Best universities in the UK 2023 - University Rankings

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Top 10 universities in the UK

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

UK rank 2023  World University Rank 2023  University City/town
1  1  University of Oxford Oxford
2  =3  University of Cambridge Cambridge
3  10  Imperial College London London
4  22  UCL London
5  29  University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
6  35  King’s College London London
7  37  London School of Economics and Political Science London
8  =54  University of Manchester Manchester
9  76  University of Bristol Bristol
10  =82  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?

This league table reveals the best UK universities and colleges, according to the trusted Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023.

The University of Oxford takes first place, with the University of Cambridge following in second place, while two of London’s best universities and a Scottish university 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 24th. 

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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5. University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Britain and Ireland’s seven ancient universities.

It is made up of three colleges: arts, humanities and social sciences; science and engineering; and medicine and veterinary medicine. Within these colleges there are 20 academic schools.

A range of student clubs and societies is on offer, including a music society, a theatre society and a variety of sports teams including football, rowing, judo and rugby. 

The student newspaper, The Student, is one of the oldest student newspapers in the UK and was founded by the author Robert Louis Stevenson. 

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 Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, 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, athletes, politicians, royals and cultural figures, including biologist Charles Darwin, 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 world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. 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.

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.

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1. University of Oxford

More than 30 world leaders, 27 British prime ministers, 50 Nobelists 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 one of its 44 colleges 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. Entry standards are high and admission is competitive; on average, it receives five applications for each available place.

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 has 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 2023

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2023 profile

UK rank 2023  World University Rank 2023  University City/town
1  1  University of Oxford Oxford
2  =3  University of Cambridge Cambridge
3  10  Imperial College London London
4  22  UCL London
5  29  University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
6  35  King’s College London London
7  37  London School of Economics and Political Science London
8  =54  University of Manchester Manchester
9  76  University of Bristol Bristol
10  =82  University of Glasgow Glasgow
11  =104  University of Warwick Warwick
=12  =108  University of Birmingham Birmingham
=12  =108  University of Southampton Southampton
14  =114  University of Sheffield Sheffield
15  122  Lancaster University Lancaster
16  =124  Queen Mary University of London London
17  =128  University of Leeds Leeds
18  130  University of Nottingham Nottingham
19  =137  University of Exeter Exeter
20  =139  Newcastle University Newcastle
21  =139  University of York York
22  =163  University of Leicester Leicester
23  =176  University of Liverpool Liverpool
24  =187  Cardiff University Cardiff
25  =192  University of Aberdeen Aberdeen
=26  =198  Durham University Durham
=26  =198  Queen’s University Belfast Belfast
=26  =198  University of Reading Reading
=29  201–250  University of Dundee Dundee
=29  201–250  University of East Anglia Norwich
=29  201–250  St George’s, University of London London
=29  201–250  University of St Andrews St Andrews
=29  201–250  University of Surrey Guildford
=29  201–250  University of Sussex Brighton
=35  251–300  University of Bath Bath
=35  251–300  Bournemouth University Bournemouth
=35  251–300  Brighton and Sussex Medical School Brighton
=35  251–300  Swansea University Swansea
=39  301–350  Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) East Anglia
=39  301–350  University of Essex Essex
=41  351–400  Birkbeck, University of London London
=41  351–400  City, University of London London
=41  351–400  University of Kent Kent
=41  351–400  Loughborough University Loughborough
=41  351–400  Royal Holloway, University of London London
=41  351–400  Royal Veterinary College London
=41  351–400  University of Stirling Stirling
=48  401–500  Aston University Birmingham
=48  401–500  Bangor University Bangor
=48  401–500  Brunel University London London
=48  401–500  Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh
=48  401–500  University of Lincoln Lincoln
=48  401–500  Liverpool John Moores University Liverpool
=48  401–500  Middlesex University Middlesex
=48  401–500  University of Plymouth Plymouth
=48  401–500  University of Portsmouth Portsmouth
=48  401–500  SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) Edinburgh
=48  401–500  University of Strathclyde Strathclyde
=48  401–500  University of the West of England Bristol
=60  501–600  Aberystwyth University Aberystwyth
=60  501–600  Birmingham City University Birmingham
=60  501–600  University of Bradford Bradford
=60  501–600  Goldsmiths, University of London London
=60  501–600  University of Greenwich Greenwich
=60  501–600  Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh
=60  501–600  University of Hull Hull
=60  501–600  Keele University Keele
=60  501–600  Northumbria University Northumbria
=60  501–600  Nottingham Trent University Nottingham
=60  501–600  SOAS University of London London
=71  601–800  De Montfort University Leicester
=71  601–800  University of Derby Derby
=71  601–800  Glasgow Caledonian University Glasgow
=71  601–800  University of Hertfordshire Hatfield
=71  601–800  University of Huddersfield Huddersfield
=71  601–800  London South Bank University London
=71  601–800  Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester
=71  601–800  The Open University Nationwide
=71  601–800  Oxford Brookes University Oxford
=71  601–800  Ulster University Ulster
=71  601–800  University of the West of Scotland Paisley
=71  601–800  University of Wolverhampton Wolverhampton
=83  801–1000  University of Bedfordshire Luton
=83  801–1000  University of Brighton Brighton
=83  801–1000  Coventry University Coventry
=83  801–1000  Edge Hill University Ormskirk
=83  801–1000  Kingston University London
=83  801–1000  Leeds Beckett University Leeds
=83  801–1000  University of Roehampton London
=83  801–1000  University of Salford Salford
=83  801–1000  Sheffield Hallam University Sheffield
=83  801–1000  University of Winchester Winchester
=93  1001–1200  Cardiff Metropolitan University Cardiff
=93  1001–1200  University of Central Lancashire Preston
=93  1001–1200  University of East London London
=93  1001–1200  Robert Gordon University Aberdeen
=93  1001–1200  University of South Wales Pontypridd
=93  1001–1200  University of Sunderland Sunderland
=93  1001–1200  Teesside University Teesside
=93  1001–1200  University of Westminster London
=101  1201–1500  Canterbury Christ Church University Canterbury
=101  1201–1500  University of Chester Chester
=101  1201–1500  Staffordshire University Stoke-on-Trent

The University of Oxford is top in a list of the best universities in the UK 2023, which includes institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

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