The Best UK Universities 2021
We are pleased to announce the top 20 UK universities for 2021 based on StudentCrowd reviews!
To create these UK university rankings, we analysed 19,323 student reviews, consisting of 11 different categories that students rated out of 5 stars. These awards touch on all of the most important aspects of university life in 2021.
It's been an unusual year and probably not the experience we would ideally want for students, but reviews are more important than ever to prospective students making those all-important university choices.
A huge congratulations to all the award winners who have worked hard against the odds over the last 24 months to give students a fantastic university experience. Special congratulations to Harper Adams University for topping the StudentCrowd rankings and performing brilliantly across a number of the individual categories.
To see our full list of University Awards across all of our categories check out our main University Awards 2021 page.
Why do these university rankings matter?
In 2020, UCAS discovered that “online reviews by students” was the 2nd most important resource for applicants choosing a university. So the timing is pretty perfect!
We know that peer-to-peer reviews give prospective students an invaluable insight into different aspects of university life and enable them to get a real feel for what it would be like to study there. You can share your personal experience of your university and support future students by writing a review here.
Online reviews are no longer just important for international students. They have become of critical importance to all students who have been unable to attend physical open days again this year. That’s why this UK university league table is more important than ever.
Take a look below to see all top 20 UK universities as voted for by students.
Find out how our winners have been selected and much more on our main University Awards 2021 pages.
View our 2020 Best Universities top 20 here.
Published: 29th July 2021
Harper Adams University
"Harper Adams was the best decision i ever made. I met my closest friends, gained a degree and had the best social life. The lecturers were amazing offering support whenever you needed it for any situation, academic or personal..."
Located in the stunning Shropshire countryside, Harper Adams University specialises in food production, processing, animal sciences, engineering, land management and sustainable business courses. It is set in more than 635 hectares of farm land with state-of-the-art facilities at the heart of its campus. All courses have an applied focus – developing the knowledge and skills graduates need to succeed as industry professionals. A placement year is also compulsory for all undergraduate students to ensure they get the most of their studies. There are just under 5,000 students currently enrolled and in student reviews, the close-knit community at Harper stands out in making their experience unique. £504,000 has been invested this year by private and industry sponsors into student scholarships, via the university’s Development Trust, to ensure a continued pipeline of fresh talent into jobs critical to the health and welfare of the planet and everything living on it. The teaching at Harper has been awarded a Gold rating in the TEF, and the university boasts a 98.8% graduate employment rate.
University of Cambridge
"An amazing University in an amazing city! ... exceptional education, a very diverse and culturally rich student community, lots of societies and activities to get involved with as well as many networking and career-related opportunities!"
The University of Cambridge is known for its rich and prestigious history which can be traced back to 1209. Students are allocated a place in one of 31 colleges, each with their own traditions which enhance student experience and prepare students for the diverse world of employment and further research. Cambridge offers courses in humanities, social sciences, sciences and engineering and has over 21,000 students currently enrolled. Students expressed in reviews that there is a strong sense of community at Cambridge. It is globally recognised for its research and exceptional teaching standards by academics who are top of their fields. It has also been awarded a Gold rating in the TEF. Notable alumni of Cambridge include Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking as well as over 80 Nobel Prize winners, and being a graduate of Cambridge will certainly stand you in good stead for future employment or further study.
"Loughborough University lives up to its reputation, facilities are unbelievable for all aspects, whether that’s academic use or sporting use, the standard of learning is high and to top it all off the campus is beautiful, would recommend it..."
Loughborough University is a campus-based university spread across 440 acres of land in the East Midlands. Loughborough have been placed in the top 10 in every national league table. Loughborough is known for its top-of-the-range facilities, having received investment of £124 million into cutting-edge sporting and educational facilities, such as The National Cricket Performance centre and a brand new STEMLab. Currently, over 18,500 students are enrolled and over 2,870 are international. . All undergraduate courses offer placement year options to encourage students’ ability to put theories into practice. 84% of graduates are employed in graduate-level roles, which is 10% higher than sector average. There are over 120 clubs and societies to cater to the diverse population of the university. There are also a myriad of projects for students to get involved in, such as a charity project to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Make sure to check out the newly-refurbished Students’ Union for a fantastic student experience!
University of St Andrews
"A fantastic university, with wonderful lecturers who go above and beyond to teach you very interesting content. Located right by the beach, the university is one of (if not the) must beautiful university in the UK."
