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Government / Local politics

Which UK city has the most universities per head?

Well, since you did ask.

First a word about the data. The CfC gathers data on the 63 largest cities in Britain, from London (pop: 9.8m all the way down to Worthing (pop: 107,000). As to what counts as a university, we’re only counting the main campuses, not smaller branch campuses. Last but not least, we’re not counting the Open University, which is technically based in Milton Keynes, but as a distance learning institution doesn’t have a campus in the traditional sense

Before running the numbers on this I sort of assumed the answer would be Edinburgh (because it has six universities, but isn’t that big), or London (which is that big but has, as I may have mentioned, loads of universities).

This just goes to show why you should never trust to guesswork: even with 40 universities, London is so huge that it’s nowhere near the top of the “universities per head” league table. (It ranks 26th out of our 63 cities.)

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Here’s the top 10. The number atop each bar is the number of universities in the city:

The chart is dominated by small cities with more than one university. Cambridge, for example, only has two universities (the famous one, and Anglia Ruskin); but it also only has 129,000 people. It’s a similar story with Dundee, Oxford, York, Aberdeen…

Indeed, two of these cities only have one university (Ipswich and Exeter): it’s just that they’re so small they still have more universities per head than most of the big cities.

This is an extract from a longer article looking at the distribution of Britain’s universities.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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