Most serious league tables of the year?

League tables of choice

All rankings have their shortcomings. Some though are perhaps even more methodologically questionable than others. I was struck recently by two league tables which seemed to be even less credible than this very important ranking of universities based on the length of their name.

First up is the ranking of the most influential UK universities on Twitter. This appeared recently in Times Higher Education but has since sunk without trace. The methodology, if it may be called that, is simply to use a site called followerwonk which magically creates a ‘Social Authority’ score for institutions based on some combination of followers, and number of retweets etc. It doesn’t get much more authoritative than this.

 

influential on twitter

Meanwhile, at the slightly more salacious end of the league table spectrum we have the University Sex League 2014. Nothing dubious about the scoring method here. It’s a self-selecting survey in which there is a slim possibility that respondents might be less than entirely accurate in their recall:

unisexleagueThe bottom 10 has not been reproduced here for obvious reasons.

Anyway, there you have it, two league tables which if they achieve nothing else manage the remarkable feat of making other rankings look pretty credible and methodologically robust.

 

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Real or Fake Universities: the results

 Real or fake universities? The votes are in

 

universitybanner

Definitely fake

 

Most of the following list of institutions are from the US and the UK but there are a few from other countries too. Five of these are fake but all the other ones are real. Did you manage to identify the five HE fraudsters?

IHere’s your last chance to have a go at the poll:

So the results are below.

Are you sure?

OK, then you can have a look at the top 10:

 

The Top 10

The Top 10

 

But I guess you will be wanting to know the real from the fake ones then.

Tricky.

There were five definite fakes. And, I’m slightly ashamed to admit, one which has necessitated a stewards’ enquiry.

Four of the definite fakes appear in the top 10.

They are as follows:

  • Watermouth University (You’ll find it in Bradbury’s The History Man.)
  • Rooney University (A university named after one of England’s finest footballers? I think not.)
  • Rummidge University (From the David Lodge trilogy Changing Places, Small World and Nice Work.)
  • Euphoric State University (Also a David Lodge creation appearing in the same novels.)

And then from near the bottom of the poll, spotted by hardly anyone:

  • DuPont University (which appears in Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons.)

Then we run into a bit of a problem. The improbably named University of Hip-Hop, which topped the poll of likely fakes, does actually exist. However, it is possible that it is not actually a real university either by the common sense definition or by virtue of being likely to earn a place on the HEFCE Register of Higher Education providers. It may even just be a blog and does not actually appear on the highly inclusive UK Register of Learning Providers.

Anyway, here are the staff and students of said institution so it must be real:

 

This really is the University of Hip Hop

This really is the University of Hip Hop

So, apologies for leading anyone up the garden path. But at least we all now know how difficult identifying fake providers is…

Graduation Fails

It’s that time of year again

I’ve previously commented on graduation matters here but omitted to mention one particular challenge of the season: pronouncing graduands’ names.

Our Deans work very hard on this and it really is not a task I envy them. But now there is a possible solution. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a piece on a start-up business designed to address this most distinctive of higher education problems:

What''s in a name?

What”s in a name?

Stanford University, whose students gave us the modern search engine, the modern sneaker company, and the modern method of money transfer, is finally tackling a native challenge: commencement. At graduation ceremonies over the past weekend, eight departments at the university used a web-based service that allows students to record their names before commencement for the benefit of whoever reads aloud the list of graduates.

Dubbed NameCoach, the start-up was founded last year by students at—where else?—Stanford. Universities using the service send a link to graduates, who are directed to a web page where they can record their names as they want them pronounced. Nervous deans can then review them at their leisure.

Praveen Shanbhag, who graduated from Stanford this year with a doctorate in philosophy, thought of the idea for NameCoach after a particularly brutal reading of his sister’s name at her 2010 undergraduate commencement. Mr. Shanbhag said the mangling clouded an otherwise happy day for the family. “It kind of tinged it with a sense of alienation and invisibility,” he says. He points to recent research on name mispronunciation as evidence of the psychological and societal damage such incidents can cause.

