League Tables Background
University rankings have their origins in the USA but were first introduced into the UK in 1993.
- Many are incorporated into newspaper supplements or within paperback guides.
The Complete University Guide is the only UK university guide to be published wholly on-line and free to access.
- Fully independent and autonomous, the content is widely respected for its responsiveness to the university community and its commitment to giving university applicants the most comprehensive, accurate and relevant information on university courses which best fit their needs.
To appear in our overall ranking table or the 60+ subject tables, an HE institution must be entitled to award its own degrees, must make a full HESA return and must have a substantial full-time undergraduate population.
- Currently, the University League Table is based on nine measures and the Subject Tables on four of these. A higher weighting has been given to Student Satisfaction and Research Assessment in the University League Table and, where possible, allowance has been made for the differing subject mix within institutions.
- The interactive nature of the University League Table is unique and enables users to isolate single measures and determine their effect on the overall ranking of the institution.
- In addition, the tables can be viewed by UK country/region and by the Mission Groups set up by the universities themselves (e.g. 1994 Group, Russell Group, Million+, etc) thus allowing comparison with institutions having similar missions or goals.
We gratefully acknowledge the interest and expertise of our Advisory Group members who belong to those organizations which might be regarded as the principal stakeholders in league tables. The majority come from within the HE sector but all are appointed in a personal capacity. Vacancies arise from time to time.
Calendar for compilation of the League Tables
The calendar for compilation of the League Tables is broadly the same year-on-year:
- Autumn – agree the measures and define the specification.
- Winter – update the University League Table and Subject Tables and consult the HE institutions on new datasets.
- Spring – compile and publish the tables.
- Summer – receive and evaluate feedback.
- Ad hoc consultations also occur during the year.
Who uses the League Tables?
Primarily, we have developed the League Tables with potential applicants and their mentors in mind, but there is widespread and detailed evidence that they are also extensively used by:
- University administrators
- Heads of Departments and Admissions Tutors
- UK and Foreign governments and politicians
- Recruiters of graduates
- Academics planning to move
- Scholarship awarding bodies
Overseas League Tables
If you are interested in other countries and their League Tables see:
- Australia The Good Universities Guide
- Canada MacLean's Guide to Canadian Universities
- USA US News America's Best Colleges
And, if you are looking for global comparisons then consult:
HEFCE published its commissioned Research into League Tables and their impact on HE Institutions in England in April 2008 (Issues Paper April 2008/14: Counting what is measured or measuring what counts?). It proposed some ten elements to improve League Tables:
- Interactivity to enable users to select or reject indicators
- Accessibility to all socio-economic groups
- Subject-level tables as well as institutional rankings
- Use of indicators having close proxies to the qualities intended.
- Adjustments for differing subject mix within institutions
- Methodologies with greater stability year on year
- Better communication with HE institutions
- Inclusion of more HE institutions
- Presenting clusters of institutions alongside a single ranking of all institutions
Arguably, The Complete University Guide meets these criteria and, in fact, was singled out for particular praise in the report itself, for example:
"There has been a sophisticated development of subject classifications by the Guide."
"Detailed subject rankings in Mayfield University Consultants Guide acknowledge that pockets of excellence exist in institutions which may not feature in the upper echelons of most overall league tables."
"One well-known compiler [of The Complete University Guide] makes a particular effort to visit institutions to explain how league tables are compiled."
"All but one of the case study participants had been in touch with at least one of the compilers – in most cases Bernard Kingston of Mayfield University Consultants."