Cambridge University has been named the best in the UK for student satisfaction and employment prospects, beating its Oxford counterpart.

The Complete University Guide 2018 shows an improving picture for students looking to apply for courses next year. Experts devising the annual league table said there was evidence of a more positive graduate employment forecast and increased spending by universities on student facilities and services.

Cambridge holds onto first place for the seventh year in a row with Oxford University in second place for the fourth. Authors behind the rankings noted the institution as having the highest entry standards of all universities, and a top score for “research intensity” showing that nearly all staff are active in research. The findings echo those of a separate, global league table published in November which named Cambridge University as one of the best institutions in the world for graduate employability.

Although the universities comprising the top 10 remain the same as last year, the order in which they are ranked has changed.

This year St Andrews jumped to third place for the first time out of 129 UK institutions, and University College London has climbed three places to seventh. Loughborough has fallen three places to 10, while the London School of Economics (fourth) and Imperial College London (fifth) have both fallen by one place. “This all-time high is a great endorsement of what St Andrews stands for. Our values are those of a small, Scottish and highly international university. We are outward looking, inclusive and focused on excellence. That Scottish Universities have done so well in three of the key measures here is notable. Brexit and its consequences notwithstanding, Scottish universities will strive to continue to outperform and we look for meaningful support to enable us to do so,” said Sally Mapstone, principal, St Andrews University.

Two new institutions join the rankings for 2018 — Birkbek, University of London enters in 115th place and the University of Suffolk enters in 129th. The most dramatic improvement according to the league table criteria comes from the University of West London, which has climbed 26 places to 80th for 2018. Taking into consideration student satisfaction alone, St Andrews comes third one again, beaten to the top by Liverpool Hope in second place and the University of Buckingham in first.

Imperial College London remains top in terms of research quality, and St George’s, University of London, is ranked in first place for graduate prospects. “Our enviable staff to student ratio that is among the best and continually leading the way in graduate employability means our students ranks their experience at Buckingham really highly. Our students recognise the fact that they are taught by leading academics who care for them and know how to teach. It helps build the uniquely friendly learning community which is the secret of the Buckingham success story,” said Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor, University of Buckingham.

Dr Bernard Kingston, chairman, The Complete University Guide, said, “This year there is a considerable degree of stability at the upper end of the league table, as in the past. This stability, while it may not attract the headlines, demonstrates that the rankings fulfil our principal objective to provide credible and freely accessible information for individuals seeking a university place.”

The Independent