St Andrews takes second place in UK university rankings

Oxford loses out to Scottish provider in Guardian University Guide

Oxbridge’s grip on the upper rankings of university’s has been loosened as the University of St Andrews rose to second place.

St Andrews, founded in 1413, is the third oldest university in the UK and the oldest in Scotland. It ousted Oxford from second place in the Guardian University Guide 2020. Cambridge University topped the rankings.

Recognising that the table is made of many complicated sets of data, the guide’s compiler, Matt Hiely-Rayner, said student satisfaction had played a major part in St Andrews’ success.

He said: “While all three universities at the top have excellent student-staff ratios and the most demanding entry standards in the sector, St Andrews sets itself apart from the others with the most satisfied students.

“St Andrews tends to spend less on its students than Oxford and Cambridge. But the key reasons for its entry into the top two this year were its extremely high levels of student satisfaction, and an improvement in the proportion of its students who find graduate-level work or enter further study.”

Data for course, teaching or feedback satisfaction came from the National Student Survey (NSS). Neither Oxbridge universities met the 50% response rate required to take part in the NSS, following successful boycotts aimed at preventing tuition fee increases.

Oxford ranked 24th nationally for graduate outcomes and employment.

This ranking bears contemplation simply because it describes a point in time on St Andrews’s journey

Sally Mapstone, vice-chancellor and principal of St Andrews, said: “For a small Scottish university to be competing among the very best universities in the United Kingdom says much for the strengths of research-led teaching and student experience across the sector north of the border.”

“This ranking bears contemplation simply because it describes a point in time on St Andrews’s journey, a signpost of the advances we have made in the measures by which the Guardian judges the quality of an institution – and where we might go from here.”


The Guardian University Guide 2020 was launched on June 8