An Overview of the Top Ten British Universities for 2011

The Complete University Guide ranked universities in the United Kingdom as follows in 2011:

1. Oxford:

Oxford University is the oldest extant university in the English-speaking world and still remains one of the world’s highest ranked and most prestigious institutions.  Today Oxford has over 21,000 students, including almost 12,000 undergraduates and more than 9,000 graduate students. 

Oxford is distinguished by its long list of distinguished alumni and scholars, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, chef Nigella Lawson, author V. S. Naipaul, physicist Stephen Hawkins, and many others.

Students at Oxford reported higher than average rates of satisfaction with the university.  Alumni enjoy high rates of employment soon after graduation.
2. Cambridge:

Cambridge is England’s second-oldest university and, along with Oxford, one of its most prestigious.  Cambridge has about 18,000 students, 12,000 of them undergraduates and 6,000 of them graduate students.  Academic staff at the university number roughly 5,800.

3. Imperial College London:

The Imperial College London, which was founded in 1907, is an institution that specializes in science fields, including engineering and medicine.  In the 2010-2011 academic year there were 13,964 full time students at the university.  The student body includes students from 126 countries around the world.  The Imperial College has been highly ranked overall, and in various scientific disciplines in various university rankings.

4. Durham

Durham University is Britain’s third-oldest extant university after Oxford and Cambridge.  Since its establishment in 1832, Durham University has distinguished itself from its two older counterparts by its openness to innovation.  In the 2010-2011 academic year 11,463 undergraduates and 4,593 post-graduates attended the institution.  21% of the students and 32% of the academic staff come from outside of the United Kingdom.  The university is divided into three faculties: Arts and Humanities, Science, and Social Science and Health.  The largest proportion of undergraduate and post-graduate students at the university are in the faculty of Social Science and Health.

5. London School of Economics:

Founded in 1895, the London School of Economics has become one of the world’s foremost institutions of higher learning for the social sciences.  16 Nobel prize winners have attended the university, including playwright Bernard Shaw, who helped to found the university.  The university has more than 9,000 full time students from 140 countries.

6. St. Andrews:

St. Andrews, founded in 1413, is Scotland’s oldest university and the third oldest in the English-speaking world.  Today St. Andrews has a student body of about 7,200- a third of them from outside of the UK.  St. Andrews’ teaching staff number 1,800.  St. Andrews puts an emphasis on research, and a new bio-medical science research laboratory building was completed in the spring of 2011.

7. Warwick:

The University of Warwick is located in the city of Coventry.  It  was established in 1965.  Today there are almost 23,000 students at the institution, including almost 13,000 undergraduates and close to 10,000 post-graduate students.  The majority of the students are in Social Sciences programs.

8. Lancaster:

Like the University of Warwick, Lancaster University was founded in the 1960s.  The university has about 12,000 full time students and 90,000 alumni in 148 countries around the world.  In the summer of 2011 a new, £20 million sports center was opened at the university.

9. University College London:

The University College London was founded in the 19th century.  It has more professors than any other university in the UK and 21 former academics and graduates have won the Nobel prize.  There are about 24,000 students and the university and more than 140,000 alumni worldwide.

10. York:

The University of York is located on a picturesque campus in the historic city of York.  Although there were petitions as early as 1617 to establish a university at York, the university was not established until 1963.  Today more than 13,000 students attend the institution, including more than 9,000 undergraduates and about 4,000 post-graduates.  A new research center has recently been established at York to study the evolutionary origins of human beings.

Reference and Notes:

The Complete University Guide University Rankings: