Colleges & Universities in the United Kingdom

Universities in the United Kingdom

Higher Education in the United Kingdom


What are the most popular Universities and Colleges in the United Kingdom? uniRank answers this question by publishing the 2024 UK University Ranking of 166 UK higher-education institutions meeting the following uniRank selection criteria:

  • being chartered, licensed or accredited by the appropriate UK higher education-related organization.
  • offering at least three-year bachelor's degrees or postgraduate master's or doctoral degrees
  • delivering courses predominantly in a traditional, non-distance education format

2024 Ranking of UK Universities

2024 Sub-rankings by Countries and England Regions

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is divided into 4 countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England is also further subdivided into regions. The vast majority of UK higher education institutions meeting the uniRank selection criteria are located in England and, more precisely, in its most populated regions of London and South East England. The following uniRank sub-rankings or league tables take into consideration all UK countries and England regions which include at least 2 higher education institutions meeting the uniRank selection criteria.

East Midlands (7)   East of England (12)  
London (41)   North East England (5)  
North West England (15)   Northern Ireland (2)  
Scotland (18)   South East England (18)  
South West England (14)   Wales (10)  
West Midlands (11)   Yorkshire and the Humber (13)  

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Higher Education in the United Kingdom

The Higher Education System in the United Kingdom
The UK higher education is a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, therefore, all have their higher education systems, governing bodies and different policies. Universities in the United Kingdom have been established and authorized by Royal Charter, Act of Parliament, Privy Council or an instrument of government under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 or the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.
Institutions that offer degree-level courses in the UK are called either "recognized" or "listed" bodies. Recognized bodies are autonomous higher learning institutions that can award degrees. Listed bodies do not have degree awarding powers and their degrees will be awarded by a recognised body they are affiliated with instead.
Types of higher education institutions in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom there are mainly three different types of higher education institutions:
  1. Universities: UK Universities are autonomous higher education institutions that are responsible for their management structure, resource allocation and budgets, staff and student enrolment policies, accreditation of qualifications, quality assurance and University curricula. uniRank currently includes 131 UK Universities.
  2. University Colleges: UK University Colleges are smaller and less autonomous higher education institutions usually with a number of enrolled students lower than 1,000 and specializing in a limited number of fields of study. uniRank currently includes 27 University Colleges.
  3. Colleges: uniRank currently includes 1 College.
Access to higher education in the United Kingdom
UK students access higher education after a total of at least 13 years of primary and secondary school studies, from the age of 5 to the age of 18, and after obtaining the General Certificate of Secondary Education (CGSE) or Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) in Scotland.
Languages of Instruction in the United Kingdom
University programs and courses are taught in the UK national language English.
Stages of higher education in the United Kingdom
  1. First stage: the first stage of University-level higher education in the United Kingdom can last up from 2 to 3 years, depending on the area of study, for Bachelor's degrees.
  2. Second stage: once obtained a Bachelor's degree, the second stage of University-level higher education generally ranges from 1 to 2 years, depending on the area of study, and leads to the award of Master's degrees.
  3. Third stage: the third stage includes doctoral degrees which usually last 3 years. Admission to doctoral programs is based on a Master's or equivalent degree.

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