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13 Best UK Business Universities: How to Choose & Apply (2021)

30 Sep, 2021
13 Best UK Business Universities: How to Choose & Apply (2021)

The United Kingdom is well known for its excellent universities, many of which excel in the field of Business and Business Studies.

Careers in the field of business and management are known for their high starting salaries, rapid progression and access to a wide range of sectors, which have long made it a popular choice.

But with so many business schools in the UK, how do you know which one to choose?

There are several different annual university rankings, most of which include rankings by subject area, including the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, the Guardian Good University Guide and the Complete University Guide.

Of course, when it comes to selecting which colleges to complete bachelor's degrees at, there are many factors aside from rankings to consider, including:

  • course fees
  • location and cost of living
  • graduate employment prospects

This article will help clarify some of these important other factors which should inform your final university choice.

Of course, should you enrol on a pre-university programme at Kings our expert UCAS advisors will help establish the best UK universities for your intended degree program, putting you on the best possible path for success.

Table of Contents

Is the UK good for Business Studies?

6 Factors to consider when choosing the best university for Business in the UK

13 best universities for Business in the UK

How to apply to a university for Business in the UK: 5 simple steps

Is the UK Good for Business Studies?

Business is a subject with a wide variety of specialisms and British universities have broad selections of courses so that students can tailor their studies to their own interests. This includes studying business alongside a totally different subject as part of a joint honours degree — a popular option in the UK. Many UK undergraduate business courses, whether joint or single honours, are completed in three years, often at least a year shorter than in other countries, saving a significant amount on fees and living costs.

The UK is home to hundreds of business schools that are renowned for their academic excellence, and which prepare students fully for the modern business world. There are over 100 specialist business schools in the UK, many of which are ranked among the world’s best. Often, business departments at UK universities have excellent relationships with local firms and big brands, giving important industry insights and access to valuable networks.

There’s no question that Britain is a global business hub, with a location and time zone that allows it to connect easily with the business world around the globe. It is home to the world’s top financial city – London – which it's estimated supports more than 6 million jobs. With so many opportunities, UK cities attract businesses from all over the world, and as a result the country is a leading exporter of concepts, talent and technology.

And it’s not just businesses that the UK attracts — it remains a popular and welcoming destination for international students, which gives universities here a diverse and multi-ethnic cohort. Currently, 20% of all UK students studying in higher education are international students (Universities UK, 2020). Studying business with other students from around the world is enormously beneficial; furthering your understanding of business alongside other international students means your understanding of international business is significantly better.

Finally, studying a Business degree in the UK will require you to further hone your skills and proficiency in English, which brings the added benefit of improving on a language that you are almost certainly going to need in the future. If you plan on going into international business, it will be vital that you are proficient in English.

6 Factors to consider when choosing the best university for Business in the UK

Whilst university and business school rankings can show the strength of an institution to a certain extent, there are many other factors to take into consideration when choosing your ideal university for Business degree. Below, we explore some of the other important things to research when making your final university choices.

Factor #1: Courses on offer

There are a hugely diverse range of Business-related degree course options in the UK, including business studies, management studies, finance, accounting, marketing, and human resource management. It's vital to explore the curriculum, structure and assessment types of programmes that may be of interest to you to ensure you know exactly what your course will cover. Not only does it ensure that it's suited to your style of learning and testing - giving you the best chance of success - but also that the content is aligned with the type of future careers you may be considering.

One particularly important element of the course structure and content to research is any opportunity to work placements or 'sandwich' years in industry — either locally or further afield, as this can be a very beneficial addition when it comes to employment opportunities post graduation.

University websites offer details of all of this information, as does the UCAS website.

Factor #2: University reputation and rankings

The UK and its universities have a global reputation for academic excellence, with, for example, three (the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and LSE) all in the current top 10 according to the Times Higher Education World University rankings for Business and Economics.

For those students who have already decided on the UK as their business study destination, there are several UK specific guides offering university league tables, which offer specific subject rankings in areas such as Business and Finance as well as general ones.

The University Progression section on the Kings website offers useful profiles for the top UK universities, including up to date subject rankings for business and other course areas.

