Quality research led teaching helps keep Russell-group of universities at the top of 2010 rankings

The following Guardian article emphasizes that the choice of which university to attend is an all important decision in the currently very competitive jobs market. The article suggests that students are heading towards universities that offer the “combination of world-class research, a commitment to research-led teaching” as well as “learning in an inquiry-based environment, where teaching is enriched by research” , all of which will provide the best academic experience and the most employable critical thinking and leadership skills.

Oxford tops Guardian’s 2010 university league table

Guardian – May 12, 2009

Oxford University holds on to its position as the UK’s leading teaching institution in the Guardian’s university league tables

Full Guardian university guide for 2010, along with advice on how to apply to university, fees, and how to get the best from your course.

Oxford University holds on to its position as the UK’s leading teaching institution in the Guardian’s university league tables, to be published tomorrow.

The tables provide vital information for students who face the toughest ever competition for university places this year.

Oxford scores highly on teaching quality, student satisfaction and career prospects.

It also spends the highest amount per student. Dr John Hood, Oxford’s vice-chancellor, warned last month that the university was suffering unsustainable losses because of the cost of teaching its undergraduates.

Oxford’s traditional rival, Cambridge University, retains its second-place ranking, with St Andrews University moving up from fifth spot last year to third place in the 2010 tables.

Britain’s oldest universities still dominate the high rankings this year, with the London School of Economics fifth, Edinburgh seventh, and Imperial College London eighth.

But universities founded in the 1960s have also made the top 10: Warwick retains fourth position and Loughborough the tenth spot; Bath ranks ninth, up from 13th last year. Sussex has leapt 15 places to 18th, and Herriot-Watt rises from 52nd to 22nd place this year.

Prof Paul Curran, vice-chancellor of Bournemouth University, which has come top of the post-1992 universities for the second year running, said its 32nd ranking was down to investing in staff.

“We focused very clearly on academic excellence and investing in academic staff and our performance has improved dramatically.

“We’ve recruited 150 new staff over two years and doubled the number of staff who have doctorates, which has improved the student experience.

“Academic staff who are really enthusiastic about their subject is what we think students want, and the results would indicate that.”

Newer universities tend to do less well in the Guardian’s tables because they spend less money on teaching, they have lower ratios of staff to students, and their students are less happy with the feedback they get.

Paul Marshall, executive director of the 1994 group of smaller, research-intensive institutions, said: “The excellent performance of 1994 group universities in these national league tables, achieving 10 of the top 18 places, highlights yet again that our members are second to none in delivering a world-class academic experience.

“Deciding on which university to attend is an increasingly important choice in a very competitive jobs market.

“Savvy students have worked out that 1994 group universities deliver the very best academic experience through a combination of world-class research, a commitment to research-led teaching, and the highest levels of student satisfaction.”

Dr Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell group of older research-intensive universities, said they continued to excel.

“Evidence demonstrates that learning in an inquiry-based environment, where teaching is enriched by research, provides a real benefit to students.

“The high-quality teaching and research undertaken by our universities builds the UK’s knowledge base and gives our students highly employable critical thinking and leadership skills.”

She said Russell group institutions scored highly in the most important categories, including career prospects. “Our universities have, for many years, been developing a range of schemes to enhance graduate employability, including work-based learning, internships in coveted professions, and tailored guidance to help students consolidate the skills that are valued by employers,” said Piatt.

The top three places in the league table for specialist institutions have shifted, though conservatoires still dominate.

The Royal Academy of Music ranks first, up from third place last year, taking over from the Courtauld Institute, which drops to second place in the 2010 tables.

The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama falls to third place from second last year.

The Guardian University Guide and The Guardian Postgraduate Guide are now available from Guardian Books

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