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UK Postgraduate Rankings: The Guardian Postgraduate League Tables

All of the league tables rank universities on a number of different factors, and The Guardian newspaper is the only newspaper that formulates league tables specifically for postgraduate study. All the other university league tables put together by newspapers only focus on undergraduate study. These postgraduate rankings are then published on their website .

What Makes The Guardian’s League Tables So Good?

The Guardian postgraduate league tables are good because as well as being specifically tailored towards postgraduate students, they are easily accessible on their website and allow you to conduct searches by subject area. This is great facility for prospective postgraduates to have as it is the subject that is more important than the overall university. 

The league tables allow you to see all the universities that offer a particular postgraduate course, which you can then easily compare with one another. The league tables contain statistics such as the number of full-time and part-time students, the student-to-staff ratio and the completion rates. With one glance you can find out so much about a university and the postgraduate courses that they offer.

How Does The Guardian Form These League Tables?

UK Postgraduate Rankings: The Guardian Postgraduate League Tables There are three criteria that a university has to meet before being included in the postgraduate subject tables. If a university meets all of three of these criteria then it can be included in the tables, thus the data will start being gathered:

•    They must have at least 35 postgraduate students either full-time or part-time.
•    The cost centre that is assigned to each department in an institution must have at least 25 full time equivalent students.
•    The department has to have a certain full-time or part-time completion rate.

What is the relevant data?

Here is the relevant data that is collected, and how it is gathered.

#1 Full-Time & Part-Time Students

This is the number of full-time and part-time students in a department. It is simply done by counting the number of postgraduate students that are enrolled on a specific course and includes distance learners.

#2 Students From Outside The UK

This statistic shows the number of postgraduate students enrolled on a course that have a permanent home that is outside of the UK. It is displayed in percentage format.

#3 Expenditure Per Student

This is the amount of money that an institution spends per student on a specific course. However this statistic doesn’t just includes postgraduate students as it takes into account undergraduates as well.

#4 Student-to-Staff Ratios

This is a ratio that compares the number of teaching staff and in institution or department with the number of students that are studying. The lower the ratio the more positive this statistic is considered to be.

#5 Full-Time & Part-Time Completion Rates

This statistic refers to the number of full-time and part-time postgraduate students that completed their course. The data is displayed separately for full-time and part-time postgraduates and is displayed in percentage form.

#6 Tuition Fees

This is simply the cost of tuition fees to study a postgraduate course at specific universities. The tuition fees for full-time and part-time students are displayed separately. This makes it easy for comparison of fees between universities.

Advantages Of The Guardian’s Postgraduate League Tables?

•    It is the only league table that supplies information on postgraduate study.
•    The layout of the league tables makes it excellent for making comparisons.
•    The league tables are easily accessible and free to view.
•    You can look at postgraduate courses by subject.
•    The league tables are published every year.
•    The data is easy to understand.

Disadvantages Of The Guardian’s Postgraduate League Tables?

•    They are carried out by a newspaper rather than a government source.
•    Not all the statistics provided are postgraduate specific as some statistics use data gathered from undergraduates.
•    Not all universities and courses are included as they may not meet the three criteria that they require.

Click here to visit The Guardian Postgraduate League Tables website.

What about the Guardian University Guide?

The Guardian University Guide rankings use the following criteria:

  • Teaching quality (10%) – derived from the rating by final-year students on the course in the latest National Student Survey.
  • Feedback (assessment) (5%) – also derived from the rating by final-year students on the course in the latest National Student Survey.
  • Spending per student (17%) – this does not include the cost of academic staff, but does include money spent on central academic services and per student (full-time equivalent), as well as the money spent by the institution on providing the subject.
  • Staff/student ratio (17%) – a low ratio is treated positively.
  • Job prospects (17%) – based on the latest Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education data, this is the proportion of graduates who have been able to find graduate-level work or further full-time study within six months of graduation.
  • Value added (17%) – a comparison of students’ final degree results with their entry qualifications.
  • Entry score (17%) – the average UCAS tariff points of first-year entrants to a first degree in a subject, less the tariffs for key skills and core skills; Scottish institutions are dealt with separately.


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