Their fierce rivalry can be traced back through hundreds of boat races, University Challenge competitions, and scores of other meritocratic indices.
But Cambridge appears to have firmly established bragging rights over Oxford in at least one field, topping the The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018’s league table for the fifth consecutive year.
The review, providing definitive rankings for UK institutions, named Lancaster its university of the year, climbing to sixth place from joint-ninth last year.
St Andrews remained in third, ahead of Imperial College London and Durham.
University College London, Loughborough, Warwick and Leeds completed the top ten.
According to the guide, Cambridge has the highest average completion rate for any university in the UK, with 98.9% of graduates seeing their course through to the end.
Of those that do finish, 92.1% achieve a first or 2:1, the second-highest proportion in the UK, a score bettered only by Oxford.
The university tops 30 of the 67 subject tables that feature in the online edition of the Good University Guide as well as producing the best results in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.
Lancaster University, unlike other leading institutions, has not opted for huge expansion but is firmly committed to cementing its place among the elite universities by becoming a truly “global player” in both teaching and research, the guide said.
Alastair McCall, editor of The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “Rising to its highest ever ranking in our league table this year, Lancaster is at the top of its game. It knows the university it wants to be and as a result makes a distinctive offer to students.
“The modern interpretation of a collegiate structure, coupled with flexible degree programmes and academics committed to teaching as well as research has been recognised in consistently good outcomes in the annual National Student Survey. Students love Lancaster.
“Dynamic course content and structure, plus the opportunities many students get to work abroad, is reflected in outstanding graduate prospects once they leave.
“In the 19 years of our University of the Year awards, there has rarely been a more clear-cut winner.”
Nottingham Trent was named Modern University of the Year by The Times and The Sunday Times.
Mr McCall said: “Its success is underpinned by outstanding scores in the National Student Survey. An analysis of the data, conducted for the Good University Guide, sees students ranking the university eighth in the UK for the quality of teaching, and just four places lower for the wider student experience.
“A focus on the student experience together with strong engagement with employers – which bears fruit with more than three-quarters of students gaining professional jobs or going into further study on graduation – makes Nottingham Trent the outstanding candidate to be our Modern University of the Year.”
:: For more information visit thesundaytimes.co.uk/gooduniversityguide