Cambridge back at the top in new-look UK league table

Cambridge University is back at the top of the national league tables – the third to be published this year in the United Kingdom.

Despite the change, which relegates Oxford to second place, The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014 – published as a combined ranking for the first time – shows considerable stability in the top 10 UK universities, with the same institutions as last year represented and minimal shuffling of places.

The London School of Economics retained third place, with St Andrews up two places compared with last year to fourth place. The rest of the top 10 are Imperial College London, Durham, Bath, Exeter, University College London and – in 10th place – Warwick.

The two league tables have previously been published separately, with The Times ranking usually appearing in early summer and The Sunday Times in the autumn.

The rationalisation sees the disappearance of The Sunday Times’ surveys of employers and headteachers, which were its unique feature. The combined guide is far more a continuation of The Times guide’s approach to ranking.

Big climbers include Surrey (up from 26 to 12), Coventry (from 55 to 45), Winchester (from 75 to 57), Nottingham Trent (from 78 to 61), York St John (from 80 to 64), Bournemouth (from 81 to 67) and Manchester Metropolitan (up from 102 to 89).

But they are eclipsed by Northampton, which rose 40 places: from 99 to 59.

Losers included Glasgow (down from 15 to 25), Sussex (18 to 32), Hull (49 to 62), University of the Arts London (60 to 77), Aberystwyth (from 47 to 82), Bradford (67 to 84), Gloucestershire (65 to 91), Birmingham City (75 to 91), Hertfordshire (68 to 96), and Bedfordshire (88 to 115).

Coventry was the highest ranked modern university, followed by Oxford Brookes in 50th place.

The Times/Sunday Times uses student satisfaction, research quality, graduate prospects, entrance qualifications held by new students, degree results achieved, student-staff ratios, service and facilities spend, and university dropout rates to compile the ranking.