St Andrews best in Scotland again as region improves significantly in subject tables – TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk 2019 league tables

Griffin Shiel
25 April 2018

The University of St Andrews is Scotland's
oldest and best university

The University of St Andrews (fifth) remains the highest ranked Scottish university despite dropping two places in TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk 2019 league tables, published today (Wednesday 25 April 2018), as the region’s universities top more subject tables than ever before.

In the Main Table, the University of Edinburgh (23rd) and the University of Glasgow (24th) are second and third for the region respectively, meaning the top three Scottish universities have been the same every year since the tables were first published.

The University of Aberdeen climbed 12 places to joint-28th – the biggest rise of any of last year’s top 50 universities – to enter the top 30 for the first time. Queen Margaret University, another significant riser, climbs 17 places to 75th.

As a whole, Scotland recorded the highest mean Entry Standards and awarded the greatest proportion of good honours (either a first-class or upper second-class honours degree) of any region.

Dr Bernard Kingston, Chairman of TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk, said: “The proportion of good honours has steadily but inexorably increased at almost all universities. Either students are working harder, or they are being better taught, or something else is happening. But it is one of the criteria over which universities have a significant degree of control.”

It is the separate subject tables where Scottish universities have really shone this year. Out of the 70 subject tables, 19 are topped by Scottish institutions, a significant improvement from the six top spots last year. Out of 15 Scottish universities, 13 appear in a subject Top Ten and seven are top of at least one subject table. No other region can boast having as many different universities in Top Tens or top spots.

The performance of the University of Strathclyde (=40th) is particularly noteworthy. The Glasgow-based university appears in 33 subject tables, in 16 Top Tens and topping seven. Only the University of Cambridge, which is ranked first, is top of more subject tables. Glasgow appears in 43 tables and is in the Top Ten 23 times, topping five tables. St Andrews appears in 25 subject tables, appearing in 24 Top Tens and topping three. These three universities are the only universities other than Cambridge and the University of Oxford (second) to be top of more than two subject tables. Edinburgh, the University of Dundee (31st), Glasgow Caledonian University (85th) and Robert Gordon University (83rd) rank first for one subject each. 

The considerable improvement by Scottish universities in subject tables compared to English, Northern Irish and Welsh universities is due to the Guide using the new UCAS tariff for calculating the Entry Standards measurement.

Dr Kingston said: "Entry Standards, one of the measures used in the Main Table and subject tables relies on the UCAS Tariff for the underlying data. A new Tariff with an updated methodology has replaced the original one since the 2017 admissions cycle. This has positively impacted on the Entry Standards measure for most Scottish universities and, hence, on their rankings, particularly in our subject tables.” 

Dr Kingston observed: “With the inclusion of the University of Wolverhampton, we are pleased to be able to provide the first full ranking of all 131 eligible UK universities. It has been a long and, at times, difficult journey to reach this point, with debate about public interest and commercial sensitivity to the fore. But throughout, uppermost in our stance has been what’s best for university applicants and ultimately, for the universities themselves. The underlying data in our independent rankings are theirs and their appearance gives both the public at large and the universities an opportunity to compare and contrast in an open and flexible way.”

For the third year running, TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk has published a ranking of specialist arts, drama and music institutions, with 13 colleges and conservatoires. Scotland has two institutions in the table. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland went up five places to second in the table. This is the first time in which a college or conservatoire from outside of London has made it into the top five. The Glasgow School of Art (12th) dropped one place.

Simon Emmett, CEO of the Hotcourses Group said: “Since joining the Group three years ago, the Complete University Guide has lived up to its name and, with the return of Wolverhampton, has achieved its goal of publishing the first free-to-access complete rankings of all the UK universities. These independent and unbiased league tables are used by almost a million applicants and their advisers monthly and are, as importantly, also well respected by the universities themselves for their accuracy and stability.”

“The Guide is an essential element of the wide-ranging portfolio of information, advice and guidance available through Hotcourses and its parent company IDP. It complements the counselling and insight programmes and thousands of student reviews which, altogether, offer the biggest, busiest and unparalleled worldwide resources available on UK higher education institutions and their courses.”