As an international hub for higher education, the United Kingdom has always been a staple among the top three most preferred countries for international students worldwide. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland boast some of the top universities in the UK and most prestigious in the world, providing a sea of opportunities for education nomads to boost their academic credentials and pursue a fulfilling career in their field of study.
In addition, most cities in the UK offer a diverse cultural environment and a bustling lifestyle revered among young people across the globe. Therefore, studying in one of the top universities in the UK is not just about getting the finest education possible, but also about immersing in the country's rich history, culture, art, and social life.
After you decide to study in the UK, your biggest challenge will be to choose which one of the several top-tier educational institutes across the country is best for you. To give you a hand, we’ve created a list of the top universities in the UK!
A select list of top universities in the UK
When speaking of higher education in the UK, the first places that come to mind are Oxford, Cambridge, and London. Still, the UK is home to several top-class universities outside the "golden triangle", which excel as higher education providers and welcome numerous international students every year.
So, without further ado, here are ten of the top universities in the UK, Oxbridge and London excluded.
University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham is a public research university in Nottingham, England. It's a historically significant "red brick" university and an acclaimed research-intensive institution. It's one of the top Russell Group universities in the UK, a member of Universitas 21, and home to the Rolls-Royce University Technology Center in Manufacturing and On-Wing Technology. The school's four UK and two international campuses accommodate students from over 150 nationalities. Regarding employability, the University of Nottingham is among the top ten in the UK and 66th globally (QS 2022 rankings).
The University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is a public research university in Edinburgh, Scotland, a bustling multicultural city host to one of the most famous festivals in the world. Home to leading research initiatives and a member of the Russell Group and Universitas 21, the Scottish school ranks among the ** top universities in the UK** for research quality and breadth. It's popular for its sports science programs and is considered one of the best places in the world to study medicine and veterinary medicine. In sync with the times, the University of Edinburgh is the largest remote education provider in the UK, offering more than 70 online degrees.
The University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is a public research university in Manchester, England. It's one of the original red brick universities and a member of the Russel and N8 groups. Heavily focused on groundbreaking research, the school attracts massive funding and boasts 25 Nobel Prize winners. Manchester University has one of the highest percentages of international students in the UK, at 25%, offering many scholarship opportunities to foreign nationals. Students from more than 190 countries attend the school's over 1000 programs and enjoy one of the country's highest employability rates, at 95%.
University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is a public research university in Glasgow, Scotland, ranked as the 3rd best student city in the UK (QS 2023 rankings). It's the 4th oldest of the top universities in the UK, and its heavy research-intensive credentials include memberships in the Russell Group and Universitas 21 (founding member). Glasgow University is a leader in UK-based cancer research and home to the ever-popular School of Cancer Studies. Seated in one of the world's friendliest cities, the emblematic Scottish institution hosts an ever-growing international student population thriving under its wings.
University of Bristol
The University of Bristol is a public research university in Bristol, England, a beautiful city, once voted 3rd most cultural and creative city in the UK. Historically, it's a proud member of the UK's red-brick universities. Research-wise, it boasts memberships in the Russell Group and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). Bristol University ranks among the top universities in the UK for employability, and its graduates are some of the most sought-after by employers. It offers more than 600 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees across its six faculties and 28 schools, which all welcome many foreign students every year.
Explore bachelor's in the UK!
Newcastle University is a public research university in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with two additional international campuses in Singapore and Malaysia. A founding member of the Russell Group, it's a research-intensive institution with pioneering contributions to solving pressing problems worldwide. It boasts the 2nd medical school in the world permitted to pursue stem-cell research in human embryos, three National Innovation Centers, and a UK-leading school of computing. Popular among international students, Newcastle University is known to provide a diverse, inclusive, and fulfilling academic experience.
University of Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. As the 5th oldest of the top universities in the UK, it boasts a longstanding tradition in higher education combined with an innovative approach to learning. Aberdeen University allows its students increased flexibility and provides many opportunities to reevaluate, readjust or even change their degree as they develop. That may explain why 96.6% of its graduates find employment or continue studying. A leader in petroleum geology studies and research, the school connects graduates directly with one of the biggest industries in the world.
