UK Higher Education

Cambridge continues to top 2020 league table as lowest-ranked universities close the Graduate Prospects gap #cug2020 2020 rankings, published today (Wednesday 1 May 2019), see Cambridge as the leading UK institution for the ninth consecutive year with Oxford retaining second place.

St Andrews regains the third spot, rising two places after dropping out of the top three last year. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) falls one position to fourth with Imperial College also dropping one place to round out the top five.

In the Main Table, the top ten changes from 2019 in both positions and institutions. Durham continues in sixth place for the fourth year running. Lancaster moves up one spot to seventh – its highest ever position in the tables – swapping places with Loughborough, which moves to eighth. Bath rises two positions to ninth, re-entering the top ten after a four-year absence, while University College London (UCL) remains tenth. Warwick drops three places to 12th from 2019 – the only time it has been outside the top ten since the first online publication of the University League Tables.

Nationally, the top ten universities are Cambridge, Oxford, St Andrews, LSE, Imperial College, Durham, Lancaster, Loughborough, Bath and UCL.

An analysis over five years of a key measure – Graduate Prospects – shows a steady improvement in leavers securing graduate jobs and postgraduate training.

The graph confirms the gap between the institutions in the top 30 for Graduate Prospects, and those in the lowest 30, has narrowed significantly.

Change in Average Graduate Prospects



The top group of universities saw their performance improve by 4.9% from 2016–20 and the lowest group of institutions had a 24.3% increase. The top half of the table improved by 9.4%, but the bottom half increased by 21%.

Dr Bernard Kingston, Chair of, commented: “The evidence is clear; the increased emphasis, including funding, on employability and career planning within academic departments and student services is bearing fruit.

“Many institutions now have this as a core element of their strategic plans with the introduction of innovative programmes of subject-specific careers events focussed on embedding and signposting graduate destinations.

“This is being supported through increased links to alumni and outside professionals leading to higher-skilled work experience. Such developments have been strongly encouraged by prestigious annual awards from AGCAS (the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) and the Institute of Student Employers.”

Significant changes further down the table include Central Lancashire (75th), with a climb of 27, the University of Arts, London (61st), rising 23, and Harper Adams (27th), up 21.

Moving in the opposite direction, Buckingham (=107th) falls 31 places, while Bangor (=83rd) drops 21. Both Brunel (69th) and Essex (=44th) carry on the theme of significant falls in the rankings by going down 19 and 18 places respectively. York (30th) continues its recent decline with a fall of nine places to its lowest ever placing.

Notable Climbers
2020 Rank 2019 Rank Rise (places)
Central Lancashire 75th 102nd 27
University of the Arts, London 61st 84th 23
Harper Adams 27th 48th 21
Middlesex 89th 105th 16
Edinburgh Napier 86th 101st 15
Staffordshire =58th =73rd 15
Ulster =58th =73rd 15
Oxford Brookes 51st =66th 15
University of Wales Trinity St David 102nd 115th 13
Greenwich =83rd 96th 13
Hull =81st 94th 13
Falmouth =77th 90th 13
Edge Hill =58th =71st 13
York St John 111th =123rd 12
Hertfordshire 74th =86th 12
Aston 34th 45th 11
West of Scotland 104th 114th 10
Notable Fallers
2020 Rank 2019 Rank Fall (places)
Buckingham =107th 76th 31
Bangor =83rd =62nd 21
Brunel University of London 69th 50th 19
Cardiff Metropolitan 96th =77th 19
Essex =44th =26th 18
Arts University Bournemouth 65th 49th 16
Winchester 106th 91st 15
Leeds Arts University =94th 81st 13
Norwich University of the Arts 76th 64th 12
West London 90th =79th 11
Gloucestershire 99th 88th 11
Leicester =44th 34th 10
Goldsmiths, University of London 72nd =62nd 10
Roehampton =81st =71st 10
Westminster 92nd 82nd 10

For the fourth year running, has published a ranking of specialist arts, drama and music institutions, featuring 12 colleges and conservatoires. The Courtauld Institute of Art regains the top spot, with the Royal College of Music climbing three to take second place. The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is another mover and gains three places on last year to come third. The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama relinquishes the top position from last year and falls four places to fifth. Also down is the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland which moves from second to sixth position.

Glasgow School of Art goes up two places from 12th to tenth, while both the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Rose Bruford College drop a place each to take 11th and 12th respectively. All other institutions have not moved.

In separate listings covering 70 subjects, only four universities come top in more than two: Cambridge is first in 27 subjects, leaving Oxford in its wake on nine. Glasgow comes third with seven and St Andrews tops four. Strathclyde loses first place in six of its seven subjects last year and now only tops one table: Pharmacology & Pharmacy.

This year, only Cambridge and Oxford feature within the top ten for every subject they teach (41 and 37 respectively). Interestingly, neither Imperial College nor UCL come first in any subject tables – the only universities in the top ten of the Main Table not to feature.

Ulster (58th) and Lincoln (42nd) are notable subject table toppers in Optometry, Ophthalmology & Orthoptics and Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism respectively – the only two institutions outside the top 40 of the main table to come first in a subject.

Simon Emmett, CEO of IDP Connect, said: “These independent and unbiased league tables are used by almost a million applicants and their advisers monthly and are, as importantly, also well respected by the universities themselves for their accuracy and stability.

“The Guide is an essential element of the wide-ranging portfolio of information, advice and guidance available through IDP Connect. It complements the thousands of student reviews, chatbot technology and face-to-face counselling in over 30 countries which, altogether, offer the biggest, busiest and unparalleled worldwide resources available on UK higher education institutions and their courses.”

Fully online and free to access, university rankings provide users with independent and trustworthy league and subject tables. Each of the Guide’s tables can be sorted by their individual measures, year, region and mission group (including unaffiliated universities). The league tables can be found in full, along with the methodology and more information at: #cug2020

Contact Alison Patterson: Tel +44 (0) 75925 69751;

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