This article is more than 3 years old

Your easiest new year resolution: more ill-conceived uni rankings

Some more of the dubious university rankings you may have missed over the last 12 months
This article is more than 3 years old

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

It was a very good year

2019 was a heck of a year for rankings. We had all the usual ones of course but they are never quite as interesting as you hope they will be and certainly not as much fun as these tasty rankings and these rather niche ones.

Of course rankings come in all shapes and sizes from this extremely valuable and distinctive car parking league table to this list of what are simply the dumbest rankings around.

Naturally though, when you are keen on rankings you have to have a means of putting them in order too. And therefore we offered this list of the top league tables of 2019, Wonkhe’s very own ranking of rankings for the past year.

But there was simply not enough space to record all of the silly rankings published in the last 12 months so, as a special new year service, here is a quick update on some of the most niche, daftest or just plain strange league tables you may have missed.

Silly billies

First up is this super exciting alternative ranking covering a subset of UK universities and their nightlife offering:

Most university league tables attempt to find the best university by graduate jobs and contact hours. We think the thing that makes your time at university unique is the lifestyle. We’ve put together the Alternative University League Table to cover all of your worries, cross examining 53 universities on how affordable they are for rent, beer, tickets to gigs and nights out, Deliveroo options and sustainability.

Pretty credible methodology that.

Then there is this presumably originally sensible ranking which is given a distinctive interpretation by a highly respected higher ed authority on some data on sexual health facilities:

We analysed the UK’s top 50 universities according to total number of students. Each university was been scored on their sexual health facilities across 4 main metrics: Website (use/quality/visibility of relevant pages in search engine results and on university website), Hours (opening hours of facilities during weekends, evenings and weekdays), Accessibility (whether facilities offer drop-ins or are appointment only) and Location (whether facilities are based on or off campus). When main facilities were based off-campus, scoring for ‘Hours’ and ‘Accessibility’ were based on the nearest service to the university.


As this analysis shows though the newspaper has reversed the ranking to create a list of where students are ‘most at risk’ of contracting an STI. Nice.

Massive open online rankers

Then we have a couple of international league tables. First, there is this incomprehensible guff which ranks institutions on their MOOCiness– Delft University is the winner few predicted here.

Second, we have this vital league table of self-reported marijuana use by students at US universities and it’s an all time high for the the University of Vermont, in Burlington, which wins the accolade of top school for weed smokers.

Quids in

More hokum here from the Telegraph which has this vital ranking of the UK universities which have ‘produced’ the most millionaires. You’ll never guess which institutions are top of the pile:

University of Oxford
It should come as no surprise that the University of Oxford takes the lead, having produced an incredible 50 millionaires and billionaires. One of the most notable is Michael Spencer, founder of NEX Group, who read physics and now has a net worth of £1.15 billion.

University of Cambridge
Swift on Oxford’s heels is Cambridge. This university boasts 33 alumni on the Times’ Rich List, including Simon Arora, who studied law at Cambridge and is now worth £2.3 billion, as the CEO of retail chain B&M.

A bit rich perhaps.

The Tab, regularly home to a daft ranking or two, has come up with something special here. Yes, it’s the lamest uni league table:

the institution so undeniably absent of craic you’d legitimately leave it off your UCAS form out of fear going there might transform you into a big smelly nerd.

Apparently it’s Durham, since you ask.

Just bants

And to conclude, we have a couple of my favourite league tables of recent times, both from the incomparable University of Bantshire (in many ways more real than a real university).

The first sees all UK universities ranked based on their distance to the nearest Nando’s, and then given a Nando’s Excellence Framework (NEF) score of either Hot, Medium, or Mild. Spicy.

Then there is the genuinely inspired World University Mascot Rankings (WUMR). Based on public votes, this is as valid an outcome as every other ranking and obviously a huge source of pride for squirrels, wolves and other strange animal mascots around the sector.

That’s your lot then – do let us know if there are some we have missed.

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