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University ranking

RakingA college education is one of the most important and costly investments that prospective students will ever make. For this reason, students and their families should have as much information as possible about the comparative merits of the educational programmes at colleges and universities. The rankings of the colleges and universities serve as an objective guide by which students and their parents can compare the academic quality of these institutions.

Rankings of universities in the United Kingdom are published annually by some popular media such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Times and The Times. The primary aim of the rankings is to inform potential applicants about UK universities based on a range of criteria, including entry standards, student satisfaction, staff/student ratio, academic services and facilities expenditure per student, research quality, proportion of Firsts and 2:1s, completion rates and student destinations. All of the league tables also rank universities on their strength in individual subjects.

The Guardian's ranking uses eight different criteria, each weighted between 5 and 17 per cent. Unlike other annual rankings of British universities, the criteria do not include a measure of research output.  A "value-added" factor is included which compares students' degree results with their entry qualifications: "Based upon a sophisticated indexing methodology that tracks students from enrolment to graduation, qualifications upon entry are compared with the award that a student receives at the end of their studies”. The eight criteria are:

  • Entry score (17%)
  • Feedback - as rated by graduates of the course (5%)
  • Job prospects (17%)
  • Spending per student (17%)
  • Staff/student ratio (17%)
  • Teaching quality - as rated by graduates of the course (10%)
  • Value added (17%)
  • Overall quality - final-year students opinions about the overall quality of their course 

Rankings are helpful to applicants because they rate the strength of the academic programme at each undergraduate institution. As such, the rankings give applicants information on a key factor to consider when selecting a college. Furthermore, the rankings are based on accepted measures of academic quality chosen after careful reporting and research on measuring quality in education.