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Top Universities in the UK 2021

Top Universities in the UK 2021 main image

The University of Oxford continues its domination as the top university in the UK for 2021. The elite institution has dropped one place since last year’s ranking and is now the fifth best university in the world, while their rival institution the University of Cambridge remains in seventh place. 

There is a total of 90 UK universities in the QS World University Rankings 2021 – six more than last year. Four of these institutions make it into the global top 10, with a further four in the global top 50.

Read on for more information on the top 10 universities in the UK and view the full results of the QS World University Rankings 2021 here. You can also find out more about the methodology used to compile the rankings here.

QS World University Rankings 2021 – Top 10 Universities in the UK

UK Rank

Global Rank

Institution

1

5

University of Oxford

2

7

University of Cambridge

3

8

4

10

5

20

6

27=

7

31=

8

49

9

58

10

62

10) The University of Warwick

The University of Warwick

Remaining in 10th place in the UK this year is the University of Warwick, which is also ranked 62nd globally for another year. Their success in the rankings is largely due to the global outlook of the university, which achieves near perfect scores in the international faculty and international students ranking indicators. 

9) University of Bristol        

University of Bristol 

Ninth in the UK is the University of Bristol, which nonetheless drops nine spots in the global rankings this year to 58th place. The university achieves high scores across all ranking indicators, particularly for academic reputation where it ranks 74th globally.

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

London School of Economics (LSE)

In eighth place in the UK is the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), which drops five places this year to rank 49th globally – the first UK university in our top 10 to make it into the global top 50. LSE is ranked seventh in the world for international students, making it the most diverse UK university in our ranking.

7) King’s College London (KCL)

King's College London

Seventh in the UK again this year is King’s College London (KCL), which climbs two places in the global rankings to joint 31st. One of four London-based universities in the UK top 10, KCL achieves impressive scores in all indicators, particularly academic reputation where it ranks among the top 50 universities in the world.

6) The University of Manchester

University of Manchester

 

The University of Manchester ranks sixth in the UK this year, taking joint 27th place in the global rankings. Manchester graduates are looked on particularly favourably by employers – the university ranks 21st in the world for the employer reputation indicator.

5) University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh

 

Ranking fifth in the UK, and remaining the 20th best university in the world, is the University of Edinburgh – the only Scottish institution in the UK top 10. It scores particularly highly for academic reputation and employer reputation, ranking 25th and 31st in the world respectively for these indicators.

4) UCL (University College London)

University College London (UCL)

Just missing out on a spot in the UK top three is UCL (University College London), which drops two places in the global rankings this year to 10th. Its highest score can be found in the academic reputation indicator where it places 13th in the world.

3) Imperial College London

Imperial College London

 

Taking the bronze medal position in the UK is Imperial College London, the highest-ranked university in the capital. It moves up one position globally this year to eighth place and takes ninth place globally for academic reputation. 

2) University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

As per usual, it’s a battle between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge for first place in the UK rankings. Once again, it’s Cambridge in second place, ranked seventh globally. However, Cambridge is the highest ranked university in the UK for both academic and employer reputation, in second place globally for these indicators.

1) University of Oxford

University of Oxford

Taking first place in the UK again this year is the University of Oxford, which drops one place in the global rankings to fifth. Achieving high scores across all indicators, Oxford is the highest ranked school in the UK for faculty-student ratio (eighth place) and citations per faculty (44th place).

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The next 10 best universities in the UK can be found below:

QS World University Rankings 2021 – Top Universities in the UK 11-20

UK Rank

Global Rank

Institution

11

  77=

12

  86 

13

  87 

14

  90 

15

  91 

16

  93=

17

  96 

18

  99 

19

  133=

20

  135=

A further 29 UK universities are ranked within the world’s top 500 institutions.

QS World University Rankings 2020 – Top Universities in the UK 21-49

UK Rank

Global Rank

Institution

21

  150=

22

  152=

23

  159 

24

  164 

25

  173=

26

  181=

27

  205 

28

  207 

29

  209 

30

  226 

31

  242=

32

  246=

33

  267=

34

  300 

35

  301=

36

  308=

37

  319 

38

  333=

39

  344=

40

  346=

41

  350=

42

  368=

43

  380=

44

  383=

45

  411=

46

  416=

47

  474=

48

  485=

48

  485=

After 500th place, the QS World University Rankings group universities together into bandings, e.g. 501-510, 511-520. The remaining 35 universities and their banding can be seen below. 

QS World University Rankings 2020 – Top Universities in the UK 501-1000

UK Rank

Global Rank

Institution

50

511-520

51

541-550

52

581-590

53

601-650

54

601-650

57

601-650

55

601-650

56

601-650

60

651-700

58

651-700

59

651-700

61

701-750

63

701-750

64

701-750

62

701-750

65

751-800

67

751-800

66

751-800

82

  801-1000

73

  801-1000

79

  801-1000

84

  801-1000

69

  801-1000

75

  801-1000

69

  801-1000

75

  801-1000

81

  801-1000

82

  801-1000

72

  801-1000

78

  801-1000

68

  801-1000

74

  801-1000

80

  801-1000

77

  801-1000

69

  801-1000

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Written by Julia Gilmore
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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