1. Governance
June 14, 2016updated 03 Aug 2023 3:09pm

Which UK city has the most universities per head?

By Jonn Elledge

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.)

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…

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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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