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The bumper thread of University League Tables discussion - includes an info post

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Got a question about Student Finance? Ask the experts this week on TSR! 15-09-2014
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    (Original post by Chazzap)
    Hi,

    Just looking at Universities and wondering if it is worrying if a university is significantly lower (20 places) in the league tables. Southampton is 15th nationally, yet 35th for Politics, how much of an issue/worry is this? Does it mean that much? And what is the general reputation of Southampton for Politics?

    Thanks in advance
    It's a pretty good department especially for IR, IPE and British Politics. I don't know too much about the course though.
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    Well, this year's Times University Rankings seemed much more sensible, thankfully.
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    (Original post by lotsofq)
    As someone else has already mentioned on TSR, if Oxbridge really are that good, why has there been no attempt to copy or even better them?

    Or is it because they are deliberately kept special, with its matriculation dinners, the point you made about not being able to apply to both, getting an MA for a bachelors degree, eight week terms, not being able to get a job during term time, etc.
    I wouldn't go as far to say they are deliberately kept special, but I think they attempt to keep themselves special. There is no denying that they see themselves as a class above every other UK university, and naturally they will strive to keep employers and the public thinking the same. Whether they do this by constantly improving their teaching and research or by trivial means such as their applications process is up for debate.

    (Original post by Tsunami2011)
    Compare how many courses Oxford and Cambridge offer in comparison to LSE and it is not hard to understand why this is the case.
    Are you saying that Oxbridge should be considered better overall because of their number of courses or that they shouldn't be expected to retain top spots against a specialist university? I don't think LSE is the right institution to use as an overall comparison but it was the first that came to mind when thinking about subjects where Oxbridge does not have an assumed top rank in.

    I seriously doubt you would be writing in this manner if roles were reversed and it was your university (LSE) at the top of the tree.
    What you say there has no relevance to what you quoted, and remind me where I stated that LSE was my university. I only used it as an example off the top of my head, I could have equally used ICL for engineering.

    The fact that you haven't been through the admission process or interview process makes me question how you can be so defiant in your critique of their admission process. I went through the process and it is not flawless, but has merits. I'm guessing that you think A-Levels are an accurate indicator of academic potential then if you question the validity of academic interviews and an admission test. This measure is no worse than the one used by the likes of LSE and UCL where being an exam machine will suffice along with a vaguely coherent personal statement. At least the interview system allows them to weed out those who are not entirely passionate or committed to their subject (like myself) I know people off to LSE and UCL with not much more then a passing interest in their subject.
    I'm not saying that the current measures used by other universities are anywhere near perfect, I just think the Oxbridge process has become another technique to promote the Oxbridge 'brand'; who could say they didn't feel left out when their career's teacher was fussing over the Oxbridge applicants, organising mock interviews and such? I feel a friend of mine was cheated out of his place despite being incredibly passionate about his subject, straight A*s, fantastic statement, good charisma (head of our public speaking) but was ill around the time of his Oxford visit and said he did poorly.

    They do not need to imply a dominance of the top two UK ranks. That is pretty much the consensus in the world let alone the UK, Oxford and Cambridge are widely perceived to be our strongest universities by a margin. Noone would label Harvard as 'ignorant' if it claimed to be one of the top two in the USA I had 2 x 30 minutes interviews + an admission test. I've had interviews in the past for part time jobs lasting longer then that. For anyone with an ounce of composure, the interview process really is not that scary and intimidating. Many other universities interview, so it is not exclusive to Oxbridge. Not enjoying the interview says more about the individual than the institution.
    Is it the consensus because of historical factors. I wouldn't disagree that Oxford and Cambridge are the top two overall universities in the UK, but it makes me wonder what happens as the gap between the two and the rest of the table closes. How long does it take before other universities will gather together a history and list of alumni even comparable?

    Personally I feel I would have enjoyed the interviews, but it is not fair to say that "anyone with an ounce of composure" will not be scared and intimidated. Similarly, just as people can get away with pretending to be passionate about their subject in a personal statement, people can pretend to be passionate about their subject in interviews. Interviews will weed out those with more composure, which is not a bad thing, but it means outstanding students can slip through the net.
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    (Original post by North Irelandman)
    I wouldn't go as far to say they are deliberately kept special, but I think they attempt to keep themselves special. There is no denying that they see themselves as a class above every other UK university, and naturally they will strive to keep employers and the public thinking the same. Whether they do this by constantly improving their teaching and research or by trivial means such as their applications process is up for debate.


