2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities: Top 20 and UK placings

2014 ARWU University World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

It feels like a strange time to publish a world ranking but ideal holiday reading for many.

Anyway, as in previous years there is not a huge amount to get excited about as this is a league table where little changes. The full rankings have been published and are now available at the ARWU website

As in many previous years there are really very few surprises and almost no movement in the top 20 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot for the eighth successive year and everyone else just about unchanged too although MIT and Berkeley swap places inside the top 5. Overall there is very little movement in top 20 apart from the new entry of UCL in 20th place.

World
Rank
Institution* Country
/Region
National
Rank
Total
Score
Score onAlumni
Award
HiCi
N&S
PUB
PCP
1 Harvard University
1
100
100
2 Stanford University
2
72.1
41.8
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
3
70.5
68.4
4 University of California-Berkeley
4
70.1
66.8
5 University of Cambridge
1
69.2
79.1
6 Princeton University
5
60.7
52.1
7 California Institute of Technology
6
60.5
48.5
8 Columbia University
7
59.6
65.1
9 University of Chicago
8
57.4
61.4
9 University of Oxford
2
57.4
51
11 Yale University
9
55.2
48.8
12 University of California, Los Angeles
10
51.9
30.2
13 Cornell University
11
50.6
37.6
14 University of California, San Diego
12
49.3
19.7
15 University of Washington
13
48.1
21.7
16 University of Pennsylvania
14
47.1
32.4
17 The Johns Hopkins University
15
47
38.7
18 University of California, San Francisco
16
45.2
0
19 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
1
43.9
30.2
20 University College London
3
43.3
28.8

 

In terms of the UK placings, the only substantive changes are that Bristol and King’s swap places and Nottingham drops out of Top 100. Given the general stability of the table it is not entirely clear why this has happened.

World Rank
1
University of Cambridge 5
2
University of Oxford 9
3
University College London 20
4
The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 22
5
The University of Manchester 38
6
The University of Edinburgh 45
7
King’s College London 59
8
University of Bristol 63
9-17
Cardiff University 101-150
9-17
London School of Economics and Political Science 101-150
9-17
The University of Glasgow 101-150
9-17
The University of Sheffield 101-150
9-17
University of Birmingham 101-150
9-17
University of Leeds 101-150
9-17
University of Liverpool 101-150
9-17
University of Nottingham 101-150
9-17
University of Southampton 101-150
18-20
University of East Anglia 151-200
18-20
University of Sussex 151-200
18-20
University of Warwick 151-200

Anyway, much summer fun to be had analysing this data.

Advertisements

2015 Complete University Guide League Table

It’s spring and it’s time for the first league table of the season.

Once again it’s the Complete University Guide which is first to publish this year. The top 25 is as follows:

1 (1) Cambridge
2 (2) Oxford
3 (3) London School of Economics
4 (6) St Andrews
5 (5) Durham
6 (4) Imperial College London
7 (8) Warwick
8 (9) Bathcug logo
9 (7) University College London
10 (10) Exeter
11 (11) Lancaster
12 (13) Surrey
13 (14) Loughborough
14 (12) York
15 (20) East Anglia
16 (21) Southampton
17 (17) Birmingham
18 (15) Bristol
19 (16) Leicester
20 (22) Newcastle
21 (18) Edinburgh
22 (28) Kent
23 (24) Nottingham
23 (36) Cardiff
23 (32)Leeds

The new Complete University Guide for 2015 has, unsurprisingly perhaps, Cambridge at the top of the heap. The top 10 is unchanged and there are a few moves in and out of the top 20 with Southampton and Newcastle replacing Edinburgh and King’s.

The Top Ten is unchanged compared with last year. The Universities of Southampton and Newcastle enter the Top 20, while Edinburgh (21th) and King’s (28th) drop out.

There is plenty of other analysis (including by subject, region and mission group)  and information on careers, fees etc. on the website.

The main table uses nine indicators: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment, Entry Standards, Student:Staff Ratio; Spending on Academic Services; Spending on Student Facilities; Good Honours degrees achieved; Graduate Prospects and Completion. The Subject tables are based on four: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment; Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects. The results tend to be fairly consistent year on year and there is not huge volatility in this table.