It’s a simple and rather neat idea and you can see on the demo page quite clearly how it works.

It might turn out to be really helpful. But it still depends on Deans getting it right on the day and there are all sorts of reasons things can go a little bit wrong with one or two pronunciations. But on the whole our Deans do a fantastic job and there is not a lot of butchering.

Even bigger fail

But name errors are sometimes the least of the problems on stage. In many years of daft behaviour by graduands I’ve not seen anything quite as splendidly dumb as this student’s failed backflip attempt during Davenport’s graduation ceremony:

 

It’s not uncommon to see a celebratory gesture or two as students make their way across the stage at college and university commencement ceremonies.

But on Sunday, the antics of one Davenport University student didn’t work out quite as planned.

After walking across the stage and shaking hands with university administrators, Robert Jeffrey Blank removed his cap, planted his feet in place and attempted a backflip.

It didn’t go well.

Blank failed to rotate quick enough, and appeared to land face first on the stage, drawing a gasp from the audience. He didn’t appear to suffer any serious injuries, though, as he can be seen quickly getting up and walking off stage.

 

Let’s hope we don’t see too many more of these. Or indeed this striking example of a typo on a Degree Certificate:

Crazy College, crazy spelling

Crazy School, crazy spelling

(this one via Inside Higher Ed)

Taking Student Mental Health Seriously

 Students Supporting Students

Have only just learned of Student Minds.

Did you know: Students, after joining university, are more anxious and more likely to develop depression? It’s no surprise, university can be a stressful and daunting environment. Estimates show that around 25% of all students experience distress at a worrying level. The move away from home is particularly stressful, inducing symptoms of anxiety. In the case of one fifth of students, reaching levels of clinical significance mid-way through second year. We found that most students are most likely to talk to their peers, primarily their friends. However, this can not always be a comfortable experience.

 Student Minds was chosen as the supported charity at this year’s Times Higher Leadership and Management Awards. The organisation believes we should take student mental health issues much more seriously:

If tackled early we have the opportunity to prevent the development of more severe mental health problems. Early adult life is a crucial stage in the transition from adolescence independence as an adult. Underachievement or failure at this stage can have long-term effects on self-esteem and the progress of an individual’s life. The opportunity to share experiences can help break down isolation and the format of a group can boost motivation, and the informality of a group session run by Student Minds volunteers – groups do not have waiting lists, and students can self-refer, using the support as and when they feel they need it. Finally, we do not keep records of attendance, removing the concern that accessing help will reflect negatively on a student’s CV or university record.

 It’s a great range of activities and clearly making a really valuable contributuon on campuses around the country. The University of Nottingham Students’ Union is also involved:

Student Minds Nottingham (formerly known as UoN Mental Wealth) is a campaigns group that works to promote positive wellbeing and mental health for students whilst studying at UoN.

Our objectives are:

– to tackle the issue of social isolation and stigma of mental health.

– to enhance the mental health provision within the university.

– to break down potential barriers to students and provide opportunities for personal development for students.

We run support groups with the help and training of Student Minds.

We also run events and workshops over the academic year to inform people about mental health conditions and break down barriers.

 

Universities do, of course, provide services to support students with mental health issues but the work of Student Minds seems to provide a valuable complement to these. This is particularly important given the challenges to public mental health services for young people.

So, a great charity and do hope it continues to grow and provide excellent support for students.

 

 

Universities: real or fake?

 Real or fake universities? You decide

I’ve written here before about Monsters U and Sim U

Monsters University FB Posters 1.jpg

…and also, there is the very convincing University of Antarctica

 

universitybannerElaborate creations all of them.

So, are you smart enough to get a job with the BIS Higher Education Governance Team? Can you tell real from fake universities? The following list contains a number of top drawer institutions. Most are from the US and the UK but there are a few from other countries too. Five of these are fake but all the other ones are real. Can you identify the five fakes?

(Don’t wast time Googling them – life’s too short and will provide the answers in due course.)