    Are you saying that Oxbridge should be considered better overall because of their number of courses or that they shouldn't be expected to retain top spots against a specialist university? I don't think LSE is the right institution to use as an overall comparison but it was the first that came to mind when thinking about subjects where Oxbridge does not have an assumed top rank in.


    What you say there has no relevance to what you quoted, and remind me where I stated that LSE was my university. I only used it as an example off the top of my head, I could have equally used ICL for engineering.



    I'm not saying that the current measures used by other universities are anywhere near perfect, I just think the Oxbridge process has become another technique to promote the Oxbridge 'brand'; who could say they didn't feel left out when their career's teacher was fussing over the Oxbridge applicants, organising mock interviews and such? I feel a friend of mine was cheated out of his place despite being incredibly passionate about his subject, straight A*s, fantastic statement, good charisma (head of our public speaking) but was ill around the time of his Oxford visit and said he did poorly.



    Is it the consensus because of historical factors. I wouldn't disagree that Oxford and Cambridge are the top two overall universities in the UK, but it makes me wonder what happens as the gap between the two and the rest of the table closes. How long does it take before other universities will gather together a history and list of alumni even comparable?

    Personally I feel I would have enjoyed the interviews, but it is not fair to say that "anyone with an ounce of composure" will not be scared and intimidated. Similarly, just as people can get away with pretending to be passionate about their subject in a personal statement, people can pretend to be passionate about their subject in interviews. Interviews will weed out those with more composure, which is not a bad thing, but it means outstanding students can slip through the net.
    Re Oxbridge and alumni, isn't it a catch 22 situation that if one attended Oxbridge, one would been seen in a different light and therefore somewhat "easier" or at least more likely to make a name for themselves, hence contributing to the alumni list?

    Institutions known to favour Oxbridge include but are not confined to BBC, MI5, Goldman Sachs, most of the broadsheets, etc.

    I recall seeing a graduate recruitment brochure by Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) where they tabulated the graduates they recruited.

    Oxbridge was about 10cm long, Exeter at 3cm and London (that's ALL London universities aggregated) only 2cm!
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    The Times GUG 2013 is out!


    1 Oxford (1)
    2 Cambridge (2)
    3 LSE (3)
    4 Imperial (4)
    5 Durham (6)
    6 St Andrews (6)
    7 UCL (5)
    8 Warwick (8)
    9 Bath (12)
    10 Exeter (10)
    11 Bristol (13)
    12 Lancaster (9)
    13 York (11)
    14 Edinburgh (15)
    15 Glasgow (-)
    16 Loughborough (20)
    17 Leicester (17)
    18 Sussex (14)
    18 Southampton (19)
    20 Nottingham (16)

    Don't have access to the full tables, but linky.
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    (Original post by frank070691)
    The Times GUG 2013 is out!


    1 Oxford (1)
    2 Cambridge (2)
    3 LSE (3)
    4 Imperial (4)
    5 Durham (6)
    6 St Andrews (6)
    7 UCL (5)
    8 Warwick (8)
    9 Bath (12)
    10 Exeter (10)
    11 Bristol (13)
    12 Lancaster (9)
    13 York (11)
    14 Edinburgh (15)
    15 Glasgow (-)
    16 Loughborough (20)
    17 Leicester (17)
    18 Sussex (14)
    18 Southampton (19)
    20 Nottingham (16)

    Don't have access to the full tables, but linky.

    No real surprises apart from Sheffield out of the top 20.
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    (Original post by frank070691)
    The Times GUG 2013 is out!


