For the first time in ten years, Oxford University has taken the top spot in The Guardian’s annual universities guide, thanks to new employment data showing more of its students find graduate-level jobs after completing their studies. The University of St. Andrews remains in second place overall, while its ancient rival, Cambridge, drops to third position after having been at the top spot for nine consecutive years.

Several other institutions improved their performances in the rankings due to graduate jobs data which was released for the first time. The London School of Economics soared to fifth place from 19th place, with joint second place in graduate jobs alongside Oxford and Cambridge. This was due to high demand for economics and law graduates, two of the LSE’s main subject areas. Students also gave the LSE improved ratings for course satisfaction, assessment, and teaching when compared to its rivals.

The University of Brighton also saw a significant boost in its graduate jobs score, rising 12 places to reach 102nd, while De Montfort University fell from 61st to 119th position due to a decrease in its graduate job score.

British universities have had a cautiously optimistic outlook regarding the coronavirus outbreak and the exam grading turmoil which occurred in UK schools. Most institutions have reported that student recruitment numbers have remained stable, with few domestic students choosing to defer their studies, and international student numbers have not fallen as much as they had feared.

Oxford’s provisional figures show that 68% of its domestic intake this year will come from state schools, an increase of 6 percentage points from 2019. The university also expects to enrol 350 more undergraduates than normal, in order to offer as many places as possible. Cambridge has also expanded its undergraduate numbers by 10% as a result of the exam fiasco, and 70% of its new UK undergraduates were educated at state schools.

The Guardian university guide is the first league table to use new data which gauges graduate jobs after 15 months of graduation instead of six months; it is thought to more accurately capture graduate employability. The data is collected centrally by the Higher Education Statistics Agency to address concerns that universities were misclassifying their graduates’ occupations or offering them temporary employment during the survey period.

In the subject rankings of law, history, and modern languages, Oxford has surpassed Cambridge as well. This excellent performance is attributed by Richardson to the students and the university’s exceptional selection process. Richardson also added that the immense transformation of the undergraduate student body’s socioeconomic status and ethnic diversity in the past five years is regarded as a remarkable accomplishment. The university takes great pride in this achievement.


  • noahtaylor

    Noah Taylor is a bloger, teacher, and writer living in upstate New York. He is the author of the highly successful educational blog, Noah's World, and the creator of the popular teacher resource, Noah's Notes. He has also written for many online publications, including Parenting, The Huffington Post, and The Learning Place. Noah is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.