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10 of the Best UK Universities for Graduate Employability

By Sabrina Collier

Updated March 13, 2021 Updated March 13, 2021

Click here to read the latest version of this article, based on the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2018.

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2017 features 37 of the best UK universities for graduate employability, of which 14 appear in the global top 100. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two halves of Oxbridge are the UK’s leading representatives, reflecting the strength of their reputation among employers. However, the ranking is not only based on reputation; it also considers alumni outcomes, employment rates, industry partnerships and student-employer connections.

Here’s the UK’s top 10 in this year’s employability rankings…

1. University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

The leading UK institution for graduate employability in 2017 is the University of Cambridge, which places 5th in the list. Cambridge graduates are highly sought-after, and the university has the top score in the ‘employer reputation’ indicator. It also receives a high score for ‘alumni outcomes’, thanks to its many successful and renowned alumni. Famous Cambridge graduates include Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin and Sylvia Plath.

2. University of Oxford


Ranked 8th in the world for graduate employability, the University of Oxford has a list of successful graduates to rival Cambridge, including 27 British Prime Ministers, and prominent figures such as Oscar Wilde, Helen Fielding, Hugh Grant, Rosamund Pike and Lewis Carroll. Coming second behind Cambridge for employer reputation, Oxford ranks slightly higher than its competitor for alumni outcomes, and reports that 95% of undergraduate leavers are employed or in further study within six months after graduation.

3. Imperial College London

Imperial College London

Imperial College London is ranked joint 20th in the graduate employability rankings, and is the highest-ranked representative from the UK capital. Imperial encourages students to get involved in a range of placements, internships and volunteering programs (such as Imperial Plus) to help them gain skills and experiences valued by employers. This science-focused institution is associated with 14 Nobel Laureates, as well as prominent figures such as H.G Wells and Alexander Fleming.

4. UCL (University College London)


Ranked 24th in the world for graduate employability, UCL (University College London) receives its strongest score in the ‘employer reputation’ category. In March 2016, the university was hailed by UK newspaper The Guardian for being a "shining example of support" for student entrepreneurs through its center for entrepreneurship, UCL Innovation and Enterprise. It also receives one of the top 25 scores for ‘alumni outcomes’.

5. University of Manchester

University of Manchester

One of the largest universities in the UK and a member of the prestigious Russell Group, the University of Manchester is ranked 35th in the world for graduate employability, again receiving its strongest score in the employer reputation category. According to the Graduate Market in 2016 report from High Fliers, Manchester is the university which is targeted by the largest number of leading graduate employers in the UK. The university’s notable alumni include Benedict Cumberbatch, Meera Syal and Brian Cox.

6. University of Bristol

University of Bristol

Another of the best UK universities for graduate employability is the University of Bristol, at 39th in the employability rankings. Bristol is currently working to implement an institution-wide initiative known as Bristol Futures, which is built around three pathways: Innovation and Enterprise, Global Citizenship, and Sustainable Futures. Working in partnership with the local community, the initiative encourages students to build transferable skills and attributes beyond the context of their academic discipline.

7. University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh

One of the most popular UK universities in terms of applicants, the University of Edinburgh is ranked 50th in the world for graduate employability. Six months after graduating, 94% of its students are in employment or further study, which is higher than the UK average. The university works to help student entrepreneurs with its award-winning LAUNCH.ed program, which offers free one-to-one meetings with business advisors and aims to help students stand out in the competitive jobs market. 

8. University of Nottingham

University of Nottingham

In the 51-60 range of the employability ranking, the University of Nottingham is second after Manchester in High Fliers’ list of universities most-targeted by the UK’s leading graduate employers. Nottingham was also recently ranked as the best university in the UK for graduate employment according to the 2017 Times Good University Guide. The university has a large range of notable alumni, including actress Ruth Wilson, D.H. Lawrence, and the current prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak.

9. University of Leeds

University of Leeds

Also appearing in the 51-60 range of the ranking, the University of Leeds won the Entrepreneurship Award at the Guardian University Awards 2016, in which it was praised for its InTechnology Enterprise Incubator on campus at the Leeds Innovation Centre, which helps support and encourage entrepreneurial students in their start-up goals, creating almost 50 successful start-ups each year so far.  The university also offers a number of scholarship schemes to help students work towards their start-up goals.

10. King's College London (KCL)

King's College London

Concluding our look at the best UK universities for graduate employability, King’s College London is also ranked in the 51-60 range, but appears in the top 50 for ‘employer reputation’. The university runs the King's Leadership & Professional Skills Award (KLPSA), a program designed to enhance students’ employability skills. King’s has another impressive list of prominent alumni, including Peter Higgs, Virginia Woolf, Greer Garson, John Keats and Desmond Tutu.

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This article was originally published in November 2016 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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