Factor #3: Employment and career prospects

Post graduation employment and earning prospects is often considered to be one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a degree course, and crucially, a university.

Students going to universities are expecting to find a job in their desired field upon graduation, and in order for this to happen, it's important (aside from achieving a good academic outcome) that your university has a good reputation within your intended field, and that your university has good Careers services that will support you in finding a job. In terms of reputation, subject ranking guides are a good indicator of this. It can also be helpful to look at graduate employment rankings and statistics, which can usually be found on universities' websites.

As already mentioned, particularly within the Business subject area, there are many degree courses which offer placements or work experience as part of the curriculum, which can be very advantageous when it comes to securing work after your degree.

Factor #4: Course fees

The cost of course fees is definitely a very important factor when it comes to choosing your university. University tuition fees are different for domestic and overseas students, but both can vary significantly according to the university.

Along with paying the true cost of a course, international student tuition fees may also go towards the cost of funding a university’s international/visa teams, or for universities to retain their visa sponsor status. They can also subsidise academic research, which in turn can help build its reputation internationally. Whether you pay a 'home' or 'overseas' fee depends on whether you meet certain criteria. The fee status criteria is provided in regulations, and guidance, published by the governments of the four countries of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland).

From autumn 2021/22, you're likely to be considered an international or overseas student if you don’t have the right to live in the UK and its islands. Overseas UK nationals who don’t meet certain residence criteria may also be required to pay overseas fees.

Following Brexit, from autumn 2021 most EU, Swiss and EEA students won't qualify for home fee status or access to the UK student loan system. Exceptions are made for EU students who are already living in the UK and registered with EU Settlement Scheme, and Irish students.

You can find out more about possible funding options, according to where you are from, on the Complete University Guide website.

Factor #5: Accommodation and living costs

When looking for a place to study in the UK it's important to know a few things about the cost of living and accommodation.

The cost of living is hugely varied according to where in the UK you study, so it's very important to research this before committing to a particular university. For example, the cost of living in cities such as London, Oxford and Brighton is generally significantly higher than in places in the north of the UK, such as Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow.

Factor #6: Location and campus type

An aerial image of the University of York campus

Whether your university is campus based, or has multiple buildings around a city is an important factor to research prior to submitting a final UK university application.

Campus universities tend to be like a small village, are are very self-contained with on-site restaurants, shops, bars, banks, and sports facilities as well as study centres, lecture halls and libraries. These can be safer, cheaper and offer more convenience as almost everything you need is walking distance around you. You will also be mixing almost uniquely with other students who are of a similar age and share common goals.

City-based universities with multiple buildings offer a much less intimate environment and far greater access to external facilities and communities, however this type of environment can be more expensive and less convenient, and can mean students have to make more of an effort to create networks when they first begin.

Equally as important as the type of university campus is the type of place it is located in — whilst some cities such as London, Leeds and Birmingham are large, diverse and bustling urban centres, smaller places such as St Andrews, Loughborough and Canterbury are likely to offer a very different experience, with possibly more close-knit communities, closer proximity to the countryside, but less diversity. Which would suit you best comes down to personal preference, but is important to consider.

13 best universities for Business in the UK

There are many excellent universities in the UK, however the selection below feature regularly in best university rankings for Business, and are therefore widely recognised for their expertise in this subject area. They are situated across all four corners of the UK, meaning they represent a wide range of geographical locations, city types and affordability.

1. University of St Andrews

A screenshot of St Andrews University homepage.

The University of St Andrews was Scotland’s first university and only the third to be founded in the English-speaking world. The university generally features within the Top 5 of UK university rankings, and in fact this year was ranked 1 in the UK in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. Some of its most famous alumni include Prince William Duke of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and John Witherspoon (US Declaration of Independence signatory).

Business courses offered include:

    • Management BSc
    • Financial Economics BSc (Hons)
    • Economics BSc (Hons)
    • Economics BA (International Hons)
    • Economics MSc
    • Economics MA (Hons)
    • Finance and Economics MSc
    • Finance MSc

Location: St Andrews, on the east coast of Scotland

2. University of Oxford

A screenshot of University of Oxford homepage

Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford is described as innovative yet deeply embedded in an 800-year-old world-class university. The school delivers cutting-edge programmes and ground-breaking research that have global reach.

