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Essex vs Brighton vs Nottingham (BSc Economics)

Hi everyone, hope you are all doing well.

I recently received offers from the University of Essex (BBC), the University of Brighton (BBB) and the University of Nottingham (AABB) to study BSc Economics. I wanted to ask which university I should be looking to firm. My main concerns are the teaching quality, student satisfaction and graduate prospects in terms of studying abroad. I am not looking to work in investment banking but instead in public policy.

My AS results are 2As and 2Bs.

Which should I choose to study at?

Thank you for your help.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by KevinTwenty3
Hi everyone, hope you are all doing well.
I recently received offers from the University of Essex (BBC), the University of Brighton (BBB) and the University of Nottingham (AABB) to study BSc Economics. I wanted to ask which university I should be looking to firm. My main concerns are the teaching quality, student satisfaction and graduate prospects in terms of studying abroad. I am not looking to work in investment banking but instead in public policy.
My AS results are 2As and 2Bs.
Which should I choose to study at?
Thank you for your help.
The general consensus for economics course quality and career outcomes would be:

Notts >>>>> Essex > Brighton
Original post by BenRyan99
The general consensus for economics course quality and career outcomes would be:
Notts >>>>> Essex > Brighton

Thank you for your reply. Which would you say is best in terms of teaching? I wanted to ask this as the rankings show that Notts has a lower standing compared to Essex and Brighton in terms of teaching quality.
Original post by KevinTwenty3
Thank you for your reply. Which would you say is best in terms of teaching? I wanted to ask this as the rankings show that Notts has a lower standing compared to Essex and Brighton in terms of teaching quality.
Without a deep understanding of how the rankings are constructed, I wouldn't place much emphasis on them in the decision. Which set of rankings are you using?
Original post by BenRyan99
Without a deep understanding of how the rankings are constructed, I wouldn't place much emphasis on them in the decision. Which set of rankings are you using?

Mainly the Times/Sunday Times and the Guardian. I also used CUG to view student satisfaction.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by KevinTwenty3
Mainly the Times/Sunday Times and the Guardian. I also used CUG to view student satisfaction.
As I tried to get across in my previous post, I would be very hesitant about over interpreting the rankings - often the indicators are very misleading and tell you very little in reality. One of the main issues is that nobody studies these degrees at more than one university so it's difficult to make comparisons. Furthermore, if you had the exact same lecturers and teaching at two different unis, it's unlikely that the students would give the same teaching quality scores in the evaluation surveys, ultimately students at different unis have different expectations and standards - something which these surveys simply can't take into account.

Moreover there is an implicit employment incentive to give your university a very supportive review in these student surveys. When you go through each ranking measure, it's easy to see how they're actually quite counterintuitive and don't really tell you what you want to know.

On the teaching quality metric specifically, again, the devil is really in the details. The Guardian rankings use a measure of student satisfaction for this. The issue here is that student dissatisfaction tends to be pretty strongly correlated with how tough and rigorous a course is - especially courses where there is a strong quantitative component like economics. If you're doing very advanced classes and it's difficult, you're probably not going to be having a super fun time, but does this mean the teaching quality is poor? No, of course not.

This is why when you sort by teaching satisfaction on the guardian rankings, you're not getting what every knows to be the best courses at the top. For example, you'll see the economics courses with the highest teaching satisfaction are Hertfordshire, Bangor, Brighton, and Strathclyde - do you really think these are actually the courses with the best teaching? On the Times rankings the top 4 courses with the highest teaching quality are Hertfordshire, Brighton, Hull and Huddersfield.... Do you think these courses have a higher teaching quality than places like Oxbridge/LSE/UCL/etc. And I'm not saying this to do down those other courses, but it just highlights that certain ranking measures provide very little signal and is mainly just noise. I'm not saying all the most famous ones are the best either, just that if you see a ranking of teaching quality and it's not at least mostly filled with what everyone knows to be the top places to study..... clearly the rankings aren't capturing what you really want when deciding which uni is best for you.

You get similar issues on most of the other measures used in rankings too. The best (albeit still fairly flawed) set of rankings is probably the REF 2021 economics rankings, here you generally see the sort of unis you'd expect in the right places, though it is more of a research based ranking so is still imperfect. Whereas even when you look at the overall economics scores at ones like the Guardian, you've got stuff like the University of Stirling in 6th...... above the likes of UCL, Durham, Bristol, Notts, Edinburgh, Bath, etc. The guardian has Bristol in 40th, Notts at 45th and Manchester at 51st..... honestly the rankings aren't worth the HTML they're written on.

