The AAB Opportunity: Anti-competitive?

I'm way of my depth here, but I was wondering how "average qualification on entry" data relates to some of the other aspects that the amazing UniStats data let me look at. You'll remember earlier this week I examined the numbers of entrants with 340 points across various subjects, institutions and groupings. This time, I'm going to try to work in similar ways as prospective students might in choosing the "best" place to study (and this excuses my #statsfail I guess too...) Just to give us a pool we can get our heads round, I decided to look at Social Sciences subjects only (Groups L and P in the JACS coding, so stuff like Economics, Politics, Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work, Anthropology, Social Geography, Media Studies, Publishing, Journalism). Social Sciences are interesting because they are mostly difficult to link to a specific job, but together constitute our understanding of the underpinning structures of western civilisation, and offer us ideas of what to do when it breaks.
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I’m way of my depth here, but I was wondering how “average qualification on entry” data relates to some of the other aspects that the amazing UniStats data let me look at. You’ll remember earlier this week I examined the numbers of entrants with 340 points across various subjects, institutions and groupings. This time, I’m going to try to work in similar ways as prospective students might in choosing the “best” place to study (and this excuses my #statsfail I guess too…)

Just to give us a pool we can get our heads round, I decided to look at Social Sciences subjects only (Groups L and P in the JACS coding, so stuff like Economics, Politics, Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work, Anthropology, Social Geography, Media Studies, Publishing, Journalism). Social Sciences are interesting because they are mostly difficult to link to a specific job, but together constitute our understanding of the underpinning structures of western civilisation, and offer us ideas of what to do when it breaks.

Kids, study Social Sciences. The Social Sciences are way cool.

Anyway, based on the percentage of entrants on 340 UCAS points (AAB or equivalent), here are the top 10 places to do Social Sciences in the UK:

Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, UCL, St Andrews, Warwick, Bath, Edinburgh, Durham, KCL, Exeter.

Pretty much as you’d expect, I guess.

Other measures below do not have complete data, but it is important to remember that this is the data this is out there – this is what entrants are using (or are encouraged to use) to make their choices. If, say, KCL hasn’t returned destination data in this area, why should anyone just assume it will be good. Informed consumers and all that.

Let’s say a student was very keen to be actually working after they graduate, and wanted to choose an institution where many social sciences graduates actually reported that they were “working” after graduation. If we did that, the top 10 places to study Social Sciences in the UK are:

Bath, Hull, Lancaster, Stirling, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sussex, Reading, Coventry, St Andrews.

Of note in that little lot: Coventry. Only 11% of entrants have 340pts or above. And they are only charging £7,500

Okay, getting more specific… let’s say you wanted to find work as a Public Service Professional. Sounds like a good thing to be, and according to UniStats is the modal job category destination of Social Science graduates. Your top 10 are:

Reading, Oxford Brookes, Strathclyde, Dundee, Royal Holloway, Bath, Birmingham, Stirling, Goldsmiths’, Lancaster, East Anglia.

So, the University of Bath has turned up in all three lists… otherwise this is pretty diverse recommendations for our student.

Final cut: what about teaching that really inspires?  National Student Survey Q3: “Staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching.”. If I went to an open day, and met staff filled with passion and enthusiasm for “my” subject – that would sell an institution to me. The top 10 highest percentages of of graduates scoring this aspect as 5, “excellent”:

Winchester, Northumbria, Bath Spa, UC Plymouth, Goldsmiths’, KCL, Robert Gordon, Bournemouth, Royal Holloway, Loughborough, Buckinghamshire

Wow.

So – four different criteria, four different lists of recommendations. And there are thousands upon thousands of other criteria we could have chosen. But only the first is recognised as valid in the university funding method. Students are supposed to aspire to study at institutions in that first list, despite other institutions being “better” depending on your choice of criteria.

This strikes me as anti-competitive. It rewards inputs, not outputs. Would you choose a garage based on the quality of cars they serviced? Or how those cars drove afterwards?

Here’s a summary of the source data to play with on Google Docs, the full deal is yours to mangle over on unistats.

This post first appeared on The Followers of the Apocalypse 

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