St Andrews University named leading university in UK in rare double

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The University of St Andrews has been named the leading university in the UK, completing a rare double.

It topped the The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024, which publishes this weekend, in the same week it was ranked number one by The Guardian - the first time that any UK university, other than those of Oxbridge, has led both major UK higher education league tables in the same year. It is the the fourth time in the last three years that St Andrews has disrupted what has been a longstanding Oxford and Cambridge duopoly.

The University of Glasgow was second in Scotland and 12th in the UK, with Edinburgh third and 13th respectively in the guide which has been running for 30 years – the most comprehensive overview of higher education in Britain.

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Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, principal and vice-chancellor, hailed the landmark recognition.

Students at St Andrews celebrate the university's number one ranking (Pic: Submitted)Students at St Andrews celebrate the university's number one ranking (Pic: Submitted)
Students at St Andrews celebrate the university's number one ranking (Pic: Submitted)

She said: “To make history by coming top in both the Times and Guardian University Guides in the same season is a special way to start a new academic year in St Andrews. This achievement belongs completely to our fantastic staff and hard-working students. It reflects a deep institutional commitment to a critical balance of world-leading research and teaching, and the ways in which St Andrews students respond to that.

“While positive external validation is always welcome, no vice-chancellor ever sets out to top a league table, and what matters most to me are the individual and collective experiences of those who study and work at this great university. St Andrews never stands still; we are always looking for ways to improve what we do.

“I think everyone who works and studies here will be delighted to see that culture reflected in where St Andrews now sits as a sector leader.”

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Barry Will, president of the University of St Andrews Students’ Association, added: “I think we’re number one because as a community, we all, each and every day, try to take care of one another and make St Andrews the best place in the world. If we’re top of the league tables because of that, it’s an added bonus, the icing on the cake.

“This is a place where every single person matters, and can make a difference, even in challenging times and when we all need to advocate constantly for the transformative powers of well-supported university education.”

Helen Davies, editor of The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “The higher education landscape has never been tougher. It is more competitive to get a place at many of our top institutions; the cost of attending university has soared, leaving graduates with extraordinary debt; and in many cases campus life still bears the scars of the pandemic. Meanwhile lecturers are on strike and the marking crisis is a running scandal.

“It means any prospective student, parent or carer needs to think hard about whether university is the right choice, and then where to study and what subject. We are here to champion the ambitious work of our first-class universities, and the aspirations of any student of any age who wants to keep on learning.”