St Andrews ousts Cambridge and Oxford in Times university rankings

It took first place this year due to student satisfaction, research, teaching quality, entry standards and graduate outcomes.

The University of St Andrews has been ranked the top university in the United Kingdom for the first time.

Situated in Fife, the uni tops The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022, published on Friday.

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.

Founded in 1413, St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English speaking world and has consistently been in the top three of the Times and Sunday Times Guide in recent years.

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

St Salvator’s Quad hearts from above.
St Salvator’s Quad hearts from above. University of St Andrews

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.

“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.”

St Andrews students: Jack Campbell, from Glasgow, Ignacio Ugalde from Buenos Aires, Estelle Smalstig from Chicago, Samiyah Lunat from London, Chloe Chuck from Lincolnshire and Carmella Neal from Seattle.

The president of St Andrews Student’s Association welcomed the news that she says is testament to the hard work and dedication of staff and students during a difficult year.

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.”

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.”

And principal and vice-chancellor, professor Mapstone, is hoping the triumph over the Oxbridge duo will inspire others.

She 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.

Red Gown ambassadors on St Sallies Lawn. University of St Andrews.

“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.

“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 and marketing, computer science, English, Middle Eastern and African studies, philosophy, physics and astronomy, and international relations.

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