Times and Sunday Times 2014 University League Table Top 20 Placings

The Times and Sunday Times League Table 2014

A quick look at the top 20 in the all new combined Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide ranking for 2014. Full details can be found on the Sunday Times website (£).

1 Cambridge
2 Oxford
4 St Andrews
5 Imperial
6 Durhamrankings
7 Bath
8 Exeter
10 Warwick
11 York
12= Lancaster
12= Surrey
14 Leicester
15 Bristol
16 Birmingham
17 UEA
18= Newcastle
18= Sheffield
20 Southampton

(University of Nottingham appears just outside the top 20 in 23rd place)
Birmingham is the ‘University of the Year’.

Full details of the table were published on 22 September. The methodology for the new combined table is summarised as follows:

The information regarding research quality was sourced from the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, a peer review exercise to evaluate the quality of research in UK higher education institutions undertaken by the UK higher education funding bodies.
Entry standards, student-staff ratios, services and facilities spend, completion rates, Firsts and 2:1s and graduate prospects data were supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) which provides a system of data collection, analysis, and dissemination in relation to higher education in the whole of the United Kingdom. The original sources of data for these measures are data returns made by the universities themselves to Hesa.
The provision of the data by the above sources does not necessarily imply agreement with the data transformation and construction of the table. Universities were provided with sets of their own Hesa data, which form the basis of the table, in advance of publication and were offered the opportunity to check the information. Some universities supplied replacement corrected data.
In building the table, scores for student satisfaction and research quality were weighted by 1.5; all other indicators were weighted by 1. The indicators were combined using a z-score transformation and the totals were transformed to a scale with 1000 for the top score. For entry standards, student-staff ratios, First and 2:1s and graduate prospects the score was adjusted for subject mix.
So, looks a bit more like the Times than the old Sunday Times methodology.

Oprah in the classroom

I’m a Celebrity – get me in there

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a diverting article on the appointment of celebrities as visiting academics at US universities. Celebrity adjunct culture as it is described brings many challenges, not least of which is the resentment of existing staff at the pay and perks afforded the star academic. But it can be positive too:

Celebrity hires can work out well, says Cary Nelson, a former president of the American Association of University Professors, but institutions must be more open about their motives. “Universities have tried to find pedagogical cover for their publicity ventures,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to attain publicity for your school, but there needs to be more truth in advertising what these positions are all about.”

Celebrity professors, says Stephen M. Walt, a Harvard professor of international affairs, can be particularly helpful for lower-profile institutions that want to improve their name recognition. When the University of North Florida hired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African social-rights activist, as a visiting scholar in 2003, for example, the institution was not shy to publicize its professorial catch.

As the article notes, there were positives and negatives with a number of celebrity hires, including:Oprah Winfrey

David Petraeus

Eliot Spitzer

Michael Dukakis

Arnold Schwarzenegger

and, most strikingly


Meanwhile, back in North Florida:

Earle Traynham, the university’s interim provost, says he recalls university officials asking Archbishop Tutu to participate in a handful of fund-raising events while he was on campus. During his single semester at North Florida, Mr. Tutu led several noncredit mini-courses, as well as one semester-long course titled “Truth and Reconciliation,” focusing on his time heading South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a post-apartheid restorative justice body.

It is not uncommon, some administrators say, for institutions to pay more than they would ideally like to hire a high-profile adjunct professor if they perceive a potential payoff. That payoff, says Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, may come through things like positive publicity or fund-raising opportunities.

So, pluses and minuses. But you are unlikely to get much in the way of a REF return out of them.