    1 Oxford (1)
    2 Cambridge (2)
    3 LSE (3)
    4 Imperial (4)
    5 Durham (6)
    6 St Andrews (6)
    7 UCL (5)
    8 Warwick (8)
    9 Bath (12)
    10 Exeter (10)
    11 Bristol (13)
    12 Lancaster (9)
    13 York (11)
    14 Edinburgh (15)
    15 Glasgow (-)
    16 Loughborough (20)
    17 Leicester (17)
    18 Sussex (14)
    18 Southampton (19)
    20 Nottingham (16)

    Don't have access to the full tables, but linky.
    YAY Sussex may have fallen but we're still in the top 20 In all i'd say that's a pretty accurate table.
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    (Original post by North Irelandman)
    I'm not saying that the current measures used by other universities are anywhere near perfect, I just think the Oxbridge process has become another technique to promote the Oxbridge 'brand'; who could say they didn't feel left out when their career's teacher was fussing over the Oxbridge applicants, organising mock interviews and such? I feel a friend of mine was cheated out of his place despite being incredibly passionate about his subject, straight A*s, fantastic statement, good charisma (head of our public speaking) but was ill around the time of his Oxford visit and said he did poorly.

    Is it the consensus because of historical factors. I wouldn't disagree that Oxford and Cambridge are the top two overall universities in the UK, but it makes me wonder what happens as the gap between the two and the rest of the table closes. How long does it take before other universities will gather together a history and list of alumni even comparable?

    Personally I feel I would have enjoyed the interviews, but it is not fair to say that "anyone with an ounce of composure" will not be scared and intimidated. Similarly, just as people can get away with pretending to be passionate about their subject in a personal statement, people can pretend to be passionate about their subject in interviews. Interviews will weed out those with more composure, which is not a bad thing, but it means outstanding students can slip through the net.
    Just to weigh in on this particular point: basically you are saying that interviewing is not a perfect method of selection, and that the process has its flaws. And you're right: interviews tend to show confident people in a better light than the more timid ones, regardless of intellectual ability; they can be thrown off by illness or outside circumstances; and so on.

    The problem is that you can apply just as many criticisms to other means of testing. Someone can be feeling queasy when they sit a crucial A-level paper. A student who performs badly under pressure (a very useful skill at university and in life in general) can come of better than they ought in a personal statement; so can a student with more help. A student who is good at regurgitating facts but not so good at the in-depth analysis required for many undergraduate degrees might do artificially well at A-levels.

    I think the point of the interview is not that it's the be-all-and-end-all; rather that it adds another facet to a very thorough selection process. Interviews are an incredibly interactive and variable tool. Bull****-heavy students can be quickly found out when pushed for serious thought; timid candidates can have information and evidence of intelligence coaxed out of them; bright applicants can be pushed to their limits to help tutors choose from a strong field. Interview is still only one aspect of that process - and people do get into Oxbridge after bad interviews - but it adds yet another piece to the picture of a student's potential. Since interview is just one flawed process in a field of flawed processes, it can provide useful evidence lacking in other selection procedures, and its deficiencies can be compensated for by those same procedures; therefore its use can only be a good thing.
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    If you look at the criteria these tables use to make up the final positions, it should be pretty obvious that only very small fluctuations determine the difference between 5-25. Since entry standards, dropout, % 1sts 2:1s, satisfaction are used by most, whether you assign 20% rather than 10% of the points to one of those sections will impact on the final table. Who is to say that's right or fair? Would it be any more 'accurate' if you said you went to a top 20 institution based on the fact one journalist thinks 20% of the points should be on satisfaction against if they put only 10% and you placed lower (and the position of one was reversed with another)?

    Furthermore, since these criteria are used frequently, you find that a university that avoids 'problems' will do well. Problems can be having a high intake of students from poorer backgrounds, as they are much likely to not have top grades (despite maybe being top in their class), be unhappy and drop out/get lower degrees not through lack of intelligence, but a lack of preparation from school and coming from a culture where all of their friends work rather than study. As a result, it's much harder for the Russell Group universities with the lowest proportion of wealthy students and highest proportion of poorest (Liverpool and Queen's Belfast) to score highly in these tables. That doesn't say anything about the quality of education you receive. In fact, giving out more 2:2s as a result will hit the average employment rate too- but this is different to whether you'll go further with Exeter rather than Liverpool on your CV, assuming both have the same subject and degree class/experience.

