Going to university isn’t cheap. Students enrolled in an undergraduate study will have to pay £9,250 in tuition fees and, on average, £11,000 for a postgraduate programme.

That’s why many people view university as an investment, and naturally, you want to ensure you get the most return on that investment.

Finance can be a great choice as it has excellent career prospects, and the skills learnt can be applied to a wide range of industries and disciplines – after all, every business or organisation needs qualified people to manage their finances. But what are the best institutions in the UK?

That’s what we’ll analyse in this article. We’ll also explain the benefits of enrolling in a finance-related programme in the UK compared to other countries.

What are the best universities in the UK for studying finance?

According to QS university rankings, in first and second place are the Oxbridge universities, with the University of Oxford topping the list over the University of Cambridge. Following behind are two London-based universities, the London School of Economics and Political Science and London Business School. Rounding off the top five is the University of Manchester.

In sixth place is Imperial College London which is then followed by the University of Warwick. In eighth place is the first Scottish institution on this list, the University of Edinburgh. Closing out the top 10 list are University College London and the University of Glasgow. The full list can be seen in the table below.

1University of OxfordOxford, England
2University of CambridgeCambridge, England
3London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondon, England
4London Business SchoolLondon, England
5University of ManchesterManchester,  England
6Imperial College LondonLondon, England
7University of WarwickCoventry, England
8University of EdinburghEdinburgh, Scotland
9University College LondonLondon, England
10University of GlasgowGlasgow, Scotland

1. University of Oxford

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the University of Oxford tops this list. Oxford consistently ranks as one of the best universities in the world and is renowned for its exceptional academic training.

It boasts some of the best professors and has excellent research facilities, making it a distinguished institution in the educational field.

The Saïd Business School – which houses the university’s finance department – offers both graduate and undergraduate programmes in finance. Examples include the following:

  • BA Economics and Management
  • DPhil in Finance
  • DPhil in Management
  • MSc Financial Economics
  • MSc Law and Finance
  • MSc in Major Programme Management

2. University of Cambridge

Another prestigious institution, the University of Cambridge, is one of the most reputable research universities in the world. Founded in 1209, it is the third-oldest surviving university globally and sits in second place on the QS world university rankings, making it an esteemed institution.

Students have the option of choosing from a range of postgraduate degrees, including the following:

  • Master of Finance (Mfin)
  • MPhil in Finance.
  • Real Estate Finance (MFin).
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA).
  • Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA).

3. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

In third place is LSE, which is a great choice for those who want to study finance. Located in the capital city, LSE regularly tops global and international rankings in the field of accounting and finance and has notable alumni of Nobel Prize winners.

Offering both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that include:

  • BSc Finance
  • BSc Accounting and Finance
  • BSc Mathematics and Economics
  • MSc Risk and Finance
  • MSc Accounting and Finance

4. London Business School (LBS)

Next on the list is another London-based university, London Business School. Founded in 1964, LBS is regarded as one of the top business schools in the world and offers postgraduate programmes in both business and finance fields.

  • Postgraduate degrees include the following:
  • MS Financial Analytics
  • Mfin Finance
  • MA Analytics and Management
  • MBA

5. University of Manchester

Rounding off the top five is the University of Manchester. It is a public research university that houses one of the oldest and best business schools in the country, the Alliance Manchester Business School.

Known for being one of the UK’s leading universities for finance, students can choose from a variety of programmes, including:

  • BAEcon Finance
  • BAEcon Accounting and Finance
  • BAEcon International Business, Finance and Economics
  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Financial Management
  • MSc Accounting and Finance

6. Imperial College London (ICL)

ICL ranks as the 6th best university in the world overall and also for accounting and finance. The institution offers programmes exclusively in the technology, medicine, science, and business fields, with students having the option of choosing from the following degrees:

  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Financial Technology
  • MSc Mathematics and Finance
  • BSc Mathematics with Statistics for Finance

exclusively on science, technology, medicine, and business

  • BSc Mathematics with Statistics for Finance
  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Mathematics and Finance
  • MSc Financial Technology

7. University of Warwick

Situated in West Midlands, Warwick university has an excellent business school. It was the first business school in the UK to obtain triple accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), and Association of MBAs (AMBA).

The university offers programmes that include the following:

  • BSc (Hons) Economics
  • BSc (Hons) Accounting and Finance – with the option of a placement year
  • MS Finance
  • MS Finance and Economics
  • MSc (PG) Business and Finance

8. University of Edinburgh

Ranked as the 15th best overall university in the world, the University of Edinburgh is a popular choice amongst students. It receives the second-highest number of applications a year, and it’s no surprise why. The university does an excellent job at combining theoretical concepts with hands-on and interactive teaching methods.

Students have various finance-related courses to choose from, such as:

  • MA (Hons) Accounting and Finance
  • LLM International Banking Law and Finance
  • MSc Finance, Technology, and Policy
  • MSc Financial Modeling and Optimisation

9. University College London (UCL)

The last London-based university on this list is University College London. Ranked 8th in the world, UCL is one of the biggest universities in the UK in terms of enrolment and offers an array of degrees, including:

  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Banking and Digital Finance
  • MSc Computational Finance
  • MSc Venture Capital and Private Equity with Financial Technology

10. University of Glasgow

Lastly, we have the University of Glasgow. Situated in Glasgow, Scotland, this university is open 24 hours a day for the most serious of students and is a member of the Russell Group and the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities.

