Why Rant About Rankings?


We rank our universities from a range of sources, including the likes of The Guardian, The Times and The Complete University Guide. We’ve now chosen our places for higher education, but with potential differences in rankings, what are we supposed to think when our university could possibly rank #4 on one league table and #78 on another?

There’s no ‘go to’ league table that everyone can necessarily recommend but all league tables rank the following: student satisfaction, student to staff ratio, graduate prospects and entry grades. Some tables, however, have the addition of other categories. For example, The Guardian ranks the amount spent per student and The Times compare average graduate salary. Does this make it difficult to choose which league table to trust? No. It’s entirely up to you which one you rely on, whether that entails making a decision in the next step of your education …or you’re arguing with your friend over who goes to the better university!

But when it comes down to it, you could say it’s more about comparison than accuracy. If you’re concerned with which uni will leave you with the best career prospects, maybe take a look at The Times. With fees on the rise, you may want to look at The Guardian to see which university would offer better value for money. Whichever way you look at it, there is no ‘go to’ league table. Do the research and see which league tables rank what you consider most important.

Fortunately league tables are not the be all and end all. True, you can look at the specifics such as subject rankings, but they won’t tell you what kinds of modules are covered on the course and what sort of assessments are carried out. If you have such concerns, it doesn’t take any longer to just log on to the universities main websites and browse through their degree information.

Another thing big league tables won’t tell you is…well…pretty much everything else! They can’t determine which universities have the best clubs, restaurants and shops…it’s entirely up to you to rank that yourselves. If you want to be the next biggest TV presenter of journalist, you’re better off looking at university media websites than trying to find some kind of comparison online. It’s nothing like comparing travel insurance for your next lads/ladies holiday. Whether you’re looking at undergraduate, postgraduate or other courses: you need to cater to your subjective opinion rather than choosing an institution based on objective rankings. It’s not all about the numbers, it’s about what YOU want out of YOUR current and future studies.

It can’t be denied that league tables and rankings carry some value but it’s important to not let it solely decide anything for you. Undoubtedly, it can make a good starting point for choosing the next step in higher education, but taking the extra time to do more specific research into individual institutions is invaluable.


Editor of Wessex Scene 2014-15 Features Editor 2013-14 Writer 2012-2013 I have been involved with the publication throughout my time at university. As editor, I have worked with my team to redesign the magazine, the website and even create special editions on top of our monthly issues. I primarily write news, features and lifestyle pieces.

Leave A Reply