The university itself is one of the two prestigious Oxbridge universities that are consistently recognised as being among the very best in the world, and completing a bachelor's or masters programme here will undoubtedly open many doors within your future career.

Business courses offered include:

    • Economics and Management BA
    • Artificial Intelligence for Business PGDip
    • Executive MBA EMBA
    • Finance DPhil
    • Financial Economics MSc
    • Financial Strategy PGDip
    • Global Business PGDip
    • Law and Finance MSc
    • Major Programme Management MSc
    • Management DPhil
    • Master of Business Administration MBA
    • Master of Business Administration Oxford 1+1 MBA programme
    • Organisational Leadership PGDip
    • Strategy and Innovation PGDip

Location: Oxford, central England

3. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

A screenshot of LSE homepage

The London School of Economics and Political Science, or LSE at it is more commonly known, is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities. It is consistently ranked in the UK top 10 and has a global reputation for academic quality. The campus is located in the very heart of London, very close to the financial district, and the Houses of Parliament.

LSE’s Department of Management combines four subject areas – Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour, Information Systems and Innovation, Managerial Economics and Strategy, and Management Science. It is ranked 2nd in the world for social sciences and management (2021 QS World University Rankings) and the Department of Management, along with the Departments of Accounting and Finance, was ranked as the UK leader for Business and Management Studies in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Business courses offered include:

  • BSc Mathematics, Statistics and Business
  • BSc Management
  • BSc Finance
  • BSc Accounting and Finance
  • BSc Financial Mathematics and Statistics
  • MSc Marketing
  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Accounting, Organisations and Institutions
  • MSc Accounting and Finance
  • MSc Risk and Finance
  • MSc Finance and Economics
  • MSc Management and Strategy
  • MSC Economics and Management
  • MSC Finance and Private Equity

Location: Central London

4. Durham University

A screenshot of Durham University homepage

Durham University is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities, and consistently ranked in the UK Top 10. It is the third oldest university in England and the majority of university buildings are in the historic, medium-sized city of Durham, close to Newcastle and 3 hours by train from London. Durham graduates are among the most sought after of all UK universities and the it generally always fares well in rankings of graduate prospects.

Established in 1965, Durham University Business School holds triple accreditation. It is currently ranked between 7th and 67th in the world for its MBA and MSc programmes by the Financial Times, The Economist and the Expansión. The three Departments in the School are Accounting, Economics and Finance, and Management and Marketing.

Business courses offered include:

  • Accounting BSc
  • Accounting with a Placement year BSc
  • Accounting and Finance BA
  • Accounting and Management BA
  • Finance BSc
  • Business and Management BA
  • Marketing and Management BA

Location: Durham, North East England

5. University College London (UCL)

A screenshot of UCL homepage

University College London, or UCL at it is more commonly known, is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and one of the largest research-intensive universities in the UK. It is consistently ranked in the UK Top 10 and its excellence is recognised across all academic disciplines. Its main campus is located in upmarket Bloomsbury in central London.

The UCL School of Management prides itself on developing entrepreneurial leaders for the next generation of technology-intensive organisations. The university's programmes are developed in close consultation with industry.

Business courses offered include:

  • Information Management for Business BSc
  • Management Science BSc
  • Management Science MSci
  • Telecommunications with Business MSc
  • Business Analytics MSc
  • Comparative Business Economics MA
  • Industrial/Organisational and Business Psychology MSc
  • Business Administration MBA
  • Financial Technology MSc
  • Infrastructure Investment and Finance MSc
  • Entrepreneurship MSc
  • Economy, State and Society: Economics and Business MA
  • Management MSc
  • Bioscience Entrepreneurship MSc
  • Venture Capital and Private Equity with Financial Technology MSc
  • Comparative Economics and Policy MA

Location: London

6. University of Bath

A screenshot of University of Bath homepage

Located in the pretty and historic city of Bath, the university is campus-based and situated just a short distance from the centre. It enjoys a strong academic reputation internationally, particularly in the field of Business and employment rates for graduates are higher than average — a result of the work placements offered with every degree course and its emphasis on practical, ‘real life’ skills that employers value. In 2018-19, the School of Management placed students with over 260 companies of all sizes across all business sectors.

