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THE UK: Destination Guides

Complete University Guide League Tables 2022

The Complete University Guide League Tables are the ultimate guide to the top universities in the UK. We help you make sense of the 2022 rankings.

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The wait is over. It’s that time of year again to find out which universities have topped the rankings in the UK for 2022. The Complete University Guide League Tables 2022 (CUG) are out now and ready for you to start comparing, rating and investigating institutions. If studying in the UK forms part of your study abroad plans, then the league tables are perfect for you. We take you through the winners, achievers, universities to watch and explain a little about how to understand the tables. 


What are the CUG league tables?


Before we get into the rankings, it’s useful to take a minute to understand what the CUG league tables are. The tables evaluate universities in the UK based on a set of key criteria relevant for students. This includes:


  • Entry standards
  • Student satisfaction 
  • Research quality
  • Research intensity
  • Student-staff ratio
  • Academic services spend 
  • Facilities spend 
  • Degree completion
  • Graduate prospects


The information is carefully collected from validated and reliable sources including the National Student Survey, Office for Students (OfS) for England; Scottish Funding Council (SFC); Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW); the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland; and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).


The tables are compiled using a statistical technique to each key criteria to compile a score, that contributes to the overall ranking. The tables also consider the subject mix of a university in the calculation. The CUG tables rank universities nationally and for subjects.


For more on the methodology of the tables, you can consult the Complete University Guide.


Complete University Guide League Tables 2022 national rankings


So, who’s on top for 2022? It was a heavyweight battle of the titans for the number one spot between two of the most famous universities in the world. In the end, the University of Oxford won out over the University of Cambridge, taking the number one spot for the first time in more than a decade.


That wasn’t the only change to happen at the top of the table. 2022 sees the return of the University of Warwick to the top 10 and a two-place rise for University College London, from 10th to 8th.  Lancaster University was the university that made way, dropping down the table to 11thDurham University put in a good showing rounding out the top five, while the London School of Economics jumped a place from four to three.


So, who is in the top 10 universities in the UK exactly? Let’s take a look.


Complete University Guide League Tables 2022


While there has some action at the top, it’s not been quiet further down the table either. The University of Essex rocketed 16 places up the rankings to number 25, matched by Ulster University who rose by the same number of places to 44th. Another big gain was made by Harper Adams University who climbed to 28th, which was a jump of 13 places.


Let’s turn our attention to the universities occupying number 10 to 20 on the CUG League Table:


11. Lancaster University (-3)

12. University of Exeter (=)

13. University of Edinburgh (+2)

14. University of Southampton (+3)

15. University of Manchester (+2)

16. University of Glasgow (+3)

17. University of Bristol (-3)

18. University of York (+4)

19. University of Birmingham (-6)

20. University of Leeds (-4)


Remember that league tables and rankings are a great guide when you’re researching your study abroad option. This is something that was echoed by IDP Connect CEO, Simon Emmett, who noted, “The 2022 CUG league tables will serve as a valuable guide to even more actively researching students this year. My hope is that these rankings will help them make the right decisions as they consider their higher education options.”


If you’re still feeling a little unsure of how to use the tables you can read through CUG’s helpful guide on the topic.


Complete University Guide Subject League Tables 2022


What you may not know about the CUG League Tables is that they also have a very detailed ranking for subjects, 74 to be exact. 2022 saw the addition of four new subjects namely health studies, paramedic science, childhood and youth studies, and manufacturing and production engineering.


Whatever you’re looking for in terms of degree subjects, you’ll find it. Medicine, law, computer science and engineering continue to pique the interest of your fellow international students.


Studying medicine in the UK

One of the big changes in the top 10 UK universities for medicine came in the form of Swansea University who gained five places to sit in 5th overall. Further, Scottish universities ranked well for medicine with four universities occupying the top 10 including the University of Glasgow, the University of  Dundee, and the University of Edinburgh.


Studying computer science in the UK


When it comes to studying computer science in the UK, you can’t beat the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the University of St Andrews who are the top three for the subject. However, you may also want to consider the University of Bristol, which enjoyed a meteoric rise of eight spots from 17th in 2021 to 9th in 2022.


Studying arts in the UK


If you have your heart set on pursuing a degree in the arts, then CUG has the perfect guide, with a dedicated league table for the subject area. The rankings take into account the specialised nature of disciplines in the field and rank institutions accordingly. Coming out on top for 2022 was the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, followed by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in second and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London in third.


You’ll probably have a much better sense of the UK study landscape if you use the CUG tables. We know that as an international student there is much to consider when choosing your path. However, league tables are an excellent place to start your research and working out what you’re looking for. It’ll give you a chance to draw up your wish list, compare universities and find out who’s the best at offering the degree you’re after.

Study in the UK


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