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For the first time in over 10 years, Oxford has overtaken Cambridge as the UK’s number-one-rated university in the 2022 Complete University Guide (CUG) league tables. The annually compiled league tables also show that England has yet again claimed 9 out of the top 10 universities. Scotland’s University of St. Andrews is the only non-English university in the top 10, coming in at 4th place.  

Every year for the last quarter of a century, the team behind the Complete University Guide (CUG) has released a set of university and subject league tables aimed at guiding prospective students in their higher education decision making. This year’s tables indicate similar levels of performance to last year’s from most universities, but with a few surprising shifts. 

Minor year-on-year shifts for top ten universities 

In the main 2022 league table, which ranks 130 universities throughout the UK, the top 10 universities saw minor year-on-year shifts. Notably, Warwick re-entered the top 10 into 10th position after 2 years in 11th place and Lancaster dropped from 8th to 11th. 

Significant upward shifts in the top 50 include Essex climbing 16 places into 25th position, Harper Adams climbing 13 places into 28th position and Ulster climbing 16 places into 44th position. Glasgow has moved up 3 places into 16th position with their highest ranking in 5 years. Wales has also seen improvements with 6 of the 8 Welsh universities represented seeing increases.  

 Simon Emmett, CEO of IDP Connect, owners of the Guide said: “Congratulations to the University of Oxford for taking the lead in this year’s rankings after a decade. It is a testament to the close competition and high standards among the UK’s top universities.  

“Many of this year’s students are expecting higher grades from teacher-led assessments and therefore have higher ambitions for their higher education choices. More prospective students are keeping their options open and leaving their university decision-making to much later compared to other years.  

“The 2022 CUG league tables will serve as a valuable guide to even more actively researching students this year. My hope is that these rankings will help them make the right decisions as they consider their higher education options.” 

CUG main league table 2022 (top 10)

Subject league tables 

Of all the subject league tables, Law, Medicine and Computer Science were the most popular with students over the last year, correlating with the increase in demand for these subjects across IDP’s student-facing websites.  

The 2022 rankings for Law are notably turbulent with significant movement in the top 10. The London School of Economics climbed 5 places into 4th position, while Aberdeen dropped 4 places into 10th position. Bristol also climbed 10 places into 9th position.  

Scotland maintains its strong foothold in the 2022 Medicine rankings with Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen all featuring in the top 10. In the Computer Science league table, Oxford replaces Cambridge in the top spot and University College London climbs an impressive 14 places into 6th position.  

Links to league tables 

Each of the Guide’s tables can be sorted by their individual measures and filtered by region and mission group (including unaffiliated universities). Tables from the current and previous years can be downloaded. The league tables can be found in full, along with the methodology and more information at thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk.  

The League Tables available include:


Contact: Alison Patterson: Tel +44 (0) 75925 69751 or email admin@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk

Notes for editors

  1. The team behind thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk has compiled university league tables for more than 25 years. Since 2007, these have been freely available online. The Guide is an autonomous division of IDP Connect, the international educational listing company, from which, by mutual agreement, it retains its complete editorial independence. In January 2017, IDP Connect (formerly Hotcourses Group) was acquired by IDP Education. Thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk attracts over 10 million visitors each year.


  2. The main league table is based on 10 measures: Entry Standards, Student Satisfaction, Research Quality, Research Intensity, Graduate Prospects – outcomes, Graduate Prospects – on track, Student-Staff Ratio, Spending on Academic Services, Spending on Student Facilities, and Completion. It includes 130 institutions.

  3. New for the 2022 release is the addition of Graduate Prospects – on track, a measure focused on whether recent graduates agree that their current activity fits with their future plans. 


  4. Also new for the 2022 release is the removal of Good Honours. CUG’s long-standing concerns about the reliability of the Good Honours measure were compounded by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic leading to the conclusion that the measure was no longer sufficiently reliable to be included in the league tables.


  5. The Arts, Drama & Music League Table, published since 2016, lists 14 specialist institutions offering too small a subject range to appear in the main table.  


  6. The subject tables are based on 6 measures (Entry Standards, Student Satisfaction, Research Quality, Research Intensity, Graduate Prospects – outcomes and Graduate Prospects – on track) and include 145 universities, university colleges and specialist higher education institutions. Four new subject league tables have been added this year: Childhood & Youth Studies, Health Studies, Manufacturing & Production Engineering and Paramedic Science. Eleven subject tables have been renamed this year with slight definition changes. 

  7. All university league tables on thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk can be filtered by region and mission group (Cathedrals Group, GuildHE, MillionPlus Group, Russell Group, University Alliance, as well as unaffiliated universities). Tables from the current and previous years can be downloaded. All tables can also be sorted by any of the measures that comprise them.

  8. Please review the full description of the criteria for inclusion in the main university league table or the subject tables for more details.

CP - Image - Franki
Franki Clemens08 June 2021