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The University of Cambridge has come top of the class for this year’s annual Complete University Guide rankings, but there have been some significant changes within the league table as new centres of excellence compete for positions of greatness within the Complete University Guide’s league table.

Not to be outdone by previous successes, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge have fought to retain their dominance of the performance tables once more. However, places at the top of the table cannot be taken for granted as newcomers have challenged traditional incumbents to rapidly climb the table and secure a place in the top 60.

Major advancers include Goldsmiths, University of London rising 22 places and the University of Liverpool which saw their ranking rise 6 places to land a spot in the top 20.

St Andrews maintains the prestige of the highest ranked university in Scotland, and Cardiff University remains top of the table in Wales. University of the Arts London claims the highest modern university ranking at 28th, with Harper Adams clinching a close second place sitting comfortably at 32nd in the national league tables.

Every year the Complete University Guide releases UK university and subject league tables to support prospective students in making informed decisions about their future. Regional league tables are also on offer to help people find the right university for them in their area.

This follows on from last month’s Whatuni Student Choice Awards which saw students choose their favourite university across a range of categories and celebrate the work of universities up and down the country.

Professor Amanda Chetwynd, Chair of the Complete University Guide Advisory Board, said:

"In the latest edition of the Complete University Guide rankings, we extend our congratulations to the University of Cambridge for securing the coveted top spot. Our methodology, rooted in independent measures, reflects vital aspects cherished by students, such as post-graduation job prospects, ratio of staff to students and the quality of the teaching.

“The competitive landscape within the top 20 underscores the exceptional standards upheld by UK universities.

“Furthermore, the dynamic shifts witnessed in the subject league tables emphasise their significance as a crucial resource for prospective students navigating their academic journey, providing invaluable guidance for those seeking clarity on where to pursue their passions."

In a groundbreaking milestone for educational achievement, nearly 80% of graduates have successfully transitioned into graduate-level or professional roles, or are pursuing postgraduate education. This remarkable statistic not only underscores the exceptional calibre of education provided by universities across the UK, but also highlights the dedication and tenacity of our graduates in pursuing their academic and professional aspirations. Within the Complete University Guide data we can see that students who study arts and creative subjects are equally performing well across the regions and nations in the UK. Simon Emmett, Chief Executive Officer of IDP Connect, said:

"The 2025 Complete University Guide rankings are an essential compass for students navigating their academic journey. Rooted in unwavering independence, the guide empowers students with crucial insights, ensuring trust and reliability in their decision-making process. Beyond mere rankings, the guide addresses key concerns like cost of living and local crime rates, serving as a comprehensive resource for students and parents alike."


Notes to editors:

Please find attached the top five ranked universities broken down into the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.

The team behind thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk has compiled university league tables for 30 years. Since 2007, these have been freely available online. The Guide is an autonomous division of IDP Education, global leader in education services and technology, from which, by mutual agreement, it retains its complete editorial independence.

Thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk attracts over ten million visitors each year.

The main league table is based on ten measures: entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality, research intensity, academic services spend, spending on student facilities, continuation, student-staff ratio, graduate prospects – outcomes, and graduate prospects – on track. It includes 130 institutions.

The Arts, Drama & Music League Table, published since 2016, lists 12 specialist institutions offering too small a subject range to appear in the main table.

The subject tables are based on six measures (entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality, continuation, graduate prospects – outcomes and graduate prospects – on track) and include 154 universities, university colleges and specialist higher education institutions.

All university league tables on thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk can be filtered by region and mission group (Cathedrals Group, GuildHE, MillionPlus, 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.

Criteria for inclusion in the main university league table or the subject tables can be seen on our website.

Top universities in each country of the UK:

Cambridge University - ranked 1st

St Andrews University - ranked 4th

Queen’s University Belfast - ranked 25th

Cardiff University - ranked 27th

Top new university (established post-1992):

University of the Arts London - ranked 28th

Harper Adams - ranked 32nd

Northumbria University, Newcastle - ranked 34th

Ulster University - ranked 42nd

Nottingham Trent University - ranked 45th

Oxford Brookes University - ranked 46th

University of Lincoln - ranked 48th

University of Portsmouth - ranked 49th

Major climbers in this year’s Complete University Guide include:

University of Liverpool - ranked joint 18th (up 6 places)

Ulster University - ranked 42nd (up 7 places)

University of Dundee - ranked joint 52nd (up 6 places)

Goldsmiths, University of London - ranked joint 52nd (up 22 places)

Manchester Metropolitan University - ranked 55th (up 5 places)

University of Suffolk - ranked 58th (up 22 places)

St George’s, University of London - ranked joint 64th (up 14 places)

St Mary’s University, Twickenham - ranked joint 70th (up 16 places)

Brunel University London - ranked 80th (up 15 places)

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh - ranked 87th (up 15 places)

About IDP Connect

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We specialise in combining human expertise with digital technology to help people get accepted into their ideal course, take an English language test or learn English in their schools. Our teams work side-by-side with our customers, at every step from course search through to starting their dream course or career.

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Cicely Oliver14 May 2024