With university tuition fees soaring to £9000 in 2012, it has never been more important to make the right choices about higher education. But faced with a daunting plethora of university rankings and league tables, it can be difficult to know how to sort out the best from the rest. This year, Oxbridge Essays has taken the hassle out of university ranking comparisons by doing the hard work for you! We have compared four of the most highly respected university guides (by the Guardian, the Times, the Sunday Times and the Complete University Guide) to bring you the best of all worlds: a comprehensive overview and summary of the top UK universities for 2012.

Cambridge Leads Oxford

All but one of this year’s league tables have reversed last year’s trend and placed Cambridge University at the top of the tables, marginally ahead of its old rival. Interestingly Oxford still just pips Cambridge to the post in many of the specific aspects measured by the league tables, such as staff to student ratio, student satisfaction and spend per student. However the area in which Cambridge has pulled significantly ahead is in its entry standards, with both the Guardian and Complete University Guide league tables judging its average entry tariff significantly higher than Oxford’s.

London School of Economics Flying High

The London School of Economics might not quite top the tables, but it is the highest consistently ranked institution after Oxford and Cambridge, making it into the top 4 across the board. Where LSE performs most impressively is in postgraduate employment, almost exactly matching Oxford University’s record for career achievement after 6 months.

St Andrews Stands out from Scottish Crowd

When the tables first came out, the relatively low ranking of many Scottish universities was something of a surprise. While St Andrews still performs extremely well, making its mark high up on the top 10 lists of all the rankings, few other Scottish universities appear near the tops of the tables at all. This was unexpected after the global university rankings published earlier in 2011, in which several Scottish universities like Edinburgh and Aberdeen performed very highly indeed.

Lancaster is a Rising Star

Lancaster, not traditionally one of the first names that springs to mind amongst the UK’s top universities, looks set to join the elite squad, appearing in the top 10 of every one of the league tables. Performing extremely well on student satisfaction with teaching and feedback, its entry levels are considerably lower than many of the other top institutions on the list.

Bath Controversy

There are some notable discrepancies between the tables, such as the disagreement over the placing of the University of Bath. The Sunday Times places it extremely highly, in fifth place, but it barely makes the top 10 in all the other lists.