The UK is home to many of the top universities in the world, and Indian students form the second-largest international student population in the UK, making it a home away from home for the Indian student body. With the new post-study work visa (PSW visa), also known as the Graduate Immigration Route, studying in the UK now comes with the added advantage of being able to stay and work in the country for two years after graduating.
But where should you decide to study? There are over 130 universities in the UK, but only a select few can be considered the best universities.
Learn more below about the best UK universities for 2024 entry (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and their QS global ranking. If you would like to apply or have any questions answered about UK study, arrange a free consultation with SI-UK India today.
The Best 10 Universities in the UK
The University of St Andrews is among the most popular universities in the UK. Located in Scotland’s coastal town of St Andrews, the university was founded in 1413 and is the third-oldest university in the Anglosphere. It has a strong reputation for academic excellence, well-known for its theology, philosophy, and international relations programmes, as well as the globally-reputed School of Management.
Home to several research centres, including the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, St Andrews is famous for its picturesque campus, which includes historic buildings like St Salvator's Chapel and the Old Course at St Andrew's. Some of the most famous alumni are James Black (noble laureates), William, Prince of Wales (heir apparent of the British throne), and James Wilson (founding father of the USA).
- St Andrews acceptance rate: 12.5%
- QS World Ranking: 96
The oldest English-speaking university in the world, the University of Oxford was founded in 1096. Counted among the most prestigious and respected institutions, both in the UK and internationally, Oxford is known for its academic excellence. The university comprises 39 colleges and six permanent private halls. It has particularly been a centre of sciences, humanities, and social sciences education.
The University of Oxford has been grabbing the first rank in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for the last five years (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022). It operates the oldest university museum and the largest university press on the planet. Oxford has produced some of the world’s most famous personalities, including Stephen Hawking, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi.
- Oxford acceptance rate: 17.5%
- QS World Ranking: 4
Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is the third-oldest surviving university in the world. Known for its academic excellence, Cambridge comprises 31 colleges and six academic schools. Over the eight centuries of its existence, the university has produced some of the planet’s most celebrated personalities, including 14 British prime ministers, about 190 Olympic medalists, and many global icons like Jawaharlal Nehru, Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, etc.
Cambridge's tutorial system, allowing students to work closely with teachers in small groups, makes it different from other institutions around the globe. It is a perennial entry to the top 5 list of all major global rankings. The university has lately been a start-up hub in tech. According to several estimates, 18% of the UK’s computer gaming industry is based in Cambridge.
- Cambridge acceptance rate: 21%
- QS World Ranking: 2
The London School of Economics and Political Science, commonly known as LSE, is an internationally-reputed research university and is the best-ranked university in London. Founded in 1895, it is known for its excellent academic infrastructure. LSE counts 18 Nobel Prize winners among its staff and former students and specialises in social sciences, economics, and politics. The school is currently ranked 3rd in the QS World and Subject Rankings 2022 for social science and management.
As the top university in London, LSE is known for its diverse student population and a strong focus on research, with many faculty members being international experts in their fields.
- LSE acceptance rate: 8.9%
- QS World Ranking: 56
Imperial College London is a science and engineering-focused university founded in 1907. Known for its research prowess in areas like medicine, computing, and physics, ICL has produced numerous world leaders, including Rajiv Gandhi (former Indian PM), Abdul Salam (the first Pakistani Nobel laureate), and Sir John Pendry (English theoretical physicist).
The university is located in South Kensington, in the heart of London, and is well-known for its state-of-the-art infrastructure, including the White City Campus and the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Imperial is home to about 17,000 students and 8,000 staff, with more than half of them from outside the UK. The institute has the greatest concentration of high-impact research of any major university in the country.
- Imperial acceptance rate: 14.3%
- QS World Ranking: 6
University College London (UCL) is located in the heart of London and is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious universities. Founded in 1826, it consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the world. UCL emphasises research deeply and offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across a wide range of disciplines, including sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences, law, and medicine.
University College London educated some of the world’s widely respected anti-colonial figures, including Mahatma Gandhi (India’s father of the nation), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya’s first president), and Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana’s first PM). It is known for its diverse and inclusive community. In 1878, UCL became the first English university to admit female students on equal terms with men. Currently, over 50% of students at UCL identify as women.
- UCL acceptance rate: 12%
- QS World Ranking: 8
Durham University is a research-intensive institution located in the city of Durham, in the northeast of England. Founded in 1832, it is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the UK and globally. With a strong academic focus, Durham offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in various disciplines, including sciences, social sciences, humanities, and business.
The University of Durham is structured around 16 colleges, each with unique character and facilities, fostering a close-knit student community. The Sunday Times University of the Year for 2005 and the Times and Sunday Times Sports University of the Year for 2015 and 2023 won a Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2018. Kate Silverton (British Journalist), Tim Smit (Eden Project founder), and Libby Lane (the first women Bishop in the Church of England) are among Durham’s most popular alumni.
- Durham acceptance rate: 19%
- QS World Ranking: 92
One of South-west England’s most acclaimed educational institutions, the University of Bath got university status in 1971 and has consistently ranked among the top universities in the UK. Home to over 19000 students from over 140 countries, Bath offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in various subjects, including engineering, social sciences, and business. In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 92% of the university’s research was defined as world-leading or internationally excellent.
The city of Bath, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, gives students an incredible experience to explore multiple historical and natural settings. Students can get acquainted with the city’s unique architecture amidst an excellent study environment and with a strong sense of community. The winner of two Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education has produced several prominent alumni, including Heather Stanning (double Olympic champion) and Hassan Diab (former Lebanese PM).
- Bath acceptance rate: 16%
- QS World Ranking: 179
Home to one of the UK’s largest Students’ Unions with over 260 societies, the University of Warwick is a perfect place to explore opportunities while being at home away from home. The public research university was founded in Coventry, England in 1965. A member of the prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive institutions, Warwick is known for its strong interdisciplinary research culture and innovative teaching methods.
The University of Warwick’s campus is set in 290 hectares of parkland, with all modern facilities and a vibrant community of over 27,000 students worldwide. Apart from the main campus, Warwick has several other sites, including the Gilbert Hill Campus, West Wood Campus, and London’s The Shard, which houses Warwick Business School.
- Warwick acceptance rate: 14%
- QS World Ranking: 64
Loughborough is well known for its award-winning student experience and high student satisfaction, providing opportunities for personal development and having the time of your life. Every single one of Loughborough's undergraduate programmes offers the opportunity for a work placement year, and careers and employability are embedded in our teaching.
- Loughborough acceptance rate: 68%
- QS World Ranking: 212