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Best non-London-based university after Oxbridge

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  • View Poll Results: Which university is the best after Oxbridge? (excluding London based universities)
    Warwick
    76
    26.30%
    Durham
    73
    25.26%
    St Andrews
    41
    14.19%
    Edinburgh
    31
    10.73%
    Bath
    10
    3.46%
    Lancaster
    5
    1.73%
    Manchester
    19
    6.57%
    York
    9
    3.11%
    Other (please state which one)
    25
    8.65%

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    Durham
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    (Original post by Like a BAWS)
    WHat makes you say that they're clearly better ?
    Ignorance, presumably.
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    BATH IS THE BEST!!! :crazy: !!!!
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    (Original post by Junaid96)
    Virtually every Oxbridge applicant I know. Seems pretty logical too, that if you're applying for the top university in the country your other universities will likely be of similar prestige, apart from 1-2 for backup.
    What do applicants really know about the quality of universities though? Do you think they know much about the RAE and quality of research at all universities? What about the quality of students? This is their perception of universities, which can be influenced by a number of things including league tables, the opinions of peers, tradition and social class, and is not a necessarily great reflection of how the universities really compare in reality.

    Durham, Warwick, or any of those universities you listed are not "better" than Sheffield or any other redbrick. There certainly isn't a huge drop.
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    (Original post by River85)
    What do applicants really know about the quality of universities though? Do you think they know much about the RAE and quality of research at all universities? What about the quality of students? This is their perception of universities, which can be influenced by a number of things including league tables, the opinions of peers, tradition and social class, and is not a necessarily great reflection of how the universities really compare in reality.

    Durham, Warwick, or any of those universities you listed are not "better" than Sheffield or any other redbrick. There certainly isn't a huge drop.
    Durham is not better than Sheffield? I'd have to disagree on that one.
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    (Original post by Spairos)
    Same here
    You have to be kidding me?
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    (Original post by River85)
    What do applicants really know about the quality of universities though? Do you think they know much about the RAE and quality of research at all universities? What about the quality of students? This is their perception of universities, which can be influenced by a number of things including league tables, the opinions of peers, tradition and social class, and is not a necessarily great reflection of how the universities really compare in reality.

    Durham, Warwick, or any of those universities you listed are not "better" than Sheffield or any other redbrick. There certainly isn't a huge drop.
    Threads like this are essentially attempting to measure prestige, rather than the quality of the universities. You'd be hard pushed to find someone who thought a Durham degree was far more difficult than a Sheffield degree. Yet, the former is more prestigious, and will win votes in a discussion like this. The very prestigious universities get their pick of their crop. No disrespect to places like Sheffield, but from experience, as long as you're predicted the entry requirements or slightly below, you're in. I always query how people can confidently assert that UCL is much better than St Andrews or Durham, but these claims are often always based on reputation or prestige rather than the 'quality' of courses.
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    (Original post by Junaid96)
    Durham is not better than Sheffield? I'd have to disagree on that one.
    No disrespect, I mean this in the nicest way, but you're sixteen or seventeen and still doing your AS levels? You have no real experience of Higher Education.

    I'm 27 and started university at 19 (the majority of this time, six years in total, spent at Durham). During this time I also have gained experience of the Open University, Sheffield (where my brother studied - albeit a completely different subject), Edinburgh, Manchester and a few other universities. Trust me when I say there is not much difference. There are people on this site with more experience than I have and will (broadly) agree.

    What makes you think Durham is much better than Sheffield? Please don't use league tables as these vary and actually show there isn't a considerable difference between Durham and Sheffield (even if one is top five/ten and the other top twenty/thirty). It is possible to manipulate the league tables, by simply changing the weightings, and bring cause Durham to drop and Sheffield to rise. It's a statistical game.

    Without league tables, you just seem to rely on the opinions of "Oxbridge applicants" but, like you, they have little experience of, and usually little knowledge of, higher education and are looking at things using their own prestige ranking. Yes Durham (or UCL, or Warwick...) will be favoured by them and more popular than some other Russell Groups, but this is largely due to conditioning. As they have little knowledge of Higher Education they need to rely on league tables, or subjective things like prestige. Because these universities are the universities Oxbridge applicants tend to prefer it doesn't mean they are better.

    A number of league tables include a peer review/academic ranking. Take the Sunday Times, it includes a ranking by academics and a ranking by head teachers. The head teachers, who may be out of touch and are largely looking at things with a "prestige" POV, will place Durham high and Sheffield lower (though still relativey high). These head teaching rankings vary significantly annually according to individual whims. Conversely the academics are (generally in my experience) more consistant and, though they are often influenced by a university's research in their own specific area, help to demonstrate my point. Durham is often ranked in the teens alongside, or not far off, redbricks like Sheffield.

    When comparing a university like Durham to Sheffield, or especially St Andrews to somewhere like Manchester, you're comparing apples to oranges to some extent. Universities vary in size, they vary in terms of what their individual strengths and weakness' are. Nevertheless I feel confident in saying that, broadly speaking, comparable particularly from an undergraduates point of view.