Another thing to do would be to look on LinkedIn at the sort of job roles you think you might be interested in at the sort of organisations you think you may want to work for, see where lots of them studied. Connect with people in these industries to msg them about their thoughts on which universities are disproportionately represented in their firm/industry/etc as this is the reality.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by BenRyan99
As I tried to get across in my previous post, I would be very hesitant about over interpreting the rankings - often the indicators are very misleading and tell you very little in reality. One of the main issues is that nobody studies these degrees at more than one university so it's difficult to make comparisons. Furthermore, if you had the exact same lecturers and teaching at two different unis, it's unlikely that the students would give the same teaching quality scores in the evaluation surveys, ultimately students at different unis have different expectations and standards - something which these surveys simply can't take into account.
Moreover there is an implicit employment incentive to give your university a very supportive review in these student surveys. When you go through each ranking measure, it's easy to see how they're actually quite counterintuitive and don't really tell you what you want to know.
On the teaching quality metric specifically, again, the devil is really in the details. The Guardian rankings use a measure of student satisfaction for this. The issue here is that student dissatisfaction tends to be pretty strongly correlated with how tough and rigorous a course is - especially courses where there is a strong quantitative component like economics. If you're doing very advanced classes and it's difficult, you're probably not going to be having a super fun time, but does this mean the teaching quality is poor? No, of course not.
This is why when you sort by teaching satisfaction on the guardian rankings, you're not getting what every knows to be the best courses at the top. For example, you'll see the economics courses with the highest teaching satisfaction are Hertfordshire, Bangor, Brighton, and Strathclyde - do you really think these are actually the courses with the best teaching? On the Times rankings the top 4 courses with the highest teaching quality are Hertfordshire, Brighton, Hull and Huddersfield.... Do you think these courses have a higher teaching quality than places like Oxbridge/LSE/UCL/etc. And I'm not saying this to do down those other courses, but it just highlights that certain ranking measures provide very little signal and is mainly just noise).
You get similar issues on most of the other measures used in rankings too. The best (albeit still fairly flawed) set of rankings is probably the REF 2021 economics rankings, here you generally see the sort of unis you'd expect in the right places, though it is more of a research based ranking so is still imperfect. Whereas even when you look at the overall economics scores at ones like the Guardian, you've got stuff like the University of Stirling in 6th...... above the likes of UCL, Durham, Bristol, Notts, Edinburgh, Bath, etc. The guardian has Bristol in 40th, Notts at 45th and Manchester at 51st..... honestly the rankings aren't worth the HTML they're written on.
Another thing to do would be to look on LinkedIn at the sort of job roles you think you might be interested in at the sort of organisations you think you may want to work for, see where lots of them studied. Connect with people in these industries to msg them about their thoughts on which universities are disproportionately represented in their firm/industry/etc as this is the reality.

Thank you so much Ben for your in depth response. Really appreciate it.
Original post by KevinTwenty3
Hi everyone, hope you are all doing well.
I recently received offers from the University of Essex (BBC), the University of Brighton (BBB) and the University of Nottingham (AABB) to study BSc Economics. I wanted to ask which university I should be looking to firm. My main concerns are the teaching quality, student satisfaction and graduate prospects in terms of studying abroad. I am not looking to work in investment banking but instead in public policy.
My AS results are 2As and 2Bs.
Which should I choose to study at?
Thank you for your help.

Hey @KevinTwenty3 👋

Congrats on your offers that's great news!

I agree with BenRyan that rankings are pretty subjective and don't always give the most rounded picture of the experience at any particular uni. The same goes for teaching quality and student satisfaction to a point, as all students will have their own learning styles and preferences that don't apply the same way to everyone 🧑*🎓

The best thing to do if you haven't already is to attend the Offer Holder Days. A lot can be said for visiting a campus to gague the vibe of the place and see if that's somewhere you'd like to live for the next few years. If they have departmental taster sessions even better, so you can have a chance to talk to the academics that will be teaching you those modules and delivering your lectures.

I will say that Essex has a great placement year programme and a dedicated Essex Abroad team if a placement in a different country sounds like something you'd be interested in.

I'm currently on my placement year for biomed and I couldn't recommend it highly enough to get that practical work experience behind you before you graduate.

Best of luck in making your choices! 😊
Essex Student Rep - Hayley
Original post by KevinTwenty3
Thank you for your reply. Which would you say is best in terms of teaching? I wanted to ask this as the rankings show that Notts has a lower standing compared to Essex and Brighton in terms of teaching quality.

HI @KevinTwenty3

A good measurement/benchmark for Teaching Quality for a university is the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) with the grades being like medals Gold, Silver and Bronze. It is something that most UK universities pitch to try and get a ranking purely off the quality of teaching.

This is commonly used to show the quality of teaching that you receive as well as the student outcomes- percentage of students who go on to work or further study after graduating.

Nottingham has the highest award of Gold, Essex has silver, Brighton has silver. So teaching wise, it looks like Nottingham is the best, and if that it one of the most important factors for you when going to a university, that could make your decision easier?

Best wishes,
Lewis

Social media and content officer, University of Huddersfield

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