The University of East Anglia has topped rankings of student experience amongst UK institutions according to a new survey.

Over 12,000 undergraduates rated universities in 21 categories, including standard of staff and lectures and quality social life in a poll by Times Higher Education.

This year, UEA, located in Norwich and famous for celebrated courses in creative writing and American studies, knocked Dundee University off the top spot for student experience, with the Scottish university falling to eighth.

Meanwhile, York St John University became the first post-1992 university to break into the top 10, leaping from 58th to ninth in the rankings, 25 places higher than its cross-town Russell Group neighbour.

However, the institution is not the most improved university, an accolade which was won by the University of Chester, rising from 75th to 29th after a recent £3m spend on overhauling its learning resources centre, and a further £1m on new sports facilities.

Oxford University ranked first in quality of staff and lectures, and lies second in the overall survey, one place above Cambridge.

Sheffield University is considered to have the best students’ union, while it shares the highest-rated social life with Newcastle. Loughborough and Bath universities are the country’s best institution for sport, according to respondents.

London universities have fared poorly in rankings, with UCL slumped at 67, despite ranking 4 in the 2012/13 QS World University rankings, alongside fellow Russell Group strugglers King’s College (75) and London School of Economics (72) . However, LSE tops the list in industry connections for students.

John Gill, editor of Times Higher Education, said: “With universities now expected to compete for students, particularly those achieving the best A level grades, they will be scrutinise as never before by both current and potential students form the standard of teaching and facilities to the opportunities their degrees open up.”