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UK University Rankings A Comparison


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Which is the best ranked university in the UK? How are universities performing? There is no official government ranking of universities in the UK. However, there are some newspaper rankings published every year by the Times Newspaper, The Telegraph, The BBC's Student Guide, The Independent University Guide and The Guardian.

Oxford is ranked as the Number 1 University by The Independent and Guardian, outperformed Cambridge in 2008. Oxford tops the Guardian league table, followed by Cambridge, London School of Economics, Warwick, St Andrews, Imperial, University College London, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Edinburgh.

There are several university guides in the UK which rank all universities in order of merit, but based on different criteria. Guardian focuses on the quality of teaching and what students themselves think. The Independent Good University Guide (now The Complete University Guide) uses nine measures of quality - student satisfaction, research assessment, entry standards, student/staff ratio, library/computing spend, facilities spend, degree classifications, graduate prospects, and completion rates. All universities are assessed in these nine quality factors. It is a highly regarded university guide; students often make a reference to the ranking tables when choosing a university. There are 59 subject tables which rank the universities within individual subjects.

However, a university which ranked highly in The Times may appear in a poor position in other university guides such as the Sunday Times or the Guardian. In 2008, there are some big differences in ranking positions among the two famous university guides (Guardian and The Independent), such as the follows:

(1) University of Dundee is ranked 17 in the Guardian (A Top 20 University), but it is ranked 52 in The Independent, even not in the Top 50!

(2) University of Bristol is ranked 31 in the Guardian (outside Top30), but it is highly ranked in The Independent, at 16.

(3) Anglia Ruskin University is ranked 109 in The Independent, but it is in a higher position of 71, in the Guardian league table.

(4) Thames Valley University is ranked 85 in the Guardian, and 110 in The Independent.

(5) University of Durham is doing extremely well in The Independent, ranked at 6th position, but it is ranked 16 in the Guardian (outside Top 15).

(6) University of Abertay Dundee is ranked 68 in The Independent, but it is outside Top 100 in the Guardian, at 105.

Which ranking guide is the best? It really depends on a number of factors.

Please visit the relevant guides for UK University Rankings and World University Ranking

The author, Loke Yuen Wong, holds an MBA from Heriot-Watt University (UK) and a BCom degree from The University of Adelaide (Australia).


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