Pointless eh?

 

Big bucks for students with big ideas

A big prize for University of Pennsylvania graduates

The Philadelphia Enquirer has a good story about an initiative at the University of Pennsylvania for graduates who want to change the world:

Graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a strong desire to change the world and an excellent plan for how to do it?A new Penn program may fund you.Penn president Amy Gutmann has created “engagement prizes” of up to $150,000 – $50,000 for living expenses and $100,000 for project execution – for students with the most promising plans to improve local, national, or global conditions in the year after their graduation.”We want to maximize the encouragement we can give our students who do well by doing good in the world,” Gutmann said Tuesday.

Money for something

Money for something

It’s perhaps not an entirely novel idea but the scale of it is impressive:

While other schools offer prizes, Penn’s effort appears to offer more money..”I don’t know of anything that’s even close to that big,” said Jeffrey Selingo, author of College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students and a contributing editor to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Gutmann said she wanted to create a prize on the order of the prestigious Rhodes or Marshall scholarships, and offer it in a way that gets an entire senior class from an elite university focused on civic engagement and innovative thinking. She said she knew of no other university that had created such a prize.”We want this to be something that isn’t their second or third choice, but their first choice,” Gutmann said. “I think this is going to create a cadre of students who are committed to civic engagement.”Colleges large and small increasingly are looking for ways to tie what students learn in the classroom to the real world, Selingo said. Davidson College in North Carolina, for example, offers paid “impact fellowships” to recent graduates who work with nonprofit organizations on critical health, education, and environmental issues.Penn’s new prize will pay for up to three projects per year; students can apply individually or in groups of up to three.

So, will we see UK universities trying something like this? Lots already offer small awards to current students to support good works or charitable endeavours but I’m not aware of anything on this scale. The award could be a game changer for Penn but will other students or unsuccessful competitors be resentful about the size of the pot? We’ll have to see but if they do make a real difference with the prize then we can expect that lots of others will be following suit.

When is a campus not a campus?

The QAA has published a report which takes issue with UK international branch campus definition

The United Arab Emirates has many international Branch Campuses including some from the UK. A recent post here commented that branch campuses, including the University of Nottingham’s campuses in Malaysia and China, were a major part of international activity.

Others have branch campuses too (and aren't subject to the QAA)

Others have branch campuses too (and aren’t subject to the QAA)

 

The QAA overview report has fuller details on each of the UK universities inspected. The report covers 11 UK institutions but notes there are 37 campuses in total in the UAE, more than in any other country.

Distribution of the 37 branch campuses in UAE

Distribution of the 37 branch campuses in UAE

It seems that everyone with a branch campus also claims to be a global operation:

All the institutions considered in the TNE review of UAE had global aspirations. In many cases, the word global appears in their mission statements or the strap-lines on their websites. On the other hand, there was some evidence that institutions had not fully considered the organisational consequences of the global offering. In some cases heads of the UAE centres were physically located at the UK campus, even where the UAE operation was developing beyond the scale of an administrative campus. One of the branch campuses, otherwise highly successful in organisational terms, had only an indirect line into the governance and management of the university at large.

So perhaps some way to go there.

The student numbers set out in the report show that there is actually some variety in the UK university provision in UAE:

Student numbers UAE

Student numbers UAE

However, probably the most interesting aspect of the report is picked up in a report in the Times Higher Education which covers the warning in the QAA report over the definition of UK international branch campuses there:

UK universities must be careful not to mislead students about their “international branch campuses”, which are often little more than an office and teaching rooms, the standards watchdog has warned.In its first report on transnational education offered by UK universities in the United Arab Emirates, the Quality Assurance Agency says that only two of the 11 institutions listed as UK branch campuses would meet the definition of a “campus”.“Only two providers, Heriot-Watt and Middlesex, are readily recognisable as branch campuses [offering] the range of facilities a student would expect of a campus in the UK,” according to the Review of UK Transnational Education in United Arab Emirates, published on 4 June.For instance, the University of Exeter’s campus in Dubai comprises an office and a small self-service library, with teaching rooms hired when required, the QAA says.The University of Strathclyde’s Business School, which runs MBAs in Dubai, had no rooms of its own, using spaces within another higher education institution.

