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    i keep hearing the term "top 12 universities" what are they
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    No one says "top 12 universities".
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    the only people who would use that term are likely to be those at the twelfth best university, so as to distinguish themselves from the thirteenth best university
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    There can be no definitive list, even with regards to existing rankings which assign weightings to different criteria. Also one university might be stronger for a specific subject despite perhaps not being as reputable overall as another.

    However, there are a number of universities that people would typically include at the top:

    Oxford
    Cambridge
    Imperial
    LSE
    UCL
    Warwick
    St Andrews
    Edinburgh
    Durham
    Bristol
    Bath
    Manchester (does particularly well in world rankings)
 
 
 
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