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Are Oxbridge the best Universities in the UK?

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    What i'm asking is that, Do Oxford and Cambridge provide a better education than every other university or is it the reputation which allows them to dominate the university league tables

    Basically does the history and reputation of oxbridge allow them to be called the best universities in the UK or is it what they offer?

    Is it people perception or not?

    I want to know what people think, obviously Oxbridge deserve to be at the top as they are a great institute but in the top 2
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    However flawed the league tables are, they don't measure "reputation" Oxbridge are always very high because they have world leading research, and guys like Stephen Hawking teaching their students. The reputation may help them maintain their high standards by attracting the best lecturers (and being able to pay them high salaries.) I'm sure if the quality of either went down, the league tables would be over it in a flash
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    Interesting question - something that is often discussed is how much better is Oxbridge really when it comes to teaching and educating at the undergraduate level.

    Some engineer friends of mine say not very much, they do the same stuff / learn from the same books and, they say, sit the same kind of exams as at other traditional universities and I'm inclined to believe that to a great degree. For law, the only subject I can really speak of, the teaching is phenomenal. The professors who lecture are the people who write the textbooks used by all law students, and the supervisors are either those professors or otherwise greatly learned - not to say teachers at other universities are poor in standard but I really feel the quality of teaching every day when I step into the faculty building.

    I can't really compare this to other universities but I can say that I've never had a bad lecturer or a supervisor who hasn't been phenomenally intelligent and able to devise the most complex legal arguments - and I assume that is quite a good thing to say about a university (though I'm sure it's true of other places too).
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    (Original post by KCosmo)
    However flawed the league tables are, they don't measure "reputation" Oxbridge are always very high because they have world leading research, and guys like Stephen Hawking teaching their students. The reputation may help them maintain their high standards by attracting the best lecturers (and being able to pay them high salaries.) I'm sure if the quality of either went down, the league tables would be over it in a flash
    That is the one thing they don't do.

    Although twenty years on, the pay scales of the pre and post 1992s are still being aligned, basically the pay scales for all universities are the same.

    The attractiveness of Oxbridge to academics is fivefold:-

    • Greater perks-particularly subsidised housing
    • Better facilities
    • Better academic community
    • Shorter terms
    • Better and fewer students
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    (Original post by the man from space)
    What i'm asking is that, Do Oxford and Cambridge provide a better education than every other university or is it the reputation which allows them to dominate the university league tables

    Basically does the history and reputation of oxbridge allow them to be called the best universities in the UK or is it what they offer?

    Is it people perception or not?

    I want to know what people think, obviously Oxbridge deserve to be at the top as they are a great institute but in the top 2
    I think it's got something to do with the fact they get endowments of around £3-5 billion, whereas your average Russell group/1994 group university gets around £30-40 million, with some getting more (the next largest endowment after Oxbridge is Edinburgh, which gets 200 million) and some getting less (Warwick, Bath and York get around £5-10 million). No University can compete with Oxbridge when they are given significantly less money.
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    Whilst history and reputation of course have to be taken into account and do in fact blind some people, it's what they offer their students (and academics, I suppose) that puts them as the top two unis of the UK :yes:
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    (Original post by FDR)
    I think it's got something to do with the fact they get endowments of around £3-5 billion, whereas your average Russell group/1994 group university gets around £30-40 million, with some getting more (the next largest endowment after Oxbridge is Edinburgh, which gets 200 million) and some getting less (Warwick, Bath and York get around £5-10 million). No University can compete with Oxbridge when they are given significantly less money.
    Well money can only get you so far surely, you cannot base the success of Oxford and Cambridge on the amount of money they get?



    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
    Whilst history and reputation of course have to be taken into account and do in fact blind some people, it's what they offer their students (and academics, I suppose) that puts them as the top two unis of the UK :yes:
    i agree, students are blinded by reputation but its backed up by excellent staff which no-one can deny
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    They are not the best for everything, especially once undergraduate level has been surpassed.

    A random applicant has a one in three chance of being accepted onto Cambridge's international relations Masters. The minimum requirement is a "good 2.i". Compare this with LSE's stats (the ones they do release). A study showed that LSE is ranked over Oxbridge, by IR scholars, for IR.

    This will help demonstrate how uncompetitive Cambridge is in some areas.
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    (Original post by FDR)
    I think it's got something to do with the fact they get endowments of around £3-5 billion, whereas your average Russell group/1994 group university gets around £30-40 million, with some getting more (the next largest endowment after Oxbridge is Edinburgh, which gets 200 million) and some getting less (Warwick, Bath and York get around £5-10 million). No University can compete with Oxbridge when they are given significantly less money.
    Just to clarify, an endowment isn't money you get, it's like savings you have. No-one gives Oxford and Cambridge their endowments (at least, individuals have given them little bits over time) If you are an old university or college, say pre 1800s, when there was little in the way of a finance industry, you saved by buying land and buildings. Then you have had several hundred years (900 and 800 in the case of Oxford and Cambridge) for the value of that land to increase. They younger you are, the less time you have had to invest, and so the smaller your savings pot will be. A university's endowment is very largely a function of age.

    Most endowments are permanent, ie they are managed so that they last forever. That means they tend to get lower returns that high street interest rates, because a % of the interest stays in the endowment to cater for inflation over time.

    Income comes from an endowment, so if you know the size of a universities endowment you can presume that they receive about 3% of that figure in income each year.
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    It is the general consensus but it's not impossible to conceive certain departments in other universities are better, for example perhaps the engineering departments of Southampton, imperial and Loughborough might be better in some respects,
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    (Original post by BigVitaminD)
    They are not the best for everything, especially once undergraduate level has been surpassed.

