The Guardian League Tables
Until recently, the Guardian tables were noted for considerable instability year on year and, true to Guardian tradition, for regular corrections after publication. However, latterly, they have made strenuous efforts to put this behind them. Nonetheless, the newspaper remains ambivalent about the value of its main table, often giving the impression that it is there for completeness but not to be taken too seriously.
Mayfield Consultants have been compiling league tables since 1995 and, early on, recognized the potential of a dedicated web-based university guide. The Complete University Guide was launched in 2007 in partnership with Constable & Robinson, independent publisher since 1795. It attempts to do what the Guardian and The Times do in their books and The Sunday Times in its supplement. In the past, it has also given the Independent an exclusive right to publish its tables in the newspaper and on their website.
The advantages of the web are obvious and all of the compilers are now strongly developing their own sites. The tables can be interactive and are put into perspective by surrounding text thus allowing users to generate their own bespoke tables based on their individual preferences.
The Guardian University Guide can be purchased annually but its website remains free to access. A basic tenet of The Complete University Guide from its inception is that there should be no cost to the user. There is ample evidence to suggest that buyers of guide books are skewed towards the higher socio-economic groups. In summary, there are a variety of ways to access university league tables but they are not uniform and certainly not all commercial.
A comparison of where individual universities rank across league tables can be found at Which? University.
Measures used in the Guardian league tables
|Measures||The Complete University Guide||The Guardian|
|Spend on academic services||✓||✓|
|Spend on student facilities||✓|
|Good honours degrees||✓|