The University of St Andrews has been ranked the top university in Scotland and second to Cambridge in the UK.
The Guardian University Guide 2020 shows St Andrews claiming second place by virtue of its high scores for student satisfaction, graduate employment and the quality of its academic programmes.
The universities of Oxbridge traditionally monopolise first and second place in every UK university league table. In recent years, no other university has finished higher than third place, a position which St Andrews had occupied in the Guardian guide on five previous occasions.
The guide 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.”
Professor Sally Mapstone, St Andrews principal and vice-chancellor, said: “For a small Scottish university to be competing amongst 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’ 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.
“Our progress is not organic or accidental but reflects the goals we have set out in our new strategy, each of which relies on an innate understanding that this place shines brightest when our students, academic and professional services staff and our alumni and supporters work hard and in concert.
“To my mind, we do this better in St Andrews than anywhere else.”
Paloma Paige, president of the St Andrews Students’ Association, said: “I am immensely proud that the University of St Andrews has received this recognition from the Guardian. I think it is testament to the unique opportunities available here which are very much shaped by student initiative and leadership.”
St Andrews was ranked first in the UK for student satisfaction.