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Oxford University, England, UK
Photograph: Andrei Nekrassov /

Three UK universities have been named the best in the world

No prizes for guessing the top two

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

University isn’t just about grades and prestige. There are so many factors involved in choosing somewhere to live out your first few years of adulthood. Where has the best nightlife? The loveliest green spaces? The most intriguing modules? If you do value world reputation above all else though, you probably already know about the Times Higher Education World University Ranking, which is one of the most authoritative uni league tables out there. 

And now the latest THE ranking has been revealed. For 2024, over 1900 institutions from 108 countries were judged on 18 different criteria that fell within five different categories: teaching, research environment, research quality, industry and international outlook. 

The University of Oxford was revealed as the world’s best university with an impressive score of 98.5 out of 100. No surprises there, really – it’s Oxford’s eighth consecutive year in the top spot. And, you guessed it, The University of Cambridge was the UK’s next highest ranked uni, though it slipped down a couple of places from last year, landing in fifth with a score of 97.5.

Also securing a spot among the heavyweights was Imperial College London at number eight, which scored 95.1 and marked particularly high (98.3) for its international outlook. This uni is the only one in the UK to focus solely on science, engineering, medicine and business, so no room for the arty farty types.

The rest of the top ten was occupied by major American institutions including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and Yale Universities. You can take a peek at the full ranking for yourself here

Which is the most reliable university ranking?

There are dozens of university rankings out there. And while plenty are worth taking note of (like that of the Guardian), there are three that are established as the most reliable. The annual lists by Times Higher Education, QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) – read more about that here – and Shanghai Ranking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities are all generally seen as the most respected. With any of those, you’re in safe hands. 

Thinking of becoming a student in the capital? 

There’s so much more to student life than essays, exams, libraries and lectures. If you’re an undergrad in London, we have just the thing. At Time Out we’ve created a bunch of essential guides on stuff like how to make the most of a student budget, navigate the housing market, all of the London dos and don’ts and what our staff wish they knew before moving to the capital

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