Located on the East Coast of Scotland in Fife, the University of St Andrews is a global leader in education with a history stretching back 600 years. The university has a long-held reputation for quality of teaching, resulting in a Gold award in the TEF. Students of St Andrews will find themselves walking past historical and iconic buildings (or a golf course!) on their way to lectures as university buildings are spread across the town. There are over 50 sports clubs and 100 sports teams that students can get involved in, ensuring a healthy work-life balance. There are also two theatres, one of which is run by volunteers from the Students’ Association. St Andrews offers over 140 societies, including ‘STAR’, St Andrews’ student radio station, and various charity campaign projects. All these exciting activities prepare students for their life after university, whilst St Andrews' traditions such as May Dip, Soakings and Raisin Weekend ensure that students enjoy an unforgettable time at university.
"Campus is absolutely stunning. So relaxing to go on the woodland walk... So many new builds the new science labs are gorgeous! There is a large variety of clubs and societies and weekly events... the wifi and internet is super speedy..."
Close to the market towns of Newcastle-under-Lyme and a bus ride away from the city of Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands, Keele University is set in over 600 acres of land, making it one of the largest campuses in the country. The university is known for subjects such as life sciences, physical sciences, arts, humanities and clinical health. The Students’ Union offers over 150 societies to join, and won a Platinum Award in the NUS Best Bar None Awards 2020. Keele Arboretum helps students enjoy the natural landscape of their stunning campus with a woodland, lakes and streams to explore.
University of Roehampton
"Beautiful campus with outstanding facilities for all students. Wonderful staff who are always happy to help and great support for disabilities and wellbeing."
The University of Roehampton is a campus university located in the heart of South West London. There are four historic colleges on their beautiful campus, which every student joins. The collegiate system helps form close-knit communities which students have described as feeling like a family. It has been recognised with a Silver rating in the TEF. The campus is located near some popular London districts, with Notting Hill, Westfield (Shepherd's Bush) and Wimbledon not too far away. The university has excellent teaching and research facilities such as a food laboratory, Sports and Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Nursing suites and a world-class library with advanced resources supporting students in their studies. The Students’ Union offers over 50 societies, a range of sports teams and is known for its active musical scene and thriving competitive esports programme. Owing to Roehampton’s career support and ‘A Career Mentoring Scheme’, which links current students to an alumni, 94% of graduates are in work or further study six months after graduation.
University of Bristol
"Great campus, lots of facilities in all fields! There is a great amount of societies, offering anything one could look for. SU is really active and has an important presence. Student life is great, lots of clubs, restaurants, bars, and social areas..."
The University of Bristol is in the largest city in the South West of England, with architecture dating back to the Georgian times and a harbourside lifestyle, which helps enhance the student experience of this city university. The University of Bristol prides itself on real life research projects to challenge their students to think a step ahead and they have earned a Silver rating in the TEF. There are nine state-of-the-art libraries to better equip students with resources and knowledge. The university has built long term relationships with a great deal of employers, from small to multinational businesses. The Law School specifically offers a mentoring scheme, which enables second year Law students to meet with Bristol alumni in the industry. The Students’ Union has over 400 clubs to choose from, which allows students to socialise with others with similar interests and ensures that there'll be something for everyone!
Sheffield Hallam University
"Had an amazing experience throughout my 4 years at university - so much help for my placement year and I graduated with a great grade and walked into a job 2 weeks after finishing... Would highly recommend the uni..."
Sheffield Hallam is one of the UK's largest universities, based in the heart of Sheffield. Home to over 60,000 students, Sheffield’s urban neighbourhoods and countryside offer something for everyone. 96% of Sheffield Hallam UK graduates are in work or further study 15 months after graduating. Over £100m has been invested in facilities in the last five years, providing innovative learning environments. Courses are developed with industry experts and focus on applied learning and work experience.
Robert Gordon University
"Beautiful campus in a rural location. Staff and student union are very helpful and enthusiastic. It's so easy to get involved with social clubs/sports to meet new people! Great experience."
Robert Gordon University’s campus is found in Aberdeen, North East Scotland. There are 11 schools, offering over 300 courses for over 12,600 current students. The university is making significant and impactful research on areas such as sustainable transport, smart data and pharmacy practice. Departments prioritise research partnerships to ensure students get a first-hand experience in their desired industry. This has earned RGU a Gold rating in the TEF and 72% of graduates are in work or further study six months after leaving university. There are various state-of-the-art facilities such as a climbing wall, physiotherapy clinic and a four-storey library at the heart of the campus. RGU SPORT offers professional courses such as first aid and national lifeguard qualifications. There are almost 50 different societies which cater to the diverse population of the student body, including midwifery and ice skating.
