December 5, 2007

Oxford is winning the battle, but Cambridge will win the war for online eyeballs

Jamie Gavin

Here in comScore’s U.K. office, we have the privilege of being surrounded by some of the most illustrious academic establishments in the world. A huge intermingling campus of activity stretches from Holborn to Chancery Lane, spilling out onto the Northbank of the river Thames. This is the true hub of the city, where all of London’s various districts of finance, media, commerce and law come to meet, and students from all over the world come to study.

So inspiring is the scenery that it got me thinking, what are the most popular universities in the U.K. as measured by the number of people who visit their Websites? And, what proportion of their visitors come from overseas?

Not surprisingly, Oxford was the most visited university Web site in the U.K. in October with 534,000 unique U.K. visitors. Cambridge wasn’t too far behind its long established rival with 434,000, but you might be surprised to see the University of Newcastle sandwiched between the two, with 461,000. Edinburgh is another popular choice – attracting 389,000 unique visitors in October, while London is represented by University College London, which received 347,000.

Top Ten U.K. University Websites
Ranked by Total U.K. Unique Visitors (000)
October 2007
Total U.K., Age 15+ - Home & Work Locations*
Source: comScore World Metrix
Institution Total U.K.Unique Visitors (000)  Total WorldwideUnique Visitors (000) % of Total
Unique Visitors from Overseas
Oxford 534 1,682  68
Newcastle 461 1,630 71
Cambridge 434  2,084  79
Edinburgh 389 1,277 70
University College London (UCL) 347  1,787 81
Leeds 314 734 57
Birmingham 304 605 50
Warwick  298 543 45
Bristol  291 728 60
Southampton 290 542 46

* Excludes traffic from public computers such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs

Yet what is perhaps most startling about this list is the proportion of visitors that are accessing these sites from outside of the U.K. On average, 63 percent of the total traffic to these sites came from overseas in October, reaching as high as 81 percent in the case of UCL.

When you look at the total number of U.K. unique visitors to Oxbridge Websites you could be forgiven for thinking that Oxford has won the battle for online eyeballs. But if that is the case, then taking into consideration total worldwide traffic to these sites you would have to say that Cambridge is winning the war.

Nonetheless, I can say one thing with certainty. As I make my way home through the bustling centre of London’s academic community, I will be doubly proud tonight for two reasons. One, the great academic institutions on which this country were built are still the apple of the international eye, and are still striving to break-down cultural boundaries and build a more harmonised, cosmopolitan community. And two, at the heart of that community, at the centre of its campus, I have access to the most accurate anthropological research tool that we have ever been able to leverage: the power of comScore World Metrix data.

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