CUG league tables 2021 - winners & losers

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harrysbar
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The Complete University Guide has recently published its 2021 league tables and as always, they are controversial.

Is Loughborough really "better" than Durham? Did Sussex deserve to drop 8 places or Hull to rise by a whooping 18? Do you agree with the rankings or couldn't you care less?

https://www.thecompleteuniversitygui...ables/rankings
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harrysbar
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And if Russell group stands for nothing as so many people on TSR like to say, why are so many of them in the top 20 :confused:

Cambridge
Oxford
St Andrews
LSE
Imperial
Loughborough
Durham
Lancaster
Bath
UCL
Warwick
Exeter
Birmingham
Bristol
Edinburgh
Leeds
Manchester
Southampton
Glasgow
Nottingham/Kings


Last edited by harrysbar; 2 weeks ago
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SweetSexySavage
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Interesting change in the tables. But as we know they don't mean much.
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Black Cat
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St Andrews and Loughborough really gone up over the last couple years.
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harrysbar
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There wasn't much change in the top 20 was there, it's further down the table you see the bigger gains and losses with York going up 8 for example and Aston going down 9
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Muttley79
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(Original post by harrysbar)
And if Russell group stands for nothing as so many people on TSR like to say, why are so many of them in the top 20 :confused:

Cambridge
Oxford
St Andrews
LSE
Imperial
Loughborough
Durham
Lancaster
Bath
UCL
Warwick
Exeter
Birmingham
Bristol
Edinburgh
Leeds
Manchester
Southampton
Glasgow
Nottingham/Kings

Look at how the tables are constructed and the validity of the way date is used and collected. Anyone that believes these tables needs to take a course in statistical analysis. It is perfectly possible to take one data set and prove two completely opposite viewpoints.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Look at how the tables are constructed and the validity of the way date is used and collected. Anyone that believes these tables needs to take a course in statistical analysis. It is perfectly possible to take one data set and prove two completely opposite viewpoints.
Easy for you to say as a mathematician Muttley but I struggled to pass Maths at the age of 16 so won't be taking a course in statistical analysis any time soon.

I think people should look at the criteria different league tables use in order to decide whether they provide any useful information for them or not. Some people do care about going to a uni they know to be competitive on entry requirements for example, wheres others care more about student satisfaction.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Easy for you to say as a mathematician Muttley but I struggled to pass Maths at the age of 16 so won't be taking a course in statistical analysis any time soon.

I think people should look at the criteria different league tables use in order to decide whether they provide any useful information for them or not. Some people do care about going to a uni they know to be competitive on entry requirements for example, wheres others care more about student satisfaction.
Are you aware of how flawed the collection of the data is? If I went to a football match and asked about the popularity of football then would you trust the results? No, of course not.

There's a rule in stats and computing - garbage in, garbage out.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Are you aware of how flawed the collection of the data is? If I went to a football match and asked about the popularity of football then would you trust the results? No, of course not.

There's a rule in stats and computing - garbage in, garbage out.
Take it with a pinch of salt I always say but good league tables like the CUG are popular for a reason. Students like to have some idea of which unis are well respected overall or particularly good for their subject and this is a reasonable starting point.

I don't quite understand your reference to football but everyone knows Arsenal are the Oxford of football
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Muttley79
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Take it with a pinch of salt I always say but good league tables like the CUG are popular for a reason. Students like to have some idea of which unis are well respected overall or particularly good for their subject and this is a reasonable starting point.

I don't quite understand your reference to football but everyone knows Arsenal are the Oxford of football
Oxford United you mean
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mnot
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Oxford United you mean
Oxford United are the greatest team the world has ever seen its well known and often sung at the kassam!

Also on league tables, the criteria in the methodology make sense, but I agree on the collected data, when you actually look at how they measure teaching quality, careers & research its all BS. My honest opinion of them (and it has changed over the years) is they take the easiest data available which is often poor and not-representative (when compared to well established reputable data) that they then make suit their methodology of their criteria and then have a very arbitrary indexing method and then couple it to an even more arbitrary weighting of each criteria.