Business courses offered include:

  • Business BSc (Hons)
  • International Management BSc (Hons)
  • Management BSc (Hons)
  • Management with Marketing BSc (Hons)
  • Accounting and Finance BSc (Hons)
  • Business Analytics MSc
  • Engineering Business Management MSc
  • Marketing MSc
  • Management MSc
  • Finance MSc
  • International Management MSc
  • Entrepreneurship and Management MSc
  • Finance with Banking MSc
  • Accounting and Finance MSc
  • Finance with Risk Management MSc
  • Applied Economics with Banking and Financial Markets MSc

Location: Bath, South West England

7. University of Leeds

A screenshot of University of Leeds homepage
Another member of the Russell Group of universities, Leeds is consistently ranked in the UK Top 20. It is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, and renowned globally for the quality of its teaching and research.

The University of Leeds Business School is regularly world ranked by the Financial Times, QS and The Economist, and Leeds is one of the top five most targeted UK universities by graduate recruiters (High Fliers report, The Graduate Market in 2021). The Business school has six divisions - Accounting and Finance, economics and Finance, International Business, management, Marketing and Work and Employment Relations. Its world-class facilities include Harvard style lecture theatre seats over 200 people, the latest audio-visual technology and professional presentation equipment and seminar and syndicate rooms for group work, which are all are equipped with the latest technology.

Business courses offered include:

  • BSc Accounting and Finance
  • BSc Banking and Finance
  • BSc Business Economics
  • BA Business Management
  • BA Business Management and the Human Resource
  • BA Business Management with Marketing
  • BSc Economics
  • BSc Economics and Finance
  • BA Human Resource Management
  • BSc International Business
  • BSc International Business and Finance
  • BSc International Business and Marketing

It offers a range of Masters degrees in the following subject areas:

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Business Analytics and Information Management
  • Economics
  • Innovation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
  • International Business
  • Management and Operations
  • Marketing
  • People, Organisations and Consulting

Location: Leeds, north of England

8. University of Warwick

A screenshot of University of Warwick homepage

A prestigious Russell Group campus university, Warwick is consistently ranked in the UK top 10 and has a global reputation for excellence in research and teaching, innovation, and for links with business and industry. It is located just outside the city of Coventry, the UK’s City of Culture in 2021. The vision of the Warwick Business School is to be Europe’s leading University-based Business School, 'developing transformational ideas and people that shape how we do business'.

Business courses offered include:

  • BSc Accounting & Finance
  • BSc International Management
  • BA Law and Business studies
  • BSc Physics with Business Studies
  • BEng Engineering Business Management
  • BSc Computer Science with Business Studies
  • BSc Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics & Economics (MORSE)
  • BASc in Global Sustainable Development and Business Studies
  • MSc Business with Accounting and Finance
  • MSc Business with Consulting
  • MSc Business with Marketing
  • MSc Business with Operations Management
  • MSc International Business
  • MSc Business Analytics
  • MSc Management
  • MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation
  • MSc Marketing & Strategy
  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Accounting & Finance
  • MSc Mathematical Finance
  • MSc Business & Finance
  • MSc Global Central Banking & Financial Regulation
  • Executive MBA

Location: Coventry, central England (west)

9. Lancaster University

A screenshot of Lancaster University homepage

Lancaster University has an excellent academic reputation and is a member of the N8 Research Partnership: an association of the eight most research-intensive universities in the North of England. It is consistently ranked among the UK Top 10. The attractive university campus occupies a 360-acre parkland site three miles from the city centre. Lancaster’s impressive physical facilities continue to grow, with the management school having recently completed significant modernisation.

