Higher Education in Great Britain – The Best Colleges and Universities

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Higher Education in Great Britain – The Best Colleges and Universities

There are well over 100 accredited and recognized colleges and universities in the UK, and just like in all countries, there are several organizations that “rank” them, according to a number of factors, including:

  • Quality of Faculty
  • Quality of Programs Offered
  • Membership in certain collegiate organizations, such as:
  1. The Russell Group – an association of 24 top research universities that are recognized the world over for their research facilities. In fact, these 24 schools receive about 2/3 of all research grants awarded in the UK
  2. The Golden Triangle: Again, these are research universities located within the geographical “triangle” of London, Cambridge, and Oxford
  • Career Placement of Graduates
  • Student Satisfaction

The Top 10

According to the criteria above (and other factors, as well), the following universities are ranked as the top 10:

  • Cambridge University: Cambridge is the 2nd oldest university in the UK, founded in 1209. In addition to being ranked #1 in Great Britain, it is ranked in the world’s top 5 universities. It actually has no central campus, but, rather 31 colleges within the university system, each of them self-governing. Cambridge is known most for its law, science, and economics programs.
  • Oxford University: Known for its humanities and law programs as well as for its graduate school of business, Oxford is the oldest university in the UK and, actually, the English-speaking part of the globe. It is a member of the Russell Group and the Golden Triangle. Like Cambridge, it is composed of 38 distinct colleges, although they are not self-governing. A couple of unique aspects at Oxford are its one-on-one mentoring/tutoring program pairing a student with an expert in his/her major field and the 2nd largest library in the UK.
  • University of St. Andrews: Located in Scotland, this university is world-renown for its School of International Relations. It is the 3rd largest English-speaking higher learning institution in the world and boasts 7000 students from 100 different countries, in addition to its own more local population. Founded in 1413, it is the oldest university in Scotland, and also houses strong programs in humanities, philosophy, divinity, medicine, and art. Ranked first in Scotland, St. Andrews is ranked 3rd by the Times and Guardian Guides.
  • Imperial College of London: Most international rankings have Imperial College within the top 10 in the world, especially due to its science, engineering and medicine schools; however, more recently it is receiving recognition for its humanities and business programs as well. One of the younger universities to make the top 10 list, it was founded in 1907 and is both in the Russell Group and in the 6 universities that make up the “Golden Triangle.”
  • London School of Economics and Political Science: Students who want a top notch school in political science, economics, law and social sciences will choose this university. In fact, it is the most international of any of the top 10, with 2/3 of its student population hailing from foreign countries. Its social science library is one of the largest in the world and has 16 Nobel Peace Prize winners in its history.
  • Durham University: Founded in 1832, Durham is the “go to” place for psychology, IT, and English. It, too, is a member of the Russell Group, and many see it as a good alternative to Oxford and Cambridge, if they still want a traditional university experience. Over 17,000 students are currently enrolled and program offerings also include anthropology, archeology, chemistry, education, law, music, and theology.
  • Exeter: 19,000 students now attend one of Exeter’s 6 academic colleges, in undergraduate, Mater’s and research levels. While it is most known for its business, economics, and IT programs, English and journalism students take heart! J.K. Rowling is an alumnus. Another great feature of Exeter is its strong focus on internships, as a part of degree programs. Student internships in their major fields increase ultimate employability.
  • University of Warwick: Founded in 1965, this is one of the most innovative universities in the UK, focusing on business economics, and international studies. It is a member of the Russell Group and is recognized as one of the UK’s best research institutions, primarily because of it Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), a collaboration between industry and education on research endeavors. This collaboration has become a model for other institutions throughout the world. Because of this model, moreover, students are begin career placement service positions related to their majors very early on in their degree programs.
  • University College London: Traditionally known for its schools of medicine, law, and science, University College is moving dramatically into international studies, as it strives to prepare students for increasing globalization in all fields. It has quite an international student body – some 20,000 in all – and is in both the Russell Group and the Golden Triangle. Famous alumni include Alexander Graham Bell and Mahatma Ghandi.
  • University of Bath: Located in southern England, this school was founded in 1966, now boasting 15,000 students, ¼ of whom come from other countries. Currently, it offers outstanding programs in physical sciences, psychology, engineering, math and IT. Two important facts: 1) it ranks first in student satisfaction, and 2) 83% of its graduates move into high level positions in their major fields – a pretty exceptional statistic!

Obviously, there are many more universities in the UK that are excellent choices. Within the top 20, there are obviously 10 more that could be listed here, such as the University of Surrey, Universities of East Anglia and Birmingham, or of York and Leeds. Selecting one that fits the individual’s intellectual, personal, and socio-emotional needs could include any of the 100+ great options.

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