top of page

Top Ten UK Universities 2020

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

The Complete University Guide's 2020 League Tables are the most comprehensive, independent rankings of the UK’s universities. The main League Table measures universities by ten key indicators, including Student Satisfaction, Graduate Prospects and Student-Staff ratios.

Here's a countdown of the Top Ten universities of 2020:

10. University College London

University College London (UCL) remains tenth in the Complete University Guide League Table. It does however get the second best Student-Staff Ratio in the UK, if you include the Russell Group institutions.

With top ten scores for both Research Quality and Research Intensity, it's no surprise that UCL counts 29 Nobel Prize winners among its former students or academics. Research includes pivotal work to change the understanding of Alzheimer's; and in 2018 UCL was selected to lead a multimillion pound European mission (ARIEL) to study newly discovered planets. Nearly 90% of students gain a Good Honours of a 2:1 or more.

9. University of Bath

The University of Bath makes the top ten in the UK University League Table for the first time since the 2015 edition, breaking its run of four consecutive years ranking 11th. Of the 26 subject tables Bath appears in, it makes the top ten on 18 occasions, including two top spots in Architecture and Marketing.

Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its Roman-built baths and Georgian architecture, including the distinctive townhouses comprising 'The Circus'.

8. Loughborough University

Loughborough ranks eighth in the 2020 University League Table, a one place drop from last year. The university earns top ten rankings for Student Satisfaction, Graduate Prospects and Research Intensity.

Loughborough is also in the top ten for Facilities Spend on areas such as sports or careers services. Known for its sporting prowess, nearly 100 students, alumni and campus-based athletes competed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, winning 30 medals between them. Among them were four members of the England Netball team, who defeated Australia in a dramatic final to win a historic gold medal.

7. Lancaster University

Climbing one place to seventh, Lancaster University gets its highest ever ranking in the University League Table. Lancaster also appears in 19 subject table top tens, and is top of the Creative Writing table.

Surrounded by great scenery, the university is set on a beautiful parkland campus, close to the Lake District. The Students' Union is at the heart of the social scene, and plenty of volunteering opportunities – including overseas experiences – help Lancaster students gain employability skills, evidenced by a top ten place for Graduate Prospects.

6. Durham University

Steady at sixth, Durham University is one of the oldest higher education institutions in England. This year it has impressive scores across most measures, especially Good Honours for which it ranks third. Durham has 30 subjects achieving top ten listings, taking first place in the English and Music league tables in 2020.

Study at Durham and you could live in a UNESCO World Heritage Site – one of the oldest university buildings in the world, Durham Castle is also an undergraduate residence.

5. Imperial College London

Imperial College London is top of the table for Research Quality, which in this specialist institution focuses on science, engineering, medicine and business. Like Cambridge it has high Entry Standards and also has the highest Graduate Prospects of the top ten UK universities, with over 90% of students going into professional jobs or further study within six months of graduating.

Many of the university's researchers are involved in teaching, and each year an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) gives the chance for 300 students to get hands-on experience – from teaching dance routines to a humanoid robot to studying with academics based at Kew Gardens.

4. London School of Economics and Political Science

In the top five since 2008, LSE drops to fourth place in the 2020 University League Table. Known for its expertise in the social sciences, it tops the table for Social Policy – and nine other subjects also get a top ten ranking.

In April 2018, LSE's Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) achieved recognition as a global centre of excellence, becoming one of only two ESRC Institutes in the UK. Institute status recognises the CEP's long-term impact on policy, as well as excellence in training researchers and building expertise in economics.

3. University of St Andrews

Climbing back up to third place, Scotland's St Andrews achieves the highest place for a non-Russell Group member in 2020's University League Table. The university also boasts the highest score for Student Satisfaction and nearly 90% of students gain a Good Honours.

St Andrews is known for its traditions, which includes wearing academic gowns to formal events. New students acquire academic 'parents', who they thank with a pound of raisins – although these days a bottle of wine is just as welcome!

2. University of Oxford

Remaining second in the overall University League Table, Oxford has the highest number of students gaining a Good Honours, coming first in this measure every year since 2008. Its students also benefit from the highest Academic Services Spend of all UK universities.

Known for its academic reputation, Oxford appears in the top ten for each of the 37 subject tables it features in, with top rankings in some of the most competitive subjects, including Medicine and Politics. Notable politics alumni include Bill Clinton, Tony Benn and Channel 4's Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

1. University of Cambridge

First place goes to Cambridge, who has now topped the Complete University Guide League Table on ten occasions, with this marking nine years in a row. Cambridge has 41 top-ten subjects – coming top in 27 of those rankings.

The university has high expectations of its students, with the highest Entry Standards of all universities. In return, students can expect to have teaching influenced by the latest research, with the university scoring an equal top score for Research Intensity. Alumni of the university include David Attenborough and Alan Turing – and the university counts 107 Nobel Prize winners among its alumni, academics and visiting staff.


bottom of page