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Ranking British universities based on how lame their alumni are

Sorry Leeds


You can tell a lot about a person by the university they went to: Where they’ll live in London, what kind of grad they’ll be, and whether or not they’ll ever get a job.

Equally, you can tell a lot about a university by the quality of their famous alumni. Obviously we’re not talking about the bumout scientists and academics, because honestly no one cares. No, we’re talking bona fide celebs.

We’ve found out which universities actually have famous alumni, given them all a score out of 10, and ordered them by how lame they those alumni are:

Exeter: -3/10

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Oh dear

Notable alumni:

• Steve Backshall (TV presenter, studied English and Theatre)

Zara Tindall (Olympian Equestrian, studied Physiotherapy)

• JK Rowling (Author, studied French and Classics)

• Katie Hopkins (Columnist, businesswoman, studied Economics)

• Will Young (Singer, studied Politics, got a 2:2)

You’d think Exeter wouldn’t draw attention to Katie Hopkins being an alumna, but she recently returned to campus for a DebSoc event, where she was booed for saying that the UK should “send the refugees back in their dinghies”. Oh do try and act surprised.

But Exetah’s most famous alumna is JK Rowling, who was at one point famous for writing Harry Potter but is now more well known for trying to shoehorn her characters into modern-day politics and her extreme views on gender identity. She is also responsible for the terrible phenomenon of adult Harry Potter fans so that really tells you all you need to know.

Oxford: 0/10

Notable alumni:

• Stephen Hawking (Theoretical physicist and author, studied Physics, obv)

• Boris Johnson (Conservative Party Leader, studied Ancient literature and Classic Philosophy, got a 2:1)

• Hugh Grant (Actor, studied English, got a 2:1)

• David Cameron (Former Prime Minister, studied PPE, got a First)

• Rachel Riley (Countdown presenter, studied Maths, got a 2:1)

• Theresa May (Former Prime Minister, studied Geography)

Even though Oxford is generally considered cooler than Cambridge, the same abolutely cannot be said for their alumni. Every PM for the last decade is an Oxford grad, meaning Oxford is basically to blame for the absolute state that the country is in right now. Politicians aside, celeb alumni include King of rom-coms Hugh Grant and maths whiz Rachel Riley. Yawn.

Durham: 0.5/10

Notable alumni:

• Will Greenwood (English Rugby Player, studied Economics)

• Will Carling (English Rugby Player, studied Psychology)

• Andrew Strauss (England Cricketer, studied Economics)

• Jeremy Vine (Journalist, studied English Literature, got a 2:2)

Duzz’s famous alumni aren’t massively exciting. Aside from the sportsmen there’s not much else. Jeremy Vine is the guy on your radio telling your mum that kids these days spend too much time on Instagram, and you can imagine he honed this schtick very finely in the smoking area of Klute.

St Andrews: 2 royals/10

Notable alumni:

• Prince William (Royal, studied Geography, got a 2:1)

• Kate Middleton (Royal, studied Art History, got a 2:1)

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St Andrews’s USP is that Kate and Wills met there and that is pretty much it.

Birmingham: 3/10

Notable alumni:

• Ann Widdecombe (MP, studied Latin then went to Oxford to do a BA in PPE)

• Chris Tarrant (TV presenter, studied English)

• Isaac Hempstead Wright (Actor, studied Neuroscience)

A middle of the road uni means middle of the road alumni. Apparently Brum was so intense for Bran Stark he just canned it in to earn big bucks on Game of Thrones.

Liverpool: 4/10

Notable alumni:

• Nick Grimshaw (TV and radio presenter, studied Communications and Media Studies but failed his last year so graduated with a DipHE)

• Carol-Ann Duffy (Poet, studied Philosophy)

You might remember Carol-Ann Duffy from GCSE English, and Nick Grimshaw definitely offers a point of contrast. But Liverpool loses points for a lack of consistency, as well as a total absence of any other famous alumni.

