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CUG university rankings 2023

The CUG (Complete University Guide) university rankings is a well-regarded independent rankings provider for universities in the UK. CUG also provides course and expert advice for students who wish to find out more about studying in the country.

The metrics that CUG uses to rank each institution include: entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality, research intensity, graduate prospects (outcomes and on track), student-staff ratio, academic services spend, facilities spend and degree completion.

For a start, the data used by CUG come from public sources, namely the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), as well as from the National Student Survey and the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

The latter two are overseen by the regulatory bodies for UK universities: Office for Students (OfS) for England, Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and The Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.

Measures used by CUG

Entry standards

The average UCAS Tariff score - a point system that UK universities refer to for course entry requirements - of new undergraduate students admitted to the university, taken from HESA data for 2020–2021.

Student satisfaction

A measure of student opinion on the teaching quality at the university, with data extracted from the National Student Survey (NSS) - a survey of final-year undergraduate students in 2021.

Research quality

An assessment of the quality of research done at the university, with data coming from the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) undertaken by the funding councils.

Research intensity

A measure of the proportion of staff involved in research. Data is gathered from HESA data from 2019–2020.

Graduate prospects

This measures both the success of graduates in finding employment or furthering their studies on completing their first degree, and the proportion of graduates who agree their activity is on track with their future plans. The data comes from a survey done 15 months after the students graduate.

Student-staff ratio

A measure of the average staffing level in the university, calculated based on HESA data for 2020-2021.

Academic services spend

How much a university spends per student on all academic services - including library and computing services, museums and observatories - with HESA data coming from 2017–2018, 2018–2019 and 2019–2020.

Facilities spend

How much a university spends on per student on staff and student facilities, based on HESA data from 2017–2018, 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 on average.

Degree completion

A measure of the completion rate of undergraduates studying their first degree at the university. HESA performance indicators were gathered based on data for 2019–2020 and 2020–2021.

CUG top universities in the UK 2023




University of Oxford


University of Cambridge


London School of Economics and Political Science


University of St Andrews


Imperial College London


Durham University


Loughborough University


University of Bath


UCL (University College London)


University of Warwick

If you’re ready to chase your goals, fill in your details and we’ll help you get to a top institution in the UK. Better yet, you can even apply for a post-study work visa (also known as the Graduate Immigration Route) without having reached the UK.

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