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Quality and Reputation

Most people would like to go to the "best" university that they can get into.

  • This is where the Complete University Guide League Table rankings are helpful.
  • By bringing together a variety of measures the League Table rankings try to give a reasonable and independent basis for deciding how good a university or a subject within a university really is.
  • Differences of a few places in the table are insignificant, but a university in the top ten is doing a lot better in most or all of the variables than one in the bottom ten or even in the middle.

The Subject Tables rank universities on the basis of their research quality, the entry standards of their new students and how successful their graduates are at finding work or further study.

The main university League Table uses a wider range of measures of quality (not all are available at subject level) and ranks the quality of the entire university.
  • It is clear from the Subject Tables that even the best universities vary in quality across subjects.
  • Some universities perform consistently well and appear in the top 20 of many subject tables while others come low down in the main table but have one or two very good departments that do well in the subject tables.
  • So it is important to look at the main League Table alongside the Subject Tables.

Teaching quality is measured using the outcomes of the National Student Survey.

  • This is an annual survey of final-year students asking about their experiences as a student.
  • It is not a direct measure of quality rather it indicates how satisfied students were with the experience they had.
  • As with all satisfaction surveys, it can be influenced by expectations: a student who expects to get a very good experience from a top-quality university may rate it lower than a student who was surprised by the experience they received at a less well-respected university.
  • This level of subjectivity ought to be taken into account when looking at the results.

As ever, quality comes at a "price".

An Oxford degree 'costs' more than other universities, though in this case the currency is examination results rather than cash (though see also the section on Cost).

  • Look at the entry standards column in the League Table ranking and you will see that it follows the overall ranking fairly closely.
  • In other words, universities higher in the league tables will, in general, ask for higher grades than those lower down the table.

Your results.

You will need to make a judgement about how well you are going to do in your school or college examinations and choose universities where you have a realistic chance of meeting the entry requirements.

  • If you are taking A levels and are predicted/on track to achieve AAA you may have more choices available to you.
  • If  you are being predicted/on track to achieve CCC these grades may well exclude you from most of the universities near the top of the table. 

This does not mean it is not worth applying.

UK Universities from top to bottom of the league tables have rigourous quality assurance policies put in place in part by the UK Government.