Newcastle: 4/10

Notable alumni:

• Rowan Atkinson (Actor and comedian, studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering)

• Tim Farron (Former Lib Dem leader, studied Politics)

• Princess Eugenie (Royal, studied English literature and History of Art, got a 2:1)

• Oliver Proudlock (Made in Chelsea star and fashion designer, studied Fine Art)

The holy trifecta of Newcastle is excessive drinking, constant shagging, and braving the cold without a coat. Disappointingly their most famous alumnus is Mr Bean, who studied Electrical Engineering (??)

UCL: 4.4/10

UCL is the boring London uni. This is the incontestable truth. Granted Charli XCX went there, which is pretty sick, but she also dropped out (probably because it was boring), which is even sicker.

Chris Martin also went to UCL and got a first (nerd). He started Coldplay there. Minus points.

Notable alumni:

• Chris Martin (Popstar, studied Greek and Latin, got a first)

• Ricky Gervais (Actor and Comedian, studied Philosophy)

• Charli XCX (Popstar, studied Fine Art but dropped out in second year)

• Mark Francis (Made in Chelsea star, studied History of Art)

York: 4.5/10

Notable alumni:

• Anthony Horowitz (Author and scriptwriter, studied English Literature and Art History, got a 2:2)

• Aníbal Cavaco Silva (Former president of Portugal, did a Doctorate in Economics)

York is the sort of place a President of Portugal would be able to just drop into and bash out a PhD and no one would give a shit because York students just plod along.

UEA: 5/10

Notable alumni:

• Matt Smith (Actor, studied Drama and Creative Writing)

• Greg James (Radio presenter, studied Drama, got a 2:1)

Norwich’s alumni are people pleasers: Matt Smith spent years as the face of Doctor Who, while Greg James is just a nice bloke with a nice radio show. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re generally inoffensive – in the middle of the ranking they go.

Cardiff: Huw Edwards/10

Notable alumni:

• Huw Edwards (BBC newsreader, studied French, got a first)

• Martin Lewis (Journalist, did a Postgrad in Broadcast Journalism)

Hew Edwards is an absolute Daddy. Imagine him speaking French to you.

Glasgow: 5.5/10

Notable alumni:

• Gerard Butler – (Actor, studied Law)

• Emeli Sandé – (Singer, studied Neuroscience)

Obviously the super sensible and once ubiquitous Emeli Sandé got her degree in neuroscience before she decided to be a popstar.

Sussex: 6/10

Notable alumni:

• Jessie Ware (Singer, studied English Literature)

• Alexandra Shulman (Former Editor-in-Chief at Vogue, studied Social Anthropology, got a 2:2)

Sussex’s vibe is a mix of veganism and bohemian energy, so Jessie Ware is an obvious grad – vibey but wouldn’t cause a ruckus at a dinner party with real adults.

Royal Holloway: 6.2/10

Notable alumni:

• Emily Davison (Suffragettes leader, studied in the late 19th Century although women were not allowed to take degrees at the time)

• Lenny Henry (Comedian, actor and TV presenter, did a Master’s in Screen Writing and Film)

• KT Tunstall (Singer-songwriter, studied Drama and Music)

• Mark Strong (Actor, studied Drama and Theatre Studies)

Lenny Henry aside, RoHo’s alumni are exactly what you’d expect. Artsy af. KT Tunstall is so RoHo it hurts, so points awarded for fulfilling expectations.

Leeds: 6.5/10

Notable alumni:

Jamie Laing (Made in Chelsea star, studied Theatre and Performance)

• Caggie Dunlop (Made in Chelsea star, studied Philosophy)

• Chris Pine (Actor, studied at Leeds for a year as part of his year abroad)

• Little Boots (Pop star, studied Cultural Studies, got a first)

Leeds alumni are a mixed bag: Little Boots is basically a Leeds DJ who just kind of accidentally acquired a music career. The rest of their famous alumni include two of the starting line up for Made in Chelsea. Welp.

Queen’s University Belfast: 6.5/10

Notable alumni:

• Liam Neeson (Actor, studied Physics and Computer Science)

• Annie Mac (DJ, studied English Literature)

• Seamus Heaney (Poet and playwright, studied English Language and Literature)

QUB brilliantly nixed Liam Neeson from its prospectus after that unsavoury interview in The Independent. Aside from that, they still have Annie Mac and Seamus Heaney (he’s a poet you uncultured swine).