But, overall, there is not a whole lot to get excited about this year.

Students behaving badly

Crimes and misdemeanours at university

I was greatly taken by this list of fineable offences for 18th-century students at Harvard:

Offense #19, “Cutting off the lead,” seems to refer to the lead on the college building’s roof. Lead was once used for roofing material (especially for more expensively-constructed buildings), and such buildings suffered from the depradations of thieves who would steal the lead and sell it. It’s unclear, in this case, whether the students were cutting off lead for profit or for simple mischief.

 

Students have always behaved badly. Not all of them and not all of the time but universities have often felt the need to seek to constrain the worst excesses and this list from Harvard is typical although clearly very much of its time. (See also True Crime on Campus…)

A previous post here looked at regulations in Oxford and Uzbekistan, in the 16th Century and more recently.

In 1584 at Oxford University, statutes were approved to prevent disorder among the student body. These regulations also contain references to specific degree requirements including attendance at lectures on Aristotle and an instruction not to play football. (Sylvester, D (1970), Educational Documents, 800-1816, London: Methuen pp151-153.)

These days universities around the world tend to have more comprehensive requirements (but perhaps more supportive of sporting activity). See for example the University of Nottingham Code of Discipline for Students.

An interesting development of this has been reported by the Chronicle which noted that Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Education issued a ‘code of conduct’ for students, covering such matters as how they should shake hands with professors and the proper time to visit the toilet during classes.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (quoted by the Chronicle) described the code, “Ethical Rules for Higher Education Institutions,” as an attempt by an authoritarian government to keep its youth population in line:

The ministry is requiring that its pedantic “Ethical Rules for Higher Education Institutions” be signed by every university student and professor in the country.

“These rules are being introduced to form and retain, as well as defend, the ethical integrity of members of higher educational institutions,” the document says. It promises to “prevent the decay of students…and defend them from alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as the threats of religious extremism and mass culture.”

(It’s good to see that someone is still fighting that last battle, particularly after Rutgers University paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” $32,000 to lecture its students in March 2011. Snooki got $2,000 more than Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning author who for $30,000 delivered the keynote address at Rutgers’ commencement ceremony in May 2011.)

 

This is the kind of thing which Harvard used to have to put up with

This is the kind of thing which Harvard used to have to put up with

Notwithstanding the lofty language of the prologue, many of the new guidelines read like a rather poor joke, the work of ministry officials with an acutely sardonic sense of humor. Article 3.8 stipulates that “members of a higher education institution, when moving, should take the right side. It is recommended to greet each other in the following way: students first greet professors; men first greet women; younger students first greet older students. Shaking hands is excluded from this rule, since elders should reach out to shake first.”

And as if that weren’t enough:

“It is prohibited to post on the Internet materials that are not in line with national values or related to the internal problems of higher educational institutions,” the rules say, before going on to note that they “categorically ban publishing, saving, or distribution via computers of different materials not related to a higher education institution.”

And just when you thought things could not get any worse: “Don’t walk around a university campus with no reason,” the rulebook advises.

So, it really does feel like a bit of a homage to Harvard. Unfortunately it is the Harvard of over 200 years ago rather than today.

Daft University Traditions

Some students (and universities) do the silliest things…

Lots of universities have bizarre traditions which their students sustain year after year or in some cases disappear into oblivion. My eye was recently caught by a collection of “Princetonia” including this rather odd event called Poler’s Recess:

One of the more peculiar Princeton traditions was an exam-time ritual known as the Poler’s Recess, which began around 1900 and continued for several decades. A “poler” was a Princeton epithet for someone who was thought to study too diligently, perhaps in reference to the laborious poling of a boat.

Every night during the final examination period, as the 9 p.m. bell began to ring, all dormitory windows on campus were thrown open for a riotous, 10-minute cacophony. Students blew horns, beat drums and tin pans and set off firecrackers — producing a din loud enough to disrupt the studies of even the most zealous poler. An undergraduate writer observed in 1918 that it was “probably the most juvenile of all campus customs, but it brought a welcome break for everyone in a long night’s hard work.”