I broadly suspect they play around with the weightings of each criteria so to ensure Oxford & Cambridge are 1 & 2 praying on naivety knowing most A-level students will assume this means its likely representative.

I think what you find is that whilst the data itself is very poor the general trends it produces are roughly in line with what you would expect but the problem is if you take 1 uni in isolation and start comparing off the basis of the numbers CUG or the Guardian provide, you can easily be mislead into the true quality and suitability of a uni for any potential applicant.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by mnot)
Oxford United are the greatest team the world has ever seen its well known and often sung at the kassam!

Also on league tables, the criteria in the methodology make sense, but I agree on the collected data, when you actually look at how they measure teaching quality, careers & research its all BS. My honest opinion of them (and it has changed over the years) is they take the easiest data available which is often poor and not-representative (when compared to well established reputable data) that they then make suit their methodology of their criteria and then have a very arbitrary indexing method and then couple it to an even more arbitrary weighting of each criteria.

I broadly suspect they play around with the weightings of each criteria so to ensure Oxford & Cambridge are 1 & 2 praying on naivety knowing most A-level students will assume this means its likely representative.

I think what you find is that whilst the data itself is very poor the general trends it produces are roughly in line with what you would expect but the problem is if you take 1 uni in isolation and start comparing off the basis of the numbers CUG or the Guardian provide, you can easily be mislead into the true quality and suitability of a uni for any potential applicant.
Agree totally - I could manipulate the data to make Oxbridge at the bottom - now that gives me a great idea for a stats project!

Weren't Oxford United once in the top tier?
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mnot
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Agree totally - I could manipulate the data to make Oxbridge at the bottom - now that gives me a great idea for a stats project!

Weren't Oxford United once in the top tier?
They were in the late 80s, then descended out of the football league altogether in 2006. But over the past decade have been on the way back up, potentially in the championship next season if they do well in the play-offs.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Muttley79)
Oxford United you mean
:woo:
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swanseajack1
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I think largely they are fairly accurate but they do need to be looked at carefully. There is no great difference between 10 and 20 so they should just be looked at for advice. However I think they are useful to say if a university is a better university. For example a top 20 university will usually be better than bottom 20.

As far as York is concerned it used to be far higher and dropped down for some reason so I an not surprised it has climbed again.

One of the problems with tables is they use student satisfaction rates and these really fluctuate. The student satisfaction rates in London in particular tend be very low and higher ranked universities sometimes suffer as the higher graded students tend to have higher satisfaction levels.

As far as the Russell Group universities are concerned I think the problem is that students are led to believe they are the only good universities and this isnt true. As the list shows St Andrews, Lancaster, Bath and Loughborough are all non RG universities and all top 10 in the rankings. Just because a university is in the RG doesnt mean it is automatically better than one outside. Royal Holloway and East Anglia rank higher than Liverpool and Queen Mary. One of the things I have never understood about the RG is why Bath, St Andrews and Lancaster weren't admitted when Queen Mary was along with Durham, Exeter and York back in 2011.
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Muttley79
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
I think largely they are fairly accurate but they do need to be looked at carefully. There is no great difference between 10 and 20 so they should just be looked at for advice. However I think they are useful to say if a university is a better university. For example a top 20 university will usually be better than bottom 20.

As far as York is concerned it used to be far higher and dropped down for some reason so I an not surprised it has climbed again.

One of the problems with tables is they use student satisfaction rates and these really fluctuate. The student satisfaction rates in London in particular tend be very low and higher ranked universities sometimes suffer as the higher graded students tend to have higher satisfaction levels.

