Graduate Destinations, Research Assessment and League Tables?!! HELP!! Watch

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buxtonlewis
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Hey!

I wonder if any1 can help me, or give me their opinions. I am going to be studying BA Archaeology in October 2005, and I am having trouble choosing between two Uni’s – Bristol and Durham. I have been lucky enough to have offers from them both, BUT I haven’t visited them yet. At the moment I am leaning towards Bristol, but the ‘problem’ I have with Bristol is how its statistics for Archaeology compare with Durham. For example, in The Times Ranking for Archaeology, Bristol comes in 20th compared to Durham which comes in 4th. Also, the Research Assessment of 2001 gave Bristol a 4, compared to Durham’s 5. Another thing that is kind of bothering me is the destination of both Uni’s graduates. Bristol has a 55, where as Durham has a 75 (very high for Arch.).

I wondered what your opinions were on the relevancy of League Tables and statistics is. How relevant is the Research rating comparing a 4 to a 5, how will this affect me? And also, with regards to the graduate destinations, does that reflect badly on a department (if it rates lower), or is the individuals themselves that graduate? Sorry to go on, but I wondered what your opinions on these matters were. As I haven’t visited them yet, this is all I have to go on. I like the courses both equally, so that aspect doesn’t bother me. Should I go with my gut instinct if, when going to Bristol in March really love it even though its statistics aren’t as good as Durham’s? Do these statistics really matter for the department, or is it the overall Rep of the Uni that counts after graduation, or should I just go somewhere I would like to spend 3 yrs of my life (but I can’t see me hating either Bristol or Durham)? HELP!!

Thanking anyone that has ANY opinions/advice/info for me!!

Cheers! :hello:
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SpyMaster
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(Original post by buxtonlewis)
I am going to be studying BA Archaeology in October 2005, and I am having trouble choosing between two Uni’s – Bristol and Durham. I have been lucky enough to have offers from them both, BUT I haven’t visited them yet.
First of all, to make an informed decision, if you can, visit them both, and talk to current first year archaeology students at both. I think this is the most important thing of all.

(Original post by buxtonlewis)
At the moment I am leaning towards Bristol, but the ‘problem’ I have with Bristol is how its statistics for Archaeology compare with Durham.
Yes, the problem is very understandable. (As you will have seen, a lot of students at Durham want to dismiss statistics and league tables because Durham did rather badly overall last year, especially in the Guardian league table, which is the most detailed one and the most commonly cited one!) You are right to think of statistics in terms not only of the university as a whole, but also in terms of statistics by department. Still, there are aspects that the statistics don't and can't include - for example, is there a component of the course that you find personally fascinating ? how do you find the general "feel" of the town, the university and the department ? are the students the sort of people you think you would get on with ? - that may be more important than any statistics.

(Original post by buxtonlewis)
For example, in The Times Ranking for Archaeology, Bristol comes in 20th compared to Durham which comes in 4th. Also, the Research Assessment of 2001 gave Bristol a 4, compared to Durham’s 5. Another thing that is kind of bothering me is the destination of both Uni’s graduates. Bristol has a 55, where as Durham has a 75 (very high for Arch.).I wondered what your opinions were on the relevancy of League Tables and statistics is. How relevant is the Research rating comparing a 4 to a 5, how will this affect me?
It might be interesting to see what the Guardian has, but anyway, as I say, neither is as valuable as a personal visit - preferably on a normal day rather than an open day. Research Assessment can be taken in two ways. You could actually take a high ranking for the "Research Assessment Exercise" as a bad thing (because it suggests the teaching staff devote proportionately less time to teaching). On the other hand, a high score in the RAE means more funding, which may (may) mean more variety in the courses offered, more staff, more technical facilities, and so on. The employment statistics are only as important as employment after university is for you (for some, the over-riding object is to learn). Do the statistics give a breakdown of employment by department and by type of employment by the way ? If you could look into it closely, you might find that a high percentage of students from one department in university X end up working permanently for English Heritage (*shudder*), an equal percentage from the same department in another department at university Y doing postgraduate research at another university, and an equal percentage from the same sort of department in university Z working in some field completely unrelated to archaeology. By the way, staff themselves hate the RAE.

(Original post by buxtonlewis)
And also, with regards to the graduate destinations, does that reflect badly on a department (if it rates lower), or is the individuals themselves that graduate? Sorry to go on, but I wondered what your opinions on these matters were. As I haven’t visited them yet, this is all I have to go on.
(I 'm not quite sure that I understand the question, but I'll try to answer it in any case !) Graduate destinations, particularly for graduates going on to do further research in that field, will largely reflect the reputation of the department, not the university. Graduate destinations overall (and particularly for those going on to work in an unrelated field) will, I think, reflect the reputation of the university. And both will partly or largely be a reflection of the sort of person that applies there in the first place.

(Original post by buxtonlewis)
I like the courses both equally, so that aspect doesn’t bother me. Should I go with my gut instinct if, when going to Bristol in March really love it even though its statistics aren’t as good as Durham’s?
If you can't do anything else, for God's sake go with your gut instinct. It's probably more reliable than any statistics. But as I said, try to visit both universities and both departments (if you can, not on an open day) and talk to first year students there before deciding definitively, then your gut instinct will have more to base itself on.

(Original post by buxtonlewis)
Do these statistics really matter for the department, or is it the overall Rep of the Uni that counts after graduation, or should I just go somewhere I would like to spend 3 yrs of my life (but I can’t see me hating either Bristol or Durham)?
I think I've answered all this above. But you're absolutely right to think of the importance of spending 3 years of your life in somewhere that you would like.

Good luck anyway.
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ThE_OnE
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dont worry about the tables too much. go for the course which do the modules you like and where YOU want to spend thenext 3 -4 years of your life! The tables fluctuate each year - it depends on what people are in your yeargroup... if you had a bunch of clever ppl then it will m ake the uni look better that year! maybe look at previous years see if its consistantly higher etc but put your personal views on where u wanna live and prefer first! They are both well respected unis.
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kellywood_5
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I don't know anything about archaelogy (did i even spell that right? ) but since both Bristol and Durham are very well-respected universities, I wouldn't worry too much about league tables and other statistics. Visit both, talk to the academics and the students, see the facilities, experience the cities etc, and you should get a gut feeling about where you'll be happier.
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ChemistBoy
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Go for the one you like the best. I know the Durham archaeology course has a very good rep internationally.
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The Messiah
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durham is great for arch i've heard... i suggest u go 2 open days and consequently base your choice on the uni that u think suits u most.
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