Top UK Universities by Region 2014/15
Click here to see the top universities in the UK 2015/16.
If you’re looking to study in the UK, there are many diverse opportunities open to you across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For those interested in studying in historic surrounds, there’s the wide selection of UK universities packed with tradition, including the famous two halves of “Oxbridge” – the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge.
If you want to be based in the UK capital, there’s a huge selection of universities in London to choose from, including Imperial College London, UCL (University College London) or Kings College London, all ranked among the world’s top 20 institutions.
Read on for a region-by-region guide to the top UK universities, based on the QS World University Rankings 2014/15. To compare this with last year's results, visit this article.
Top universities in London
London is a tough city to beat in terms of higher education institutions, boasting 15 universities featured in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15. Of these, the two top universities in London are UCL (University College London) and Imperial College London. UCL is ranked joint 5th in the world, alongside the University of Oxford, and Imperial College London is ranked joint 2nd in the world, alongside the University of Cambridge.
This year, Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) made the largest upward climb, going from 115th in the world in the last edition, to 98th in the world this year.
Top universities in London in 2014/15:
- Imperial College London (2= in the world)
- UCL (University College London, 5=)
- King's College London (KCL, 16th)
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE, 71=)
- Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL, 98th)
- Royal Holloway University of London (275=)
- SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (331=)
- City University London (341=)
- Brunel University (355=)
- Birkbeck College, University of London (431-440)
- Goldsmiths, University of London (501-550)
- Kingston University (501-550)
- London Metropolitan University (701+)
- University of East London (701+)
- University of Greenwich (701+)
Note: Although most of the top universities in London are right at the heart of the city, some are much further out. These outskirt universities include Royal Holloway, Brunel University and Kingston University.
Top universities in England (outside London)
It’s not all about London if you’re looking to study in the UK. In fact, including both halves of Oxbridge, there are a total of 39 top UK universities located across the rest of England, of which 11 are ranked within the top 100 universities worldwide.
In this year’s QS World University Rankings, the top universities in England (outside London) are the University of Cambridge, ranked joint 2nd in the world, and the University of Oxford, ranked joint 5th in the world. The top universities in England (outside London) are as follows:
South East England
- University of Oxford (5=)
- University of Southampton (94th)
- University of Sussex (200=)
- University of Reading (202=)
- University of Surrey (314=)
- Oxford Brookes University (379=)
- University of Kent (451-460)
- Middlesex University (651-700)
North West England
- University of Manchester (30th)
- University of Liverpool (123=)
- Lancaster University (160th)
- University of Central Lancashire (701+)
- University of Salford (701+)
- Manchester Metropolitan University (701+)
- University of Cambridge (2=)
- University of East Anglia (240=)
- University of Essex (370th)
- University of Hertfordshire (701+)
- University of Warwick (61st)
- University of Birmingham (64th)
- Aston University (390=)
- Keele University (501-550)
- Coventry University (701+)
South West England
- University of Bristol (29th)
- University of Exeter (161st)
- University of Bath (179=)
- University of Plymouth (701+)
Yorkshire and the Humber
- University of Sheffield (69th)
- University of Leeds (97th)
- University of York (120th)
- University of Hull (551-600)
- University of Bradford (601-650)
- University of Nottingham (77th)
- University of Leicester (211th)
- Loughborough University (265=)
- Nottingham Trent University (701+)
North East England
Top universities in Scotland
While England may boast the largest number of top UK universities (after all, it has by far the largest population), the UK’s other member states – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are also home to impressive selections of world-leading universities.
Scotland is home to nine of the top UK universities, led by the University of Edinburgh, ranked at joint 17th in the world this year, just one place behind King’s College London (KCL), and sixth in the ranking of top UK universities overall.
Another incentive to study in Scotland is that all EU students from outside of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible for free undergraduate tuition! The top universities in Scotland for 2014/15 are:
- University of Edinburgh (17=)
- University of Glasgow (55=)
- University of St Andrews (88th)
- University of Aberdeen (137th)
- University of Dundee (230=)
- University of Strathclyde (246=)
- Heriot-Watt University (352=)
- University of Stirling (501-550)
- Robert Gordon University (701+)
Top universities in Wales and Northern Ireland
With smaller populations, Wales and Northern Ireland claim fewer representatives in the rankings, but these regions certainly shouldn’t be overlooked when choosing somewhere to study in the UK. Wales and Northern Ireland not only thrive in the higher education market, but they also offer students the chance to explore a completely different side of life in the UK, often offering close-knit and lively student scenes.
Of the top universities in Wales, Cardiff University is the highest-ranked in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15, and continues to go from strength to strength. This year Cardiff University is ranked 123rd in the world, having climbed a total of 13 ranks compared to the previous edition. The top universities in Wales are as follows:
- Cardiff University (123rd)
- Swansea University (461-470)
- Bangor University (471-480)
- Aberystwyth University (601-650)
And the top universities in Northern Ireland are:
This article was originally published in October 2014 . It was last updated in January 2020