The 2018 rankings, published today, show an improving picture this year driven by better graduate employment prospects and increased spending by the universities on student facilities and services.

Cambridge holds on to first place, as does Oxford in second. St Andrews has risen to third place for the first time in Main Table, which this year ranks 129 UK universities.

Although the universities comprising the Top Ten remain the same, the order in which they have ranked has changed. In addition to St Andrews, University College London has climbed three places to seventh. Loughborough has fallen three places to tenth, while the London School of Economics (fourth) and Imperial College London (fifth) have both fallen by one place.


Nationally the top ten universities are Cambridge, Oxford, St Andrews, London School of Economics, Imperial College London, Durham, University College London, Warwick, Lancaster and Loughborough.

Dr Bernard Kingston, Chairman of, said: “It is ten years since launched its online university league tables, and they have proved their accuracy, independence and robustness over the decade.

“This year there is a considerable degree of stability at the upper end of the league table, as in the past. This stability, while it may not attract the headlines, demonstrates that the rankings fulfil our principal objective – to provide credible and freely accessible information for individuals seeking a university place.

“The Government has said that applicants need access to robust, timely and objective information, based on criteria that are straightforward and easily understood.

“We believe that meets these criteria and more and we intend that this will remain the case for the next decade – and beyond. Indeed, we use the same three metrics which the Government plans to include in its much-heralded Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).”

Following a drop of nine places to 24th in 2017, Bristol (17th) has climbed seven places. Nottingham is the only other new entrant in the Top 20, climbing three places to 18th. Two universities have dropped out of the Top 20: Edinburgh falls four places to 23rd, while Southampton is the biggest faller of last year’s Top 20, dropping nine places to 26th.

Coventry, in 43rd place, has climbed seven places and now replaces Lincoln (down one place to 50th) as the highest ranking post-1992 university (former polytechnic).

There are two new institutions in the Main Table in 2018. Birkbeck, University of London enters in 115th, and Suffolk enters in 129th.


Notable Climbers
2018 2017 Rise (places)
West London 81st 106th +25
Liverpool Hope 59th 83rd +24
Aberystwyth 68th 87th +19
Arts University Bournemouth 61st 76th +15
East London 113th 126th +13
Nottingham Trent 52nd 63rd +11
Bedfordshire 109th 120th +11
Essex 31st 41st +10
West of Scotland 100th 110th +10
Huddersfield 72nd 81st +9
Bristol 17th 24th +7
Coventry 43rd 50th +7
Heriot-Watt 28th 34th +6
Dundee 29th 35th +6


Notable Fallers
  2018 2017 Fall (places)
De Montfort 82nd 54th -28
Buckingham 78th 55th -23
Northampton 110th 87th -23
Aston 49th 30th -19
Norwich University of the Arts 84th 66th -18
South Wales 117th 99th -18
York St John 121st 107th -14
Bath Spa 89th 76th -13
Robert Gordon 75th 64th -11
Winchester 85th 74th -11
Buckinghamshire New 123rd 113th -10
Southampton 26th 17th -9
St George’s, University of London 53rd 44th -9
Leeds Trinity 111th 103rd -8
Anglia Ruskin 118th 110th -8
Glasgow 36th 29th -7


For the second year running, has published a ranking table of specialist arts, drama and music institutions. This table shows remarkable consistency, with no institution moving more than two places.

In separate listings for 70 subjects, Cambridge features in the Top Ten in all 44 subjects it teaches, topping the table in 34. Oxford features in the Top Ten for all 38 subjects that it offers, finishing first in five, while Imperial College London appears in the Top Ten for all 14 of the subjects it provides, topping the table in one.

Durham features in the Top Ten of 32 of the 33 subjects it teaches, finishing first in three, while St Andrews makes the Top Ten for 23 of the 25 subjects it offers, topping the table in two.

Strathclyde appears at the top of three subject tables, a total only surpassed by Cambridge and Oxford. A number of universities with relatively few Top Ten appearances still secure the top place in a subject table. One such example is Queen Mary, University of London which tops the table in Dentistry. allows greater flexibility than newspaper and book-based guides. All the Guide’s university league tables can be sorted by their individual measures, and also filtered by year, region and mission group (including unaffiliated universities). The league table, full methodology and other information are available at

Simon Emmett, Chief Executive Officer of the Hotcourses Group, which acquired in October 2015, said: “The rankings provided by are widely respected and cited both at home and, importantly, overseas.

“The rankings are well known for their editorial integrity and independence, key qualities which we know will remain under the continued guidance of Dr Bernard Kingston. It is a pleasure to work with him and his expert team, to whom I offer my warmest congratulations on this latest release.

“The CUG league tables increasingly enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the very different Whatuni Student Choice Awards. Both exist to help students make one of the most important decisions of their lives – the right choice of subject and the right university for them.”