There are many top ranking universities and colleges in the United Kingdom, some of which are ranked highly in the world by a number of international league tables. The ancient universities in the UK are amongst the most famous and prestigious institutions in the world, they are founded between the 12th and 16th centuries. There are six ancient universities in the UK: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen, and University of Edinburgh.

University of Oxford - it is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. In 2007 Oxford climbed up the rankings as the best university in Europe and second best in the world in Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).

The University of St Andrews - founded in 1413, it is the oldest and highest ranked institution in Scotland, consistently ranked among the Top five in the UK and No. 1 in Scotland. It was awarded the Scottish University of the Year in 2008 by the Sunday Times University Guide.

The University of Cambridge - founded in 1209, it is consistently ranked among the Top four universities in the world. According to the THES - QS World University Rankings, Cambridge is rated third best globally in 2008. In the country it is consistently ranked among the Top 2 by The Times, Guardian, The Independent Complete Univ Guide, Sunday Times, etc.

University of Edinburgh - a top research institution,  ranked in the Top 5 in the UK and first place in Scotland by volume of 4* 'world-leading' research, according to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), announced by HEFCE.

University of Glasgow - founded in 1451, it is the fourth-oldest in the English-speaking world. It is placed 12th in the UK, 26th in Europe and 81st in Times World University Rankings. It has been named Scottish University of the Year by the Sunday Times newspaper.

University of Aberdeen - placed 137th internationally in the Times Higher World University Rankings. In the RAE 2008, 89% of Aberdeen's research activity is of international quality, it is rated 1st for Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies, and equal 1st for Health Services Research.

* Suggested Reading:

Top 5 Universities in UK

Top Universities in Wales

Russell Group Universities in Top Ranking
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World University Ranking Tables

America - US News & World Report, The Princeton Review, BusinessWeek
Canada - Maclean's, Gourman Report Ranking of Canadian Universities
UK - Sunday Times, Guardian, Times Good University Guide, Daily Telegraph
World - Shanghai Jiao Tong ARWU Rankings, Webometrics, Newsweek