As far as the Russell Group universities are concerned I think the problem is that students are led to believe they are the only good universities and this isnt true. As the list shows St Andrews, Lancaster, Bath and Loughborough are all non RG universities and all top 10 in the rankings. Just because a university is in the RG doesnt mean it is automatically better than one outside. Royal Holloway and East Anglia rank higher than Liverpool and Queen Mary. One of the things I have never understood about the RG is why Bath, St Andrews and Lancaster weren't admitted when Queen Mary was along with Durham, Exeter and York back in 2011.
The data collection is too flawed and opinions on satisfaction are too subjective to tell you anything really. The tables don't drill down into individual courses either.

RG tells you nothing about teaching quality either.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
I think largely they are fairly accurate but they do need to be looked at carefully. There is no great difference between 10 and 20 so they should just be looked at for advice. However I think they are useful to say if a university is a better university. For example a top 20 university will usually be better than bottom 20.

As far as York is concerned it used to be far higher and dropped down for some reason so I an not surprised it has climbed again.

One of the problems with tables is they use student satisfaction rates and these really fluctuate. The student satisfaction rates in London in particular tend be very low and higher ranked universities sometimes suffer as the higher graded students tend to have higher satisfaction levels.

As far as the Russell Group universities are concerned I think the problem is that students are led to believe they are the only good universities and this isnt true. As the list shows St Andrews, Lancaster, Bath and Loughborough are all non RG universities and all top 10 in the rankings. Just because a university is in the RG doesnt mean it is automatically better than one outside. Royal Holloway and East Anglia rank higher than Liverpool and Queen Mary. One of the things I have never understood about the RG is why Bath, St Andrews and Lancaster weren't admitted when Queen Mary was along with Durham, Exeter and York back in 2011.
I do agree with a lot of that but re student satisfaction amongst London unis yes they do always score badly in that measure (understandably so as I always think London would not be a great city to be a student in) but it doesn't seem to harm the top London unis as they score so well in other measures so overall they still do well in most league tables.

Very true about RG unis not being the only good unis. But to my mind the fact that unis like St Andrews, Lancaster, Bath and Loughborough score highly in the CUG is evidence that they are more objective in their criteria than just playing around with the weightings to ensure the same old unis come out top every year as suggested by mnot
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by harrysbar)
I do agree with a lot of that but re student satisfaction amongst London unis yes they do always score badly in that measure (understandably so as I always think London would not be a great city to be a student in) but it doesn't seem to harm the top London unis as they score so well in other measures so overall they still do well in most league tables.

Very true about RG unis not being the only good unis. But to my mind the fact that unis like St Andrews, Lancaster, Bath and Loughborough score highly in the CUG is evidence that they are more objective in their criteria than just playing around with the weightings to ensure the same old unis come out top every year as suggested by mnot
When you look at the Guardian rakings LSE comes out 19th UCL 22nd and Kings 63rd yet Nottingham Trent was 12th Coventry 15th and Lincoln 17th. I am more likely to trust CUG even with its faults. Most People believe Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and Imperial College to be the best universities and they occupy 4 of the top 5 places. If these are right why should others be wrong.
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harrysbar
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What do you think about league tables Oxford Mum - they wouldn't have mattered for medicine of course but did A care about them at all when shortlisting German courses or not?
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mnot
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
Most People believe Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and Imperial College to be the best universities and they occupy 4 of the top 5 places. If these are right why should others be wrong.
This is what I meant by my earlier comment about tweaking the weightings to ensure Oxbridge has the top spots, hence A-level students open the league tables & instantly think these tables makes total sense; the reality is Oxbridge, Imperial or similar students dont need the CUG to affirm they are picking a strong uni whereas less discerning applicants will open the ranking but might make choices based on the rankings having felt reassured confidence in them because Oxbridge occupy spots 1 & 2.

Generally the trends of where universities roughly in league tables are right but the underlying data is poor and the problem I really have is a potential student will look at the table (or read the ranking on a prospectus) then place that uni in their choices on UCAS purely on the basis of it is a top 20 university yet there may well be an excellent university which in reality is just as good careers/teaching quality etc. and is more suited to the student but because of the data collection it sits at slightly lower and a student misses that opportunity.
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