St Andrews University has made history after being named the top higher education institution in the UK.

It is the first time in the near 30-year history of the Times guide and UK university league tables in general, that a university other than Oxford or Cambridge has topped the list.

St Andrews scored highest for student satisfaction, research, teaching quality, entry standards and graduate outcomes.

The university has been consistently amongst the top three in the Times and Sunday Times guide in recent years. 

"The university has been closing in on the Oxbridge duopoly for several years.

Founded in the 15th century, St Andrews is Scotland's first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world.

Teaching began in the community of St Andrews in 1410, and the University was formally constituted by the issue of a papal bull in 1413.

Notable alumni include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland.

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In the field of medicine, graduates include Edward Jenner, pioneer of the smallpox vaccine and physician and polymath John Arbuthnot.

Benjamin Franklin received an honorary degree from St Andrews in 1759.

Alastair McCall, Guest Editor of The Times, said: “St Andrews’ achievement in topping our institutional table should not be underestimated.

"Never before has any university other than Cambridge and Oxford finished top of our – or any other – domestic ranking of universities. It is no fluke.

"The university has been closing in on the Oxbridge duopoly for several years, buoyed by outstanding levels of student satisfaction which have peaked during the past year of pandemic disruption on campus.

"The lead St Andrews now has over other universities in this key area of university performance is remarkable.

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“Strange to say for an institution that has been around for 600 years, but topping our UK rankings for the first time truly marks St Andrews “arrival” as a serious challenger to Oxford and Cambridge.”

In addition to the institutional ranking the university also topped seven of the subject league tables; business management and marketing, computer science, English, Middle Eastern and African studies, philosophy, physics and sstronomy, and international relations. 

Cambridge had triumphed for the previous eight editions of the Good University Guide but dropped to third place this year.

The University of Glasgow was named Scottish University of the Year and is placed 12th in the UK-wide league table, its highest ever ranking.

St Andrews University Chancellor, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, said:“This welcome and deserved achievement reflects the outstanding nature of the student experience at St Andrews University.

“Under the inspired leadership of the Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, and her senior team, the standards set in these difficult times in teaching, research, and management at every level are truly remarkable.”

President of the St Andrews Students’ Association, Lottie Doherty, added: “It’s amazing news. It’s brilliant that St Andrews has made number one, not just for the University and its staff but for all the students here as well.

“It really is a testament to how well the last year has gone despite the difficult conditions.

“Students worked so hard to get good grades and engage with their classes and studies even though it has been online and under very difficult circumstances. It is brilliant to see that recognised.

“I think it really shows how hard working and passionate the students and staff are about St Andrews and about their learning to adapt to such difficult circumstances and come out number one this year.”

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, said:“I hope the fact that the staff and students of a small, Scottish institution have been able to break through the hitherto impenetrable Oxbridge ceiling will inspire others, and show that the status quo is only that if you allow it to be.”