So, there really are some definitional problems here. A couple of offices or some rented teaching rooms in another institution do not a campus make. It will be interesting to see if the universities concerned change their descriptions of their activities following this report.

Breakfasts of champions?

Academics and their breakfasts

Greatly amused by this story in Inside Higher Ed about a new website which encourages academics to photograph and consider their breakfasts:

What you eat for breakfast may not merit space on your C.V, but a new website called Academic Breakfast is based on the idea that how professors start their days matters.The website invites academics to post a photograph of their breakfast, and to answer six quick questions: where they live, their institution, their job, their research in five words, their breakfast in five words, and their food philosophy in 10 words. Many of the philosophies mix the importance of doing the right thing in terms of nutrition and the environment, but also enjoying food.

Not sure this is going to catch on as a breakfast idea

Among the food philosophies shared are “eat healthily but indulge your honest cravings without any guilt” from a McGill University graduate student and “Treat the planet and all beings well; have pleasure” from a California State University at San Marcos sociologist and performance artist.While there are plenty of healthy foods visible, one can also spot breakfast items — Diet Coke, cold pizza — that might not appear on nutritionists’ recommendations for the morning. Several people included shots of their morning pills. And while most of the photographs depict the food before anyone started eating, there are also shots that were taken mid-meal.

The full glory of the Academic Breakfast Tumblr is here and it certainly proves that everyone has different approaches, academic or otherwise, to the first meal of the day. It’s a bold and innovative idea. But whatever next? No doubt someone is already working on Deans and their Doughnuts, Provosts who love Pancakes and Vegetables which look like Vice-Chancellors.

Sino-Foreign Unity

Inauguration of Sino-foreign Cooperative Universities Union

Sino-foreign universities are still small in number. Since the establishment of the first Sino-foreign institution, the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, a decade ago, the number has grown though and npw six have come together to establish the Sino-foreign Cooperative University Union and Presidents Forum.

The event was a chance for the leaders of the six joint venture universities from across China to come together with representatives of the local and national government to witness the formation of the Union and participate in the inaugural forum.

University of Nottingham Ningbo China

University of Nottingham Ningbo China

The six international collaborative universities are Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, New York University Shanghai, Duke Kunshan University, Wenzhou-Kean University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen.

The inaugural meeting of Sino-foreign Cooperative Universities Union was hosted by XJTLU and a press release provided more information on the event:

Speaking during the morning’s Presidential Forum, Professor Youmin Xi, Executive President of XJTLU, welcomed the distinguished guests and highlighted the importance of the Union of Sino-foreign Cooperative Universities not only for its members but also for Chinese higher education. “It is time for us [the Union] to redefine education,” explained President Xi, citing the competitive advantages of student centered learning, innovative administrative structure and lack of historical burdens as the reasons why universities such as XJTLU will become leaders of the next generation of international higher education institutes.

XJTLU, host of the event

XJTLU, host of the event

Throughout the morning, senior representatives from the Union followed President Xi in giving speeches and introductions about their institutions to the audience. Members were then encouraged to raise questions and share ideas with one another in order to enhance the understanding of the issues faced by Sino-foreign Universities in China today.Professor Weiqi Shen, Vice-President of University of Nottingham Ningbo China, further developed the principles which set Sino-foreign Cooperative Universities apart from others in China, highlighting “high quality, openness, ‘hybrid vigor’ and legitimacy” in particular.

In the afternoon the Forum was joined by a senior delegation from the national Ministry of Education MoE, who travelled from Beijing to participate in the event. The Presidents listened to a speech given by Mr. Jianjun Cen, Director of International Cooperation and Communion Department of MoE who spoke about the important of the Union and the positive effects they hoped it would have on wider education in China.

