Best UK universities by employers

When choosing a university, students have to take into account dozens of criteria. In this process it is important to remember the main one – a university degree has to bring you a good job.
We are looking at what universities offer the best graduate prospects and how your choice of university can help you to attract an interest of potential employers.

What universities prepare the most employable graduates?

It is probably not a surprise that among universities with the best employability such universities as Imperial College London, Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham, King’s College London, Bath, Sussex and Durham top the list according to The Complete University Guide ranking 2017.

Graduating from one of the elite universities will make you extremely desirable for employers, so much so that the top of the class graduates often don’t even need to look for a job but get head-hunted by industry leading companies.

According to UCL statistics, 90% of its students find a graduate level job after they finish their course. Their average graduate salary is £28,415 per year and 993 employers showed active initiative in hiring UCL graduates in 2014-15.

What about other universities?

Does this mean that you only have good employment prospects if you graduate from an elite university? It turns out it doesn’t.

In fact, your chances of getting a graduate job might be very close to those of the top university graduates and your salary might be comparable. If you go to any good university, the difference is quite marginal.

Many universities that are not on the elite list still have very high employment rate after graduation. For example, based on the Complete University Guide rating 2017, the Robert Gordon University comes 14 in the graduate prospects category despite taking 64 place in the overall score and offers 82% employability.

What factors influence employer’s decision?

University specialisation

Each university has its strong areas. Before applying to a university, make sure you check how it rates in your subject. Employers know what universities are better than others in their field.

The University of Southampton, for instance, is strong in computer science and designs its programmes around employability with strong focus on in-demand skills.

Bear in mind that the overall university rating is not necessarily an indicator for your future employability. It’s important to know how to read university rankings.

If you are interested in accounting and finance, for example, the Salford University takes the 10th place, even though it is ranked 90th based on the overall score.

In the field of economics, you might want to consider the Portsmouth University that takes the 11th place in the subject despite going down to number 49 in the overall ranking.


Do your research on which universities teach useful skills. The same subject can be approached from different angles, and it can make a big difference when looking for a job.

Find out in which industries businesses are struggling to find good specialists or what skills are always popular. For example, if you plan to work in computing, you might want to look at new fields such as big data.

Work experience

Most good universities have connections with local companies where students have an opportunity to do their work placements. This is one of the easiest ways to get some work experience and an opportunity to get a job offer after the work placement.

With work experience under your belt, upon graduation you will be one step ahead of others in the job-searching game.

Industry links

Most universities have long-standing industry links with local and worldwide businesses. This means that these companies will take active part in educating the students and will be more inclined to hire graduates from the partner university.

You can usually find out what companies a university works with by looking at its website. For example, the Engineering faculty of the University of Nottingham advertises strong connections with such companies as BP, Ford, Shell and Siemens.

Get our FREE guide 'How to choose a UK university'

By submitting this form you accept that your data will be collected and stored in accordance with the Privacy Policy

How to choose a university that will be on recruiter’s priority list?

Employers often see a university degree as a rite of passage. It takes a lot to get into a good university and to do well on your course. So getting a good degree from a university is seen by employers as an achievement in itself.

However, you can improve your employment prospects further by following these simple steps:

  • When choosing a university, make sure you focus on the subject ranking rather than overall ratings. It is helpful to have good academic results, but specialist knowledge and experience come first.
  • Spend time looking at what industry connections the university has, it can give you a clue what are its strong areas and might open a direct path to your chosen employer.
  • Find out when your university holds job fairs. This is a good opportunity to make contacts and meet representatives from all businesses your university partners with.
  • Try to find the course that allows time for a work placement. If you graduate with some work experience in your field, it will be a big advantage when it comes to job hunting.
  • Make use of a university career service. They have a lot of experience of working with graduate employment and can give you practical advice based on their knowledge of the job market. This department might be able to help you to find a part-time job during your time at university, talk you through the application process and teach you how to write a good CV. They also have established connections with companies that hire graduates and might be able to refer you to the right employer.

To find out what career choices can give you the best salary, read our article 7 best paid graduate jobs in the UK.

If you need help choosing a university course that can give a good start to your career, contact us and we find the best programme for you.