Top universities in Scotland | Top Universities

Top universities in Scotland

User Image

Keshala Jayawickrama

Updated Jan 16, 2024



Top Universities in Scotland main image

Home of haggis, caber-tossing and the largest annual arts festival in the world, Scotland is known for its rich history, cultural diversity, striking natural landscapes, distinctive national traditions and impenetrable local accents. 

Fancy studying in the northernmost part of the UK? Read on to find out the top 10 universities in Scotland, based on the QS World University Rankings 2024.  

The QS World University Rankings are based on nine indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty student ratio, research citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, international students' ratio, international research network, employment outcomes and sustainability. You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here.  

Top 10 universities in Scotland 

Based on the QS World University Rankings 2024  

Scotland ranking  

World ranking  

Name of institution  




University of Edinburgh 




University of Glasgow 




University of St Andrews 

St Andrews 



University of Aberdeen 




Heriot-Watt University 




University of Strathclyde 




University of Stirling 




University of Dundee 




Edinburgh Napier University 




Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh 


10. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh 

Ranked 10th in Scotland and 851-900 in the world, Queen Margaret University has achieved their best score for international students' ratio. This is a testament to their commitment to fostering a globally inclusive academic environment. 

Established in 1875, Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh is home to approximately 5,000 students, fostering a friendly and supportive environment. The campus features a learning resource centre, 800 ensuite student residences, and offers courses in healthcare, business, social sciences, drama, and more, emphasising vocational and professional education. 

9. Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University is ranked ninth in Scotland and 801-850 globally in the QS World University Rankings this year. The highest score achieved by the university is for the international student ratio followed by international faculty ratio, showcasing the university’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and globally oriented learning and teaching environment. 

The university houses six dedicated schools to its students, covering applied sciences, arts & creative industries, computing, engineering & the built environment, health & social care, and the business school. Operating across three campuses in Edinburgh, the university is also well recognised for its state-of-the-art learning and teaching facilities. 

8. University of Dundee

University of Dundee

Ranked joint 441st in the world this year, the University of Dundee claims to have the friendliest campus in Scotland and is situated right in the heart of Dundee city centre. The highest score achieved by the university is for its international faculty ratio, showcasing their dedication to global diversity and collaboration.  

Located on the east coast of the central lowlands of Scotland, Dundee’s industrial expansion in the 19th century led to it becoming known as the city of; jute, jam and journalism’. You may be interested to learn Dundee is known as the sunniest city in Scotland and has the mildest climate in the region. 

7. University of Stirling

University of Stirling

One of the younger institutions to make our list of top universities in Scotland, the University of Stirling was founded in 1967 by Royal Charter. Ranked joint 431st in the world, the university is situated just two miles outside of Stirling city centre, where Stirling Castle sits atop the plug of an extinct volcano, presenting an extraordinary view from both above and below. 

The highest score is achieved for international students' ratio, with over 30 percent of students being international, and the university having active partnerships in more than 65 countries. The university actively supports sustainability through initiatives like the 'Forth Valley for Net Zero' campaign and a sustainable growth agreement with SEPA, underscored by its second-highest score for the sustainability indicator. 

6. University of Strathclyde

University of Strathcylde

Scotland’s third-largest university in terms of student population (with over 30,000 undergraduates alone), the University of Strathclyde is sixth in the list this year. 

Founded in 1796 and ranked joint 276th in the world, the University of Strathclyde is known for its innovative and entrepreneurial ethos.  

The university now boasts a Technology and Innovation Centre, which “revolutionises the way researchers in academia and industry collaborate and innovate together” and is expected to boost both employment and investment opportunities in Glasgow. 

5. Heriot-Watt University

heriot watt

Established in 1821 and located in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University is ranked joint 235th in the world and fifth in Scotland. Once located solely in the city centre, the university completed its move to the leafy suburb of Riccarton, approximately six miles from the city centre, in the 1990s. 

The university has achieved a perfect score for the international faculty ratio indicator and a near perfect score for international students' ratio which are both testaments to their vibrant student community.  

4. University of Aberdeen

University of Aberdeen

The University of Aberdeen is ranked 208th in the world in the QS World University Rankings this year, and claims a long history, dating back to 1495. 

Aberdeen is one of the most cost-effective cities for students and offers a wealth of experiences and attractions in return – including many that are free to enjoy, such as the Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum.  

The University of Aberdeen secures its highest score for the sustainability indicator. The university is also ranked 182nd in the world for social impact in the QS Sustainability Rankings 2023.  

3. University of St Andrews 

University of St Andrews

Home to around 9,224 students, the University of St Andrews was founded in 1410, making it the oldest of the four ‘ancient universities of Scotland’. It’s ranked joint 95th in the world this year and 16th among the top universities in the UK. 

A small university town in rural Fife on Scotland’s east coast, St Andrews is famous for its golf course as well as its university, where more than a third of the town’s population either study or work. With the university playing such a central role in local life, the community atmosphere here is hard to beat. 

2. University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow

Home to Scotland’s oldest public museum and the largest Scottish university by student population, the University of Glasgow is also the fourth-oldest university in the United Kingdom, having been established in 1451. 

Ranked joint 76th globally, the University of Glasgow excels with near-perfect scores for the international students' ratio and sustainability indicators. Notably, it holds the 11th position globally for sustainability and actively pursues its goals through a dedicated centre for sustainable solutions, where various projects contribute to the university's commitment to sustainability. 

1. University of Edinburgh 

University of Edinburgh

Ranked first among the top universities in Scotland and 22nd globally is the University of Edinburgh, the sixth-oldest university in the United Kingdom and a part of Scotland’s capital city since 1583. The ‘old town’, where the university is based, is frozen in time with its preserved medieval street plan and reformation-era buildings.  

University of Edinburgh has scored excellent across six out of the nine indicators; international students’ ratio, international research network, sustainability, international faculty ratio, academic reputation and employer reputation. The university is also ranked sixth globally for the sustainability indicator and 12th globally for international research network. 


Is Scotland a good destination for international students?  

Scotland is a highly attractive destination for international students, boasting a rich cultural history, stunning landscapes, and unique traditions. With top-ranking universities like Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow, Scotland offers exceptional educational opportunities.  

Most universities in Scotland excel in the areas of international students' ratio, international faculty ratio and international research network indicators showcasing their commitment to inclusivity and global collaboration. On top of that, Scottish cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee are often recognised as some of the friendliest cities to live in the UK. 

What is the weather in Scotland like? 

The weather in Scotland is known for its variability. It can range from cool and wet to dry and mild. Summers are generally mild, with temperatures averaging between 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit), while winters tend to be colder, ranging from 0 to 7 degrees Celsius (32 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is frequent throughout the year, and it's advisable to be prepared for changing conditions, even within a single day. 

+ 83 others
saved this article

+ 84 others saved this article