The Union of Sino-foreign Universities intends to continue to explore issues of common concern by sharing experiences and best practices, and to find feasible solutions to these issues. It is intended to enhance communication among members but also to enable members to influence higher education development in China. Although the members are at different stages of development, together they are in a distinctive and potentiallly influential position. It will be interesting to see how the new Union develops.

True Crime on Campus §36: one in the eye

True Crime on Campus:

Once again our always vigilant Security staff are on hand to ensure that every unlikely situation is attended to:

2240 Report of a smell of gas in Humanities Building. Security attended. Officers could detect a faint smell of gas which dissipated during the night.

1325 Report of blocked toilets in DHL. Security attended. Lanes for Drains were asked to attend but stated that they could not attend until 1 June, East Midlands Drains were called out they also could not attend until 1 June, Lilley’s called out and attended.

1625 Report of a person with a dog which was out of control on Jubilee Campus. Officers attempted to speak to the owner but they had left by the time Officers attended.

Suspicious

Careful!

16:30 Security received a complaint from a student who had been walking on the footpath at the front of the Fitness Centre, when a van reversed towards the main doors nearly running them over. The van driver did not take responsibility for his actions, telling the student that it was their fault. Pictures were taken of the van by the student. Security to follow up.

16:20 Security received a report of a male exiting campus through West Gate carrying a bicycle frame. On arrival Security identified the male as a student.

Wasp0040 Report of a buzzing noise in Hall Security attended the noise was thought to be Wasps. Mitie Pest Control to be informed in the morning.

 

1600 Report of a vehicle with a broken windscreen at Sutton Bonington Sports Centre. The owner of the vehicle claims it was broken by a football. Security Officers are to check the CCTV.

18:30Security received a report of a dead bird in the lake on Jubilee Campus. Helpdesk informed to remove the dead bird.

1610 Report of a student with a head injury in Hall. Security attended the student stated that they had banged their head on a locker door while at the Swimming Pool. The student’s head was examined and they were given advice by Officers.

2338 Patrol Security Officers spoke to the occupants of two vehicles which were parked in the car park adjacent to Law and Social Science. The occupants stated that they had parked there to watch the Helicopters. As there are no Helicopter flights during the hours of darkness the occupants were told to leave Campus.

Best seen in daylight

Best seen in daylight

23:55 Security received a report from the porter at Hall about a number of students running around the Hall having a water fight. Security stopped all students involved and took their details. Students were made to clear up the mess by Security. Details to Hall Manager. Security to follow up.

23:05 Security received a report of a student taking a book from the Hallward Library without authorisation. Security to follow up.

14:10 Security were informed by a member of the public that the bin located at the entrance to Melton Hall was on fire and smoking profusely. Security extinguished the fire with water.

1345 Report of a member of staff with peppermint in their eye on the Science Site. Security attended. The member of Staff washed their eye out and felt better.

0500 Report of a student urinating outside Hall. Security attended and the student was spoken to and will be reported to the Compliance and Investigations Manager.

 

 

International branch campuses: over-exposed?

 Are there too many branch campus headlines? Not quite.

A recent piece in University World News suggested that there was just too much attention given to international branch campuses rather than other forms of international activity:

International branch campuses receive a lot of attention for their motivations, successes and failures. In addition, some recent big-name endeavours like New York University Shanghai and Yale-NUS College in Singapore add to the perception that more institutions are building overseas campuses.

In reality, branch campuses form only a small proportion of the internationalisation activities and models of transnational education engaged in by institutions.

For example the United Kingdom, which has been promoting transnational education as part of its national strategy, reports that only 3% of its 600,000 students studying wholly overseas for a UK qualification in 2012-13 were enrolled in an overseas campus of a UK higher education institution.

In contrast, one out of five students pursued a UK degree through a distance learning programme.

If the goal of the global engagement strategy of a higher education institution is to be truly ‘global’ and to ‘engage’ learners from many countries in a cost-effective, controllable and flexible manner, then online and open learning cannot be ignored.

