Top universities for football

Football on corner flag
It’s the beautiful game – but which universities score best for football?

British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the governing body for sport in the UK at university level. Football is its largest programme with more than 450 men’s and 150 women’s teams taking part.

In the UK, BUCS’s main competition is its annual Championships. In addition to the universities listed below, Stirling, Loughborough and Nottingham Trent have made it into the quarter-finals and semis over the past few years. BUCS also has a Trophy competition in which the men’s first teams for Manchester Metropolitan, Essex and Gloucestershire have all excelled, with Leeds and St Mary’s first teams doing similarly well for women’s football.

On the international stage, BUCS enters men’s and women’s teams into the World University Summer Games and European University competitions.

Recently, its sports programmes have included futsal competitions. Futsal is a version of five-a-side football played on a smaller pitch and most often indoors.

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cardiff Metropolitan has seven Cardiff-based football teams taking part in BUCS competitions, plus a football team for computing and business studies undergraduates at its London School of Commerce which plays in BUCS’s London league.

Its first and second women’s teams have notched up good achievements in BUCS leagues, the Welsh National Premier League and the Welsh Women's Challenge Cup competition over the past ten years. It also has two men’s and one women’s futsal teams.

Results

Men’s first team: semi-finalist in the Men’s Championships 2015/2016 and third place in the Men’s Premier South League 2015/2016.

Women’s first team: semi-finalist in the Women’s Championships 2015/2016 and first place in the Women’s Premier South League 2015/2016.

Durham University

Durham has five football teams and men’s and women’s futsal teams. In recent years, two players have been offered professional terms. Jonny Giles, who graduated at the end of the 2014/15 season, signed to Oxford United and Ben Dudzinski will play for Hartlepool United for the 2016/17 season.

Results

Men’s first team: semi-finalist in the Men’s Championships 2015/2016 and first place in the Men’s Premier North League 2015/2016.

Women’s first team: second place in the Women’s Championships 2015/2016 and first place in the Women’s Premier North League 2015/2016.

Hartpury College

Hartpury College specialises in degree courses and other qualifications in sports and animal, land and equine studies. It is an associate faculty of the University of the West of England (UWE) and is based in the Cotswolds in rural Gloucestershire. It has four football teams and teams for futsal.

From 2007 to 2014 Hartpury College was the BUCS National Men’s Premier League title holder. This winning streak was broken in 2015 by the University of South Wales.

Its students have played professionally all over the world for teams in America, Australia, Ghana, Sweden, Russia and Thailand. It has strong links with regional clubs including Cheltenham Town, Forest Green Rovers, Hereford FC, Swindon Town, Bristol Rovers, Newport County, Weston-Super-Mare, Gloucester City, Bristol City and Exeter City.

Results

Men’s first team: second place in the Men’s Championships 2015/2016 and first place in the Men’s Premier South League 2015/2016.

Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Beckett FC has four men’s football teams and three women’s football teams plus two men’s and two women’s futsal teams, which, like the football teams, take part in BUCS competitions. The university also provides opportunities for students to take football coaching courses in addition to a degree, and runs programmes on which students can coach local school children.

Results

Women’s first team: semi-finalist in the Women’s Championships 2015/2016 and third place in the Women’s Premier North League 2015/2016.

Northumbria University

Northumbria University is based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Its football club – Team Northumbria as it’s now known – was founded in 1999 as Northumbria University FC. It quickly worked its way up the Northern Football Alliance and then the Northern League. It has five football teams and six futsal teams.

Results

Women’s first team: winners of the the Women’s Championships 2015/2016 and runners-up in the Women’s Premier North League 2015/2016.

University of South Wales (USW)

USW’s first men’s football team has gone from BUCS second league in 2009/2010 to BUCS Premier South Champions in 2015/2016. USW broke Hartpury College’s eight-year stranglehold on the BUCS Men’s Championship by winning the top spot in 2015/2016.

It has first and second men’s teams and two women’s teams, plus first and second men’s futsal teams.

Results

Men’s first team: first place in the Men’s Championships 2015/2016 and first place in the Men’s Premier South League 2015/2016.

Teacher or parent?

Join our mailing list to receive monthly newsletters from our TARGETcareers and Inspiring Futures teams to help you support your school leavers in their career and university decision making.

Join

Take the careers quiz

Want career ideas in a hurry? Got stuck thinking about what to study at university?
The Spartan careers quiz is a quick way to come up with ideas that might suit you.

Take the careers quiz


Teachers and parents

Planning to discuss careers or university with teenagers? Get up to speed on their options and employability prospects with our help.

Explore options

Sign up for careers alerts and access to our careers publications

Sign up Sign in