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The Guardian 2015 University League Table Explained for Study in the UK

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If you are considering studying abroad in the UK, it is important to find out which university would be right for you. University ranking tables are one way of reliably comparing different universities based upon feedback from students and empirical evidence collected to measure education performance. At the beginning of June, the Guardian University league tables for 2015 were published. As a highly respected ranking body for UK universities, we look at the tables in detail and highlight some exciting performers that you should consider when you are choosing your study abroad location.

The top ten Universities remained largely similar in order to the rankings of 2014, with Cambridge occupying the top position (a position they also hold in the QS World University Rankings), followed by Oxford University, St Andrews and Bath University. Making the jump up into the top ten was Lancaster University, whilst University College London slipped to 11th.

Elsewhere in the rankings, there was cause for celebration for several of the East Midlands universities, as the University of Derby climbed to 50th from their previous position of 79th, Nottingham University rose from 28th to 22nd and Nottingham Trent University went up in the rankings from 73rd to 57th. The University of Leicester retained a respectable position of 21st, whilst the University of Northampton also climbed to 44th.

Further north and the University of Leeds rose to 28th position, tied with the popular Newcastle University. the University of Sheffield climb one to 37th position, whilst their neighbours Sheffield Hallam University remain relatively unchanged at 73rd position.

On the south coast, the University of Portsmouth drop slightly to a still-impressive 55th, whilst the University of Brighton rise 6 to 62nd position and the University of Southampton rise 5 places to 19th position.

In Scotland, the University of Dundee remain in a strong 47th whilst the University of Abertay Dundee have climbed to 101st.

Subject Rankings

The Guardian University League tables also include rankings by subject, which often highlight the relative strengths that universities can hold in specific subject areas.

Whilst an institution’s overall rankings are important, it is worth looking into their subject rankings especially if you already have a subject to study in mind. Considering how an institution ranks for your subject may result in you studying at a university you hadn’t previously considered and ultimately lead to you obtaining a degree that is better regarded as a result.

Here are some of our picks from the Guardian subject rankings:


The University of Huddersfield rank highly in the Education subject rankings at 2nd place, enjoying great feedback from students on their BA (hons) Early Years, BA (hons) Religion & Education and BA (hons) Teacher Training, Primary Education courses. Another impressive performer is the University of Reading, who rank 3rd for Education, on the back of several highly rated Bachelor degree in Primary Education. Kingston University also rank strongly for their Bachelor degrees in Primary Education, taking them to a ranking of 6th for Education.

Fashion & Textiles

The top University this year for fashion and textiles is Loughborough University, who rank 15th in the overall rankings. This ranking was achieved on the back of the excellent BA (hons) Textiles: Innovation & Design course. The University of Derby feature at an impressive third place, scoring highly with their BA (hons) Fashion Studies and BA (hons) Textile Design courses. Also impressing are Arts University Bournemouth, with their BA (hons) Fashion and BA (hons) Textiles courses.


Institutions at the top of the overall rankings list tend to rank highly for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). For example, in the subject of Mathematics the top five comprise of the University of St Andrews, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, the University of Warwick and University College London – 4 of which feature in the overall top ten.

Using the Rankings to Guide Your Choice

The Guardian rankings include several different scores, each providing a different way to measure the rankings. These include Value Added Score – a comparison of final degree results against initial entry qualification, Teaching Quality Score – which is based upon student feedback in the National Student Survey and a Career Score – which measures the percentage of graduates who go on to graduate level jobs within 6 months of graduating. Familiarising yourself with these scores helps you to measure universities in these rankings against what is important to you.

We have touched upon the fact that universities may hold different strengths, and these are reflected in the Guardian subject rankings. When you are at the stage of choosing your degree course (and for some of you, this can be over the course of several years), it pays to keep track of how universities rank in your chosen subject area. The rankings will change year upon year, but by keeping yourself up to date with the various rankings available you can build a good understanding of where you are likely to receive the best learning experience for your chosen area.

There are several other higher education rankings systems to consider when you are researching universities, especially if you are looking to study outside of the UK. These include the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. All rankings operate on slightly different scoring systems, but all are useful as a tool to help your decision. Do also bear in mind other considerations when choosing your university such as geographical location, costs and the quality of life you can expect if you move to a new area for your studies.

Source: The Guardian

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