Which Are the Best Universities in the UK?


There’s no shortage of data knocking about when it comes to university statistics – from subject rankings to drop-out rates and generally more than a bit of rankings for rankings’ sake. However, the most important of all for anyone studying their A Levels is the best universities in the UK.

The top British universities rankings vary slightly depending upon which league table you choose to go by. But whichever way you come at it, the same universities tend to keep cropping up, just with slightly different rankings.

Here are the top 10 universities for 2016 as rated by the Guardian:

1. Cambridge (no change)

2. Oxford (no change)


3. St Andrews (no change)

4. Surrey (up from 6th in 2015)

5. Bath (down from 4th in 2015)

6. Durham (up from 8th in 2015)

7. Warwick (down from 9th in 2015)

8. Imperial College (down from 5th in 2015)


9. Exeter (up from 12th in 2015)

10. Lancaster (no change)

(The Guardian’s 2016 University League Tables)

What do these universities have to offer students?

The league tables are judged on several criteria. These vary slightly from league table to league table but most take into account everything from the amount the university spends on each student, numbers of staff to students ratio, student feedback, entry requirements and career prospects after leaving with a degree. So pretty tough criteria, basically, wouldn’t you say?

The National Student Survey (NSS) feeds into these league tables and form an integral part of the data collected – because, after all, it’s the student experience of the university that’s the important thing. Do they feel as though they are being taught to the highest possible level? Are they being given the opportunities to grow as an adult with extracurricular activities?

Why study at a British university?

Britain has a long history of education and is world-renowned for offering a very high standard throughout its top universities. Perhaps we take our educational credentials for granted but for foreign students studying in the UK it’s a huge draw. This is also partly because of the long history of some of our more famous seats of learning. There were initially six ancient universities in the UK (which now make up the pinnacle of the so-called Russell Group Universities): the University of Oxford (founded before 1167), University of Cambridge (1209), University of Glasgow (1451), University of Aberdeen (1495) and the University of Edinburgh (1583).

What do you need to get into university and how to choose the right one for you?

The grades you’re predicted will decide to a large extent which course you can study and therefore what choice you have in terms of university. Yes, the university you go to is important but the actual course you do – ensuring it’s right for you and your future career – is more important. Use the prospectuses and visit the universities you’re considering, and make sure you speak to course tutors about what’s involved in the subject you want to do. You’ll immediately identify which university and course is right for you while visiting and soaking up the atmosphere around campus.

Like this pick of the best universities in the UK, but thinking international? Check out a list of the best universities in the world.

Taking a BTEC? Check out our handy list of universities which accept BTECs.


Alternatively, if you’ve already made your mind up about where you want to go, see our guide to writing a great personal statement.