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Which university produces the most CEOs?

The London School of Economics and Political Science has been revealed as the best university to attend if you want to become a CEO or managing director, according to new research.

The study, which was carried out by Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, analysed data from over 8.4 million alumni who had left 121 UK universities since the year 2000 and had gone on to become either CEOs or managing directors or found their own businesses.

LSE topped the table of universities that produce the most CEOs and MDs, with 16% of alumni going on to hold one of these positions. The London university beat Cambridge and Oxford, who make up the top three, to the top spot, with both scoring 13%.

Although the top three on the list are ranked among some of the best universities in the country, the study revealed a pattern that shows budding business leaders need not only to apply to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities to stand the best chance of becoming a CEO or MD. The average university guide ranking of the universities in Hitachi Capital’s top 20 list was 70, with London Metropolitan (118), University of Westminster (117), Middlesex University (111), Goldsmiths (105) and University of Bradford (99) all featuring.

A clear North South divide was evident in the research too, with 12 of the top 20 universities based in London. The University of Cumbria is the highest-ranking northern university on the list, while the Universities of Leicester, Bradford and Manchester also featured highly.

Edge Hill University was revealed as the university producing the least number of CEOs and MDs, with just 4% of alumni going on to hold these positions.

The top universities for producing CEOs and MDs

Index rankUniversityGuardian university rankingTotal %
1London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)515.98
2University of Cambridge312.99
3University of Oxford112.75
4Soas University of London8612.75
5University of Cumbria9811.74
6London Metropolitan University11811.49
7University of Westminster11711.17
8Buckinghamshire New University9211.16
9Oxford Brookes University4310.98
10Middlesex University11110.77
11University of Leicester7710.44
12Goldsmiths, University of London10510.19
13University of Bradford9910.05
14Kingston University4010.02
15University of West London349.98
16City, University of London959.95
17King’s College London429.87
18University of East London1129.81
19University of Manchester259.73
20London South Bank University939.72

Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance’s research also examined the best universities to attend for those looking to launch their own business, and the University of the Arts London has the highest rate of former students that go on to start up their own ventures (16%).

Two other London universities make up the top three, LSE with 14% and Goldsmiths University of London with 12%. Falmouth University also ranked highly (12%), finishing above both Oxford and Cambridge in 5th and 6th.

Once again, Edge Hill University was at the bottom of the pile, with only 5% of students who attended the university going on to begin their own venture.

Top universities for producing business founders

Index rankUniversityGuardian university ranking%
1University of the Arts London4515.83
2London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)514.03
3Goldsmiths, University of London10512.25
4Falmouth University8812.09
5University of Oxford112.06
6University of Cambridge312.00
7Soas University of London8611.47
8University College London (UCL)1410.41
9University for the Creative Arts3310.13
10Middlesex University11110.11

Commenting on the findings, Andy Dodd, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, said: “Our research proves that you don’t necessarily need to go to the top universities (according to the guides) to ensure you enjoy a highly successful business career. Many of the top universities for producing CEOs and business founders are among the lower-ranked university guide schools, which should provide food for thought for many beginning the long process of applying for university.

“Hopefully some of our research helps to inspire the next generation of small business owners!”

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