Firecracker exploding

The 1949 Poler’s Recess was a rousing success, but by the following year, opinion was split as to the benefits of the event and the necessity of yet another study break, and a well-enforced ban on firecrackers further dampened enthusiasm. After a few sporadic attempts to resurrect the tradition, it faded from student memory within a few years.

Closer to home we have the strange tradition of the Raisin Weekend celebrations at St Andrews University:

Historically, first year students would thank their academic parents for their guidance with a pound of raisins, although sinec the 19th century, the giving of raisins was substituted for a derivative – usually alcohol, setting the benchmark for the tradition today.

Usually held annually during the last week in November (or earlier, dependent on academic calendar), first years – known as Bejants and Bejantines – are entertained by their academic parents, starting with a tea-party hosted by the academic mother and a pub crawl or house party led by the academic father. Due to the lack of stringent rules on the number of academic parents a first year may have, it is not unusual for Bejants and Bejantines to attend more than one party or pub crawl, with many families joining together towards the end of the weekend.

St_Andrews_Quad

Traditionally, the parents give their children a ‘Raisin receipt’ in return for the pound of raisins/alcohol. Throughout the years, the receipts have become more and more ludicrous, with livestock receipts banned in the 1960s after a particularly unsavoury moment involving a donkey and laxatives.

There’s more too. The Telegraph has a selection of rather odd university traditions of which this one is perhaps one of the strangest:

…the Time Ceremony undertaken by Merton College students who in the early hours of the last Sunday in October walk backwards around the Fellows’ Quad drinking port. The purpose is to maintain the space-time continuum during the change from British Summer Time to Greenwich Meantime.

Sounds pretty much like an excuse to drink more port.

Does your institution have any similar daft traditions?

Firecracker picture by ABF (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

St Andrews quad picture via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:St_Andrews_Quad.jpg#file

2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities: Top 20 and UK placings

2013 ARWU University World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

A level results day is an interesting time to publish a world ranking but who are we to criticise.

Anyway, don’t get too excited as it is unlikely the bookies will be losing their shirts on this one. Here is the top 20 in full. It is almost identical to last year’s with only one new entrant at number 20.

1 Harvard University
2 Stanford University
3 University of California, Berkeley
4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
5 University of Cambridge
6 California Institute of Technology
7 Princeton University
8 Columbia University
9 University of Chicago
10 University of Oxford
11 Yale University
12 University of California, Los Angeles
13 Cornell University
14 University of California, San Diego
15 University of Pennsylvania
16 University of Washington
17 The Johns Hopkins University
18 University of California, San Francisco
19 University of Wisconsin – Madison
20 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

The full rankings have been published and are now available at the ARWU website

As last year (and the year before that and the year before that) there are really no surprises and almost no movement in the top 20 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot for the seventh successive year and everyone else just about unchanged too. Probably for the best.

In terms of the UK placings, again very little change with only spme slight upward movement for a few institutions.

1
University of Cambridge 5
2
University of Oxford 10
3
University College London 21
4
The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 24
5
The University of Manchester 41
6
The University of Edinburgh 51
7
University of Bristol 64
8
King’s College London 67
9
University of Nottingham 83

Let’s hope there will be a tad more excitement with the other league tables from QS and THE later in the year.

2014 Complete University Guide League Table

It’s spring and it’s time for the first league table of the season.

The Complete University Guide and league table for 2014 is now out. The details can be found on the Guide website together with lots of other analysis (including by subject, region and mission group)  and information on careers, fees etc.

The main table uses nine indicators: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment, Entry Standards, Student:Staff Ratio; Spending on Academic Services; Spending on Student Facilities; Good Honours degrees achieved; Graduate Prospects and Completion. The Subject tables are based on four: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment; Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects. The results tend to be fairly consistent year on year and there is not huge volatility in this table.