A recent report shows that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, is shaping its internationalisation future around its prior initiative like OpenCourseWare and now edX.

It forecasts a future where education will be unbundled and degrees will be disaggregated “into smaller credential units such as course credentials, sequence credentials, and even badges” with the possibility that “the credentialing entity may be different from the institution that offers the course”.

Leaving aside the tedious unbundling rhetoric it is right to observe that internationalisation is a multifaceted strategy for any university and there is much more to being a global university than just branch campuses. However, there are many such campuses around the world of many different kinds.

For example, the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus (UNMC) is home to some 5,000 students and over 450 staff, located at the edge of Kuala Lumpur in a breathtakingly beautiful setting and the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) campus houses over 6,000 students and over 400 staff). Both campuses are larger than a good number of UK HE institutions and are already, despite their relative youth (UNMC became the first overseas campus of any UK university some 14 years ago and UNNC was founded in 2004), they are already punching significantly above their weight in both research and teaching in their host countries.

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

OBHE, in its most recent report, identifies some 200 or so branch campuses around the world with another 37 at least in the pipeline. It is likely that many more have been initiated since this report was published.

However, very few of these are of the scale, breadth or depth of the Nottingham developments and many are much smaller scale operations with teaching delivered in rented office accommodation by staff who fly in for a few weeks before flying back home again.

The reality is that despite their scale and success these campuses really do not get much attention. Rather the nascent developments of NYU in Abu Dhabi and Duke University in China seem to grab all the headlines despite their small scale. (Not that I’m at all cross about that.) This does therefore give a rather misleading impression of international branch campus activity.

Britain’s global university

Nottingham actually has three international campuses at present; as well as those in China and Malaysia there is the original campus in the UK which is also strikingly international with over 9,000 international students from 150+ countries. The international ethos is embraced in all that we do and is strongly articulated in the University’s mission:

At the University of Nottingham we are committed to providing a truly international education, inspiring our students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around our campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia. Our purpose is to improve life for individuals and societies worldwide. By bold innovation and excellence in all that we do, we make both knowledge and discoveries matter.

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Campus at University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Our academic staff on all campuses are international in composition (25% are international) and outlook too. More than one in five of our undergraduates undertakes international mobility. 17% of published research outputs are internationally co-authored and 37% of our research funding is obtained internationally. We have strategic partnerships with other leading universities in over 25 countries and one of the largest scholarship programmes for students from the developing world. And we do distance learning and offer a number of MOOCs too.

So, there is a lot more to an international university than just branch campuses but, in context, it is clear that serious international campus activity can be a key component of a global strategy for a university. If only they got a bit more attention.

 

 

Up on the Higher Ed Catwalk

More Higher Ed excitement in the world of fashion

I’ve written before here about higher education fashion developments in London in the form of the Condé Nast college as reported in the Evening Standard a couple of years ago:

MOVE over AC Grayling, there’s a new college in town. Magazine publisher Condé Nast is launching a private college for fashion and design next year, which will be a potent rival to the London College of Fashion, Central St Martins and Chelsea, all part of the University of the Arts London.

The Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design is now fully up and running:

Based in Central London, the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design operates from the heart of one of the world’s most exciting fashion capitals. The Condé Nast College is an important starting point for those who want to be tomorrow’s stars of the fashion industry. With outstanding resources, leading-edge facilities and access to experts from the worlds of fashion, style and luxury, the College prepares its students to work in all areas of this exciting and innovative industry. We currently offer three courses, the four-week Vogue Intensive Summer Course, the ten-week Vogue Fashion Certificate and the year-long Vogue Fashion Foundation Diploma. We are now accepting applications and look forward to welcoming you to the Condé Nast family.

Recruitment challenges?

