University Rankings 2020
The 2020 University League Tables are a great way of seeing which universities are the best out there in the UK.
In the past, when students were deciding which university to apply to, they had to base their decision on what their teachers and parents told them.
The general rule was that the older the university, the better it was.
Then the first university League Tables were published around 20 years ago, giving students more information and more choice over where they should go.
League tables don't care how old the university is, how many cool buildings it has, or how many famous people went there: they measure a lot of different things to try and get a picture of the whole student experience, not just the grades they get. (If you're looking for rankings of U.S universities, check out our College Rankings guide).
How do League Tables rate Universities?
Some important questions that are asked when judging universities include:
#1 Do students enjoy studying at the university?
Graduates fill in a survey, which is useful for finding out what they thought of the course, and if they liked the university.
You can read the results yourself at unistats.direct.gov.uk and find out what previous thought of the teaching and the facilities.
#2 What percentage of students gets a first class and second-class degree?
The average amount of students that get a first class degree is 10%, and about 50% get a 2:1, so researchers can use these figures to compare universities. If they have a higher than average number of students who get good grades, it tells you the teaching standard is good.
#3 How many staff does the university have?
By looking at the number of teaching staff the university has, you estimate how much attention students receive.
This lets you decide if you want somewhere with smaller classes or more personal attention.
#4 How many research staff does the university have?
The government uses a system called RAE to decide who gets funding depending on the quality of their research, and the same information is used to look at the number of research staff and how many get published.
#5 How hard is it to get in?
UCAS points tell you how well you have to do in A-Level exams to get into the university, so the higher the level of points, the better grades you have to get. This usually means the courses with higher points are very popular and harder to get into.
#6 How much does the university spend?
Check how much the university spends on facilities for students - those that splurge are more likely to have satisfied undergraduates.
#7 How many graduates find a job after they finish studying?
The figures at unistats.direct.gov.uk also tells you what is happening with students six months after they leave university: how many have a job, how many are unemployed, how many are taking time off etc.
So - are League Tables the best way to choose a University?
The League Tables are good for giving you an overall view of the universities, but don´t think the ones further down the table are not worth looking at.
Decide what is most important for you in a university and check the individual score for it.
For example, you might not worry about having classes and individual attention as long as a good percentage of the pupils get a 2:1 or a first class degree.
Another student might be more interested in the sports facilities at the university so spending on student facilities would be more important.
Use the league tables to give you an idea of which universities fit with your options, what you want to study, and the kind of experience you want to have at the university.
Then read the student surveys and see what past pupils have to say about the universities you choose.
Does it sound like the sort of place where you would enjoy studying? Learning from people who already studied there is a great way to find out what it is really like to study there.
It is important to remember that the rankings are just a guide, and the universities at the top of the list are not necessarily the best choice for you.
It is more important that you choose the right degree and get a good result.
When you apply for jobs, employers will look for more than your degree when they are deciding whether to employ you, because other skills and experience are also important.
The Guardian's University League Table 2020 is a great place to start if you want to check out current university rankings.