Where Wales’ eight universities stand in the latest UK higher education rankings

Five of the eight universities in Wales have fallen down the UK league table of the best higher education institutions with two dropping substantially. Cardiff University has retained its crown as the best in Wales, according to the Complete University Guide 2023, but has slipped one place overall to 26th out of 130 in the UK.

Swansea University has dropped 13 places down the table to 42nd in the UK but remains second in Wales as it was last year. Cardiff and Swansea University are the only universities in Wales among the top 50 best in the UK, according to the rankings.

Aberystwyth, Bangor and Wrexham Glyndwr have all climbed the table, but University of Wales Trinity Saint David University has plunged 17 places to 120th in the UK. Cardiff Metropolitan University, named University of the Year 2021 by the Times Higher Education, has fallen nine places to 72nd in CUG. The University of South Wales is down one place to 92nd. The rankings follow news last week that Seven of Wales’ eight universities have slipped down a research league table based on rigorous assessments of all 129 higher education institutions in the UK

Wrexham Glyndwr has climbed one place but is bottom of the Wales table as it was last year and fourth from bottom for the whole of the UK at 127th. Bangor rose two places while Aberystwyth had the biggest improvement rising five places on the table.

1. Cardiff University (down one place to 26th in the UK)

2. Swansea University (down 13 to 42nd in UK)

3. Aberystwyth University (up 5 to 53rd in UK)

4. Bangor University (up two to 63rd in UK)

5. Cardiff Metropolitan University (down nine to 72nd in UK)

6. University of South Wales (down one to 92nd in UK)

7. University of Wales Trinity Saint David University (down 17 to 120th in UK)

8. Wrexham Glyndwr University (up one to 127th in UK)

Cardiff was top overall but had the least satisfied students in Wales. According to CUG Aberystwyth and Wrexham Glyndwr had the most satisfied students rated at 82% compared to 79% at Swansea and UWTSD, 78% at Bangor, 77% at University of South Wales and Cardiff Met and 75% at Cardiff.

How Welsh universities rank on graduate prospects

Graduate prospects were highest at Cardiff and lowest at UWTSD at 55%, according to the CUG table:

Cardiff 80%

Swansea 72%

Cardiff Metropolitan University 64%

Bangor and University of South Wales 62%

Aberystwyth 61%

Wrexham Glyndwr 59%

UWTSD 55%

Universities continued to be disrupted by Covid this academic year with students continuing to work remotely when they returned in September. Life began to get back to normal and larger lectures returned after the new year while all Covid restrictions for universities in Wales were eased in May.

Initial applications data for the 2022-23 academic year shows a 5% rise in the number of 18-year-olds in the UK applying to go university this autumn. The year-on-year increase was driven by record participation rates among school leavers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland according to applications service Ucas. Applications from international students have also grown. Some applicants may have opted not to take a gap year thanks to changes to loan repayments from September 2023.

Students starting university courses in 2023-24 will have to start paying back their loans once they earn more than £25,000, it has been announced. The threshold for new students starting courses will be set at £25,000 until 2026-27 whereas the current salary threshold for repaying student loans is £27,295.

The highest-ranked universities in the UK according to CUG

The University of Oxford has come top of the list again followed by Cambridge. All five top spots on the list have remained the same as 2022. They are:

1. Oxford

2. Cambridge

3. London School of Economics

4. University of St Andrews

5. Imperial College London

Major advancers include Norwich University of the Arts rising 30 places and the University of Surrey rising 17 places to land a spot in the top 20. St. Andrews maintained its place as the highest-ranked university in Scotland.

The top five UK institutions for arts, drama, and music:

1. Guildhall School of Music and Drama

2. Courtauld Institute of Art

3. Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

4. Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

5. Royal College of Music

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