London, June 19 : Oxford has secured top position for the seventh time among universities in United Kingdom's "The Times Good University Guide".
It stretched its lead marginally over its closest rival, Cambridge, helped by higher spending on student facilities, staffing levels and a larger proportion of students awarded at least a 2:1 degree.
But Cambridge has the better record on research, entry standards and graduate destinations, enabling it to dominate the guide's 61 subject tables, which for the first time include student satisfaction scores.
Only St Andrews, the top Scottish university, approaches the "golden triangle" of Oxford, Cambridge and London this year, ranking five in the table.
Cardiff is the leader in Wales, at No 29.
The top of the table is dominated by Russell Group research-intensive universities, which take 12 of the top 20 places, reasserting the dominance of Britain's older, more traditional institutions.
Among the generation of new universities, Robert Gordon University, in Aberdeen, is the best placed, at the rank of 54.
One place lower is the Oxford Brookes, a top new university in England.
The Guide Editor John O'Leary said: "Growing student numbers and fierce competition between all types of university in all aspects of higher education have meant the older universities have had to raise their game to stay ahead."
He said that the guide would be an invaluable tool for those applying to go to university in 2009.
"Oxford and Cambridge dominate the main league tables. But one of the strengths of this guide has been to highlight the quality of previously underestimated institutions and to celebrate the achievements of centres of excellence, wherever they may be," the Sun quoted him, as saying.
He added: "Courses that are perceived to offer a clear career path are becoming increasingly popular, while some traditional academic subjects are struggling."
The biggest movers in the top 30 of this year's tables are York (up from 16 to 9), Leicester (from 21 to 14), Lancaster (from 27 to 19) and Glasgow (from 31 to 20=). All except Glasgow are members of the 1994 Group of small research universities.
The Times Good University Guide 2009, published by HarperCollins, ranks 113 universities according to eight criteria, including student satisfaction and research quality.