Edinburgh: 7/10

Notable alumni:

• Chris Hoy (World Champion cyclist and Olympic Gold medallist, studied Applied Sports Science)

• Gordon Brown (Former Prime Minister, did a Master’s in History, got a first)

• Pippa Middleton (Socialite, studied English Literature, got a First)

• James Middleton (Racing driver, dropped out after a year)

• Iain Stirling (TV presenter, studied Law)

• Lady Amelia Windsor (Royal, studied French and Italian)

• Louise Thompson (Made in Chelsea star, studied Geography)

• Arthur Chatto (Royal, studying History of Art)

St Andrews may be able to boast Wills and Kate, but pretty much every other royal went to Edinburgh. Lady Amelia Windsor, he obscenely fit young royal, Arthur Chatto.

Manchester: 7/10

Picture Manchester. I can guarantee you’re thinking of a room of people pinging their tits off. Surely Manny’s alumni are all super edgy musicians or something, right? Wrong. Benedict Cumberbatch went there.

Notable alumni:

• Benedict Cumberbatch (Actor, studied Drama)

• Brian Cox (Physicist and professor did his undergrad in Physics and got a First, followed by a Masters in Philosophy)

• Josh Widdecombe (Comedian, studied Sociology and Linguistics)

• Jack Whitehall (Comedian, studied History of Art)

• Mathew Horne (Actor, studied Drama)

Bristol: 7.5/10

Bristol is the land of limitless ket and edgy vibes, so you’d expect its famous alumni to be really really cool, and not… um… David Walliams. It’s only downhill from here – Matt Lucas met David here so Bristol is basically responsible for Little Britain.

Notable alumni:

• David Walliams (Actor and comedian, studied Drama)

• Matt Lucas (Actor and comedian, studied Theatre, Film and Television)

• Simon Pegg (Actor, comedian and screenwriter, studied Theatre, Film and Television)

• Derren Brown (Mentalist and illusionist, studied Law and German)

• Julia Donaldson (Author of The Gruffalo, studied Drama and French, got a 2:1)

Cambridge: 8/10

Notable alumni:

• Prince Charles (Royal, studied Anthropology, Archaeology and History, got a 2:2)

• Ian McKellen (Actor, studied English)

• Sacha Baron Cohen (Actor, studied History)

• Hugh Laurie (Studied Archaeology and Anthropology, Selwyn College: Actor)

• Stephen Fry (Actor, comedian and Writer, studied English)

• Emma Thompson (English, Newnham College: Actor)

• Eddie Redmayne (Actor, studied History of Art)

• David Attenborough (Broadcaster and natural historian, studied Geology and Zoology)

• Tom Hiddleston (Actor, studied Classics)

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Obviously Cambridge is not a cool place to go, but it has produced much cooler alumni than Oxford. Case in point: The octogenarians squabbling in Parliament are all from Oxford, while Cambridge produced David fucking Attenborough, who is a bona fide hero. It doesn’t stop there either: Ian McKellen? Legend. Eddie Redmayne? Fit. Hugh Laurie? Please – no contest.

King’s College London: 9/10

King’s has been around for ages, and the list of famous alumni has its own Wikipedia page. You might think that’s a bit much, but you can’t really argue with Desmond Tutu and Florence Nightingale, can you? Olympians, CEOs, Newspaper editors – the list goes on. Also, JB from JLS.

Notable alumni:

• Florence Nightingale (If you don’t know who she is read a book, started the school of Midwifery at King’s)

• Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Theologian, studied Theology)

• Virginia Woolf (Author, studied Ancient Greek, intermediate Latin and German, AND continental and English history. Oh boy)

• Farrah Storr (Editor of Cosmopolitan, studied English and French)

• JB Gill (Popstar, studied Theology but dropped out to do The X Factor)

Warwick: 10/10

Ruth Jones, aka Nessa from Gavin and Stacey (which she also created btw) is the best alumna at any uni. Case closed.

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My queen

Notable alumni:

• Ruth Jones (Actor and screenwriter, studied Theatre Studies and Dramatic Arts)

• That’s it.

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