Business courses offered include:

  • Accounting and Finance : BSc Hons
  • Accounting and Management : BSc Hons
  • Accounting, Finance and Mathematics : BSc Hons
  • Advertising and Marketing : BA Hons
  • International Business Management (Canada - Brock University)
  • International Business Management (France) : BSc Hons
  • International Business Management (Germany) : BSc Hons
  • Management and Human Resources : BSc Hons
  • Management and Information Technology : BSc Hons
  • Management, Politics and International Relations (Industry) : BSc Hons
  • Marketing : BSc Hons
  • Marketing and Design : BSc Hons
  • Marketing Management : BSc Hons
  • Marketing with Psychology : BSc Hons
  • Mathematics : BSc Hons
  • Mathematics : MSci Hons
  • Mathematics and Philosophy : BA Hons
  • Mathematics with Statistics : BSc Hons
  • Mathematics with Statistics : MSci Hons

Location: Lancaster, North West England

10. University of Exeter

A screenshot of University of Exeter homepage

The University of Exeter is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities with a world-class reputation in the humanities and social sciences in particular. The University of Exeter Business School is triple accredited by the three largest and most influential business school accreditation organisations worldwide: EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB, a prestigious triple accreditation that is held by less than 100 schools globally. Exeter was ranked #1 for Business and Management graduate prospects in the Complete University Guide 2021.

A defining characteristic of it Business programmes is flexibility. The university offers a huge range of elective subjects (options), especially in the second and final years, enabling students to tailor make their studies according to their interest, for example in areas such as entrepreneurship, marketing, leadership, or a language.

Business courses offered include:

  • Business Analytics BSc
  • Business and Management BSc
  • Marketing and Management BSc
  • International Business and Modern Languages BA
  • Business BSc
  • Business and Environment BSc
  • Bachelor of Business and Laws BBL
  • Law with Business LLB
  • Politics and Management BA

Location: Exeter, south west England

11. City, University of London

A screenshot of City University homepage

City, University of London is committed to academic excellence, and focused on business. Based in the heart of London, close to the Square Mile and Tech City, it has a strong heritage and close links with business. Professional bodies and organisations help develop the university's courses and facilities, offering excellent opportunities for work experience, and enhancing the career prospects of its graduates. From the financial giants of the Square Mile, to exciting start-ups, strong links with many of these businesses provide up-to-date input into the university's research and teaching.

The Bayes Business School is one of the City University's five specialist schools, and, as they say on their website, has 'pioneered business education for over 50 years from the heart of a global financial centre'.

Business courses offered include:

  • Accounting and Finance BSc (Hons)
  • Actuarial Science BSc (Hons)
  • Data Analytics and Actuarial Science BSc (Hons)
  • Finance with Actuarial Science BSc (Hons)
  • Business Management BSc (Hons)
  • Business Management with Social Purpose BSc (Hons)
  • Business Management, Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship BSc (Hons)
  • Business with Finance BSc (Hons)
  • Business with Marketing BSc (Hons)
  • International Business BSc (Hons)
  • Banking and International Finance BSc (Hons)
  • Finance DegreeBSc (Hons)
  • Investment and Financial Risk Management BSc (Hons)
  • MBA

MScs are available in a range of specialisms:

  • Actuarial science
  • Business and management
  • Charity and philanthropy
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Insurance and risk management
  • Marketing
  • Quantitative finance
  • Real Estate
  • Shipping and energy
  • Supply chain

Location: London

12. University of Bristol

A screenshot of University of Bristol homepage

The University of Bristol is a Russell Group university and consistently ranked in the UK Top 20. The main campus is located in the centre of the historic and vibrant city of Bristol, just 100 miles from London. In 2017 the city was named the best place to live in the UK by the Sunday Times.

The University of Bristol is in the top 10% for Employer Reputation within Business and Management studies (QS World rankings 2020).

The University’s £300 million Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus is set to open in 2021/22, with a focus on innovation and digital technologies, and their impact on society and the School of Management is at the centre of this development.

