Jagger, Sir David Attenborough and even a former Prime Minister in the form of Clement Attlee.

  9. University of Cambridge

    Cambridge university

    Credit: Pajor Pawel - Shutterstock

    Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is the second oldest university in the UK. And, as you probably already know, Cambridge boasts a whole slog of well-known alumni including Richard Ayoade, Thandiwe Newton, Stephen Fry and David Mitchell, to name just a few.

    Cambridge consistently occupies one of the top two spots on league tables for UK universities, and although it's slipped one place to second this year, it had previously ranked in first place for not one, not two, not three, but 10 years in a row.

    They've previously also recruited for a Professor of Lego, so it's hard to argue that the number one spot isn't well deserved!

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

  10. University of Oxford

    oxford university

    Credit: Pablo Fernández - Flickr

    While the exact date of establishment is unknown, the University of Oxford is widely considered to be the oldest university in the English-speaking world, with 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, including Stephen Hawking, J.R.R. Tolkien and Malala Yousafzai.

    After 10 years of playing second fiddle to its famous old rival, Oxford has finally grabbed the top spot from Cambridge – thanks in no small part to the fact it ranks in the top 10 for all but one of the individual measures that form the CUG league tables.

    This all being said, getting a place at Oxford doesn't guarantee you a top class degree – as one student found out 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 and compare rankings for each subject as well as overall performance.

We're always 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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