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Best universities in the UK 2022 - University Rankings

The University of Oxford is top in a list of the best universities in the UK 2022, which includes institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

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September 2 2021
The University of Oxford


Top 10 universities in the UK

Scroll down for the full list of best universities in the UK

World University Rank 2022 UK Rank 2022 University City/town
1 1 University of Oxford Oxford
=5 2 University of Cambridge Cambridge
12 3 Imperial College London London
=18 4 UCL London
27 5 London School of Economics and Political Science London
=30 6 University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
=35 7 King’s College London London
50 8 University of Manchester Manchester
=78 9 University of Warwick Warwick
=86 10 University of Glasgow Glasgow

Which are the top universities in the UK? If you want to study in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, which universities should you consider?

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This league table reveals the best UK universities and colleges, according to the trusted Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022.

The University of Oxford takes first place with the University of Cambridge following in second place, while three of the best universities in London complete the top five.

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Three universities in Scotland appear in the top 25: the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow and the University of Aberdeen, while the best institution in Wales is Cardiff University, ranked 28th. 

For students looking to study in Northern Ireland, the best university in the ranking is Queen’s University Belfast.

Of the top universities in the UK, about 20 are in London, including well-known institutions such as Imperial College London and UCL, and more recently established universities such as the University of Westminster and the University of Greenwich.

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Top 5 universities in the UK

5. London School of Economics and Political Science

- The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has the highest proportion of international students, at 70 per cent in the UK. 
- The university has particular strengths in law, economics, history, philosophy and politics.

Currently, 26 per cent of all Nobel prizes for economics have been awarded to alumni or affiliates of the LSE. 

LSE’s campus is in the Clare Market area in London, close to important institutions such as the Royal Courts of Justice, Lincoln’s Inn, the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Museum.

Many of LSE’s postgraduate courses, such as in those in economics, management and law, have an acceptance rate of less than 7 per cent.

Prominent cultural, political and academic figures, including Nelson Mandela and George Soros, have given public talks at LSE as part of the university’s prestigious lecture series.

The main architect of the Indian constitution, B. R. Ambedkar, worked on a doctoral thesis at LSE while enrolled on the Bar course at Gray’s Inn in London.

4. UCL

- UCL’s main campus is in the central London area of Bloomsbury. 
- Nearly half of all UCL students are from outside the UK, with significantly more from Asia than from continental Europe.

UCL was the first university in England to admit students irrespective of class, race or religion, and the first to admit women on equal terms with men, following the educational philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, the university’s “spiritual founder”.

For admission, undergraduate students are required to have achieved top grades in their high school exams. The most competitive degree is the BSc in philosophy, politics and economics, which receives 30 applicants for every place. 

Famous alumni include Mahatma Gandhi; Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone; and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who met the other members of his band at the university. 

3. Imperial College London

- Imperial’s main campus is near Kensington Palace in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, with other campuses around the city. 
- The student cohort is extremely international and is made up of more than 125 nationalities.

Imperial College London is consistently ranked among the best universities in the world for science, technology, engineering, medicine and business.

It was formed in 1907 from a merger of three colleges in London and now has 17,000 students and 8,000 staff.

In addition to top scientists, Fields medallists and Nobel prizewinners, Imperial also produces influential government advisers and policymakers. Many graduates go on to achieve breakthrough innovations in industry and business, and are highly sought after by blue-chip companies and start-ups.

The author H. G. Wells and Sir Liam Donaldson, head physician to the Queen, are among Imperial’s famous alumni.

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2. University of Cambridge

- In total, 117 Nobel laureates are affiliated with the University of Cambridge and Cambridge-affiliated mathematicians have won 11 Fields medals.
- Notable alumni include actors, politicians, royals, athletes and cultural figures, including biologist Charles Darwin, environmental broadcaster David Attenborough, conservationist Jane Goodall and actress Olivia Colman.

Like Oxford, the University of Cambridge is fundamentally collegiate and is also one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. The town is just an hour from London. 

The university is home to more than 19,000 students and 9,000 staff. There are 31 colleges, some of which date back to the 13th century, and more than 100 academic departments.

Cambridge is particularly renowned for excellence in mathematics and has educated some of the most famous British scientists.

Getting an undergraduate place at the university is extremely competitive; the acceptance rate is less than 25 per cent and more than half of rejected candidates received A grades for all their final school exams.

Undergraduates are taught via lectures and supervisions – intimate tutorials with only a couple of other students at most. The workload is heavy but terms are shorter than at many other UK universities.

Cambridge libraries are home to extensive collections of medieval manuscripts and the university museums display collections of archaeological artefacts and zoological specimens.

What life is like at the University of Cambridge

1. University of Oxford

- More than 30 world leaders, 27 British prime ministers, 50 Nobel prizewinners and 120 Olympic medallists were educated at Oxford. Stephen Hawking, Hugh Grant and Indira Gandhi are some of its famous graduates.
- Undergraduates and postgraduates belong to a college and often live in the college building or college-owned accommodation

One of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities, the University of Oxford attracts top scholars and students to its 44 colleges and halls. Entry standards are high and admission is competitive; on average, it receives five applications for each available place.