University of Dundee
The University of Dundee is a public research university in Dundee, Scotland, a student-friendly, affordable city recently ranked as the 2nd safest in the UK. A world top 100 institution for studying biological sciences, the humble Scottish school is ranked 2nd among the top universities in the UK for its quality of research in said field, having pioneered innovations such as laparoscopic surgery and bowel cancer screening. Dundee University is a popular choice among international students due to the city and campus's welcoming vibes and the ample scholarship opportunities offered, like the Global Excellence Scholarship.
Durham University is a collegiate public research university in Durham, England, a historic city home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a prominent research-intensive institution (one of the top Russell Group universities in the UK), it has several acclaimed research centers (like the Institute for Computational Cosmology and the Durham Energy Institute) and participates in the N8 Partnership and the Virgo Consortium. Divided into 17 colleges, Durham offers students a unique opportunity to be part of tightly-knit, traditional communities. It's also top-ranked in employability, and Durham graduates are among the most sought-after in the UK.
Queen's University Belfast
Queen's University Belfast is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland, one of the most vibrant and affordable cities in the United Kingdom. A member of the prestigious Russel Group of research-intensive universities, it constantly ranks high among the top universities in the UK for its research activities in Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences, and other health-related subjects. Seated in the heart of a friendly city, Queen's offers a welcoming educational environment to international students with lower fees than other elite schools and many scholarship opportunities, including one for family members of QUB alumni.
These outstanding higher education institutions are among the top universities in the UK. They have been around for ages, produced top scientists and Nobel Prize winners, and provided the foundation for countless groundbreaking innovations.
So, whatever you're searching for, you can start your quest from this list of top universities in the UK, and you're bound to find the best fit for your aspirations.
What are the top universities in the UK for Master's?
The UK is a great place to begin one's academic journey. But with so many globally renowned research-intensive universities with exceptional employability numbers, it may be even more suitable for those looking to continue their studies to the postgraduate level.
Explore master's in the UK!
The above highly-ranked universities offer top-quality research-led postgraduate programs that can turn students into highly skilled job candidates.
The University of Edinburgh, 5th best among the top universities in the UK and 15th globally, offers more than 300 master's degrees across all faculties and a leading consultancy program connecting graduates and the job market. Another highly innovative institution, the University of Manchester, also has hundreds of postgraduate degrees available to local and international candidates, most of them in the Life Sciences and Medicine faculty. Across its six faculties, the equally prominent University of Bristol offers over 200 master's courses taught within a research and innovation-focused academic environment.
As you have seen by now, all the top universities in the UK offer programs that cover most sciences and potential career paths. But if you want your choice to be the best, you have to consider which university is top in your preferred academic field. So, here's how some of the distinguished universities mentioned above rank in four popular areas of study.
Top universities in the UK for computer science studies
Such prominent research-led universities are expected to be among the world leaders in the field of computer science. According to the latest QS rating, the best five schools for aspiring information technology scholars in our list are:
Top universities in the UK for MBA studies
All the top universities in the UK offer a rich selection of high-quality MBA programs to choose from. But if you want to know which ones are the best in our list of QS-ranked business schools for postgraduate studies, here are the top five:
Top universities in the UK for engineering studies
Engineering is a popular field in the top universities in the UK because of its high employability rates. So, if you want to be part of constructing the future, here are the top five engineering schools in our select list as ranked by QS:
Top universities in the UK for medical studies
Many significant discoveries and innovations in modern medicine were made in research centers inside some of the top universities in the UK. From our list of distinguished UK Life Sciences and Medicine schools, the five that have been ranked higher by QS are:
Why study at one of the top universities in the UK?
The United Kingdom is an exciting place to live, steeped in history, culture, and tradition. But it's also a great place to study, offering an abundance of top-ranked universities (besides the world-known "golden triangle" institutions) with a longstanding tradition in education, research, sports, and student life.
Plus, an exceptionally welcoming environment for international co-eds, vast opportunities for graduates to continue their studies, and a supportive culture for those who wish to launch a lucrative career upon graduation.