Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024: Greater Manchester university rankings revealed

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This is where the the universities of Manchester, Salford and Bolton rank in the latest Time Good University Guide.

The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University have both, once again, ranked among the top 5 North West universities, according to The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Compiled using ONS data, the prestigious guide assesses factors such as graduate employability and teaching quality.

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The University of Manchester ranks second in the North West, while MMU came in at fourth. Both Manchester universities have also moved up one place in the national rankings from last year. The University of Manchester is now the 23rd best university in the country out of 134, while MMU now ranks at 59.

Two other Greater Manchester Universities, the University of Salford and the University of Bolton,have also ranked in the top 10 for the North West, at eight and ten respectively. Nationally, Salford has dropped three places from last year to 91st, while Bolton has seen the biggest improvement in rankings compared to last year, jumping from 124th in 2023 to joint 106th in 2024.

Topping the ranks for the North West is Lancaster University, which also ranks 14th in the country, while the University of Cumbria is bottom of the list at 12th in the North West and 129th in the country.

The University of Liverpool, which is third in the North West and joint 29th nationally, was in the shortlisted for the prestigious title of University of the Year 2024, however, this title went to University College London, with University of Exeter taking the runner up spot.

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Some of the other award winners from the 2024 rankings include the University of Nottingham for Sports University of the Year, Imperial College London for best university of graduate employment and Bath Spa University wins the social inclusion award.

MMU’s Student Hub. Credit: Manchester Metropolitan UniversityMMU’s Student Hub. Credit: Manchester Metropolitan University
MMU’s Student Hub. Credit: Manchester Metropolitan University | Manchester Metropolitan University

Other findings

This year, the guide also features a searchable database of graduate salaries per university, per subject, and one of the key findings is that university choice impacts future earnings more than ever. At the top end of the scale, computer science graduates of Imperial College are looking at average salary after 15 months of £64,000, and at the other, drama, dance and cinematics graduates from the University of Central Lancashire earn an average annual salary of £18,000 within 18 months of leaving university.

There has also been a shift in the subjects students are choosing to study. According to Ucas data, applications for computer science-related courses are up 31% from 2019, and 10% from last year. There is also a rise in honours and interdisciplinary work to collaborate on solving issues such as climate change and health.

Oxford and Cambridge have both featured in the top three for the past three decades, and they are increasingly taking on students from non-selective state schools. Cambridge admissions from non-selective schools has risen to 49.5% from 40.1% in 2018, and Oxford has seen a larger increase from 39.4% to 53.5%.

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The statistics on diversity are less promising, however. According to the latest data, universities higher in the rankings still score lower on social inclusion. For example, the Russell Group universities occupy 16 of the bottom 20 universities for social inclusion, with Durham at the bottom.

Helen Davies, editor of The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said:  “The higher education landscape has never been tougher. It is more competitive to get a place at many of our top institutions; the cost of attending university has soared, leaving graduates with extraordinary debt; and in many cases campus life still bears the scars of the pandemic. Meanwhile lecturers are on strike and the marking crisis is a running scandal.

There are several university ranking systems out there and they all use different methodologies. Admittedly, Birmingham does have the edge according to some rankings, but there are cases where Manchester comes out on top. For example, Times Higher Education’s World Rankings place University of Manchester at 54th and University of Birmingham at 108th. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)There are several university ranking systems out there and they all use different methodologies. Admittedly, Birmingham does have the edge according to some rankings, but there are cases where Manchester comes out on top. For example, Times Higher Education’s World Rankings place University of Manchester at 54th and University of Birmingham at 108th. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
There are several university ranking systems out there and they all use different methodologies. Admittedly, Birmingham does have the edge according to some rankings, but there are cases where Manchester comes out on top. For example, Times Higher Education’s World Rankings place University of Manchester at 54th and University of Birmingham at 108th. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“It means any prospective student, parent or carer needs to think hard about whether university is the right choice, and then where to study and what subject. It’s where this guide — our 30th edition — is here to help. Our online version has so much more on how the universities compare subject by subject, a guide on campus life, and what scholarships and bursaries may be on offer.

“We are here to champion the ambitious work of our first-class universities, and the aspirations of any student of any age who wants to keep on learning.”

Full North West rankings

  1. Lancaster University (14 nationally)
  2. University of Manchester (23)
  3. University of Liverpool (29=)
  4. Manchester Metropolitan University (59)
  5. Edge Hill University (69)
  6. Liverpool John Moores University (70=)
  7. Liverpool Hope University (88)
  8. University of Salford (91)
  9. University of Chester (100)
  10. University of Bolton (106)
  11. University of Central Lancashire (111)
  12. University of Cumbria (129)

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