London universities have been named and shamed as the highest institutions to be hit by robberies, violent and sex crimes and burglaries, it has been revealed.
According to a guide released on Tuesday, universities in inner London - London Metropolitan, King's College London and London South Bank - are the worst offenders while Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan have the highest crime rates outside London.
Founder of the Complete University Guide - the company behind the rankings - said Information on crimes against students at universities should be made available to prospective undergraduates. This is the first time university campuses have been ranked in terms of safety.
Dr Bernard Kingston said his guide uses police crime statistics for crimes affecting all victims in council wards within three miles of a university's main campus because no specific statistics for crimes against students are available.
"Our new methodology allows potential students to assess the risks for individual institutions with much greater precision, at least for England and Wales," he said.
"In the absence of data for crimes affecting university students specifically, either on or off campuses, they offer the best available guide.
"But it would be reassuring for university applicants and their parents if such information was readily available from the universities.
"It is clearly a matter of considerable concern when considering where to study as an undergraduate."
The guide claims an estimated one-third of students become victims of crime, mainly theft and burglary, and about 20% of student robberies occur in the first six weeks of the academic year.
The Universities of Buckingham, Aberystwyth and Durham topped the list with the lowest overall crime rate.
The universities which had the five highest crime rates were:
- London Met
- King's College London
- London South Bank
- City University
- London School of Economics
Universities in London dominated the bottom end, filling the worst 18 places.
A spokesperson for London Met said the university has a "very low reported crime both within the university and impacting on our students" and added the guide's analysis should have been based on its Holloway campus, not the Aldgate campus.
"London Met is committed to ensuring that all students feel safe while they study with us," they continued to say.
"Our 2011 National Student Survey, which was filled out by over 2,000 final year students, revealed that they did not cite personal safety around London Met as a concern, and that they felt safe and secure at the institution."
Previously the guide focused on cities with two or more universities, but expanded this year to include them all for England and Wales.
Kingston added: "Quality of tuition and the prospects for employment after graduation are key elements in choosing a university course, but it is important not to overlook other aspects of the environment in which the student will be living for three or more years.
"Our university cities do not exist in isolation from the communities within which they are located and, regrettably, crime is a constant presence."
Buckingham, the university with one of the lowest crime rates, is an independent institution with just 1,000 students based on its campus in the Home Counties town.
Professor Terence Kealey, its vice chancellor, said it had invested heavily in security, with entry to all building by electronic security pass only.
"The main issues would be people coming in from outside the university, either to steal from students' rooms or go to the bar and have a fight, something like that," he said.
"But we have tight security now, no one can get into any building without a pass."