31 August 2023

The Best Universities in the UK

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Adulthood comes at you hard and fast. One minute you’re dreaming of what you want to be when you’re older and suddenly the decision, along with where you’re going to relocate to become it, is imminent.

With the UCAS deadline around the corner, we’re here to help you decide which university you should choose, and why. We’d like to introduce to you (drum roll please)… our Best Universities Index.

To consider all angles, we looked at the Times Top 100 Universities and ranked them according to the following factors: 

  • Times Higher Education ranking
  • Student satisfaction
  • Graduate prospects
  • Average weekly accommodation costs 
  • Cost of an ‘inexpensive’ meal
  • Cost of a pint (domestic beer)
  • Cost of a one-way ticket on local transport
  • Cost of a monthly fitness membership
  • The total number of nightclubs

We’ve created a detailed index covering all of these. So, whether you’re looking for the best place to study or the university with the cheapest pint – we’ve got you covered.

The best UK universities overall

The top 10 universities overall covered a lot of ground. Overall, St Andrews University in Scotland is the best UK university, scoring full marks across the board and the best for student satisfaction. This was followed by Exeter and Leeds.

The best UK university for graduate prospects

The area you choose to study in can also have an impact on your post-university career. So it’s useful to think of the next steps open to you – especially if you’ve already relocated to university. You may want to find a graduate job in your new stix. 

With this in mind, St George’s University scored highest for graduate prospects (100), followed by Imperial College London (96.84) and the London School of Economics (94.74). All three universities are located in London – which comes with no shock for a capital city.

The best UK universities with the cheapest accommodation

If only studying was the single factor for choosing a university. Unfortunately, the reality of it is that budgeting, finance and cost of living have to be taken into account when choosing the right university for you.

To make things easier, we’ve extracted the top 10 cheapest universities based on their accommodation costs.

Cheapest rents
University avg. weekly accommodation costs (£)
Staffordshire University80
University of Huddersfield81
University of Central Lancashire88
Teesside University88
Queen’s University Belfast95
Harper Adams University98
University of Worcester98
University of Sheffield100
Bangor University104
Liverpool Hope University107

As shown above, Staffordshire University, in Stoke-on-Trent, has the most affordable accommodation – costing an average of £80 per week. This is followed by the University of Huddersfield (at £81 per week) and Teesside University (at £88 per week). 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our top two most expensive accommodations were based in London. LSE was the most expensive at £261 per week, followed by the University of Greenwich (£238 per week) – and then Edinburgh at £222 per week.

The best UK universities for the most affordable lifestyle

What about beyond campus life? Fear not, we know the nightlife, the wind-down opportunities and the local costs also come into play when it comes to opting for the next step in your higher education. 

That’s why our index helps indicate that the cheapest pint of beer can be found in Derby, Hull and Edge Hill at £3. Whilst, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most expensive pint can be found at London universities at £6.

For fitness-minded students, Stirling has the most affordable monthly fitness membership at £16.99 per month – followed by Chichester at £19.99 and Bangor at £20.33. Harper Adams has the most pricey monthly fitness membership at £53.75.

Warwick has the most expensive local transport, with the price of a one-way ticket standing at £7 – followed by Durham (£5), and Lincoln (£4.75). The most affordable was the University of Stirling at £1.40 – followed by our two Surrey universities (University for the Creative Arts and University of Surrey) at £1.50. 

Whether you’re financially driven, career-prospecting or simply looking for the best place to be educated, our index should help make your decision ahead of the UCAS application deadline a little bit easier.

The help doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve made your decision, take a look at our 1st Year Checklist to ensure you’re well-prepared for your next adventure.