 Rank 2014  Rank 2013
1 (1) Cambridge
2 (3) Oxford
3 (2) LSE
4 (4) Imperial
5 (5) Durham
6 (6) St Andrews
7 (8) UCL
8 (6) Warwick
9 (10) Bath
10 (13) Exeter
11 (9) Lancaster
12 (12) York
13 (22) Surrey
14 (14) Loughborough
15 (11) Bristol
16 (20) Leicester
17 (23) Birmingham
18 (16) Edinburgh
19 (18) King’s
20 (27) UEA
20 (15) Southampton

So, little movement in the top 10 apart from the slight rejig to ensure Oxbridge dominance in the first two places. Glasgow and Nottingham slip out of the top 20 to be replaced by UEA, Birmingham and this year’s start performer at 13, the University of Surrey.

The Imperfect University: Graduation – a bit London 2012?

Graduations: A bit like the Olympics but then some

Graduation is one of the most significant events in the university calendar. It is a slightly bizarre and rather ritualistic event. Everyone (well, nearly everyone) dresses up, in gowns and/or posh frocks or newly acquired suits.

I have attended two of my own and over 150 others at different institutions. Whilst I was a bit grumpy about attending the one for my undergraduate degree (I decided I was doing it just for my parents), pretty chipper about the second (after nearly 10 years’ hard graft on my PhD I genuinely felt I’d earned it) and having skipped the one for the Diploma in Management Studies in between I do really rather like them now.

A US commencement

Whilst there is something to be said for the total experience of the US style commencement, I do think the UK model is hard to beat in its mixture of pomp, flummery and joy. And it is quite a bizarre event when you think about it, with few parallels in public life; whilst weddings, funerals, christenings and knightings come close they all involve smaller numbers of people whereas in graduations hundreds of people are the centre of attention, albeit only for a few moments each. Graduation days are just about the only days in the university calendar when everybody is happy or at least the smallest number of people are gloomy.

The closest parallel I think is with the atmosphere around the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics where the experience in all of the venues and on Olympic Park was one of uniform near rapture from volunteers, staff, participants (most of them) and audience alike. OK the various garish sportswear combinations aren’t quite as formal as gowns, hoods and mortar boards but the analogy broadly holds good I think.

London 2012 crowd

Organising graduation ceremonies is one of most thankless tasks in the administrator’s panoply of duties. I’ve often thought it is a bit of a short straw in that many aspects of your work are extremely visible (and permanently on record, available on DVD for a very reasonable price), you are dependent on lots of other people doing what you expect of them and there are just dozens of things which can go wrong and over which you have little or no influence. Senior staff, whatever their role in the event, will always delight in passing on some helpful bits of advice about where things went wrong or could have been improved.

Rituals
Rituals are interesting. Shaking of hands and bowing in different combinations are pretty much commonplace. My recollection of graduating at Edinburgh was that you leaned forward and were hit on head by a large piece of velvet claimed to be a piece of John Knox’s breeches:

According to University legend, the graduation cap (the Geneva Bonnet) was made using material from the breeches of John Knox.

I’m sure it was orange when I graduated but it looks a bit different in the photo. It also now strikes me as rather unlikely that the said item would have lasted for 400 years of head bashing (and it would be generally rather unhygienic too). It also seems a distinctly odd thing to decide would be a good way to signify graduation.

Things are even odder at Cambridge where, naturally, things are also all done in Latin:

The Praelector presenting the graduand holds the candidate by his or her right hand and says:
“Dignissima domina, Domina Procancellaria et tota Academia praesento vobis hunc virum (hanc mulierem) quem (quam) scio tam moribus quam doctrina esse idoneum (idoneam) ad gradum assequendum (name of degree); idque tibi fide mea praesto totique Academiae.”
“Most worthy Vice-Chancellor and the whole University, I present to you this man (this woman) whom I know to be suitable as much by character as by learning to proceed to the degree of (name of degree); for which I pledge my faith to you and to the whole University.”
The graduand’s name is called and they step forward and kneel. Clasping the graduand’s hands, the Vice-Chancellor says:
“Auctoritate mihi commissa admitto te ad gradum (name of degree), in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.”
“By the authority committed to me, I admit you to the degree of (name of degree) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Similarly at Oxford:

If you are attending a degree ceremony to confer your MA (or DD, DCL, DM or MCh), you will be required to kneel in front of the VC, who touches each person on the head with a Testament, admitting them ‘In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’.