They offer postgraduate and undergraduate degrees in finance that include the following:

  • BFin Finance
  • BAcc Accountancy and Finance
  • MSc Finance and Management
  • MFin International Finance

What is finance?

Finance describes the study and application of money, investments, and other financial instruments such as debt, credit, and securities.

It involves studying how a company or individual manages funds to achieve certain financial goals, hence why there is such an overlap with the field of accounting.

There are three main categories of finance

  • Corporate finance – how businesses create money to operate whilst minimising costs and maximising profits
  • Personal finance – how individuals or families can budget, save, and spend money whilst considering life events such as retirement
  • Public finance – how the government creates revenue, where it spends its money, how money can be allocated to achieve an objective, and how this affects the economy

Why study finance at university?

Finance is an important skill in business; after all, one of the main goals of a business is to make money and to be profitable. To understand how to do that, at the very least, a basic knowledge of finance is necessary.

If you want a career where you help financial organisations to be smart with their money and achieve their financial goals, then a finance degree will be ideal for you. The great thing about studying finance is that there are over one hundred different disciplines you can work in after you graduate. Your university programme will be designed in a way that prepares you for each of them, ensuring you are well prepared for whichever sector and industry you decide to specialise in.

Some finance courses that you will encounter in your studies will include:

  • Financial Management
  • Financial Accounting
  • Management Accounting
  • IT for Business
  • Business Ethics
  • Financial Reporting
  • Macroeconomics

Of course, this list is far from exhaustive, but as you can see, you will come across a wide variety of courses during your university degree. The knowledge you obtain from these classes will help you get a job in the public sector, private sector, government positions, and careers abroad.

Whether that’s as an investment banker, consultant, economist, auditor, analyst, etc., the possibilities are endless.

How much does a finance graduate make in the UK?

A finance graduate can expect to make anywhere between £22,000 and £30,000 per year. In some cases, they even get additional cash compensations between £1,000 and £2,000, which can be dependent on performance.

Why study finance in the UK?

There are numerous benefits to studying finance in the United Kingdom. From the quality of education to the international recognition a degree from the UK presents, it will set you apart from other countries.

1. Global financial hub

Alongside New York and Shanghai, London is one of the three major financial centres in the world and has been so for a very long time. As such, it attracts a large number of foreign banks and financial institutions to the city, opening up jobs and prospects for all graduates.

Also, the UK has more than 30% of the global foreign exchange turnover, which is almost as high as the combined amounts of the next three leading countries (United States of America, Luxembourg, and Switzerland).

The Bank of England reported that in April 2022, the average daily turnover reached a high of $3,276 billion. This was an 11% increase over the year and a 19% increase from October 2021, proving that London is still a hub for foreign exchange turnover.

Undoubtedly, London and the United Kingdom still remain a centre of global finance, and a degree from a university in the UK can be the first step to a career in finance.

2. Quality of education

The standard of finance education at UK universities is respected around the world. The way courses are taught, the stringent examination processes, the quality of their research facilities, and their ability to link real-world applications to theoretical knowledge are often regarded as some of the best.

This hasn’t occurred by chance. Finance universities in the UK have some of the most qualified scholars and educators teaching their classes, ensuring that the students receive the finest education.

Additionally, these are the same educators that push the boundaries on current accounting principles and business practices in the finance sector. As a result, finance students are often exposed to a way of teaching that cannot be duplicated in many other countries.

3. UK degrees are internationally recognised

The quality of education at UK universities has resulted in their degrees being internationally recognised as second to none. This separates their graduates from those who graduate from universities in other countries.

A finance degree from a UK university can get you a job almost anywhere – as long as you speak the language, of course. Often, just the name of the university will get your foot in the door.

It is the reason why these educational institutions attract so many international students. The weight that a UK degree holds is much higher than most other countries, resulting in many students flocking to the British shores for their education.

4. Excellent graduate prospects

Graduate prospects for someone in with a finance degree from the UK are much higher than those from different fields or countries.

Many finance graduates can find a job within six months of obtaining their degree. Whether that’s as an accountant, a financial analyst, or something else, job opportunities open up to those with a finance background.

This is in part due to the quality of education provided. Companies understand the effectiveness of UK curriculums and the calibre of talent it produces, making finding a job much easier.

Jobs can be found in corporate finance, professional firms, large corporations, or even in government roles. The skills taught in finance university programmes can be applied to a wide variety of disciplines, therefore making finance graduates highly sought-after.

5. Preparing the student for real-life applications

Finance programmes in the UK are known for teaching students how to apply their expertise to real-world scenarios. Instead of memorising textbooks, students are taught finance and accounting principles in the context of how a business may implement this into their practices.

In addition to the knowledge you pick up in the classroom, many UK universities will also provide you with a year-long placement. This is where you will work at a recognised company to gain some practical experience and put your knowledge to the test in real-life situations.

Proving you can succeed in a professional setting is vital when it comes to finding a job once you’ve graduated. The fact that you have this under your belt will make you one step ahead of your competitors.

6. Networking opportunities

Not only do the educational institutions in the UK provide some of the finest education worldwide, but they also have connections to a whole host of companies in the finance sector.

Therefore, students receive much more than just expertise. They are given the opportunity to rub elbows with company representatives and network, which can pay dividends once it comes time to find a job.

7. Three-year programmes

Compared to countries such as the United States of America and Canada, most undergraduate finance degrees in the UK are only three years long – if you have a year-long work placement, then it will take four years. Also, postgraduate degrees can be completed within one year, meaning you can get a head start on graduates from other countries.

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