    Anyway, as a result, it's unsurprising Bristol, St Andrews, Exeter, Durham all do well and continue to do well. It's also not surprising that Salford does relatively poorly by comparison. Only Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, LSE, Imperial and Warwick have never ranked outside of a top 10 in a UK table- and only the first five have never also placed outside a world's top 100. As far as things go, we can probably say those universities do well at hitting the criteria journalists are looking for. Of the next 20, I don't think there's much to pick- certainly not between Bath or Bristol than Liverpool.

    But before we get ahead of ourselves, it's important to remember that if we tried to rank newspapers not on quality of content but on how happy the journalists were with their job and how many left the job within six months and how many have four As at A-level, they'd (rightly) say you can't compare newspapers like that. I agree. Yet, somehow, it's right to say LSE is better at Economics than Imperial is at Physics (by putting two institutions with very limited crossover on the same table), or a university in a small, middle-class enclave with 7,000 students and a few departments is better than one with 40,000 students and three times the number of departments in an urban area of millions. These exist to sell newspapers and are less than 20 years old- while universities have been perfectly fine without them for centuries.

    If it were up to me, I'd provide all the stats (entry, research and so on) and let people use their brains and work out which one suits them best. Not let a journalist tell you that one is twenty places higher than the other.
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    (Original post by 0404343m)
    Only Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, LSE, Imperial and Warwick have never ranked outside of a top 10 in a UK table
    I broadly agree with you, but at risk of being pernickerty both Imperial and UCL did briefly drop out of one of the top tens.
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    (Original post by anniemagnificent)
    I broadly agree with you, but at risk of being pernickerty both Imperial and UCL did briefly drop out of one of the top tens.
    Really, when? This was an often-used powerpoint (at a rather contemptable talk) by a university strategist on how to improve the standings of a new university I taught for a year at on league tables. Back then it also included York. It's possibly one of the tables they weren't using- but it seemed legitimate enough to me. If that fact is indeed wrong, then I defer to your knowledge!
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    Imperial recently plummetted in a few of the national league tables due to an increase in weighting given to student satisfaction scores. I believe the Guardian now ranks Imperial lower in the UK than the Times ranks it in the world.

    This naturally sparked a desperate campaign to raise the extremely low turnout on the student satisfaction surveys at ICL...
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    Does anyone know why UCL fares 'relatively' badly in comparison to LSE and Imperial, since people generally say they are equals.. UCL ranks 8th 7th 7th, which seems strange.
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    Isn't the Times table out today?
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    (Original post by fnm)
    Isn't the Times table out today?
    yep.

    (Original post by frank070691)
    The Times GUG 2013 is out!


    1 Oxford (1)
    2 Cambridge (2)
    3 LSE (3)
    4 Imperial (4)
    5 Durham (6)
    6 St Andrews (6)
    7 UCL (5)
    8 Warwick (8)
    9 Bath (12)
    10 Exeter (10)
    11 Bristol (13)
    12 Lancaster (9)
    13 York (11)
    14 Edinburgh (15)
    15 Glasgow (-)
    16 Loughborough (20)
    17 Leicester (17)
    18 Sussex (14)
    18 Southampton (19)
    20 Nottingham (16)

    Don't have access to the full tables, but linky.
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    Love how UCL ranks above Oxford on Graduate opportunities though, even if it has been placed 7th over all
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    Massaging of figures I can see yet again by The Times.

    How covenient in the employment table that Manchester is top with LONDON second!

    Didn't know there was a university called LONDON. The best uni (or unis) in London might not beat Manchester but it will certainly take the second spot, possibly the third, fourth and so on, thus pushing the other unis down the table, including Oxford and Cambridge.

    But of course that would make Oxbridge look bad so instead, The Times has aggregated ALL London unis together!

    You've got to take any league tables, be it uni, films, songs, with a very large dose of salt.
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    When do the Sunday Times ranking come out?
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    Hey, can anyone give me the The Times GUG 2013 top 30 university ranking and also the top 30 universities for English? Thanks, really appreciate it
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    (Original post by Desertanium)
    Hey, can anyone give me the The Times GUG 2013 top 30 university ranking and also the top 30 universities for English? Thanks, really appreciate it
    Top 10 for english was in the paper yesterday

    1 oxford
    2 cambridge
    3 durham
    4 ucl
    5 york
    6 exeter
    7 warwick
    8 leeds
    9 qmul
    10 glasgow

    When the book comes through the rest shall be known

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