It’s slightly less elaborate at Nottingham although there is lots of bowing. Indeed students, regardless of instruction, never seem to know whether they are bowing to the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, the crest behind the stage, the platform party or the mace. They will bow to just about anyone.

As with most universities we do have a heavy and finely crafted mace. One day someone might explain why. We also have Marshals of various kinds and levels of seniority and an Esquire Bedell (who looks after the mace). All of these people, despite their strange titles, are key to making the event happen and to ensure that students actually make it to the front, across the stage and back to their seats without mishap.

Dress
Gowns can be pretty hot and some of more ceremonial officers’ robes even more so: Nottingham’s chancellor has a train and plenty of very heavy gold trim. The best gown ever saw was I think from a Spanish university. Bright orange with a very chic pillbox hat it looked as if it had been unchanged for 500 years. The 60s were a boom time for gown designers with the new universities at that time looking for a contemporary take on the traditional style (I am told); UEA gowns were designed by Cecil Beaton who clearly had fun with the hoods. There was another spate of gown design excitement in 1992 when all the new universities launched and then began adopting their own appropriately differentiated livery. Gown companies, of which there are only a handful in the UK, have really got this market literally and metaphorically sewn up.

Beyond the gowns there can be some interesting dress issues for graduands and, despite the very sound advice issued to all about the inadvisability of trying out stilettoes for the first time many people do. Despite lots of inappropriate footwear – from flip flops to biker boots – people rarely fall over or off the stage. I do know I’m getting old though because of my irritation at the number of graduands who think casual wear is appropriate for such a ceremony. Attempts to legislate have so far failed.

On graduands
It’s pretty easy to have all your lazy prejudices confirmed about the kind of students following different kinds of courses. For example, you can be pretty sure that at least several archaeology graduands will have long hair and beards. It is inevitable that many art history and psychology students are tall and blonde. Physiotherapy students have the firmest handshakes. Names, particularly but not always of international students, are quite tricky and sexing the graduand can also occasionally be problematic and embarrassing for the Dean if called incorrectly. On the plus side, British graduands often have amusing middle names which no-one has ever heard attributed to them before.

Platform party
These things I have learned:

  • Some members of the platform party seem to find it challenging to stay awake for an hour on a stage. Even when you are clapping a lot (or pretending to clap because you have sore hands from excessive clapping in the previous ceremony).
  • Drinking at lunchtime is generally not conducive to effective working, including at graduation. Just because you only have to walk and clap doesn’t mean you can drink with impunity.
  • Sleeping on stage is still frowned upon.
  • You have to behave. Furtive blackberry use is going to be noticed. Even so, lots of parents and friends of graduands will have lots of pictures of people in funny dress doing odd things on stage.
  • Every university has some really oddly titled courses and we all appear, judging by the small number of graduands on some programmes, to have many more uneconomic courses than we thought. These are not things to raise with members of faculty during the procession.

Honorary graduates
I’ve written before about these and a previous post noted the two broad categories for the recipients of honorary degrees. Although there are a few borderlines, by and large I think it’s still the case that you can divide the worthy holders of honoraries into serious or celebrities. Another post on last year’s round of awards noted the wide range of celebrities who have collected honoraries, from Donald Sinden to Pam St Clement. An even earlier piece noted the success of some individuals in accumulating large numbers of honorary awards (although Kermit has still only got the one degree as far as I can tell). It’s all good fun although can get messy if you decide, as Edinburgh did in the case of Robert Mugabe, that the recipient is not perhaps as worthy as he once was and ask for your degree back.

Recipients of honorary degrees, or in the US where famous individuals are invited there just for this purpose, normally deliver an address to inspire and uplift the new graduates. There are thousands of US commencement speeches on you tube and many lists of the best including this rather good one.

