This article is more than 4 years old

Time for a university rankings furlough?

It could be a long while until we see any new university rankings. Paul Greatrix offers his pick of the current crop.
This article is more than 4 years old

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

These are challenging times for all parts of higher education not least for the vital operation of university league table development. We all know how vital and serious these accurate university rankings really are and how fundamental to measuring institutional performance. I am sure we are all thinking about them in the current environment.

Will some disappear as they run out of data to compile and weight spuriously? How will the UK rankers deal with the 2020 A levels and Declared to Deserve Honours degrees? Will Bantshire University cope with student number controls? These and other questions are ones the sector’s finest minds are already working on. Let’s hope the rankers survive these difficult times.

Given the current hiatus we should take some time to catch up on some of the perhaps less accurate listings of university achievement which might have been overlooked.

As you are probably reluctant to recall, we’ve looked at some rather dodgy university rankings recently including this group of some really rather ill-conceived league tables and this set of quite dubious listings.

But the production line of iffy rankings is never ending and unfortunately it is time yet again for a round up of the latest crucial listing and ordering of data you may have missed.

Land and Water

First up we have a couple of key rankings from the last set of HESA Estates data which you might have accidentally ignored, having been distracted by the excitement of the legendary car parking league table:

Liquid Assets
You might be surprised at which universities use the most cubic meters of water:

Fields of dreams
And here is a ranking of the institutions with the largest area of playing fields:

Some like it hot

It has been suggested by some that we didn’t give adequate prominence to this work of Bantshire University genius by only including a passing reference to this outstanding ranking detailing the vital Nando’s Excellence Framework or NEF.

In the NEF all UK universities have been ranked based on their distance to the nearest Nando’s, and given them a NEF score of Hot, Medium, or Mild.

Good showing for the Russell Group here.

Pure shores

And even more novel is the United Kingdom Progressive University Ranking or UKPUR. In this league table they have ranked all UK HEIs based on three criteria:

  • Student Diversity
  • Staff Diversity
  • Leadership

The rationale is pretty straightforward

1. We’re suggesting a different model of ‘excellence’, one that isn’t about age, wealth, exclusivity, organisational optimisation, or being ruthless. It’s about being decent – a nice place to study and a nice place to work.
2. We critically engage with our method. We are very open about why we rank and what the shortcomings of our approach are. This is not a product.
3. We’re not in this for the money! This is primarily about promoting discussion around the ways in which university rankings are enormously problematic – but potentially useful.

It produces some interesting results:

Not such a good showing for Russell Group institutions this time. But at least they are keeping it PUR.

Meat free fun

In campaigning mode we have this list of the most vegan-friendly universities compiled by PETA

It’s pretty arbitrary tbh, but then what league table isn’t, and there is no indication of any meaningful criteria but the food looks good.

Being Boring

Finally we have this rather unfortunate list from The Tab of the most boring universities in the UK as voted by their students.
OK, it was from 2017 and I’m sure things have moved on in the Highlands and Islands since then but this seems to be one ranking that really does require a refresh.

I’m sure there are many more we have yet to discover but that’s probably enough lockdown league tables for now. It really is time for a rankings furlough.

One response to “Time for a university rankings furlough?

Leave a Reply