Business courses offered include:

  • BSc Business and Management
  • BSc Marketing
  • BSc Economics and Management
  • BSc International Business Management

A range of Joint Honours Courses (within other Schools) are also available (e.g BSc Accounting and Management with Professional Placement)

  • MSc Business Analytics
  • MSc Global Operations and Supply Chain Management
  • MSc Human Resource Management and the Future of Work
  • MSc Management
  • MSc Management (CSR and Sustainability)
  • MSc Management (Digitalisation and Big Data)
  • MSc Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation)
  • MSc Management (International Business)
  • MSc Management (International HRM)
  • MSc Management (Marketing)
  • MSc Management (Project Management)
  • MSc Marketing
  • MSc Social Science Research Methods (Management)

Location: Bristol, south west England

13. University of Manchester

A screenshot of University of Manchester homepage

Russell Group University of Manchester is one of the biggest universities in the UK. The city of Manchester has the largest student population in Europe, which means its diverse student body enjoys a lively, welcoming atmosphere and endless amenities. Established in 1965 as one of the UK’s first two business schools, the Alliance Manchester Business School is the UK’s largest campus-based business and management school and has recently been refurbished and expanded. With triple accreditation from AACSB International, AMBA and EQUIS, they pride themselves on providing world-class, industry-focused education at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Business courses offered include:

  • BSc (Hons) Accounting
  • BSc (Hons) IT Management for Business
  • BSc (Hons) International Business, Finance and Economics
  • BSc (Hons) International Management
  • BSc (Hons) Management
  • BSc (Hons) Management (Innovation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship)
  • BSc (Hons) Management (International Business Economics)
  • BSc (Hons) Management (Marketing)
  • MSc Accounting
  • MSc Finance
  • MSc Financial Management
  • MSc Quantitative Finance
  • MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship
  • MSc International Business and Management
  • MSc Management
  • MSc Marketing
  • PGDip/MSc Management Practice
  • MSc Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations
  • MSc Organisational Psychology
  • MSc Business Psychology

Location: Manchester, north west England

How to Apply to a Business University in the UK: 5 Simple Steps

Whilst the choice of Business degrees at UK universities is vast and making a final selection takes careful consideration, when it comes to making your application, there a few simple steps to follow that will ensure you reach your goal.

Step #1: Enrol to study A levels or an equivalent qualification

The first step on your path to a Business degree in the UK is completing a pre-university qualification such as A-levels, or an equivalent such as the Kings Advanced Level Foundation or international Business Foundation — specifically designed for international students. Completing these programmes will ensure firstly that you have the academic credentials required for university level study, and also the study skills which will help you get the most out of your degree course.

Whilst an A-level in Business Studies is offered (and also Advanced Level Foundation module) it is not generally a pre-requisite for a Business related degree to have studied the subject in such detail at this stage.

Visit the Subject and Career guide for more information.

Step #2: Attend an open day

With so many different universities and Business degree courses to choose from, it’s important to narrow down your options with online research before then visiting those you are interested in to see them first-hand. A university degree is a big commitment in many senses, and it’s important you are confident in your final choice — visiting the campus and speaking with faculty staff and existing students will enable you to ask questions and ensure you are fully informed about your prospective programme.

Step #3: Start preparing your application

Once you have decided on your final university choices, the next stage is to complete your UCAS application. The Kings University Application Programme, offered to anyone taking an academic course with us, is designed to specifically support you in this, ensuring you submit the best possible application and have the best chance of successfully winning a place at your top university.

Step #4: Interview preparation

Many universities will require you to have an interview before they decide whether to offer you a place on the course you have applied for. Preparing well for any interview is essential, and again, this forms part of the University Application Programme at Kings, which means you have ample chance to practise and hone your interview skills in advance.

Step #5: Work hard to achieve the best possible exam results

Once you have been offered a place at university, it's vital to put as much effort in as possible to achieving the best possible academic outcome, ensuring you meet the A-level (or equivalent) grade requirements for entry to your chosen degree course. The effort and hard study will all be worth it when your university place is officially confirmed, and here at Kings, we will be right behind you along the way!

Next steps

We hope that this article has helped you understand more about the best universities for Business in the UK. You can find more detailed information about studying Business, and careers in Business in the Subjects/Career Guides section of the Kings website.

You can also find detailed profiles of the top UK universities.

If you would like receive more detailed information about the Kings and our programmes, please get in touch with us at