As is common in the UK, the university offers a number of joint honours programmes that combine two subjects at undergraduate level. In total, there are 250 undergraduate degree combinations. The combination of philosophy, politics and economics is a particularly prestigious degree course, although it is no longer unique to Oxford.

. Social life and recreational activities – such as rowing, cultural events and societies – also revolve around the college. Undergraduates are taught almost exclusively by tutors in their college, while postgraduate students are primarily served academically by a centralised faculty.

There are more than 100 libraries at Oxford, the most famous of which is the Bodleian, built in 1602. The city also boasts a number of museums, including the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, which houses the remains of a dodo, and the Museum of the History of Science, which displays a blackboard used by Albert Einstein. 

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Best universities in the UK 2022

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2022 profile

World University Rank 2022 UK Rank 2022 University City/town
1 1 University of Oxford Oxford
=5 2 University of Cambridge Cambridge
12 3 Imperial College London London
=18 4 UCL London
27 5 London School of Economics and Political Science London
=30 6 University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
=35 7 King’s College London London
50 8 University of Manchester Manchester
=78 9 University of Warwick Warwick
=86 10 University of Glasgow Glasgow
92 11 University of Bristol Bristol
=105 12 University of Birmingham Birmingham
110 13 University of Sheffield Sheffield
=117 14 Queen Mary University of London London
=122 15 Lancaster University Lancaster 
124 16 University of Southampton Southampton
=127 17 University of Leeds Leeds
141 18 University of Nottingham Nottingham
=143 19 University of Exeter Exeter
=146 20 Newcastle University Newcastle
=151 21 University of Sussex Brighton
=158 22 University of Aberdeen Aberdeen
=162 23 Durham University Durham
169 24 University of York York
=178 25 University of Liverpool Liverpool
182 26 University of East Anglia Norwich
=185 27 University of Leicester Leicester
189 28 Cardiff University Cardiff
201–250 =29 University of Bath Bath
201–250 =29 Brighton and Sussex Medical School Brighton
201–250 =29 University of Dundee Dundee
201–250 =29 Queen's University Belfast Belfast
201–250 =29 University of Reading Reading
201–250 =29 St George’s, University of London London
201–250 =29 University of St Andrews St Andrews
201–250 =29 University of Surrey Guildford
251–300 37 Swansea University Swansea
301–350 =38 Anglia Ruskin University ARU East Anglia
301–350 =38 University of Essex Essex
351–400 =40 Birkbeck, University of London London
351–400 =40 Bournemouth University Bournemouth
351–400 =40 Brunel University London London
351–400 =40 City, University of London London
351–400 =40 University of Kent Kent
351–400 =40 Loughborough University Loughborough
351–400 =40 Royal Holloway, University of London London
351–400 =40 University of Stirling Stirling
401–500 =48 Aston University Birmingham
401–500 =48 Bangor University Bangor
401–500 =48 Goldsmiths, University of London London
401–500 =48 Liverpool John Moores University Liverpool
401–500 =48 Middlesex University London
401–500 =48 Northumbria University Northumbria
401–500 =48 University of Plymouth Plymouth
401–500 =48 Royal Veterinary College London
401–500 =48 SOAS University of London London
401–500 =48 SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) Edinburgh
401–500 =48 University of Strathclyde Strathclyde
401–500 =48 University of the West of England Bristol
501–600 =60 Aberystwyth University Aberystwyth
501–600 =60 Birmingham City University Birmingham
501–600 =60 Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh
501–600 =60 Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh
501–600 =60 Keele University Keele
501–600 =60 University of Lincoln Lincoln
501–600 =60 Nottingham Trent University Nottingham
501–600 =60 University of Portsmouth Portsmouth
501–600 =60 University of the West of Scotland Paisley
601–800 =69 University of Bradford Bradford
601–800 =69 University of Brighton Brighton
601–800 =69 Coventry University Coventry
601–800 =69 De Montfort University Leicester
601–800 =69 University of Derby Derby
601–800 =69 Glasgow Caledonian University Glasgow
601–800 =69 University of Greenwich London
601–800 =69 University of Hertfordshire Hatfield
601–800 =69 University of Huddersfield Huddersfield
601–800 =69 University of Hull Hull
601–800 =69 Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester
601–800 =69 The Open University Nationwide
601–800 =69 Oxford Brookes University Oxford
601–800 =69 Ulster University Ulster
801–1000 =83 University of Bedfordshire Luton
801–1000 =83 University of Central Lancashire Preston
801–1000 =83 University of East London London
801–1000 =83 Edge Hill University Ormskirk
801–1000 =83 Kingston University London
801–1000 =83 Leeds Beckett University Leeds
801–1000 =83 London South Bank University London
801–1000 =83 University of Roehampton London
801–1000 =83 University of Salford Salford
801–1000 =83 Sheffield Hallam University Sheffield
801–1000 =83 University of Westminster London
1001–1200 =94 Canterbury Christ Church University Canterbury
1001–1200 =94 Cardiff Metropolitan University Cardiff
1001–1200 =94 Robert Gordon University Aberdeen
1001–1200 =94 University of South Wales Pontypridd
1001–1200 =94 Staffordshire University Stoke-on-Trent
1001–1200 =94 Teesside University Teesside
1001–1200 =94 University of Wolverhampton Wolverhampton
1201+ 101 University of Chester Chester
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