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Jobs & Careers

Best UK universities for graduate employment

Is your university in the top spots for the best graduate employment rates this year?

graduate hat

Credit: BluIz60 – Shutterstock

As great as uni can be, we all reach the stage where we keep getting asked the same question: what are you doing next?

In fact, thinking about the future will probably be a huge part of your whole university experience, and will likely affect which universities you apply for.

While factors like location, university facilities and course content can obviously sway your decision, career prospects play a major part in where prospective students send their applications.

Let's see whether the best UK universities also have the best employability numbers.

Thinking about life after uni? See the list of the highest-paid graduate jobs.

University employability rankings UK

Here are the best UK universities in terms of employability* for 2023/24:

  1. University of Cambridge (4th)
  2. University of Oxford (8th)
  3. Imperial College London (11th)
  4. The London School of Economics and Political Science (24th)
  5. London Business School (41st)
  6. University of Manchester (67th)
  7. King's College London (68th)
  8. UCL (137th)
  9. University of St Andrews (139th)
  10. University of Edinburgh (147th)
  11. University of Birmingham (180th)
  12. Cardiff University (189th)
  13. Durham University (203rd).

* Overall World ranking in brackets.

As part of its Graduate Employability Rankings, Times Higher Education publishes data revealing which universities the top companies think make the most employable graduates.

In 2023/24, only 13 UK universities made it to the list of 250 universities globally, but it may not come as a surprise that Cambridge and Oxford rank the highest among them. Together with Imperial, these are the top three universities in the UK for employability, and all rank in the global top 20.

Scotland has two universities on this list – the University of Edinburgh (ranking 147th globally) and the University of St Andrews (ranking 139th globally). And Wales' Cardiff University (ranking 189th globally) also makes the list.

However, some notable names are missing from the list altogether. While these statistics are still useful, it is important to look at many different perspectives and think about what is most important to you when choosing a university.

How to prepare for life as a graduate


There is no one set recipe for preparing to graduate. It's a change and a new challenge, but one that doesn't have to be as daunting as it seems.

Perhaps the most important advice to remember is not to compare yourself to others. Just because your friend has a job lined up and you don't, don't think any less of yourself. Wish them well, then focus on you.

There are some practical steps you can take too, such as opening a graduate bank account and starting to save money wherever possible. Even if you don't have a specific plan, who knows when you'll need that extra cash?

If you want to start the job search, check what graduate schemes are on offer and research what job applications can entail.

Above all else, make sure you don't sacrifice your studies in place of dreaming about the future. Planning graduate life can always wait until you've finished your exams.

What are the alternatives to graduate schemes?

It's easy to think graduate schemes are the only choice for you when you finish university.

Don't get us wrong – graduate schemes are great. They usually offer between one and three years of work in your chosen industry alongside other graduates, often with the chance to try out different roles, learn, and sometimes get professional qualifications while you work.

However, they're not for everyone. Sometimes the type of job you want to do doesn't really have that option. And that's fine because there are plenty of alternatives to graduate schemes.

You might decide to do further study (like a master's) to hone more specific skills before moving into a job. If you want to pursue something vocational, you'll likely have to train for it before you can start making money.

Alternatively, you could apply straight for entry-level jobs. These can vary widely, with some offering comprehensive training (just as a graduate scheme does), while others could be more hands-on.

Sometimes graduates decide to travel or work abroad to strengthen their employability prospects, especially if this gives them the chance to learn a new language.

Or what about setting up your own business? If you want to be your own boss, you could begin now. Remember there's the option to work part-time while you're getting started.

Essentially, there isn't any one set way to approach life after uni – so don't panic if you don't fancy the routes all your friends have taken.

Wondering what to expect money-wise after university? Check out the average graduate salary for your degree.

Lucy Skoulding

WRITTEN BY Lucy Skoulding

Lucy Skoulding specialised in student news reporting while writing for Save the Student, sharing the latest data and top stories affecting our readers.
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