universities in the UK
A technician working at the Jenner Institute on Oxford University's COVID-19 candidate vaccine. Oxford has emerged the top university in the UK once again. Source: John Cairns/University of Oxford/AFP

The QS World University Rankings 2022 have been released, with universities in the UK and European Union (EU) taking up half of the top 1o spots. As with previous years, US universities dominate the top 10 — but top UK and EU universities have grown in reputation and favour over the past year. The 2022 ranking also welcomes a couple of French institutions into the top 10, signalling the rise of European universities to match its UK counterparts.

Of these universities in the UK, many offer highly-ranked STEM degrees in computer, earth, health, and marine sciences, as well as engineering and technology. Several have long occupied the top tiers of rankings, the dreams of hopeful students from every corner of the globe and the CVs of world leaders such as Indian independence icon Sarojini Naidu and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu. Here’s a brief rundown of the top-ranked universities in the UK and Europe for 2022, according to QS.

universities in the UK

The University of Oxford’s greatest research accomplishment this past year has cemented its reputation as the UK’s leading university. Source: Justin Tallis/AFP

University of Oxford (UK)

With over 8,000 international students, this public university has climbed up a few spots this year thanks to accelerated research and innovation — which has long been the cornerstone of its success. In fact, Oxford scientists developed the AstraZeneca vaccine this past year, which is today being used to inoculate millions against COVID-19. How’s that for research impact?

University of Cambridge (UK)

Located in the famous English city of the same name, Cambridge has almost 7,600 international students. It is Oxford’s fiercest competitor, with graduates raking in more than 80 Nobel Prizes. Famous graduates include science and arts icons such as Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, Sascha Baron Cohen, and Emma Thompson.

Imperial College London (UK)

Imperial hosts over 10,000 international students in science, engineering, medicine, and business courses. Its South Kensington Campus includes impressive facilities: a full-motion flight simulator, carbon capture pilot plant, and the largest KPMG Data Observatory in the region.

universities in the UK

Source: Philippe Lopez/AFP

ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Switzerland)

Alma mater to award-winning innovators (including Albert Einstein), this Swiss institute is known as one of Europe’s best. With 80 new patent applications and over 200 spin-off companies emerging from here yearly, it’s easy to see how it earned this reputation. ETH Zurich has over 7,000 international students, and holds a high standard for admissions.

EPFL (Switzerland)

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is well-reputed for its natural sciences and engineering programmes. Its cosmopolitan campus is located in French-speaking Lausanne, which is known for its high standard of living. There are almost 6,000 international students here, as per QS record.

The University of Edinburgh (UK)

Well over 13,000 international students are pursuing higher education at Scotland’s top university, which boasts 10 libraries and one of the largest campus computing networks among universities in the UK. Research is conducted across three Colleges: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Medicine and Veterinary Medicine; and Science and Engineering. Student life in Edinburgh is filled with history, culture, and old-world charm.

The University of Manchester (UK)

More than 15,000 students have chosen Manchester for their study abroad experience, making up 25% of the total student population. This comes as no surprise since it is one of the UK’s most popular student cities. Notable alumni include footballer Vincent Kompany and actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

universities in the UK

People enjoy the sunshine with the view of the City of London skyline in the background, in Greenwich Park, south east London on June 3, 2021. Source: Justin Tallis/AFP

King’s College London (UK)

As one of England’s oldest universities, King’s has a long legacy of impactful research and evidence-based teaching in the humanities, law, and sciences alike. King’s is the most central university in London, including four Thames-side campuses within a single square mile and one located in south London. These five campuses host over 29,000 students from over 150 countries.

Université PSL (France)

Paris Sciences et Lettres University (PSL) is a collegiate university with 11 schools. Over 5,500 international students have chosen this arts and science institute. It is known for postgraduate education; over 70% of its students are enrolled in master’s or PhD programmes. Fun fact: PSL is home to the cancer research centre Institut Curie, which was founded by Marie Curie in 1909.

Institut Polytechnique de Paris (France)

Known as one of the world’s top eight innovation clusters, this polytechnic institute brings together five French engineering schools: École Polytechnique, ENSTA Paris, ENSAE Paris, Télécom Paris, and Télécom SudParis. Prestigious scientists and presidents studied here, including physicist André-Marie Ampère and mathematician Sophie Germain.