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Ranking a go go – it’s the CUG league table for 2019

Paul Greatrix - Wonkhe's resident rankings fan - looks at the latest installment of the Complete University Guide.
This article is more than 5 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

The new Complete University Guide for 2019 yet again has Cambridge at the top of the pile – where it has been for well over 800 years now. The top 10 is completely unchanged, with just some minor rejigging within it. And of course the top 4 will get the opportunity to play for more silverware in Europe.

Here’s the top 10:

1 Cambridge (last year, 1)
2 Oxford (2)
3 London School of Economics (4)
4 Imperial College London (5)
5 St Andrews (3)
6 Durham (6)
7 Loughborough (10)
8 Lancaster (9)
9 Warwick (8)
10 University College London (7)

More details of the lower placings can be found on the CUG site but the highlights from the CUG compilers’ perspective are as follows:

The top 20 has remained relatively stable with only two universities (the University of York, 21st, and the University of Sussex, 25th) being replaced by the University of Manchester (18th) and the University of Southampton (20th).
There are more significant changes further down the table. Staffordshire University (=73rd) has seen an extraordinary climb of 32 places, and the University of Aberdeen (=28th) a creditable 12 places. Staffordshire attributed its rise to an improvement in Graduate Prospects.
Moving in the opposite direction, the University of Kent (44th) has fallen 19 places. Kent’s drop is due to an increase in Student-Staff Ratio, as is the case with University of Hull (94th) which has fallen 20 places. Falmouth University (90th) and City, University of London (=66th) which have fallen 27 and 24 places respectively, saw a decrease in Graduate Prospects along with Middlesex University (105th), which has fallen 32 places – more than any other university.
Another significant mover is Nottingham Trent University (42nd), which has climbed ten places becoming the highest ranking post-1992 university. It has pipped the University of Lincoln (43rd) and replaced Coventry University (47th).
Two newcomers, the University of Wolverhampton (129th) in the table for the first time since 2010, and Leeds Arts University (81st) on achieving university status, complete the 2019 rankings.

The return of Wolves to the fold has not quite matched the excitement in the city of promotion to the Premier League but it can’t be far off.

There is plenty of other analysis (including by subject, region and mission group) and information on careers, fees and many other dimensions of campus life on the website. The main ranking comprises 10 measures as follows:

The Main Table is based on ten measures: Student Satisfaction, Research Quality, Research Intensity, Entry Standards, Student: Staff Ratio; Spending on Academic Services; Spending on Student Facilities; Good Honours Degrees; Graduate Prospects and Completion

The 70 subject tables are based on five measures – Student Satisfaction, Research Quality, Research Intensity, Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects – and include 142 universities, university colleges and specialist higher education institutions.

One other important data issue to note is the change in UCAS Tariff:

The introduction of the new UCAS Tariff this year, with its revised calculation, has resulted in the rank of Scottish universities on our Entry Standards measure increasing by an average of 7.7 places, more than twice that for Wales. In England and Northern Ireland this Tariff change had relatively little effect.
The data change has not significantly altered the Main Table rankings where the nine other measures used have offset this Tariff effect. However, in the subject tables, where Entry Standards is one of only five measures, the impact is more pronounced resulting in more Scottish universities appearing in top place and within the Top Tens.

And finally there is a health warning. It’s not quite as snappy as the Hitchhiker’s Guide’s ‘Don’t Panic’ but nevertheless helpful advice:

University league tables should be seen in the overall context of choosing the course and university best suited to an individual’s needs. Users can search the Guide for the best-performing universities across 70 academic subjects, and will find details of graduate employment rates and starting salaries. They will also have access to entry requirements, fees, bursaries and scholarships, accommodation, sporting opportunities, how to apply, general advice, choosing a university, postgraduate content, guides to studying (by subject) and a search function for choosing a course.

The rankings do remain fairly stable as they have done for some time. Which is somewhat reassuring if not terribly exciting for the headline writers and part-time amateur rankings observers like this one.

So there’s the CUG for this year. Enjoy – and join in all the fun with the hashtag #cug2019

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