The Sunday Times University Guide's top 10 was relatively predictable with Imperial College London, the London School of Economics and University College London all remaining in third, fourth and fifth places respectively. Bath University rose from 16th to make the top 10.
Bristol University scored higher in the surveys of head teachers and academics than in the overall league table, where it reached eighth position. Asked to rank the university for the quality of its undergraduate courses across 30 subjects, head teachers ranked Bristol fourth, behind the Oxbridge institutions and Imperial College London, while academics placed it fifth out of the 119 institutions included in the list. Bath also significantly outperformed its overall national ranking, with head teachers ranking it fifth for the quality of its undergraduate courses.
For the first time the university league table took into account the views of final-year students. Results from the new national student satisfaction survey, which was published last month, were included. The survey canvassed the views of more than 170,000 final-year students on quality of teaching, resources and academic support.
Durham was named university of the year, despite being ranked ninth in the overall list. The guide's authors said that its graduates were highly sought after and was the only university in the top 10 to perform well in the student satisfaction survey. They also praised their academics who, they claimed, are respected all over the world.
Warwick, in sixth place, and York, seventh, make up the top 10. The elite universities are under pressure from government ministers to increase the number of state school pupils they take. But figures released last month showed that the 19 elite Russell group universities - eight of whom are in the top 10 - actually took fewer state school pupils last year than in 2002/3.
Record numbers of students started university this year as they scrambled for places before next year's introduction of top-up fees.
THE TOP 10
1 (1) Cambridge
2 (2) Oxford
3 (3) Imperial College
4 (4) London School of Economics
5 (5) University College London
6 (7) Warwick
7 (6) York
8 (8) Bristol
9 (11) Durham
10 (16) BathReuse content