also i moved your thread to the relevant forum
In short: no, league rankings don't matter. They shouldn't sway your opinion when deciding where to go - rankings change each year anyway, and courses tend to be clustered together so it's difficult to tell how a specific course ranks. Every university has their strengths and weaknesses - Oxbridge for example definitely have their flaws despite their high rankings, and it's not suited for everyone. That being said the universities you have named (Birmingham, York, etc.) are what I would regard as high ranking unis, and are part of the Russell Group. I would try and take a step back from the league tables and make a list of the things you want out of your degree and then look through a bunch of different unis to see where fits your wants. Book onto some open days and explore the campuses, make sure you feel at home. Try using league tables as a guide more than anything else - uni's rank highly because of their strengths, but that doesn't mean their strengths match your interests/desired uni experience (if that makes sense!). Rankings can seem important right now, but it's better to pick somewhere you know you'll love that has a slightly lower ranking than to try and fit yourself into a uni just because of a higher ranking. And if you're looking for another course to explore, I would highly recommend the University of Southampton, which has great geography courses, a friendly department and real-world research taking place. Hope this helps Emma and best of luck with your applications, if you have any more questions don't hesitate to reach out!
Amy (4th year student ambassador)