These are the best UK cities for pursuing tech-based degrees

A new ranking by Carphone Warehouse has revealed the nation’s top study destinations for aspiring technologists

There’s no turning back from the digital revolution, and countries are racing to educate and inspire the future technology workforce. Nations must embrace the digital transition to remain internationally competitive – something that depends on a constant, reliable supply of skilled and qualified graduates.

It was good news for the UK when UCAS data for the 2020 cycle uncovered a major shift towards tech-based degrees, with an analysis of data from the last decade showing that acceptances for computer science courses have surged 50% since 2011. It’s in the country’s best interest to maintain this impressive growth as much as possible, and the UK is lucky enough to have several city ‘hotspots’ for students looking to specialise in tech – but which ones are the best? Well, according to a new Carphone Warehouse ranking, this is the top 10 overall…


Rank City No. of universities in the top 100 for STEM Average pay for software developers Score of best university for STEM Total
1 London 6 £40,000 92.1 29.86
2 Cambridge 1 £33,000 93.4 17.29
3 Oxford 1 £31,000 92.5 15.95
4 Edinburgh 2 £29,000 77.8 14.79
5 Southampton 1 £32,000 75.3 14.73
6 Glasgow 2 £30,000 70.8 14.66
7 Birmingham 2 £29,000 71.7 14.13
8 Manchester 1 £30,000 80.5 14.04
9 Bristol 1 £31,000 74.2 13.99
10 Leeds 1 £30,000 73.4 13.90

The ranking is based on a number of metrics, including access to technology, industry strength, and education and careers opportunities. Let’s take a closer look at the top five performing cities for each metric.

Access to technology

1. London (28.34 out of 30): the UK capital is home to 32 5G hotspots, and has earned tech investments worth €4.1bn, making it the top performer in terms of technology access for citizens.

2. Birmingham (13.56): a €4.4m tech investment and leading scores for high-speed internet (28.9Mbps) places Birmingham second for technology access.

3. Liverpool (13.53): internet speeds of 28.8Mbps, 12 5G deployments and €5.5m invested in tech facilities lands Liverpool in third. 

4. Manchester (12.37): fourth for its high speed internet (26.7Mbps) and 10 5G deployments.

5. Newcastle upon Tyne (11.21): rounding off the top five with its 14 5G hotspots and €2.64m worth of tech investments. 

Industry strength

1. London (30 out of 30): the capital’s tech sector is second to none in the UK, holding 60 companies featured in the Fast Track Tech Track 100 list and 16 tech ‘unicorns’ – meaning private companies or start-ups valued at US$1bn or more – within its bustling borders.

2. Bristol (7.29): this South West city’s industry comes in second thanks to two tech hubs and one billion-dollar company calling it home.


tech-based degrees
Bristol suspension bridge. Image source: Nathan Riley/Unsplash

3. Edinburgh (7.29): just like Bristol, Edinburgh also houses two tech hubs and stands as HQ for a billion-dollar corporation.

4. Newcastle upon Tyne (6.83): this city also has two technology centres, as well as one company featured in the Fast Track Tech Track 100.

5. Cambridge (6.04): the top five finishes with Cambridge, which has five companies in the Fast Track Tech Track 200 and two tech unicorns.

Education and careers

1. London (29.86 out of 30): again, London is top dog for education and careers, boasting six universities in the top rankings for STEM, according to QS, and securing graduates an impressive salary of £40,000 per year for specialist tech jobs.

2. Cambridge (17.29): this city owes its second position pretty much solely to its revered namesake university, which ranks third for tech disciplines in the QS world rankings with a score of 93.4 out of 100.

3. Oxford (15.95): with the University of Oxford earning a score of 92.5 for tech subjects from QS, and a reputation for earning graduates decent salaries of around £31,000 per year, this world-famous UK city ranks third on the list for education and careers.

4. Edinburgh (14.79): with two top ranking universities for STEM learning – including the University of Edinburgh, which earned a score of 77.8 from QS, the Scottish capital came fourth in this metric.

5. Southampton (14.73): this city’s namesake university was awarded a score of 75.3 for STEM disciplines from QS, also boasting an average annual salary of £32,000 for tech-based professions.

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