Top Universities in the UK 2015/16
**This article is based on the results of the QS World University Rankings® 2015/16. Click here to discover the top universities in the UK in 2018.
An impressive 71 UK universities are featured in the 2015/16 edition of the QS World University Rankings®. The UK claims no less than four of the world’s top 10 institutions, and the top 10 UK universities (see below) are all ranked within the global top 50. Four of the 10 top universities in the UK are located in vibrant capital London, with most of the rest located elsewhere in England, and one in Scotland. Read on to find out more about the top universities in the UK this year, starting with the top 10. To compare this with last year's results, visit this article.
One of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Cambridge is currently placed joint 3rd in the world rankings, alongside Stanford University. This prestigious university dates back to 1209 and has many notable alumni, including Stephen Hawking and Charles Darwin.
The oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is this year placed 6th in the world rankings. The institution’s Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world, while its notable alumni include no less than 26 British prime ministers.
UCL is ranked 7th in the world and the highest ranking university in London in the 2015/16 edition of the tables. Founded in 1826, UCL is a major center for biomedical research, and was both the first university to be founded in London and the first to admit women on equal terms with men.
Ranked 8th in the world this year, Imperial College London was founded by Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria). It specializes in business, engineering, medicine and science and formed the first academic health science center in the UK.
Ranked joint 19th in the world alongside Australian National University (ANU), KCL was founded in 1829 by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington. It is well known for its medical teaching and biomedical research and is home to six Medical Research Council centers, more than any other British university.
Ranked 21st in the world rankings this year, the University of Edinburgh was founded in 1582 and is the highest ranking among UK universities by the sea. Alongside international events such as the annual Edinburgh Festival, the university has contributed to the city’s status as one of the UK’s major hubs of culture and academia.
Currently ranked 33rd in the world, the University of Manchester is the largest single-campus university in the UK, as a result of the merger of two Manchester universities in 2004. It is a major research center with a strong reputation both within and beyond the UK.
LSE has climbed an impressive 36 places in the QS World University Rankings this year, now placing 35th in the world, partly as a result of methodology refinements which have balanced out an earlier bias towards science-focused institutions. A research university specializing in social sciences, LSE has a highly international student body.
The University of Bristol is placed 37th in the world this year. It was founded in 1876 as University College, Bristol. The university has been associated with 11 Nobel laureates throughout its history and is well-respected for its research.
Ranked 48th in the world, the University of Warwick (which is actually located in Coventry in the West Midlands rather than in Warwickshire) is one of the leading research universities in the UK, and was founded in 1965 with the aim of increasing access to higher education.
The remaining top 20 UK universities are…
11. Durham University – ranked 61st in the world (a good climb from its place at joint 92nd in the world last year).
12. University of Glasgow – ranked joint 62nd in the world with Carnegie Mellon University.
13. University of St Andrews – ranked 68th in the world.
14. University of Nottingham – ranked joint 70th in the world with Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
15. University of Birmingham – ranked 76th in the world.
16. University of Sheffield – ranked 80th in the world.
17. University of Southampton – ranked 81st in the world.
18. University of Leeds – ranked joint 87th in the world with Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH).
19. University of York – ranked 103rd in the world.
20. Queen Mary, University Of London (QMUL) – ranked 109th in the world.
More top universities in the UK…
21. Lancaster University – ranked 121st in the world.
22. Cardiff University – ranked 122nd in the world.
23. University of Aberdeen – ranked joint 137th in the world.
24. University of Liverpool – ranked 151st in the world.
25. University of Reading – ranked joint 156th in the world.
26. University of Bath – ranked 159th in the world.
27. University of Exeter – ranked 161st in the world.
28. Newcastle University – ranked 162nd in the world.
29. Queen’s University of Belfast – ranked joint 182nd in the world.
30. University of Sussex – ranked 187th in the world.
31. Loughborough University – ranked 228th in the world.
32. Royal Holloway University of London – ranked 231st in the world.
33. University of Leicester – ranked joint 235th in the world.
34. University of East Anglia (UEA) – ranked 239th in the world.
35. University of Surrey – ranked joint 247th in the world.
36. University of Strathclyde – ranked joint 249th in the world.
37. University of Dundee – ranked joint 261st in the world.
38. SOAS - School of Oriental And African Studies, University Of London – ranked joint 275th in the world.
39. Birkbeck College, University of London – ranked 290th in the world.
40. City University London – ranked 301st in the world.
41. University of Essex – ranked joint 303rd in the world.
42. Heriot-Watt University – ranked 318th in the world.
43. Oxford Brookes University – ranked joint 324th in the world.
44. Brunel University – ranked joint 331st in the world.
45. Aston University – ranked joint 346th in the world.
46. University of Kent – ranked 360th in the world.
47. University of Stirling – ranked joint 384th in the world.
48. Swansea University – ranked joint 400th in the world.
49. Bangor University – ranked 411-420 in the world.
50. Goldsmiths, University of London – ranked 451 – 460 in the world.
51. Kingston University – ranked 471-480 in the world.
52. Aberystwyth University – ranked 501-550 in the world.
53. Keele University – ranked 501-550 in the world.
54. University of Bradford – ranked 551-600 in the world.
55. University of Hull – ranked 551-600 in the world.
56. University of Ulster – ranked 551-600 in the world.
57. University of Portsmouth – ranked 601-650 in the world – new this year.
58. London Metropolitan University – ranked 651-700 in the world.
59. Middlesex University – ranked 651-700 in the world.
60. University of Plymouth – ranked 651-700 in the world.
61. University of Salford – ranked 651-700 in the world.
62. University of East London – ranked 701+ in the world.
63. Coventry University – ranked 701+ in the world.
64. Manchester Metropolitan University – ranked 701+ in the world.
65. Northumbria University at Newcastle – ranked 701+ in the world.
66. Nottingham Trent University – ranked 701+ in the world.
67. Robert Gordon University – ranked 701+ in the world.
68. University of Central Lancashire – ranked 701+ in the world.
69. University of Greenwich – ranked 701+ in the world.
70. University of Hertfordshire – ranked 701+ in the world.
71. University of Huddersfield – ranked 701+ in the world.
This article was originally published in September 2015 . It was last updated in January 2020