The 19 best universities in the UK

University of St Andrews was named the best university in the country for satisfaction with student experience.

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University of St Andrews was named the best university in the country for satisfaction with student experience.
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Getty/Jeff J Mitchell

A definitive list of the UK’s best universities was released by the Sunday Times Good University Guide on Sunday.

The prestigious league table ranks institutions across factors including research quality, graduate prospects, the percentage of students graduating with a first or 2:1, and results from this year’s National Student Survey of graduates’ satisfaction with their student experience.

Lancaster University was crowned University of the Year thanks to its student satisfaction rating and commitment to “becoming a truly ‘global player’ in both teaching and research,” according to the ranking.

Six London-based universities placed in the bottom 10 for students’ satisfaction with the quality of teaching. The prestigious London School of Economics was awarded the worst student satisfaction score in this bracket, despite placing as the 11th best university in the UK overall.

Scroll on to discover the 19 best universities in the country, according to the Sunday Times Good University Guide.


19. University of Surrey — Dropping five places since last year’s table despite “enhanced educational provision and better-qualified entrants” according to the Sunday Times guide, 83.6% of University of Surrey graduates complete their course with a first or 2:1.

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Flickr/Tim Sheerman-Chase

18. University of Nottingham — The Russell Group institution climbed two placed since last year’s table and ranked 13th in the country for graduate prospects.

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University Park Campus in Nottingham.
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Shutterstock/Kiev.Victor

=16. University of York — The university’s new programme, which introduces undergraduates to employers from their first year of study, has helped to bolster the University of York’s place in the UK’s top 20 universities.

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Central Hall at the University of York.
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Flickr/John Robinson.

=16. University of Bristol — Ranked sixth in the country for research quality and fifth for completion rate (95.9%), the University of Bristol also positioned 44th in the world overall.

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Shutterstock/Sion Hannuna

15. University of Birmingham — University of Birmingham graduates have the fifth best graduation prospects in the country, according to the Sunday Times guide.

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Tupungato/Shutterstock

14. University of Exeter — Dropping five places since last year’s league table, the University of Exeter continues to position on the brink of the UK’s top 10 universities.

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Flickr/Richard Gillin

13. University of East Anglia — The Norwich-based university climbed two places from last year’s position, reaching UEA’s highest position in the Sunday Times guide’s history.

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UEA students protesting the privatisation of student loans in 2014.
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Flickr/Roger Blackwell

12. University of Bath — With an Olympic-sized swimming pool, indoor running track, and plenty of facilities for fencing, tennis, shooting, judo, and even bobsleigh, the University of Bath was crowned the Sunday Times Guide’s Sports University of the Year.

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Flickr/bvi4092

11. London School of Economics — LSE dropped three places and attained the poorest student satisfaction rate in the country (67.5%) despite reports which show that LSE graduates are the highest-paid graduate employees in the country five years after leaving university.

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Former Foreign Secretary William Hague attends a talk at the London School of Economics.
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Flickr/Foreign and Commonwealth Office

10. University of Leeds — One of the top five universities targeted by leading employers, according to the 2017 High Fliers graduate market survey, the University of Leeds dropped three places compared to last year’s league table.

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County Arcade in Leeds.
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Flickr/Michael D Beckwith

9. University of Warwick — Crowned University of the Year in 2014, the University of Warwick has expanded undergraduate intake by 30% in the last five years.

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A University of Warwick student competes in BUCS’s national university swimming championships.
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Flickr/Josh Dobson

=7. Loughborough University — Ranked second in the country for student experience, Loughborough was named as the runner-up for this year’s Sunday Times University of the Year and rose four places in the table to fall within the top 10 overall.

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Shutterstock/jax10289

=7. University College London — The London university was ranked fifth in the country for both research quality and the number of students graduating with either a first or a 2:1 (88.8%).

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Flickr/Harry Wood

6. Lancaster University — This year’s University of the Year jumped up the table three places thanks to its high rate of student satisfaction (84.3%) in this year’s National Student Survey.

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Flickr/Adam

5. Durham University — A prestigious institution situated near the student party hub of Newcastle, Durham University ranks highly across both graduates’ satisfaction with the quality of teaching (82.5%) and satisfaction with their student experience (79.4%).

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Vividrange/Shutterstock

4. Imperial College London — Competition for a place at Imperial is fierce, with only Oxford and Cambridge having higher entry standards. The London university placed second in the country for both its research quality and students’ graduation prospects.

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Imperial College London
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Flickr/ anyatk

3. University of St Andrews — The Scottish university scored highly in the National Student Survey for student satisfaction, and attained the highest levels of graduate satisfaction with their student experience (87.1%).

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Students celebrating at St Andrews’ annual charity fashion show — the largest student-run university fashion show in the country.
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Alison Millington

2. University of Oxford — Retaining second place in the Sunday Times Guide’s table of UK universities, the University of Oxford placed fifth in the world overall thanks to its impeccable research standards and the student-to-staff ratio (10.3:1).

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Shutterstock/Elena Dijour

1. University of Cambridge — Maintaining its position at the top of the Sunday Times league table for a fifth consecutive year, Cambridge was named the best university in the country thanks to its unparalleled student completion rate (98.9%).

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Shutterstock/Offcaania