Golden triangle (universities)

unofficial grouping of leading universities in the English cities of Oxford, Cambridge and London

The Golden Triangle is an unofficial name for a set of leading universities in the southern English cities of Oxford, Cambridge and London.[1][2][3]

The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge ('Oxbridge') form two corners of the triangle. The third is London: Imperial College, University College London, King's College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The last three are independent colleges of the University of London.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] The universities within the triangle (with the exception of the LSE) attract the highest research incomes of all British universities.

However, it has been argued that it should be replaced by a term like "Brilliant Diamond", to include the University of Manchester.[12] The figures below suggest that both the universities of Manchester and Edinburgh belong in the same class. That might better reflect the geographical spectrum of the UK higher education.

Oxford, Cambridge and some of the London institutions collaborate in research. The Global Medical Excellence Cluster (GMEC) for biomedical research was formed by Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, University College London, King's College London and Queen Mary University of London.[13][14]



University ARWU (2014)[15] QS (2014/15)[16] THES (2013/14)[17]
University of Cambridge 5 2 7
University of Oxford 9 5 2
Imperial College London 22 2 10
University College London 20 5 21
King's College London 59 16 38
London School of Economics 19 34 39


University Complete (2013)[18] Guardian (2013)[19] The Sunday Times (2013)[20] The Times (2013)[21]
University of Cambridge 1 1 1 2
University of Oxford 3 2 2 1
University College London 8 6 13 7
Imperial College London 4 13 8 4
King's College London 18 31 30 22
London School of Economics 2 3 6 3

Research incomeEdit

Highest total research income for British universities (2012/13)[22]
University Research income (£,000)
1 University of Oxford 436,800
2 University College London 334,733 a
3 University of Cambridge 331,800
4 Imperial College London 329,500
5 University of Edinburgh 200,123
6 University of Manchester 199,622
7 King's College London 164,025
8 University of Leeds 128,554
9 University of Glasgow 128,090
10 University of Liverpool 124,600
London School of Economics 023,731 b


a Excludes the School of Pharmacy, which merged with UCL in January 2012; the School of Pharmacy had a research income of £8,130,000 in the period.[22]

bThe LSE has a much lower research income, perhaps explained by its concentration on social science research.


  1. "Golden opportunities". Nature. 2005.: "No longer rivals, Oxford, Cambridge and London are now working towards a common goal — ensuring the 'golden triangle' becomes a global science hub".
  2. "Oxbridge windfall". Times Higher Education. 4 August 1995.: "A large amount of the cash awarded to humanities postgraduates still goes to the "Golden Triangle" of Oxford, Cambridge and London, British Academy figures reveal".
  3. Kershaw, Alison. "UK universities slip in rankings", The Independent, 4 October 2012: "Rankings editor Phil Baty said: "Outside the golden triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge, England's world-class universities face a collapse into global mediocrity".
  4. Zoe Corbyn."In research, small is just as beautiful", Times Higher Education, 26 November 2009: "The findings reveal the full extent of the dominance of the golden triangle: papers from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and the London School of Economics were cited far more often than the world average".
  5. Zoe Corbyn "'Golden triangle' to win funding riches", Times Higher Education, 11 February 2010: "The other institutions in the Cambridge-Oxford-London 'golden triangle' - University College London, Imperial College London and the London School of Economics - will also receive big cash windfalls, as will the University of Manchester".
  6. Grant, Malcolm (1 March 2005). "The future of the University of London: a discussion paper from the Provost of UCL" (PDF): 6. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. Jha, Alok. "Gold rush", The Guardian, 3 June 2003: "The golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge, University College London and Imperial College, show no sign of slowing down in their race away from the rest of the sector when it comes to research funding".
  8. OECD Reviews of Regional Innovation OECD Reviews of Regional Innovation, North of England, UK, OECD, 2008, p. 222: "The "Golden Triangle" of ... the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Imperial College and University College of London ...".
  9. Mullins, Justin. "England's golden triangle", New Scientist, 23 April 2005: "Take a look at any of the various league tables ranking universities around the world ... Oxford and Cambridge are in the top handful, while London's University College and Imperial College sit comfortably in the top 25. ... London, Oxford and Cambridge are a 'golden triangle' of academic success".
  10. Clark, Paul. "The golden triangle holds the secret", Times Higher Education, 1 March 2002: "Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the four institutions comprising the 'golden triangle' - Cambridge, Imperial College, Oxford and University College London - elect not to receive their block Higher Education Funding Council for England grant for teaching".
  11. That the golden triangle consists of Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College, see The future sustainability of the higher education sector, House of Commons, Education and Skills Committee, The Stationery Office, 2007, p. 241.
  12. as Brilliant Diamond or Diamond of England
  13. ""GMEC"". Archived from the original on 2014-03-06. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  14. "Collaborate and listen, The Guardian, Tuesday 19 December 2006"
  15. "Academic Ranking of World Universities - 2014". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Archived from the original on 19 January 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  16. "QS World Rankings 2014/15" QS. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  17. "THES World Rankings 2013" THE. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  18. "Top UK University League Tables and Rankings 2013". Complete University Guide. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
  19. "University guide 2013: University league table". The Guardian. 21 May 2012.
  20. "University Guide". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2012.(subscription needed)
  21. "The Times Good University Guide 2013". The Good University Guide. Retrieved 26 June 2011.(subscription needed)
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Wealth check: Financial data for UK higher education institutions, 2010–11University financial health check 2014". Times Higher Education. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.