The top UK universities for management consulting

14 April 2020 6 min. read

Graduates still see the management consulting industry as an excellent way to jump-start their careers. explores the top UK universities for landing a job in the management consulting industry.

The UK has around 130 universities, while in the 2017-18 academic year, there were 2.3 million students in higher education, which is just over 3% of the UK population. Graduates exiting higher education often look to land work which will help them continue developing their skills for the coming years. As a result, there is still a great deal of demand for graduate roles in the UK’s strategy and management consulting industry – one which is even greater among ‘high achievers.’

According to one estimate, 40% of students with above-average grades aspire to a role in the consultancy industry, more than 12% higher than the average for all sectors. This does not seem to be due to the wages associated with the industry, either. Despite preconceptions that consulting work might be better paid than other forms of graduate work, the starting salary of Junior Consultants sits between £25-35,000 per year, which places it broadly in line with the UK’s median annual income.

Getting into consulting is on the one hand very easy for students, because there is no degree for consulting – so working in management consultancy remains very accessible to graduates from a diverse range of backgrounds. On the other hand, this means the sector is spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting its annual intake of graduates, meaning that the bar is set very high – especially in the more strategic segments of the consulting world.

For many students that already know that they want to become consultants after their graduate their studies, it therefore may be valuable to weigh up which universities the consulting sector statistically favours. Based on data from the Young MCA relating to young consultants with fewer than five years of experience, analysis from shows that some universities are much more popular than others among recruitment teams of consulting firms.

An overview of the 15 best UK universities for graduates seeking a job in management consulting:

University of Durham

University founded in: 1832
Number of students: 19,025

Durham was the first recognised university to open in England for more than 600 years, after Oxford and Cambridge. Among British universities, it had the eighth highest average UCAS Tariff for new entrants in 2016, and the third lowest proportion of state-school educated students.

University of Oxford

University founded in: c.1096
Number of students: 23,975

Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. The university is ranked among the best higher learning institutions by most international and major national league tables.

University of Bath

University founded in: 1885
Number of students: 17,308

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 32% of Bath's submitted research activity achieved the highest possible classification of 4*. The university's major academic strengths have been engineering (particularly electronic and electrical and mechanical), the physical sciences, mathematics and technology.

University of Birmingham

University founded in: 1900
Number of students: 28,664

The university was ranked 14th in the UK and 79th in the world in the QS World University Rankings for 2019. The 2017 Global Employability University Ranking places Birmingham at 142nd worldwide and 10th in the UK.

University of Cambridge

University founded in: 1209
Number of students: 21,656

The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'.

University of Nottingham

University founded in: 1881
Number of students: 44,520

The institution's alumni have been awarded a variety of prestigious accolades, including 3 Nobel Prizes, a Fields Medal, a Turner Prize, and a Gabor Medal and Prize. Nottingham was ranked 11th in the UK by the 2019 QS Graduate Employability Rankings.

University of Warwick

University founded in: 1965
Number of students: 23,570

Founded in 1965 as part of a Government initiative to expand higher education, Warwick consistently ranks in the top ten of all major domestic rankings of British universities. Warwick has an average intake of 4,950 undergraduates out of 38,071 applicants, or 7.7 applicants per place.

Cardiff University

University founded in: 1883
Number of students: 30,180

Cardiff is the only Welsh member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities. The university has an undergraduate enrolment of 23,960, making it one of the ten largest universities in the UK.

City University

University founded in: 1894
Number of students: 18,278

City has strong links with the City of London, and the Lord Mayor of London serves as the university's rector. It is organised into five schools, within which there are around forty academic departments and centres, including the Department of Journalism, the Cass Business School, and City Law School which incorporates the Inns of Court School of Law.

Loughborough University

University founded in: 1909
Number of students: 17,975

Loughborough is currently ranked within the top 10 of all three national league tables and is internationally renowned for its sports-related courses and achievements. During World War I, the institute served as an 'instructional factory', training workers for the munitions industry.

University of Exeter

University founded in: 1855
Number of students: 22,540

The university is primarily located in the city of Exeter, Devon, where it is the principal higher education institution. The Exeter Streatham Campus Library holds more than 1.2 million physical library resources, including historical journals and special collections.

University College London (UCL)

University founded in: 1826
Number of students: 42,000

The university was the first in England to welcome women into university education, as well as the first to accept students of any religion or social background. It was also the first English university to teach English, German, Chemistry and Engineering.

University of Bristol

University founded in: 1876
Number of students: 22,278

The University of Bristol was the second most targeted university by the UK's top 100 employers, according to the Graduate Market in 2019 report produced by High Fliers. A highly selective institution, it has an average of 6.4 (Sciences faculty) to 13.1 (Medicine & Dentistry Faculty) applicants for each undergraduate place.

University of Leeds

University founded in: 1904
Number of students: 31,906

Leeds was ranked 10th in the UK for research power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Alumni include former Secretary of State Jack Straw, former co-chairman of the Conservative Party Sayeeda Warsi, Piers Sellers (NASA astronaut) and six Nobel laureates.

London School of Economics (LSE)

University founded in: 1895
Number of students: 11,000

Despite its name, the school is organised into 25 academic departments and institutes which conduct teaching and research across a range of pure and applied social sciences. Alumni and staff include 55 past or present heads of state or government and 18 Nobel laureates.