One recent and very good one from the University of Nottingham is an address by author Jon McGregor who advises graduates to “get lost”:

Forward not back

Graduation is still a major rite of passage. It remains one of the most wonderful events in the university calendar and, for all concerned it is generally a positive and forward looking event. Everyone is thinking about future work or study or other plans but also with fond reflection of their time at university. There is an over-riding sense of optimism even in the most difficult economic circumstances. It’s a bit like having the Olympics in your patch every year.

2012 Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

2012 Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings: Top 20 and UK placings

Keep calm. Top 20 follows:

1 Harvard University
2 Stanford University
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
4 University of California, Berkeley
5 University of Cambridge
6 California Institute of Technology
7 Princeton University
8 Columbia University
9 University of Chicago
10 University of Oxford
11 Yale University
12 University of California, Los Angeles
13 Cornell University
14 University of Pennsylvania
15 University of California, San Diego
16 University of Washington
17 The Johns Hopkins University
18 University of California, San Francisco
19 University of Wisconsin – Madison
20 The University of Tokyo

The rankings have been published and are or will shortly be available at the ARWU website

As last year though there are no surprises and absolutely no movement in the top 20 with Harvard retaining the number 1 spot for the sixth successive year and everyone else unchanged too. They are going to have to think about changing to doing this every five years instead of annually.

In terms of the UK placings, again very little change:

5 University of Cambridge United Kingdom 1
10 University of Oxford United Kingdom 2
21 University College London United Kingdom 3
24 The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine United Kingdom 4
40 The University of Manchester United Kingdom 5
51 The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom 6
68 King’s College London United Kingdom 7
70 University of Bristol United Kingdom 8
86 University of Nottingham United Kingdom 9

Only change is that Sheffield slips out of the Top 100.

Let’s hope there will be more excitement with the Times Higher and QS tables.

A new world ranking of universities

What we’ve all been waiting for…

Yes, it’s another new world ranking. This time from the previously  unheard of Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) from Saudi Arabia. The website offers little information about the organisation but we do know that the US has the lion’s share of the top 100 places:

The distribution of top 100 institutions among countries is as follows: USA (58), England (7), France (5), Japan (5), Israel (4), Switzerland (4), Canada (3), Germany (3), Australia (2), Netherlands (2), Denmark (1), Finland (1), Italy (1), Norway (1), Scotland (1), South Korea (1), and Sweden (1).

The detailed methodology is also available on the CWUR website. Anyway, the Top 10 is as follows:

Top 10

  1. Harvard
  2. MIT
  3. Stanford
  4. Cambridge
  5. Caltech
  6. Princeton
  7. Oxford
  8. Yale
  9. Columbia
  10. Berkeley

And the UK placings in the Top 100 are:

4 Cambridge

7 Oxford

28 Imperial

31 UCL

60 Edinburgh

76 Manchester

97 Nottingham

98 Bristol

So, overall not that dissimilar from the SJTU Academic Ranking of World Universities or the QS table. Will it gain a niche in the rankings market? Time will tell but at first sight it doesn’t seem to be sufficiently distinctive to attract a major profile.

QS World subject ranking – UK universities

New QS world rankings by subject

The Guardian has a summary of UK universities’ performance in the latest QS subject rankings and it looks like Oxford comes out top

Institution name
Highest rank
Subject
University of Oxford 1 Geography
History
Philosophy
University of Cambridge 1 English Language and Literature
London Business School 3 Accountancy and Finance
London School of Economics 3 Politics and International Studies
Imperial College London 6 Pharmacy and Pharmacology
University of Edinburgh 7 Linguistics
University of Manchester 11 Geography
Durham University 12 Geography
University College London 12 Psychology
King’s College London 16 Pharmacy and Pharmacology
University of St Andrews 16 Philosophy
Institute of Education 17 Education
University of Nottingham 21= Pharmacy and Pharmacology
University of Warwick 21 English Language and Literature
University of Bristol 22 Geography
Lancaster University 24= Environmental Science
University of York 27 English Language and Literature

On the face of it this looks like a fairly creditable performance in a limited range of subjects. The full subject ranks are available here.