Imperial College London
"[Imperial] College is really nice and it is what I dreamed about! Really great environment and nice staff! Would be an honor to be the student of IC!"
Dotted across nine campuses in London, Imperial College London is known for its competitive courses in sciences, engineering, medicine and business. Being in Central London, students have a plethora of museums, shops and international businesses at their fingertips. I-Explore is a programme which allows students to pick modules outside of their subject and earn credits which count towards their degree. Facilities such as the Advanced Hackspace and Enterprise Lab help students develop their entrepreneurship. Imperial has been awarded a Gold rating in the TEF and 81% of graduates are in work or further study six months after leaving the university. There are over 340 clubs, societies and projects for over 19,000 current students, ensuring that there is something for everyone. The university is also very dedicated to student welfare no matter where they are in their walk of life.
Royal Holloway, University of London
"The university is incredibly beautiful, very friendly and with amazing facilities, resources, staff and students; couldn't ask for better."
Based in Egham in West London, Royal Holloway is known for its high quality teaching and research in the fields of science, arts and humanities. The campus has a rich history but has been developed to continue to serve students' needs, with recent investment over the past 5 years in the library and student services centre and a technology-led establishment for all students and staff. 95% of graduates from Royal Holloway are in work for further study six months after graduation. The sports centre was refurbished in 2013, with a 46-station fitness suite and other facilities for students to train and relax. There are 39 sports clubs, from American Football to Ninjutsu. Students can also play competitively in BUCS and LUSL, as well as take part in competitions nationally and internationally. The Students’ Union is one of the most active in the UK, from weekly food markets to a student-run radio station and TV station; there is something for everyone to get involved in!
Liverpool John Moores University
"The university has been incredible, even with COVID they have been resourceful and helpful."
Known for its teaching and research in sports and exercise sciences, LJMU has a lot more to offer students. It is spread across two campuses which are both just short walks away from the Central Library and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Their Students’ Union has over 100 sports clubs and societies for students to engage with. The SU employs around 150 students to work during term time, so it's a perfect opportunity for students who are trying to earn some money during the year. Students in various departments are encouraged to take part in practical experiences, for example, student midwives are able to use birthing simulators to get hands-on experience. LJMU has earned a Silver rating in the TEF by being a forward-thinking university. 68% of graduates are in work or further education six months after leaving university.
University of Liverpool
"University of liverpool offers a great education for students coming from abroad like me!!! There are a lot of societies available for different sports and cultures!"
The University of Liverpool is a renowned university providing high quality teaching and research especially in the fields of health and sciences. The main campus is in the city of Liverpool, but if students wish to exchange abroad, there is also a partner university in China. There are over 160 societies within the Guild as well as volunteering projects. The Guild also holds mental health and wellbeing events to ensure their students are thriving. With close access to a diverse and welcoming city, there are various theatres and galleries, shopping opportunities and historical buildings to explore. There are over 400 courses for both undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as 14 Doctoral Training Centres and the university has strong relationships with industry leaders, the local community and the government. Liverpool has been rated Silver in the TEF and 70% of graduates are in work or further study six months after leaving university.
University of Bradford
"It is a great experience studying at the University of Bradford. The staff is friendly and the campus is beautiful and serene to studying. The library is well equipped and the campus is easy to navigate."
The University of Bradford is one of the most socially inclusive universities in the UK, and prides itself on its supportive and diverse community. It was ranked #1 for improving students’ life chances in the recent English Social Mobility Index, and 76% of University of Bradford graduates entering employment were employed in professional or managerial level roles six months after leaving university. It is based on a self-contained campus just five minutes away from Bradford city centre. Campus offers everything you’ll need throughout your time as a student –including outstanding study facilities and social spaces, a 24/7 library, and the Unique Fitness and Lifestyle sports centre. The University offers a comprehensive range of support services to ensure its students are able to make the most of their time at Bradford, both academically and personally. Bradford is consistently rated as one of the most affordable cities in the UK to live and study. It is a vibrant, diverse student city with lots to discover, and plenty more right on the doorstep.
University of Plymouth
"A great university with plenty of campus facilities, including a 24/7 library with a large catalogue of literature, both physical and online copies. The Students' Union is also very active... Plenty of choice of clubs and societies to choose from."
