Queen's maintains lead over Ulster University, but gap is narrowing
Queen's University Belfast has maintained its lead over Ulster University in UK league tables - but the gap between the two is narrowing.
QUB has fallen five places in the national rankings, from 31st last year to 36th place, according to the Complete University Guide.
On the other hand Ulster, which last year was one of 10 universities nationally to fall by 10 or more places, has done a complete U-turn.
This year, it was one of 11 to rise by more than 10 places - from 84th to 67th.
Cambridge again heads the ranking of 126 UK universities, with Oxford in second place ahead of the London School of Economics and Political Science in third place.
Queen's - a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities - appears in the national top 10 listing for seven of the 40 subjects it offers. Last year, a nationwide assessment - The Research Excellence Framework - placed Queen's in the top 20 for research quality and impact.
Ulster is listed in two top 10s out of the 40 subjects it offers.
The guide this year reviewed the performance of UK universities over the five years of the coalition government, based on data used for its annual league tables.
It found that in Northern Ireland the ratio of students to staff was the best of any UK country in every single year.
Northern Ireland also came top of the UK for spending per student on facilities - sports, careers services, health, counselling - which increased steadily over the full five-year period.
The growth in the number of "good" honours degrees - graduates achieving first or upper second-class honours - also rose from 66 to 71%.
Student satisfaction and graduate prospects also gradually increased here.
Dr Bernard Kingston, principal author of TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk, said: "The league tables, taken with the rankings for specific subjects, offer would-be students an accurate and independent guide to the UK university system.
"They should not be used in isolation but alongside all the other advice and information in the guide. Its tables are recognised for their stability and consistency, and this year once again demonstrates this."
The interactive guide allows greater flexibility than newspaper and book-based guides.
For the league table, full methodology and other information, see www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk
Nationally the top 10 universities are:
3: London School of Economics
4: Imperial College, London
6: St Andrew's
10: University College, London