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Top Universities in the UK 2016/17

Top Universities in the UK 2016/17 main image

Click here to view the more recent version of this article, based on the QS World University Rankings® 2018.

There are 71 top universities in the UK which rank among the world’s best in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, including four in the global top 10, and a further 26 in the top 200. The top 10 UK universities unsurprisingly include both halves of Oxbridge, as well as four institutions in the country’s dynamic capital city London – but the list also features leading institutions from a much broader set of UK locations. Read on to discover the top UK universities this year, starting with a focus on the country’s top 10.

Click here to view last year’s list, and here to view the full 2016-2017 rankings table.

1. University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

Retaining first place amongst UK universities is the University of Cambridge, ranked 4th in the world this year. One of the oldest universities in the world (founded in 1209), Cambridge is closely linked to the business cluster ‘Silicon Fen’ and currently educates around 19,000 students of various nationalities.

2. University of Oxford

University of Oxford

The oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford is ranked 6th in the world and 2nd in the UK this year. This highly prestigious institution has educated no fewer than 27 Nobel Prize winners, 27 UK Prime Ministers, and many more successful figures, such as Sir Stephen Hawking.

3. UCL (University College London)

UCL

UCL is the highest ranked university in London for the second time in a row this year, placing 7th in the global ranking and therefore 3rd amongst UK universities. An impressive 15,600 of UCL’s 38,300 students are from outside the UK, providing good grounds for its claim to be ‘London’s global university’.

4. Imperial College London

Imperial College London

Imperial College London is the last of these top UK universities to appear in the global top 10, ranked 9th in the world this year. Known for its high-impact research and innovation, Imperial founded the first academic health science center in the UK.

5. University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh

Consistently the highest-ranked university in Scotland, the University of Edinburgh climbs two places in the worldwide ranking this year to rank 19th. Founded in 1582, the university is a member of the prestigious Russell Group, as well as the League of European Research Universities.

6. King's College London (KCL)

King’s College London

Heading back to the south, and King’s College London is this year ranked 21st in the world. KCL is known for its medical teaching and research, and is home to the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, the world’s first professional nursing school.

7. University of Manchester

University of Manchester

Up four places to rank 29th in the world in 2016/17, the University of Manchester is another well-respected Russell Group member, the largest single-campus UK university and one of the largest in the country in terms of student numbers.

8. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

LSE

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is ranked joint 37th in the world this year (alongside Japan’s Kyoto University). LSE specializes in the social sciences and has a very diverse student body, with around 9,600 full-time students from 140 countries.

9. University of Bristol

University of Bristol

Ranked 41st in the world, the University of Bristol in South West Englandis another member of the Russell Group of research-intensive UK universities and has been associated with 12 Nobel Prize winners throughout its 140-year history.

10. University of Warwick

University of Warwick

Actually located on a self-contained campus just outside of Coventry, the University of Warwick is ranked joint 51st this year alongside Australia’s University of Queensland. Having celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, it’s already established a strong international reputation in its first half-century.

University of Glasgow

The rest of the top 20 UK universities are…

11. University of Glasgow – ranked joint 63rd in the world. 

12. Durham University – ranked 74th in the world.

13. University of Nottingham – ranked joint 75th in the world.

14. University of St Andrews – ranked 77th in the world.

15. University of Birmingham – ranked 82nd in the world.

16. University of Sheffield – ranked 84th in the world.

17. University of Southampton – ranked 87th in the world.

18. University of Leeds – ranked 93rd in the world.

19. Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) – joint 123rd in the world.

20. University of York – ranked 127th in the world.

 

Cardiff University

The remaining top universities in the UK, in order of how they ranked this year, are… 

21. Lancaster University – ranked 129th in the world.

22. Cardiff University – ranked 140th in the world.

23. University of Aberdeen – ranked joint 141st in the world.

24. University of Liverpool – ranked 157th in the world.

25. University of Bath – ranked 159th in the world.

26. University of Exeter – ranked joint 164th in the world.

27. Newcastle University – ranked 168th in the world.

28. University of Reading – ranked 175th in the world.

29. University of Sussex – ranked joint 187th in the world.

30. Queen's University of Belfast – ranked 195th in the world.

31. Royal Holloway University of London – ranked 235th in the world.

32. Loughborough University – ranked 237th in the world.

33. University of Leicester – ranked joint 239th in the world.

34. University of Dundee – ranked 244th in the world, up from joint 261st last year.

=35. SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London – ranked joint 252nd in the world, up from joint 275th last year.

=35. University of East Anglia (UEA) – ranked joint 252nd in the world.

37. University of Surrey – ranked 261st in the world.

38. University of Strathclyde – ranked joint 272nd in the world.

39. Birkbeck College, University of London – ranked joint 280th in the world, up from 290th last year.

40. City University London – ranked 314th in the world.

41. Heriot-Watt University – ranked joint 327th in the world.

42. University of Essex – ranked joint 330th in the world.

43. Brunel University – ranked joint 345th in the world.

44. Aston University – ranked 358th in the world.

45. Oxford Brookes University – ranked joint 359th in the world.

46. University of Kent – ranked joint 366th in the world.

47. University of Stirling – ranked 385th in the world.

48. Swansea University – ranked joint 390th, up from joint 400th last year.

Goldsmiths

After the global top 400, the remaining universities are ranked in ranges, starting from 401-410, going up to 701+.

Click here to find out more. 

49. Bangor University – ranked 411-420 in the world.

50. Goldsmiths, University of London – ranked 421-430 in the world.

51. Aberystwyth University – ranked 491-500 in the world.

52. Kingston University, London – ranked 501-550 in the world.

Three top UK universities are ranked in the 551-600 range this year, making them joint 53rd overall in the UK:

=53. Keele University – ranked 551-600 in the world.

=53. University of Bradford – ranked 551-600 in the world.

=53. University of Hull – ranked 551-600 in the world.

Three top universities in the UK are ranked in the global top 601-650, and are therefore joint 56th in the UK:

=56. Middlesex University – ranked 601-650 in the world.

=56. University of Portsmouth – ranked 601-650 in the world.

=56. University of Ulster – ranked 601-650 in the world.

Another three top UK universities are placed 651-700, and are therefore joint 59th in the UK:

=59. Coventry University – ranked 651-700 in the world.

=59. London Metropolitan University – ranked 651-700 in the world.

=59. Plymouth University – ranked 651-700 in the world. 

University of Hertfordshire

The remaining 10 top universities in the UK are all ranked in the 701+ range:

This makes them all joint 62nd in the UK.

=62. Manchester Metropolitan University

=62. Northumbria University at Newcastle

=62. Nottingham Trent University

=62. Robert Gordon University

=62. University of Central Lancashire

=62. University of East London

=62. University of Greenwich

=62. University of Hertfordshire

=62. University of Huddersfield

=62. University of Salford

Find out more about studying in the UK with our complete guide.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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