6 top young universities in the UK

By Talya Honebeek• Last updated: Nov 21, 2023
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Older universities like Oxford and Cambridge are known for their beautiful historical architecture and long and well-established global reputation for academic and research excellence.

But when it comes to choosing a university, older doesn’t necessarily mean better. 

Younger universities may not have hundreds of years of teaching and tradition behind them, but what they do have is state-of-the-art facilities, research and a more international outlook in their teaching and research.

For the most part, a “new university” tends to be a former polytechnic or central institution in the UK that was granted university status through the Further and Higher Education Act in 1992. 

From Northumbria to Plymouth, here are eight of the top young universities in the UK, all under 50 years of age.

Plymouth University

Plymouth University was originally founded in 1862, before later gaining university status in 1992.

The university has the largest Marine Science and Engineering School in all of Europe, and is also well-known for its top-class facilities, including a specialist marine research lab and state-of-the-art navigation centre.

If a desirable location is important to you when choosing a university, then the coastal city of Plymouth should be at the top of your list. Located on England’s south coast, the university is one of the largest in the South West of England and has a lively and welcoming student community. 

And if you ever need a breather from the hustle and bustle of student life, Dartmoor National Park and the stunning Devon and Cornwall coast are within easy reach.

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Northumbria University

Located in the popular student city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumbria University is one of the top universities in the UK under 50 years old, ranking highly on the Times Higher Education’s Young Universities Rankings 2020.

Of more than 400 universities included in the league table, Northumbria came in the top quartile, scoring highly for their success in research productivity and reputation as well as their strong international outlook.

Northumbria University is a great choice for anyone looking to gain a degree that sets you apart from other graduates, as many of the courses offer accreditation from industry and help you get a foot in the door before you even leave university.

Middlesex University

Though originally established as Middlesex Polytechnic in 1878, Middlesex University was only granted university status in 1992, before being restructured in 2012.

Middlesex University is ideally located just a 25 minute tube ride away from central London, and is one of the most popular universities in the UK for international students, with over a third of the student population hailing from more than 140 different countries.

Considering a research report carried out by the Parthenon Group ranked Middlesex in the top 10 UK universities for graduate salaries, it’s not hard to see why students come from all over the world to study in Middlesex.

The university actively helps students find relevant work placements, and offers lots of support in preparation for their post-studies career. As if that wasn’t a big enough reason to consider Middlesex, there is also a wide range of clubs and societies as well as extensive on-campus leisure facilities .

Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University is an exciting and modern university set over four campuses in the heart of one of the country’s best student cities. 

Home to the Manchester School of Art, the Manchester School of Theatre and the Manchester School of Architecture, MMU graduates benefit from a high employment rate as well as strong partnership opportunities with leaders of industry. 

The university has a rich history dating all the way back to 1824. As another post-1992 university, there is a focus on excellence in research and teaching, as well as on promoting a global outlook.

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Liverpool John Moores University

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool John Moores University has been around longer. While it was originally founded in 1823 as the Liverpool Mechanic’ School of Art, it didn’t actually gain fully accredited university status until over 160 years later, in 1992.

The university is now the 35th largest university in the UK and is a leader in multimedia teaching, with one of the UK’s best, most state-of-the-art media centres.

Liverpool John Moores benefits from a vibrant and diverse student population, with an active Student’ Union that runs a huge range of varied societies and sports clubs.

Liverpool is a great place to study, with plenty of things to see and do in the city, including the Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Football Club and Europe’s oldest Chinatown.

De Montfort University

De Montfort University is another of the top modern universities in the UK, officially becoming a university in 1992 after its previous life as Leicester Polytechnic.

The university is now internationally recognised for its high-quality teaching, and the facilities have greatly benefitted from several recent developments as part of a ten-year £200 million initiative by the university.

With over 120 societies and a large number of sports clubs to choose from, De Montfort University is also a great choice for anyone looking to try out some fun new extracurricular activities.

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Meet Talya, a part-time journalism master's student hailing from North Yorkshire. With a knack for assisting students in...Read More

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