Common questions parents ask me when it
comes to university league tables are ‘which
ones should I look at’ and ‘how important are they
for informing decision-making?’ All parents want
their young person to go to a university that will
give them the best outcomes and where they will
be the happiest. League tables are one of many
tools that can be used as part of the research
With this in mind, it’s important to understand which league tables are available, what data is used and most importantly, how they align with what the young person is looking for in a university or course. A university might rank highly, but that doesn’t make it the right university for them.
When it comes to national league tables,
there are three main ones to be aware of: The
Complete University Guide, The Times Good
University Guide and The Guardian University
Guide. Each league table does the same thing in
terms of ranking universities, however, each vary
in terms of the criteria and weighting used to
calculate them. For example, while all three will
consider factors such as student satisfaction,
graduate prospects and entry grades, the
difference in weighting often means the tables
look different when put side-by-side.
Understanding criteria and weighting is the first step towards knowing which league table might be most useful to your young person, or whether they need to crosscheck across several to get a better picture of a university’s overall performance.
Overall ranking is useful, but there are league tables available that rank universities in terms of their subject areas too. This is important for students who want to attend a university that specialises in their chosen subject and can be especially useful if they want to study a technical subject or have a career path in mind. For example, if a student wanted to study physiotherapy, subject rankings can help determine which university has the best teaching quality, facilities and graduate outcomes. A university might sit lower on an overall league table, but it could be one of the best in the country for a particular subject.
League tables don’t tell the whole story and
will only show a university’s past performance.
Most league tables also don’t rank things that
are likely to be just as important to a student,
such as resources available, module variety or
assessment methods. Nor will they consider
other aspects such as student life, support or
what the location has to offer.
Rather than focusing solely on league tables, encourage your young person to speak to current students, attend open days and book onto a subject taster session. A useful activity would be to determine what their priorities are for the course and their university experience, and then use a variety of ways to research these to help them make a decision that is right for them.
This free newsletter will include information on university events added to UniTasterDays, as well as details about new webinars and blog releases for you and your students.
by Rebecca Wills
posted on 22 Feb '24
With so many graduates now entering the job market, a degree alone is not always enough. It is therefore very important that you work on developing your employability skills throughout your time at university, and university careers services are experts in offering a range of support to help you achieve this successfully. I will tell you more about some of the opportunities here.