Have you been umming and aahing about which university is right for you? Well you aren’t alone – we have all been there! With university notoriously being some of the best years of your life, there is no doubt that choosing which one to attend can be a little stressful. University reputation is something a lot of students consider, as it can play a role in determining their success and graduate opportunities. Prestigious universities often have the best reputation due to their extensive research facilities and networks. These offer students and faculty the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research projects, collaborate with leading academics and experts, and publish in high-impact academic journals. But it’s not just about whether or not the university has won lots of awards or is world-famous, it’s also about how students feel going there. Thankfully, Natwest’s Student Living Index has your back, conducting research from students point of view.

So here is a list of the top 20 unis with the best reputation…

1. University of Leeds

universities with the best reputation
Source: University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is officially the university with the best reputation, as ranked by students. For students who chose university reputation as their number one motivation for applying to a particular uni, Leeds came in first place. Leeds University is considered a good university for several reasons, including academic excellence, research and employability.

2. University of Durham

durham university - universities with the best reputation
Source: Durham University

In second place is the University of Durham, which also inspired prospective students based on its reputation. It’s part of the Russell Group list of UK unis, and is also one of the oldest. It dates back to the late 19th century, and has arguably had time to solidify its good rep.

3. University of Oxford

Oxford University
Source: Canva

Ok well we all know Oxford University is world famous and has a great reputation for graduate outcomes. However, it only comes in third place, showing that prestige and world fame isn’t everything. Find out more about Oxford University’s reputation in our guide.

4. University of Exeter

exeter city

Overall, the University of Exeter is a popular choice with students, and fares pretty well across rankings. You can read how it ranks on their website outlining their success, however it particularly stands our for science and sport degrees.

5. University of Edinburgh

edinburgh university - universities with the best reputation

The Scottish capital is home to one of the universities with the best reputation. It ranked in 15th place of the QS 2023 rankings, and world employers rank Edinburgh graduates as 26th best! Pretty impressive results if you ask us! It’s also located in one of the prettiest cities in the UK too, making student life that much more enjoyable.

6. University of Manchester

universities with the best reputation

Closely located – in fact neighbouring – MMU, the two Manchester universities are frequently compared. However, the reputation of the University of Manchester had lead to it being the 6th best in our table. Out of all the UK unis, its reputation is one of the most influential for prospective students deciding where to go.

7. University of Liverpool

university of liverpool

Liverpool is a rich and diverse city, but it also houses on of the universities with the best reputation. The University of Liverpool is known for being world-class, and is associated with nine Nobel Prize winners! If that isn’t something to draw in future students, what will?

8. Coventry University

Coventry - universities with the best reputation

From the quality of the labs to the quality of teaching and facilities, Coventry University is known to students for being top class. It’s known for being a welcoming place to students, which is something not every new students wants. Coventry is also a great city to live in, where you can mostly get around walking to wherever you need to be.

9. University of Birmingham

university of birmingham

As the UK’s second major city, it’s not surprising that it’s also home to a major university. The University of Birmingham has many attributes, like being a Russell Group uni, but it’s also known for being popular for international students. Oh and it has a campus in Dubai too!

10. Cambridge University

University of Cambridge

The other half to Oxbridge, Cambridge of course was going to make the list of universities with the best reputation. But did you think it would be 10th? You’ll likely never turn a place at Cambridge down because it does have that kind of rep, but it’s good to know students value other UK unis too.

11. University College London

universities with the best reputation
Source: UCL

The University College London, popularly known as UCL has a great reputation. It’s reportedly ‘super-elite’, so not just your typical elite uni! It’s often compared to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard too, so you know it’s going to be good!

12. University of York

University of York
Source: University of York

The historic city of York houses a prestigious university known for its academic excellence. Students typically enjoy studying there, based on their feedback and satisfaction scores. It has a great reputation, and is one of the universities that is committed to gender equality. The University of York also has gold awards for its biology, chemistry and psychology departments, so it’s a great choice for students interested in these subjects.

13. Newcastle University

newcastle university
Source: Newcastle University

Newcastle University has a great reputation overall, but it’s particularly known for courses in sustainable development. It’s also recognised for its research efforts, having one of the best EU portfolios of research around. Newcastle is a popular student city too, which makes the overall student experience better.

14. University of Sheffield

sheffield university

Like most of the universities on this list, the University of Sheffield is a Russell Group uni with a great reputation. It’s 15th best in the UK and 46th globally, according to 2023 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It’s a slightly harder uni to get into, with a 13% acceptance rate, but nevertheless has a reputation that attracts students to apply.

15. University of Glasgow

university of glasgow

Last on our list of the universities with the best reputation is the University of Glasgow. It inspired the likes of Adam Smith, famed economist, and scientist Lord Kelvin. It also known for popular courses in Dental Surgery, Engineering, Business, Accountancy, Nursing, MBBS and more.

Having had a look at this list, are you still needing to narrow down which universities to apply to? If this is the case, we suggest that you go and have another quick look at Natwest’s Student Living Index. We know that there are other factors you may prioritise when picking which university is right for you. Natwest have ranked universities based upon many other categories. These include costs of living and mental health and wellbeing.

Good luck on your future adventures!