 

Now Inside Higher Ed has a story about Conde Nast in the US teaming up with a venture fund to create new higher education courses:

Under the project, Condé Nast publications will team up with universities to create a set of accredited certificate programs and eventually master’s-degree programs with the colleges and universities, not the magazines, as the “institution.” Condé Nast writers and editors will contribute subject matter expertise and the publisher will provide some financial backing to the partnerships.The institutions and new academic programs which will include both interactive online content and in-person elements have not yet been identified, but discussions with universities are under way with the goal of launching the first programs in fall 2015.

Waiting for accreditation

Waiting for accreditation

 

The aforementioned magazines are likely to be involved in the first programs to get off the ground, but other Condé Nast publications which include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Allure and Golf Digest could also participate. The initiative is the latest backed by University Ventures, a New York-based fund that since 2012 has sought to drive innovation in traditional higher education not by “disrupting” it from the outside but by encouraging it from within.”We’re not the barbarians at the gate,” says Daniel Pianko, a managing director at University Ventures. “A lot of the pure disrupters out there don’t seem to understand the importance of 1,000 years of history. Our approach is, how do you work within the construct that has that history and immense consumer acceptance, and innovate within that.”

An interesting development. One can only imagine all the potential academic programme tie-ins with the impressive stable of publications. But, whilst the funders are protesting (perhaps a little too much?) that they’re not really like all the “pure disruptors”, they still don’t seem to have any university partners on board. It’s early days no doubt.

Guardian League Table 2015: Well I never

New Guardian League Table for 2015 entry (and yes, Cambridge is top)

Top 25 of the full list (available here) is as follows (last year’s position in brackets):

1 (1) Cambridge
2 (2) Oxford
3 (4) St Andrews
4 (7) Bath
5 (9) Imperial
6 (8) Surrey
7 (3) LSE
8 (6) Durham
9 (10) Warwick
10 (11) Lancaster
11 (5) UCL
12 (12) Exeter
13 (18) Heriot-Watt
14 (17) UEA
15 (14) Loughborough
16 (16) York
17 (15) Birmingham
18 (19) Edinburgh
19 (24) Southampton
20 (20) Kent
21 (13) Leicester
22 (30) Aston
23 (28) Nottingham
24 (22) SOAS
25 (21) Glasgow

Exciting commentary of the new ranking is included:

The Universities of Bath, Surrey and Lancaster have charged ahead of their Russell Group peers in the Guardian league table of universities, knocking University College London (UCL) out of its traditional place in the top 10.

The London School of Economics (LSE), UCL’s neighbour and fellow member of the elite Russell Group of research-focused universities, has also suffered, losing its place in the top three to St Andrews.

The University of Cambridge underlines its dominance by coming top of the table for the fourth year in a row and increasing the gap between itself and its ancient rival Oxford, which remains in second place. St Andrews, in third, is followed by Bath, Imperial College, Surrey, LSE, Durham, Warwick and Lancaster.

Other climbers include include the Universities of Glyndŵr (from 108 to 64), Derby (from 79 to 50) and Falmouth (76 to 53).

Anglia Ruskin has seen the biggest drop (from 67 to 105), caused in part by a rising student/staff ratio. In civil engineering there are now 22.7 students per member of academic staff, where previously there had been just 14.3.

Birmingham City also fell (from 61 to 88), as did Bournemouth (52 to 71), Aberystwyth (88 to 106), Greenwich (70 to 87), Chester (46 to 61) and Bristol (23 to 34).

It’s pretty difficult to understand what is actually going on here but there is some helpful commentary:

The chief factor causing UCL’s drop out of the top ten was a fall in the number of leavers getting graduate-level jobs, says Matt Hiely-Rayner, from Intelligent Metrix, the independent consultancy that compiles the tables.

“There have been big falls in the numbers going on to graduate-level jobs or further study, particularly in psychology and chemistry. Another contributor is a drop in overall student satisfaction.”

As for the LSE, a drop in its employability score and spending per student caused it to lose its place in the top three.

Universities hoping to climb the league tables, Hiely-Rayner advises, should “identify their areas of weakness and concentrate on improving those. They should do that according to their own internal analysis, not just what the league tables say.”

Outstandingly useful tip that.