Good University Guide 2023

University College London

National rank

Firsts / 2:1s
Completion rate

Key stats

Teaching quality
Student experience
Research quality
Graduate prospects

University College London (UCL) opens its new campus on Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford, east London, in 2022-23 — the biggest expansion in the history of the university, founded in 1826. UCL East has ambitions to match its size, underpinned by the aim “to find solutions to the biggest challenges facing people and the planet”. 

The campus will provide extra teaching, learning and research space as part of East Bank, the education and cultural legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, alongside partners the BBC, V&A, Sadler’s Wells and UAL London College of Fashion. 

From this term students have access to UCL East’s One Pool Street building, a multi-use facility encompassing accommodation, academic, retail, community and public engagement areas. A centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems is among the academic facilities, as well as space for the School of Creative and Cultural Industries and a “living lab” for investigating biodiversity loss and climate change. UCL’s Global Disability Innovation Hub is also moving to One Pool Street. 

The campus’s Marshgate building is set to open in 2023. Predominantly for academic purposes, it will also include student accommodation and some shops and community areas. “Fluid zones” on its ground floor have been designed to draw people into the building. Academic facilities will cater for subjects that include engineering, the built environment, finance and technology, and media and film, among others. 

All degrees based at UCL East allow for collaboration across disciplines, with hands-on teaching and learning and opportunities for project working. The university will launch seven degrees in 2023, including heritage; creative arts and humanities; population health sciences with study abroad; robotics and artificial intelligence; and science and engineering for social change. 

UCL has recorded a remarkably consistent set of results in the measures included in our academic rankings, staying steady year-on-year in seventh place. The university has also maintained fifth position in our new research quality rating based on the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021). Ninety-three per cent of an outstanding submission was graded 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent), the top two categories. Law; medicine; area studies; and social sciences were among UCL’s highest-scoring subject areas. 

With 30 Nobel laureates among its staff, researchers and graduates, UCL’s immense strength in research also stimulates undergraduate life. Every student at the university gets the opportunity to engage in research as part of the connected curriculum framework. Its strength in research contributes to its position in eighth place for the second consecutive year in the QS World University rankings. 

Graduate prospects are once again in the top ten (ninth). The latest Graduate Outcomes survey shows that 86.4 per cent of the most recent UCL graduates found highly skilled work or returned to postgraduate study within 15 months.

Our analysis of the latest National Student Survey, published in summer 2022, shows a big shift in how students feel about the wider undergraduate experience: UCL climbs an impressive 25 places into the top 40 on this measure. Only two years ago UCL was 99= for satisfaction with the wider experience. The university has improved two places to 88th for satisfaction with teaching quality.

The prevalent teaching model for 2022-23 is face-to-face, on campus. Students are expected to turn up in person for lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practicals, unless they are enrolled on an online course. Online materials are being deployed only to enrich in-person teaching and where possible lectures are recorded for students to revisit later. 

The university headquarters are in Bloomsbury, central London, where a recently opened student centre added 1,000 study seats and group working areas. UCL is comfortably the biggest of the University of London colleges. Its medical school, with several associated teaching hospitals, is among the largest in Europe. UCL was a founding partner in the Francis Crick Institute (named after one of its Nobel laureates), which undertakes leading research in health and disease. 

The demand for places reached new heights in the 2021 admissions cycle, when more than 68,000 students  (up 16 per cent year-on-year) applied for about 8,100 places (down 11 per cent on the previous admissions round — which was a bumper one affected by the Covid-19 pandemic). Applications were up by another 11 per cent by the end of March 2022, compared with the same point the year before. 

While entry is highly competitive, the university does operate a contextual admissions scheme, Access UCL, for students from underrepresented groups in higher education. Eligible applicants may receive offers between one and five grades lower than the standard entry tariff. In September 2021 about 13 per cent of new undergraduates received a contextual offer, a proportion UCL expects to rise to 20 per cent for the 2023 intake. Investment of £13.5 million in bursaries and activities to support students from diverse backgrounds also helps to widen participation. 

UCL achieves the lowest black attainment gap, the latest data shows, the best result in England and Wales. It does less well on other measures of social inclusion, drawing just over half of students from selective state or independent schools, for example (51.7 per cent, ranking 112th on this metric). The university is 12th in our comparison of course completion rates, achieving dropout figures which at 3.1 per cent are exactly as expected given UCL’s course and student profile. 

Close to the West End and with its own theatre and recreational facilities, UCL offers plenty of leisure options. More than 7,000 residential places are owned or endorsed by the college, enough to guarantee accommodation for those who apply by the end of May. Indoor sports and fitness facilities are close at hand, but the main outdoor pitches are a (free) coach ride away in Hertfordshire.

Student advisers help first-years to settle in and there are more than 300 student clubs and societies to join. The new campus, within easy reach of Hackney Wick, opens up the fashion-forward East End enclaves to UCL students, while literary Bloomsbury is in the heart of London — named by QS as the Best Student City globally in 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023.

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Category Score Rank
Ranking - 7 (7)
Teaching quality 73.8 88th
Student experience 73.8 37th
Research quality 66.8 5th
Ucas entry points 178 11th=
Graduate prospects 86.4 9th
Firsts and 2:1s 91.4 8th
Completion rate 94.8 12th
Student-staff ratio 11.1 2nd
World ranking - 8 (8=)

Vital statistics











Applications/places 68,085/8,140
Applications/places ratio 8.4:1
Overall offer rate 42.8%


Places in accommodation 7,252
Accommodation costs £131 - £397
Catered costs £193 - £284
Accommodation contact


UK/EU fees £9,250
Fees (placement year) £1,385
Fees (overseas year) £1,385
Fees (international) £22,200 - £35,100
Fees (international, medical) £38,000
Finance website
Graduate salaries £30,450


Sport points/rank 1,896, 17th
Sport website

Social inclusion and student mix

Social Inclusion Ranking 98
State schools (non-grammar) admissions 51.7%
Grammar school admissions 15.9%
Independent school admissions 32.4%
Ethnic minority students (all) 58.2%
Black achievement gap -2.1%
White working class males 1.6%
First generation students 27.4%
Low participation areas 4.3%
Working class dropout gap 0.6%
Mature 6.5%
EU students 15.5%
Other overseas students 38.5%

Student satisfaction with teaching quality

French 86.2%
Iberian languages 84.9%
English 84.7%
Anatomy and physiology 84%
History of art, architecture and design 83.7%
Classics and ancient history 83.5%
Pharmacology and pharmacy 83.2%
Anthropology 82%
American studies 81.3%
Education 81.2%
Town and country planning and landscape 80.7%
General engineering 80.6%
German 78.3%
Italian 78.3%
Linguistics 78.1%
Business, management and marketing 77.3%
Electrical and electronic engineering 76.7%
Geography and environmental science 76.6%
Bioengineering and biomedical engineering 76.4%
Information systems and management 76.4%
Liberal arts 76.1%
Archaeology and forensic science 75.7%
Civil engineering 75.1%
Psychology 75%
Accounting and finance 74.8%
Mathematics 74.8%
Geology 74.5%
History 74.4%
Architecture 74%
Law 73.2%
Subjects allied to medicine 72.4%
Mechanical engineering 71.8%
Philosophy 71.5%
Sociology 70.6%
Physics and astronomy 70.4%
Chemical engineering 70.3%
Computer science 70.1%
Chemistry 69.9%
Medicine 69.9%
Natural sciences 69.6%
Economics 68.7%
Biological sciences 68.6%
Building 66.4%
Russian and eastern European languages 66.1%
Politics 65.5%
Art and design 53.5%