Why are league tables so inconsistent for law - can they be trusted? Watch

phoebexoxo
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Hiya,

I know everyone says don’t look at league tables to influence your decision but it’s playing a part in mine and I was wondering why league tables are so consistent?

For instance, The Guardian has Dundee at 3rd and no disrespect but I fail to believe it is above the likes of UCL, Durham, LSE etc.

Also the likes of Abertay at 7th and Solent at 14th, above the likes of Nottingham, Warwick and Exeter. That’s just nonsensical if you ask me.

And on the world ranking ones, Nottingham is higher than Durham and Bristol, while Exeter is Top 100 which seems bizarre.

Are they to be trusted?
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Doones
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(Original post by phoebexoxo)
Hiya,

I know everyone says don’t look at league tables to influence your decision but it’s playing a part in mine and I was wondering why league tables are so consistent?

For instance, The Guardian has Dundee at 3rd and no disrespect but I fail to believe it is above the likes of UCL, Durham, LSE etc.

Also the likes of Abertay at 7th and Solent at 14th, above the likes of Nottingham, Warwick and Exeter. That’s just nonsensical if you ask me.

And on the world ranking ones, Nottingham is higher than Durham and Bristol, while Exeter is Top 100 which seems bizarre.

Are they to be trusted?
Different rankings use different methodologies. Look in detail at the methodology and see which method (if any) most closely matches things that are important to you.

e.g.
Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...ity-guide-2017
QS: https://www.topuniversities.com/subj...gs/methodology
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esrever
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(Original post by phoebexoxo)
Hiya,

I know everyone says don’t look at league tables to influence your decision but it’s playing a part in mine and I was wondering why league tables are so consistent?

For instance, The Guardian has Dundee at 3rd and no disrespect but I fail to believe it is above the likes of UCL, Durham, LSE etc.

Also the likes of Abertay at 7th and Solent at 14th, above the likes of Nottingham, Warwick and Exeter. That’s just nonsensical if you ask me.

And on the world ranking ones, Nottingham is higher than Durham and Bristol, while Exeter is Top 100 which seems bizarre.

Are they to be trusted?
What are you looking for in a ranking? Prestige? Rigour? Quality of teaching? Graduate placements or salaries? First decide upon this.
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999tigger
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(Original post by phoebexoxo)
Hiya,

I know everyone says don’t look at league tables to influence your decision but it’s playing a part in mine and I was wondering why league tables are so consistent?

For instance, The Guardian has Dundee at 3rd and no disrespect but I fail to believe it is above the likes of UCL, Durham, LSE etc.

Also the likes of Abertay at 7th and Solent at 14th, above the likes of Nottingham, Warwick and Exeter. That’s just nonsensical if you ask me.

And on the world ranking ones, Nottingham is higher than Durham and Bristol, while Exeter is Top 100 which seems bizarre.

Are they to be trusted?
Ultimately what do you think or want the ranking to represent? If they all use different methods and include different factors, then you get different results. Do you agree with their methodology? The fact they are different means cross comparison should be treated with extreme caution.

Go with A level grades for a starter. There are some elite unis, some very good ones, above average, respectable and the rest.
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JohanGRK
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A juicy question
(Original post by phoebexoxo)
Hiya,

I know everyone says don’t look at league tables to influence your decision but it’s playing a part in mine and I was wondering why league tables are so consistent?

For instance, The Guardian has Dundee at 3rd and no disrespect but I fail to believe it is above the likes of UCL, Durham, LSE etc.

Also the likes of Abertay at 7th and Solent at 14th, above the likes of Nottingham, Warwick and Exeter. That’s just nonsensical if you ask me.

And on the world ranking ones, Nottingham is higher than Durham and Bristol, while Exeter is Top 100 which seems bizarre.

Are they to be trusted?
The 'bump' you're seeing in Scottish universities in general is due to a change in UCAS tariffs which gave more creds to Scottish qualifications relative to English ones. You're also seeing UK universities suffer from the fact that a lot of their successful applicants will go on to achieve just 3 A-levels, as opposed to 3 A2s and at least one AS (as was the case before 2017). However, if you look at what grades successful applicants at Glasgow achieved relative to their counterparts at, say, Cambridge, you'll see that they are a fair bit lower. The point is that UK universities are being screwed over in two ways re: entry tariffs.

The other problem is that league tables measure stats that are pretty meaningless (spend per student, faculty ratios) or misleading (% in employment or education after 6 months). Graduate salaries, the sort of employers that recruit from a university, etc. are left out. Research output is just one (slightly flawed) metric and can't save the day by itself.

I should note that, while random universities pop up to third place in the Guardian, they soon drop back down to the unsightly depths where they belong. Check out what happened to QMUL last year - it went from 3rd to 17th from one year to the other. Dundee is probably going to see a similar fate. If you go back through the league tables for the past ten years, the top ten or so are remarkably consistent (the order is almost always Cambridge - Oxford - top London unis and Durham - Notts/Bristol/Warwick and a few others). Sure, you get some changes over time (e.g. Bristol and Warwick moving up, Notts moving down), but these are glacial in comparison to Dundee zooming up to 3rd.

I wouldn't bother with international league tables - they're just crap. But they do have a very consistent hierarchy - almost always it's Oxbridge - LSE - UCL - KCL - Durham/QMUL - Bristol/Glasgow/Exeter.

Edit: I wouldn't take the fact that Notts and Exeter do better than Durham or Bristol as an odd sign - they all have their research strengths in different areas, and none of them truly stands out as a law department. I suspect that your suprise is down to the fact that Durham keeps pretending that it plays second fiddle to Oxbridge and is plainly superior to other regional universities when this is plainly not true for most of the subjects it offers.
Last edited by JohanGRK; 5 months ago
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