This question has been raised by almost all international students wanting to study or already studying in the UK. Since there are more than 200 higher education institutions in the UK, it's a bit competitive for them all to get top ranks! The most well-respected league tables in the UK to check are Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, Guardian University Guide and Complete University Guide.
Why are University Rankings Important?
Because they showcase what a university excels at taking into consideration many aspects and factors, locally and globally. They help you think about your personal preferences and decide on the best university for you. Are you more concerned about the university's teaching quality or international reputation? Or are you interested in how it helps students reach their goals? For example, if you care about your future career prospects and salary after graduation, what you do at the university and how well you do it is more important than where you went to study, whether you went to an infamous one or not.
Even parents, when they're looking up universities for their children, they understand that some factors of the following are to be considered:
1. University Ranking
This is the overall ranking. It heavily focuses on universities' research and reputation. Bear in mind that this rank has nothing to do with students' reviews and quality of teaching.
2. Subject Ranking
If you're into studying a specific major, it's better to look out for the subject ranking rather than the university's overall ranking; each educational institution excels at a particular degree or studies more than others.
Some universities' location plays an important role to be chosen by students or parents. The university's location in a city with a high percentage of unemployability, for example, makes students and parents opt from choosing it. Whereas a university in a town with low unemployability percentage is prioritized. But to be fair and square, students' performance during their university years and grades when they graduate play a far more critical role when it comes to employment. In other words, it's better to look at the quality of teaching and student satisfaction ranks.
4. Cost of Living
Students pursuing undergraduate or postgraduate degrees abroad on a budget are widespread and normal. The cost of living when studying abroad determines a lot, like choosing the major university with affordable tuition fees, not being in so much debt when it comes to student loans, and of course, transportation and groceries average cost. When choosing a university to study at, all these aspects are to be taken into consideration.
5. Student Satisfaction
Well, this is a bit tricky, but the most reliable ones to almost all international students. Studies showed that students are more likely to take advice and make life decisions based on peer advice rather than parents or academic staff opinions and rankings. Surprised? To clear it up, students listen to students; they believe they face the same struggles and battle the same battles, so they take their words for it. Universities, therefore, run student satisfaction surveys to collect the data needed to attract more students to enrol in their universities. Makes sense, huh!
6. Research Ranking
Most parents favour universities that combine research strength with student satisfaction, since having influential research work going on is not to be taken lightly, let alone student satisfaction. Research ranking has to do with research facilities, budgets and the university's reputation. When all the aspects are combined, they make the best of choices for both students and parents.
7. Percentage of International Students
As an international student wanting to study abroad, interacting with like-minded students is essential, but what's more fun, and more effective to be honest, is communicating with students coming from different backgrounds, speaking different languages and exchanging various cultures. Both students and parents now find this a very attractive feature that helps parents decide whether to send their children to this place or not.
If you feel you're overwhelmed with all this information, you can take a step back to look at the big picture first, so read our The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Studying Abroad blog article.