    A random applicant has a one in three chance of being accepted onto Cambridge's international relations Masters. The minimum requirement is a "good 2.i". Compare this with LSE's stats (the ones they do release). A study showed that LSE is ranked over Oxbridge, by IR scholars, for IR.

    This will help demonstrate how uncompetitive Cambridge is in some areas.
    You need to brush up on your logic, and your understanding of post graduate reputations!

    A random applicant certainly does not have a 1 in three chance of getting accepted onto Cambridge's IR Masters - just think about that for a moment!

    The minimum requirement of a good 2.1 doesn't mean you are likely to get in with just a good 2.1, as we have discussed elsewhere.

    Similarly, ranking under LSE and Oxford, but still in the top 10 or so in the world, does not make a place uncompetitive, either for one specific subject, or as a university as a whole.
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    (Original post by FDR)
    I think it's got something to do with the fact they get endowments of around £3-5 billion, whereas your average Russell group/1994 group university gets around £30-40 million, with some getting more (the next largest endowment after Oxbridge is Edinburgh, which gets 200 million) and some getting less (Warwick, Bath and York get around £5-10 million). No University can compete with Oxbridge when they are given significantly less money.
    The Oxbridge tutorial system costs a fortune for the unis to keep up. I'm sure that doesn't account for much of this discrepancy, but just thought I'd mention! And the tutorials are often very highly praised as a method of undergrad teaching.
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    I personally think that a lot of people lash out on Oxford and Cambridge because they are jealous (please note I am not saying it is everyone - just a few). They therefore feel the need to full Oxford and Cambridge down a notch, making them more 'attainable' to the average student. The problem is that people do not understand that those universities are attainable to anyone. You do not need to be particularly gifted in a subjects, but smart, hard working and independent.

    Yes they do have a reputation attached with their name just like Harvard, Yale or MIT. But there is a reason for it as well. I think people should just accept that Oxbridge simply offer students a lot of things which other universities don't.
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    Well, put simply, yes they are...
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    I think you have to look at it's history as well. I mean for longer than any other establishments, oxbridge have been educating and forging contacts with the very top of pretty much every field, worldwide. That's one of the reasons why employment possibilities are so strong from the unis, because employers the world over have heard of Oxford and Cambridge and know the value of a degree from there. Comparatively, unis like Warwick get pretty close in terms of research excellence and quality of graduates in a lot of places, but it doesn't have anything like the international reputation.

    This, coupled with the strict entry criteria, help employers. They know that to get into Oxbridge and graduate well you have to be pretty damn bright. 'if they're good enough for oxbridge, they're good enough for me' kind of thing. While you get that to an extent at places like Warwick, LSE, Imperial, UCL etc, I think for the sheer bredth of excellence oxbridge are still unmatchable.

    Obviously as it has already been said, their reputation also helps them to keep the top spot by attracting the best researchers, the brightest students and the most money.
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    Disappointing that some of the best posts in this thread have attracted neg rep. Clearly shows that some people are either jealous or just don't like being told they're wrong
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    (Original post by BigVitaminD)
    They are not the best for everything, especially once undergraduate level has been surpassed.

    A random applicant has a one in three chance of being accepted onto Cambridge's international relations Masters. The minimum requirement is a "good 2.i". Compare this with LSE's stats (the ones they do release). A study showed that LSE is ranked over Oxbridge, by IR scholars, for IR.

    This will help demonstrate how uncompetitive Cambridge is in some areas.
    Although I agree with you generally, I don't think entry requirements are a good indicator of the research quality of the university.

    The 2008 RAE for Pol&IR puts places with significantly lower entry reqs than LSE or Oxbridge above them in terms of research (you will observe, however, that although Oxford come 4th in terms of average point score, their department is by far the biggest there).

    But yes, you are right, Places like LSE, UCL & ICL can all challenge oxbridge in their specialist area, but no one can comprehensively.
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    I think that a lot of great points are made here and the neg reps deal with it, oxford and cambridge are the best overall universities in the UK
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    Just to clarify, an endowment isn't money you get, it's like savings you have. No-one gives Oxford and Cambridge their endowments (at least, individuals have given them little bits over time) If you are an old university or college, say pre 1800s, when there was little in the way of a finance industry, you saved by buying land and buildings. Then you have had several hundred years (900 and 800 in the case of Oxford and Cambridge) for the value of that land to increase. They younger you are, the less time you have had to invest, and so the smaller your savings pot will be. A university's endowment is very largely a function of age.

    Most endowments are permanent, ie they are managed so that they last forever. That means they tend to get lower returns that high street interest rates, because a % of the interest stays in the endowment to cater for inflation over time.

    Income comes from an endowment, so if you know the size of a universities endowment you can presume that they receive about 3% of that figure in income each year.
    Interesting. I'm not disagreeing with you, just wondering... why are the endowments of American unis like Harvard so massive then. Wikipedia says places like Harvard have about 10x the endowment of Oxford or Cambridge, despite the fact they are not 10x bigger as an institution, and were founded something like 500 years or more later.
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    (Original post by Obfuscator)
    Interesting. I'm not disagreeing with you, just wondering... why are the endowments of American unis like Harvard so massive then. Wikipedia says places like Harvard have about 10x the endowment of Oxford or Cambridge, despite the fact they are not 10x bigger as an institution, and were founded something like 500 years or more later.
    There are some general economic reasons; the success of the US economy during the 20th century, the damage to UK private non-landed investments by WWII but Oxford and Cambridge did not generally seek alumni donations until the mid-1980s. There had always been a few spectacular gifts e.g. Nuffield, Wolfson and Rhodes, but building up endowments is not about getting the very rich to found something new but about getting the reasonably well heeled to support something that already exists.

    In 4 years Oxford has just raised £1.25Bn and in 5 Cambridge has raised £1.17Bn

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