    If you can provide me with sufficient evidence that Durham is significantly better than Sheffield, Nottingham or any of those universities then please do but if all you can offer is league tables and the opinions of "Oxbridge applicants" then don't bother.
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    (Original post by Junaid96)
    Durham is not better than Sheffield? I'd have to disagree on that one.
    That's the thing- this sort of straight comparison of universities, in my opinion, doesn't do anyone any good.

    My own experiences of university has shown me that though we students may see universities as cohesive entities, when you get to the inner workings of a university, you realise just how varied the different departments and schools within it are.

    I know the OP wasn't asking this, but as a general point, it's so much more valuable to compare universities when considering the subject you are hoping to study, rather than the universities as a whole. Yes, it is still possible to compare whole universities with each other, and the reason why Oxford and Cambridge are so well-renowned is that they have so few weaknesses, if any. But when comparing outside of Oxford and Cambridge, such as with Durham and Sheffield, I personally don't see any benefit in concluding that one is 'better' than the other, especially when they're both similarly regarded in this strange thing we like to call 'prestige'.
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    As Tsunami said, when people ask which university is "better", they rarely refer to the quality of facilities etc. but rather the prestige and how well it is *regarded*. How good something is is subjective, so you want a university which is *viewed* as being better than the others, and Durham is most definitely seen as a better university than Sheffield by almost every employer in the country. There might be a university with better teaching in English than Cambridge, but that does not mean that you would select that university over Cambridge, as the prestige is extremely important when it comes to the top candidates. No one with 10 A*s at GCSE and 5 As at AS is going to settle for somewhere like Sheffield, but they may easily settle for Durham.
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    Bristol

    how is Bristol not an option!?
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    Durham is considered as the "3rd University". I would also say Bristol, St Andrews, Warwick and Edinburgh.
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    (Original post by Junaid96)
    As Tsunami said, when people ask which university is "better", they rarely refer to the quality of facilities etc. but rather the prestige and how well it is *regarded*. How good something is is subjective, so you want a university which is *viewed* as being better than the others, and Durham is most definitely seen as a better university than Sheffield by almost every employer in the country. There might be a university with better teaching in English than Cambridge, but that does not mean that you would select that university over Cambridge, as the prestige is extremely important when it comes to the top candidates. No one with 10 A*s at GCSE and 5 As at AS is going to settle for somewhere like Sheffield, but they may easily settle for Durham.
    I'm sorry, but when someone says something along the lines of "there's a big difference in quality", or "university x is better than university y" I understandably take this to mean there is a difference in quality (ie. research, teaching, facilities, standard of student).

    Determining whether one university is better than another is not entirely subject and can be determined through comparison of facilities, the RAE, and teaching quality reports, even if these measure aren't perfect. True, a university that suits one student might not suit another, particularly as course content differs, but broadly speaking I don't see it as being entirely subjective.

    I see what Tsunami means, and I don't deny many (particularly applicants) do perhaps confuse prestige and quality.

    Saying that university x is preferred by employers or is more "prestigious" is completely different and I don't see how this is any less subjective than declaring whether a university is better than another in terms of quality.

    How are you measuring this prestige and employer reputation or is it supposed to be common knowledge?

    But as far as the bolded bit goes. I can assure you that, in the vast majority of career sectors, an employer won't give a damn whether a job applicant attended Durham or Sheffield. It's a very broad area but, if we are going to generalise, then in a minority of sectors Durham will give the slightest advantage (magic circle law firm) but this really isn't a huge advantange and Sheffield is still well targeted and represented. In most career sectors university name has little effect. An employer is more likely to be influenced by his own experiences and bias than any applicants' understanding of prestige. Even those who are interested in university reputation are happy providing the university is a "good" university (which Durham and Sheffield are) and won't discriminate further.

    There are employers and senior managers on this website who will back this up.

    Edit: - The only way I can see that one can empirically back up such a claim would be to use things like the Times survey, but this isn't the best measurement as it tends to be dominated by the larger universities. Using this would just essentially back up what I said - companies don't really care for league table rankings or a applicants' understanding of prestige - look at Manchester being ranked higher than Sheffield. What they do is target the larger universities as these have more students -getting your message out to the widest possible audience. So even employers who look for "good" universities won't show any real favouritism and will seek the larger universities instead.

    Companies also provide stats on the universities new entrants attended. If you check the Civil Service fast stream, for example, where university reputation has no importance at all, you'll probably find an equal number of Sheffield and Durham grads more or less. This might not be the case in Magic Circle law firms but, even then, I don't think the difference is as great as you suggested.
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    (Original post by Junaid96)
    You have to be kidding me?
    Nope, and I ll give you rep for your nick
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    Why are Lancaster and Manchester in this poll?
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    Warwick > Durham
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    Essentially, this is a vote on (i) how many TSR users go to the aforementioned universities and (ii) how prestigious TSR users not belonging to group 1 believe the universities to be. I don't think anybody going to Durham will vote for Warwick, and vice versa.
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    Nottingham should at the very least be an option?
Updated: May 17, 2012
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