The University of Plymouth is renowned for high quality, internationally-leading education, research and innovation. With state of the art facilities on a modern campus in the centre of Britain’s Ocean City, it is in one of the UK’s most beautiful regions nestled between picturesque Dartmoor and Cornwall. With a mission to Advance Knowledge and Transform Lives, Plymouth is widely acknowledged as one of the leading institutions globally for marine and sustainability research, teaching and action. A three-time winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, it also has clusters of world class research across a wide range of disciplines including science and engineering, medicine, cybersecurity and psychology. It has a strong track record for teaching and learning excellence, and offers outstanding opportunities and support which ensure students’ mental and physical wellbeing are of the highest priority. With over 18,000 students, and a further 6,000 studying for a Plymouth degree at partner institutions in the UK and around the world, and over 140,000 alumni pursuing their chosen careers globally, it has a growing global presence.
University of Bath
"Great place to study in a very charming part of the world. Highly recommended."
Located in a historical, vibrant city in Somerset, the University of Bath has a focus on supporting the community and making an impact. Bath is known for its world-class Sports Training Village which is accessible to students, staff, the public and elite athletes. There is also a fitness centre, Olympic-sized pool, indoor sprint tracks and more. The Students’ Union provides opportunities for students to get involved in volunteering projects and the arts community. There is also an array of support systems for different students. Over 18,500 current students study in the faculties of Engineering & Design, Humanities & Social Sciences, Science and the School of Management. Bath has been awarded a Gold rating in the TEF and 78% of graduates are in work or further study six months after leaving university.
Queen Mary University of London
"Really good university , with amazing facilities and help whenever needed ."
Located in the heart of East London, Queen Mary University of London is the largest campus-based Russell Group university in the capital. Home to more than 28,000 students from over 160 nationalities, it is recognised as the most inclusive Russell Group university. Queen Mary offers foundation courses, degree apprenticeships, and undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research programmes across the full disciplinary spectrum. In London, Queen Mary comprises five well-connected campuses from Mile End to Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square, West Smithfield and Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The University also has a presence in China, Malta, Paris, Athens and Singapore. Queen Mary Students’ Union (QMSU) is a membership organisation for, and led by, students across the University. Through its elected representatives, QMSU provides a voice to students on all aspects of student life. It is also home to over 300 sports clubs, societies and volunteering groups.
Arts University Bournemouth
"Such a lovely uni with such lovely spaces. They've always been so supported of their students."
Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) is a university that specialises in the creative industries such as acting, film production, textiles and more. There are numerous facilities catered to the niche and specialised area of students’ choice, including the iconic blue Drawing Studio, MoDiP – UK’s leading resource for the study of plastics, The Printroom and Passiv Haus. AUB has been rated gold for the TEF and 61% of graduates are in work or further study six months after leaving university. The Students’ Union provides as many opportunities there can be to display students’ talents whilst engaging with the local community. There are 9 sports clubs and 29 societies for over 3,400 current students to partake in. Students are at the doorstep of one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, with award-winning beaches and a flourishing art scene to gain inspiration for their studies and enjoy their social life.
Manchester Metropolitan University
"[MMU] really do go out of their way to help people do better no matter what background. The financial support and student support systems they have in place our fantastic. They provide us with a safe and positive working environment..."
Located in the vibrant city of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has over 300 courses and is known for its Business School, which is the second largest in the UK. Over 38,000 current students are enrolled in the faculties of Business and Law, Arts and Humanities, Education, Health, Psychology and Social Care and Science and Engineering. MMU has extensive facilities catered to all subject areas, from a Mock Courtroom for Law students to Automotive Engineering Workshops. MMU prioritises high quality teaching, integrated student experiences, teaching as professional practice and deeper engagement all around, resulting in a Silver rating in the TEF. With a large network of businesses and graduate opportunities provided by the Careers Service, it's not surprising that 93% of graduates in 2016 went straight into work or further study six months after graduation. There are over 150 clubs and societies enabling all sorts of students to meet like-minded individuals. The university is only five minutes away from Manchester Oxford Road Railway Station and a walking distance away from the city centre.
University of York
"Beautiful campus with a good standard of facilities! A wide range of sporting clubs and societies available… A very active students union…York has a good reputation with employers and students are generally very successful…"
The University of York is a research-intensive, collegiate Russell Group university that provides a transformational education experience. Exceptional teaching and learning combines academic excellence with an inclusive culture that equips York students to prosper in a global workplace. The green parkland campus is fully accessible and a welcoming place to call home, with the historic city of York just a short walk away. The Students’ Union is home to over 200 student societies and more than 60 sports clubs which creates a lively and inclusive atmosphere on campus. Award-winning sports facilities, including an Olympic-sized outdoor velodrome and competition-standard swimming pool, support students to unwind and stay healthy.
Think your university deserves to be in the StudentCrowd top 20? Leave a review now for our 2022 University Awards!