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Top Universities in the UK 2018

Top Universities in the UK 2018 main image

The UK boasts 76 positions in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, including five new entries this year. Four UK universities feature in the global top 10, while a further 24 have achieved the incredible feat of ranking in the top 200. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both halves of Oxbridge and several London-based institutions feature in the UK top 10, but there’s a much broader range of universities and locations further down the table.

To read this year’s rankings in full, click here.

1. University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

There’s no change at the top since last year, with the University of Cambridge ranked first in the UK. However, the university is down one place in the QS World University Rankings to now rank fifth in the world this year. Cambridge was founded in 1209, making it one of the oldest universities in the world, and currently educates around 19,000 students.

2. University of Oxford

Oxford University

Ranked sixth in the world, the University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and is credited with producing highly successful alumni, including 27 British Prime Ministers, 30 international leaders, 50 Nobel Prize winners and other prominent figures such as Sir Stephen Hawking.

3. UCL (University College London)

UCL

UCL continues to rank seventh in the world this year, making it London’s highest-ranked university for three years in a row. UCL calls itself London’s Global University and this is certainly reflected in its on-campus diversity, with more than 15,500 of its 38,900 students coming from outside the UK.

4. Imperial College London

Imperial College London

Up one place to now rank eighth in the world this year, Imperial College London is the fourth and final UK university to appear in the global top 10. Imperial is a science-based institution which focuses on developing technologies and their practical applications.

=5. King's College London (KCL)

King's College London

King’s College London is ranked joint 23rd in the world this year, sharing the position with the University of Edinburgh. Renowned for its medical education and research, the university is home to the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, the world’s first nursing school.

=5. University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh continues to be the highest-ranked university in Scotland, this year placing joint 23rd in the world and joint 5th in the UK. Established in 1582, the university’s prestige has helped earn the city the nickname ‘Athens of the North’, and it’s been ranked one of the top five UK universities for research excellence.

7. University of Manchester

University of Manchester

Ranked 34th in the world in 2018, the University of Manchester is the UK’s largest single-site university, hosting 39,700 students hailing from 160 countries. A member of the prestigious Russell Group of UK universities, Manchester has been associated with 25 Nobel Prize winners.

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

LSE

Back in London, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is up two places to rank 35th in the world in 2018. Established in 1895, LSE focuses on the social sciences and has a diverse student body, with over 7,500 of its 10,880 students coming from overseas.

9. University of Bristol

University of Bristol

The University of Bristol is ranked 44th in the world in 2018. The university is another Russell Group member and is the largest independent employer in the city of Bristol. The university was established in 1876 and now enrolls around 22,300 students.

10. University of Warwick

University of Warwick

Ranked 57th in the world in 2018, the University of Warwick is actually based in the outskirts of the city of Coventry, and is home to the Warwick Arts Centre, the largest of its kind in the UK outside of London.

University of Glasgow

The remaining top 20 UK universities are…

11. University of Glasgow – ranked 65th in the world. 

12. Durham University – ranked joint 78th in the world.

13. University of Sheffield – ranked joint 82ndin the world.

=14. University of Nottingham – ranked joint 84th in the world.

=14. University of Birmingham – ranked joint 84th in the world.

16. University of St Andrews – ranked 92nd in the world.

17. University of Leeds – ranked 101st in the world.

18. University of Southampton – ranked joint 102nd in the world.

19. Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) – ranked 127th in the world.

=20. Lancaster University – ranked joint 135th in the world.

=20. University of York – ranked joint 135th in the world.

Cardiff University

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

22. Cardiff University– ranked joint 137th in the world.

=23. University of Aberdeen – ranked joint 158th in the world.

=23. University of Exeter – ranked joint 158th in the world.

25. University of Bath– ranked 160th in the world.

26. Newcastle University – ranked joint 161st in the world.

27. University of Liverpool – ranked joint 173rd in the world.

28. University of Reading – ranked joint 188th in the world.

29. Queen's University of Belfast – ranked 202nd in the world.

30. University of Sussex– ranked 228th in the world.

31. Loughborough University– ranked 234th in the world.

32. University of Leicester– ranked 238th in the world.

33. Royal Holloway University of London– ranked joint 259th in the world.

34. University of Surrey – ranked joint 264th in the world.

35. University of Dundee– ranked joint 267th in the world.

36. University of East Anglia (UEA) – ranked 274th in the world.

37. University of Strathclyde – ranked joint 277th in the world.

38. SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London – ranked joint 296th in the world.

39. Birkbeck College, University of London– ranked joint 308th in the world.

40. Heriot-Watt University– ranked 312th in the world, up 15 places from last year.

41. City University London– ranked 343rd in the world.

42. Brunel University – ranked joint 346th in the world.

43. University of Essex – ranked joint 347th in the world.

44. Oxford Brookes University – ranked joint 361st in the world.

=45. Aston University – ranked 373rd in the world.

=45. University of Kent – ranked joint 373rd in the world.

47. Goldsmiths, University of London – ranked joint 398th in the world, up from 421-430 last year.

After the global top 400, the remaining universities are ranked in ranges, starting from 401-410, going up to 801-1000. Click here to find out more. 

  1. Swansea University – ranked 431-440 in the world.
  2. Bangor University– ranked 441-450 in the world.
  3. University of Stirling – ranked 451-460 in the world.
  4. Aberystwyth University– ranked 481-490 in the world.
  5. Kingston University, London– ranked 501-550 in the world.

=53. Coventry University – ranked 551-600 in the world, up from 651-700 last year.

=53. Westminster University – ranked 551-600 in the world, new this year.

Five top universities in the UK are ranked in the 601-650 range, and are therefore joint 55th in the UK:

=55. Keele University 

=55. University of Bradford

=55. University of Hull 

=55. University of Portsmouth 

=55. University of Ulster 

Another five top UK universities are placed 701-750, and are therefore joint 60th in the UK:

=60. Bournemouth University – new this year.

=60. London Metropolitan University 

=60. Middlesex University 

=60. University of Brighton – new this year.

=60. Plymouth University 

University of Hertfordshire

Four institutions are placed in the 751-800 range, making them joint 65th in the UK:

=65. Northumbria University at Newcastle

=65. University of Hertfordshire

=65. University of Huddersfield

=65. University of Salford

And finally, the remaining eight top UK universities are all ranked 801-1000, which means they’re joint 69th in the UK:

=69. Edinburgh Napier University – new this year.

=69. London South Bank University – new this year.

=69. Manchester Metropolitan University

=69. Nottingham Trent University

=69. Robert Gordon University

=69. University of Central Lancashire

=69. University of East London

=69. University of Greenwich

You can find out more about studying in the UK with our complete guide, which features advice on applications, visas, costs, funding and more.

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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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2 Comments

What about Sheffield hallam university. I could not find it on the list. Is it that bad

Hi Mohammad, Sheffield Hallam University may not be in our world university rankings, but this doesn't mean it's a bad university. With thousands upon thousands of universities around the world, it unfortunately isn't possible to rank all of them. Sheffield Hallam does appear in our rankings by subject, with a top 50 position for hospitality and leisure management - an impressive achievement!