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Top universities in the UK


When it comes to studying in a country with a diversified population and a reputation for outstanding education, what other place could be a better choice than the UK? The UK has always been the primary choice for students aspiring to study abroad. Each year, the UK welcomes nearly 100,000 foreign students, maintaining the country's high popularity in international education.

The UK promises a rich experience for overseas students with an exceptional higher-education system and hundreds of world-class universities, giving all the more reasons to want to study in the country. In the following sections, we'll discover more about the facets of studying in the UK – such as the best cities, courses, student visas, housing, living costs, the university application process, etc. which should give you a comprehensive understanding of studying in the UK and help you make the right decision. 

Types of universities

Ancient universities

These are universities that have been offering a wide range of programs across a variety of subjects since the 1000s. They are often research-focused and have a long history, such as Oxford and Cambridge.

Redbrick or Civic universities

Red Brick originally consists of 6 civic universities that were given charters in the late 19th Century (1830 - 1930) in the big industrial cities of the UK. The term Red Brick indicates a building at the University of Liverpool that was built from red bricks, but it also refers more generally to "new" buildings/institutions.

Plate glass universities or 1960's universities

Plate glass universities were the next batch of universities to be given royal charter between 1960 and 1992. The term 'plate glass' reflects their modern architectural design, which often contains wide expanses of plate glass in steel or concrete frames.

New universities or polytechnic and metropolitan universities

These are a group of universities that were previously called Polytechnics and then given university status. These institutions are referred to as "modern universities".

Recently created universities

Recently, several further education and teacher training colleges have been given university status and these are generally referred to as "recently created universities". 

Top universities in the UK

The United Kingdom has a rich and diverse higher education system, with universities that have a long established history, as well as modern institutions that offer cutting-edge programs.  

QS UK University Rankings 2024

University 2024 Rankings
University of Cambridge 2
University of Oxford 3
The University of Edinburgh 22
The University of Manchester 32
University of Bristol 55
The University of Warwick 67
University of Leeds 75
University of Glasgow 76
Durham University 78
University of Southampton 81
University of Birmingham 84
University of St Andrews 95
University of Nottingham 100
The University of Sheffield 104
Newcastle University 110
Lancaster University 122
Queen Mary University of London 145
University of Bath 148
University of Exeter 153
Cardiff University 154
University of York 167
University of Reading 169
University of Liverpool 176
Queen's University Belfast 202
University of Aberdeen 208
Loughborough University 212
University of Sussex 218
Heriot-Watt University 235
University of Surrey 244
University of Leicester 272
University of Strathclyde 276

THE (Times Higher Education) UK University Rankings 2023

Institution  Ranking
University of Oxford 1
University of Cambridge 3
Imperial College London 10
University College London 22
The University of Edinburgh 29
King's College London 35
The London School of Economics and  
Political Science (LSE)
The University of Manchester 54
University of Bristol 76
The University of Glasgow 82

UK universities offer a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in a variety of fields, including the arts, humanities, sciences, engineering, business, and more. Many UK universities are internationally recognised and are consistently ranked among the best universities in the world. 

How to apply to the top universities in the UK?

Here are some general guidelines to make note of, that can help you through the university application process:

  • Make sure you select the appropriate degree. Bachelor's and master's degrees in the United Kingdom are highly specialised, catering to a wide range of student interests.
  • At UK universities, international students from outside the EU (European Union) and EEA (European Economic Area) pay full tuition. Students from outside the EU/EEA will also be ineligible for loans and grants.
  • Ensure your eligibility for a scholarship.
  • Hire a professional consultant from AECC to assist you with the process of application.
  • Check the university's admission standards, especially if any tests, such as the TOEFL or IELT, are required.


The UCAS (University and College Admission Service) is the organisation that operates all college and university applications in the UK. Most institutions will only accept your form if submitted through the UCAS system.

Follow these simple steps to apply via UCAS for undergraduate study:

  • You can register and create your application on the UCAS website
  • Apply to up to five programs in the UK, at either the same or separate universities
  • Enter the personal information asked
  • Include your previous educational credentials
  • Submit the details about your financial source
  • Submit your skillset statement
  • Provide additional test scores, such as the UCAT or BMAT for medicine (as required by some colleges)

Top universities in the UK offering bachelor's courses:

  • Birmingham City University
  • Coventry University
  • Cranfield University
  • De Montfort University
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Essex
  • University of Exeter
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • St. Mary's University


Future master's and Ph.D. students can apply to their preferred university directly. Although most institutions allow you to submit your application at any time of year, some degree programs have specific deadlines. It's essential to get in touch with your preferred university to learn more about its application procedure.

Use the UK PASS system to apply. You can complete your application information online and scan and submit any essential papers, such as a copy of your passport and previous bachelor's degree certificates.

Applicants for Ph.D. programs are typically expected to select a qualified supervisor from the university.

  1. Coventry University
  2. Cranfield University
  3. Ulster University
  4. University of Bradford
  5. University of Hertfordshire
  6. University of Huddersfield
  7. University of West London
  8. University of Westminster
  9. University of Bradford
  10. University of Bristol

English language proficiency tests to study in the UK

All UK universities will ask you for an English language test certificate as part of your application. The level you need to achieve depends on the course and university you are applying for.

All UK universities accept IELTS (International English Language Testing System) as proof of English ability. Generally, undergraduate courses require a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 or 6.5, while postgraduate courses require a minimum score of 6.5 or 7.0.

The TOEFL (Test Of English as Foreign Language) is also accepted for admission by all UK universities. Undergraduate courses require a minimum TOEFL score of 72-80 iBT (internet-based test), while postgraduate courses require a minimum score of 79-90 iBT.

If you are looking to study in one of the top universities, connect with us today. Our expert AECC counselors will guide you through the process. 


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