It is very common for students to use a ranking as a way to understand the university that they intend to study at. Although rankings are, of course, important, they are not the only reason you should choose a university. Other factors that must be taken into consideration are the location of the institute, the course content, value for money and access to senior members of staff. UKEAS counsellors will be able to sit down with you and provide a much clearer insight into these areas. It is important that you base your choice on more than just the ranking. You should be aware for example, that most UK university rankings are aimed at UK students and therefore many of these criteria are not suitable for international students. Also bear in mind that universities will rank very differently under different ranking schemes.
Complete University Guide
The Complete University Guide was first published in 2007, when it was called The Good University Guide,and is compiled by Mayfield University Consultants.
Ten criteria are used by this ranking, with a statistical technique called the Z-transformation applied to the results of each. The ten Z-scores are then weighted (by 1.5 for student satisfaction, 0.5 for research intensity, academic services spend and facilities spend, and 1.0 for the rest) and summed to give a total score for each university. These total scores are then transformed to a scale where the top score is set at 1,000, with the remainder being a proportion of the top score. The ten criteria are:
• Academic services spend – the expenditure per student on all academic services;
•Degree completion – a measure of the completion rate of students;
•Entry standards – the average UCAS tariff score of new students under the age of 21;
•Facilities spend – the expenditure per student on staff and student facilities;
•Good honours – the proportion of firsts and upper seconds;
•Graduate prospects – a measure of the employability of graduates;
•Research assessment – a measure of the average quality of research;
•Research intensity – a measure of the fraction of staff who are research-active;
•Student satisfaction – a measure of the view of students on the teaching quality; and
•Student:staff ratio – a measure of the average staffing level.
QS World University Rankings
QS World University Rankings is an university rankings published annually by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). The QS system now comprises the global overall and subject rankings, alongside five independent regional tables (Asia, Latin America, Emerging Europe and Central Asia, the Arab Region, and BRICS). It is the only international ranking to have received International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) approval, and is viewed as one of the most widely read of its kind, along with Academic Ranking of World Universities and Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Among this ranking’s major criticisms, however, are its allocating undue weight to subjective indicators and having highly fluctuating results.
QS designed its rankings in order to assess performance according to what it believes to be key aspects of a universitys mission: teaching, research, nurturing employability, and internationalisation. The rankings therefore employs six criteria, as below:
•Academic peer review – based on an internal global academic survey (40%);
•Faculty / Student ratio – a measurement of teaching commitment (20%);
•Citations per faculty – a measurement of research impact (20%);
•Employer reputation – based on a survey on graduate employers (10%);
•International student ratio – a measurement of the diversity of the student community (5%);
•International staff ratio – a measurement of the diversity of the academic staff (5%).
The Guardian University Guide
Using eight different criteria, each weighted between 5 and 17 per cent, The Guardians ranking uses eight different criteria and unlike other British university rankings, research output is not included as a measure. The Guardian ranking includes a value-added factor which compares students degree results with their entry qualifications. The overall ranking is based on an average across the subjects rather than on institutional level statistics. The eight criteria used in the ranking are:
•Entry score (17%);
•Feedback – as rated by graduates of the course (5%);
•Job prospects (17%);
•Overall quality – final-year students opinions about the overall quality of their course;
•Spending per student (17%);
•Staff/student ratio (17%);
•Teaching quality – as rated by graduates of the course (10%); and
•Value added (17%).