Top Universities In The UK 2021

The University of Oxford continues its domination among the top universities 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, 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



5 University of Oxford
2 7

University of Cambridge


8 Imperial College London



UCL (University College London)

5 20

University of Edinburgh


27= The University of Manchester
7 31=

King’s College London (KCL)


49 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
9 58

University of Bristol



The University of Warwick

10) 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

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)

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)

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

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 favorably by employers – the university ranks 21st in the world for the employer reputation indicator.

5) 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)

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

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

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

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).

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= University of Glasgow
12   86 Durham University
13   87 University of Birmingham
14   90 University of Southampton
15   91 University of Leeds
16   93= The University of Sheffield
17   96 University of St Andrews
18   99 The University of Nottingham
19   133= Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)
20   135= Lancaster University

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= University of York
22   152= Newcastle University
23   159 Cardiff University
24   164 University of Exeter
25   173= University of Bath
26   181= University of Liverpool
27   205 University of Reading
28   207 University of Aberdeen
29   209 Queen’s University of Belfast
30   226 Loughborough University
31   242= University of Leicester
32   246= University of Sussex
33   267= University of Surrey
34   300 University of Strathclyde
35   301= Heriot-Watt University
36   308= Royal Holloway University of London
37   319 University of Dundee
38   333= University of East Anglia (UEA)
39   344= Birkbeck College, University of London
40   346= SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
41   350= City, University of London
42   368= Brunel University
43   380= University of Kent
44   383= Oxford Brookes University
45   411= University of Essex
46   416= Goldsmiths, University of London
47   474= Swansea University
48   485= Aberystwyth University
48   485= University of Stirling

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 Aston University
51 541-550 Coventry University
52 581-590 Kingston University, London
53 601-650 Bangor University
54 601-650 Ulster University
57 601-650 University of Bradford
55 601-650 University of Hull
56 601-650 University of Portsmouth
60 651-700 Northumbria University at Newcastle
58 651-700 Plymouth University
59 651-700 University of Westminster
61 701-750 Keele University
63 701-750 Middlesex University
64 701-750 University of Greenwich
62 701-750 University of Huddersfield
65 751-800 Bournemouth University
67 751-800 London South Bank University
66 751-800 Nottingham Trent University
82   801-1000 Birmingham City University (BCU)
73   801-1000 De Montfort University
79   801-1000 Edinburgh Napier University
84   801-1000 Glasgow Caledonian University
69   801-1000 Liverpool John Moores University
75   801-1000 London Metropolitan University
69   801-1000 Manchester Metropolitan University
75   801-1000 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
81   801-1000 Sheffield Hallam University
82   801-1000 The Robert Gordon University
72   801-1000 University of Brighton
78   801-1000 University of Central Lancashire
68   801-1000 University of East London
74   801-1000 University of Hertfordshire
80   801-1000 University of Lincoln
77   801-1000 University of Salford
69   801-1000 University of the West of England

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