Student Olympians

A different kind of league table

Universities Week this year had a distinct Olympics focus:

30 April 2012: To mark the start of Universities Week 2012 (30 April – 7 May), a new report launched today reveals the statistics behind Team GB for the last twenty years. Detailed analysis of UK Olympic athletes shows that Team GB Olympic medallists are nearly twice as likely to have gone to university as the UK population as a whole, with 61 per cent of medallists having been university-educated, compared to 31 per cent of the population as a whole.

The report, Olympic and Paralympic Games: The impact of universities, highlights that university-goers from the combined Team GB competitors since Barcelona 1992 to Beijing 2008 have won 65 per cent of the nation’s gold medals, 66 per cent silver medals and 49 per cent of the bronze medals. At the last Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, 64 per cent of Team GB’s medallists had been to university, compared to 66 per cent at the previous Games in Athens.

Excellent linkage between university attendance and Olympic success. Which also gives us a new league table: a ranking of universities by number of Olympic medals won. No surprises about who is in first place:

Place University and medals
1-2 Joint:   University of Cambridge and University of Oxford with 15 medals each
3                 Loughborough University with 11 medals
4-5              Joint: Oxford Brookes University and University of Edinburgh both with nine medals each
6                 University of Bath with 7 medals
7                 University of Nottingham with 6 medals
8-9             Joint: University of Reading and University of Southampton with 5 medals
10              University of Exeter with 4 medals

Let’s hope for more this summer.

2013 Complete University Guide League Table

Yes, it’s the first league table of the season

The Complete University Guide and league table is now out. The details can be found on the Guide websitetogether with lots of other analysis (including by subject, region and mission group)  and information on careers, fees etc. The main table uses nine indicators: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment, Entry Standards, Student:Staff Ratio; Spending on Academic Services; Spending on Student Facilities; Good Honours degrees achieved; Graduate Prospects and Completion. The Subject tables are based on four: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment; Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects.

 Rank 2012  Rank 2013
1 (1) Cambridge
2 (4) LSE
3 (2) Oxford
4 (3) Imperial
5 (5) Durham
6 (6) St Andrews
6 (8) Warwick
8 (7) UCL
9 (9) Lancaster
10 (10) Bath
11 (11) Bristol
12 (12) York
13 (15) Exeter
14 (19) Loughborough
15 (14) Southampton
16 (13) Edinburgh
17 (21) Glasgow
18 (16) King’s
19 (17) Nottingham
20 (23) Leicester

So, little movement in the top 15 apart from the slightly surprising news that LSE has usurped Oxford to climb to second place in the table. Oxford has dropped from first place in 2011 and this change will undoubtedly grab the headlines for the table. Glasgow and Leicester join the top 20 but Sussex and SOAS drop out.

A Key University Ranking


It’s the University Challenge top 10

University Ranking Watch has published a distinctive table: the universities which have won the most University Challenge series. Leaving aside the detail that Oxford and Cambridge enjoy the special privilege of multiple entries, via the Colleges, it’s an interesting list:

Surprisingly, they've never won

1. Oxford      39 points

2. Cambridge      21

3. Manchester      8

4=. Imperial College London      5

4=. Open University       5

6=. Durham      4

6=. Sussex      4

8=. St. Andrews      3

8=. Birkbeck, University of London      3

10=. Bradford      2

10=. Dundee      2

10=. Keele 2

10=. Leicester      2

10=. Belfast      2

10=. Warwick      2

(Note that it’s two points for a win and one for being runner up.)
One day, the University of Nottingham will be there I hope.

Student regulations. In Oxford and Uzbekistan

Guess which is from the 16th Century

Students have always behaved badly. Not all of them and not all of the time but universities have often felt the need to seek to constrain the worst excesses. In 1584 at Oxford University, statutes were approved to prevent disorder among the student body. These regulations also contain references to specific degree requirements including attendance at lectures on Aristotle and an instruction not to play football. (Sylvester, D (1970), Educational Documents, 800-1816, London: Methuen pp151-153.)

