Top of the class

Friday 17 September 2021

St Andrews makes history by topping definitive UK university ranking

The University of St Andrews has been ranked the top university in the United Kingdom, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 published today (17 September 2021).

It is the first time in the near 30-year history of the definitive Guide, and UK university league tables in general, that a university other than Oxford or Cambridge has topped the rankings.

St Andrews took first place this year by virtue of its strong performances in student satisfaction, research, teaching quality, entry standards and graduate outcomes.

The University has been consistently amongst the top three in the Times and Sunday Times Guide in recent years. The methodology used by the Guide editors to rank the UK’s universities has not changed this year.

Guide Editor Alastair McCall, said: “St Andrews’ achievement in topping our institutional table should not be underestimated. Never before has any university other than Cambridge and Oxford finished top of our – or any other – domestic ranking of universities.

“It is no fluke. The University has been closing in on the Oxbridge duopoly for several years, buoyed by outstanding levels of student satisfaction which have peaked during the past year of pandemic disruption on campus. The lead St Andrews now has over other universities in this key area of university performance is remarkable.

“Its wider contribution as a centre of teaching and outstanding research marks it out as a global player in the international higher education marketplace.

“Strange to say for an institution that has been around for 600 years, but topping our UK rankings for the first time truly marks St Andrews “arrival” as a serious challenger to Oxford and Cambridge.”

University Chancellor, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, said: “This welcome and deserved achievement reflects the outstanding nature of the student experience at St Andrews University.

“Under the inspired leadership of the Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, and her senior team, the standards set in these difficult times in teaching, research, and management at every level are truly remarkable.”

President of the St Andrews Students’ Association, Lottie Doherty, said: “It’s amazing news. It’s brilliant that St Andrews has made number one, not just for the University and its staff but for all the students here as well.

“It really is a testament to how well the last year has gone despite the difficult conditions.

“Students worked so hard to get good grades and engage with their classes and studies even though it has been online and under very difficult circumstances. It is brilliant to see that recognised.

“I think it really shows how hard working and passionate the students and staff are about St Andrews and about their learning to adapt to such difficult circumstances and come out number one this year.”

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, said: “I am thrilled for our students, staff and alumni. They are the people who made this happen.”

“As one community, we strive constantly for excellence, and have a strategy that hasn’t been afraid to believe St Andrews could challenge at the very top by combining the best teaching, world-leading research, and an unswerving commitment to student satisfaction and achievement.

“Of course we’ll enjoy this remarkable result, and I expect there may be a little good-natured cross-border teasing amongst colleagues.

“Principals have a longstanding tradition of celebrating good league table results, and quietly ignoring those that may not be so flattering, and I have every intention of observing that tradition.

“We have been in very good company close to the top of this definitive league table for several years, but until now, always on someone’s shoulder.

“I hope the fact that the staff and students of a small, Scottish institution have been able to break through the hitherto impenetrable Oxbridge ceiling will inspire others, and show that the status quo is only that if you allow it to be.”

In addition to the institutional ranking the University also tops seven of the subject league tables. St Andrews is top in the UK for Business Management, Computer Science, English, Middle Eastern and African studies, Philosophy, Physics and Astronomy, and International Relations.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category University news

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