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KCL Lags Behind London Rivals in Latest University Rankings

Photo Courtesy of Emma Carmichael
Exterior entrance to King's College, University of London
Photo Courtesy of Emma Carmichael

Recently released UK university rankings see KCL gain no places whilst ranking well below LSE, Imperial College London and UCL. 

The 2025 Complete University Guide (CUG) League Tables were recently released on the 14th May. The 2025 overall rankings saw King’s College London, (KCL), remain in 24th place, the same position it occupied in the 2024 rankings. KCL lagged behind its London rivals with the London School of Economics, (LSE), ranking in 3rd, Imperial College London in 5th and University College London, (UCL) in 9th.

KCL was not just outperformed by its fellow London universities, but was outranked by 17 fellow Russell Group universities. This is an organisation of 24 research-focused universities with a reputation for academic achievement. Their collaboration aids in bringing them greater funding for research and other projects which, in turn, helps cement their prestige.

Breaking down the rankings

KCL scored in the following places in the individual measures used to compile the overall score:

Research quality: 8th

Graduate prospects-outcomes: 12th

Research intensity: 17th

Entry standards: 19th

Facilities spend: 22nd

Student-staff ratio: 24th

Graduate prospects-on track: 28th

Academic services spend: 29th

Continuation: 35th

The one measure in which KCL found itself towards the bottom of the pile was student satisfaction, where it ranked 111th.

KCL’s low student satisfaction score is not unusual amongst Russell Group universities. Oxford and Cambridge have been deemed non-applicable for the score since 2021, whilst only 6 of the remaining 22 lie within the top 70 for student satisfaction. Yet, KCL’s satisfaction scores are amongst the worst in London. KCL ties with Queen Mary as the 3rd worst-performing London university, with both universities at 111th overall.

In the rankings for individual subjects, KCL appeared in the top 10 for 16 subjects. The equivalent figure for UCL was 35, whilst LSE and Imperial were ranked in the top 10 in all the individual subject rankings for which they were eligible. KCL ranked highly in subjects such as Health Studies, (1st), Social Policy, (2nd) and Law, (5th), whilst only ranking 31st in Chemistry and 33rd in Mathematics.

How Has KCL done in previous CUG university rankings?

KCL has never entered the top 10 of the CUG, peaking at 13th in the 2011 rankings, before sliding to 28th only 4 years later. KCL returned to the top 20 in the 2021 rankings, landing in exactly 20th. However, by the 2022 rankings, KCL had dropped down to 22nd, and by the 2024 rankings, to 24th, where it remains. KCL has never outranked LSE, Imperial or UCL in any of the 18 online-only editions of the CUG.

How does KCL Perform in international rankings?

KCL’s performance in domestic rankings such as the CUG contrasts with its performance in international rankings. KCL ranks as the 6th best UK university in the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings and the 7th best in the QS World University Rankings. These rankings favour factors such as reputation, research and an international outlook. This, in turn, favours more established universities, such as KCL, over those with higher student satisfaction or impressive recent performance. Indeed, neither the THE or QS rankings account for student satisfaction, where KCL performs very poorly. By contrast, the CUG does, whilst not accounting for international outlook. Therefore, different methodologies ensure that KCL’s place varies when looking at different rankings.  

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