These days universities around the world tend to have more comprehensive requirements (but perhaps more supportive of sporting activity). A rather striking devlopment of this has been reported by the Chronicle which notes that Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Education has issued a rather thorough ‘code of conduct’ for students, covering such matters as how they should shake hands with professors and the proper time to visit the toilet during classes.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (quoted by the Chronicle) described the code, “Ethical Rules for Higher Education Institutions,” as an attempt by an authoritarian government to keep its youth population in line:

The ministry is requiring that its pedantic “Ethical Rules for Higher Education Institutions” be signed by every university student and professor in the country.

Any idea what kind of book this might be?

“These rules are being introduced to form and retain, as well as defend, the ethical integrity of members of higher educational institutions,” the document says. It promises to “prevent the decay of students…and defend them from alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as the threats of religious extremism and mass culture.”

(It’s good to see that someone is still fighting that last battle, particularly after Rutgers University paid Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” $32,000 to lecture its students in March 2011. Snooki got $2,000 more than Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning author who for $30,000 delivered the keynote address at Rutgers’ commencement ceremony in May 2011.)

Notwithstanding the lofty language of the prologue, many of the new guidelines read like a rather poor joke, the work of ministry officials with an acutely sardonic sense of humor. Article 3.8 stipulates that “members of a higher education institution, when moving, should take the right side. It is recommended to greet each other in the following way: students first greet professors; men first greet women; younger students first greet older students. Shaking hands is excluded from this rule, since elders should reach out to shake first.”

And there’s more:

“It is prohibited to post on the Internet materials that are not in line with national values or related to the internal problems of higher educational institutions,” the rules say, before going on to note that they “categorically ban publishing, saving, or distribution via computers of different materials not related to a higher education institution.”

And just when you thought things could not get any worse: “Don’t walk around a university campus with no reason,” the rulebook advises.

Rather harsh and somewhat backward looking (if indeed true – I haven’t been able to locate the original code which is quoted). And suspect it won’t help their international student recruitment either.

Not one of the most cited league tables

But a diverting ranking nevertheless…

I first picked up on this one over four years ago in a rather dismissive post. It’s an exciting league table which aims to reflect the contributions of universities to educating the world’s top chief executives. Produced by the Ecole des Mines de Paris, or MINES ParisTech as they seem to prefer these days, it sets out to be an “INTERNATIONAL PROFESSIONAL RANKING OF HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS”.

The latest edition of the MINES ParisTech league table is based on the achievement of graduates in the highest roles in the top companies and the methodology is pretty straightforward:

The academic career for qualification in higher education of “top executives” (subsequently referred to as CEOs) has been redefined and, for each person in question, a point has been awarded to each of the various institutions which contributed to their higher education.

(Note that where the individual studied at more than one institution, the point has been divided up amongst the contributors.)

The points awarded to each institution for all of the 500 CEOs are then added up, so as to classify the range of institutions having contributed to the graduate training of one or several CEOs of the 500 companies listed by Fortune Global 500. In 2010, the 500 companies of Fortune Global 500 were run by 508 people (eight companies had two leaders). We were able to obtain information on the higher education career of 487 of the 508 CEOs. For the other 21 (i.e. 4.1% of the total number), it was not possible to reconstitute any aspect of their academic career. For five CEOs, the assessment was only partial. Lastly, 13 CEOs had not pursued any higher education studies.

All clear and uncontroversial I would have thought

Sadly, MINES ParisTech itself falls just outside the top 20.

1 Harvard University

2 Tokyo University

3 Keio University

4 HEC (France)

5 Kyoto University

5 University of Oxford

7 Ecole Polytechnique

8 Waseda University

9 ENA (France)

10 Seoul National University

11 University of Pennsylvania

12 Columbia University

13 Stanford University

13 Tohoku University

13 University of Nottingham

16 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

17 Institute for Study of Politics – Paris

18 University St Gallen

19 University Sao Paulo

19 Northwestern University

The other UK showings are Cambridge at 30 and Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow at 38. Over 100 universities are tied in 92nd place with 1 point each which does kind of undermine the lower end of the table somewhat. Good showing for Japanese universities though with four places in the top 10