University College Birmingham League Table

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University College Birmingham League Table

University College Birmingham’s unique dual role as a successful higher education and further education institution means its performance is often unfairly represented by the traditional “one-size-fits-all” university league tables.

It is for this reason, and no other, that UCB has declined to take part in league tables, which do a disservice to student achievements and the University’s internationally recognised standards of teaching, both of which are lauded in independent measures of student satisfaction.

The majority of graduate and postgraduate courses are accredited by the University of Birmingham, underlining the rigorous nature of academic teaching and assessment.

Here are a few examples of the ways in which league tables have misinterpreted UCB data:

  • Many guides use the average UCAS tariff score of students on entry to an institution. The assumption is that this reflects the ability of the student and how selective (better) the university is. However, many students apply to UCB from vocational courses that do not carry UCAS tariff points. This means the UCB average tariff points on entry are lower than institutions that recruit mainly A-level students.
  • The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) calculates a full-time equivalent (FTE) student on a course basis. A higher education student usually takes one course per year and the FTE number is therefore accurate. However, most further education students take two or three courses per year and, as a result, the FTE number is incorrectly inflated.
  • HESA cannot split numbers between those who teach on higher education and those who teach on further education. A number of staff teach on both. Hence, any rating that relies on student or staff numbers will be incorrect.
  • These two sets of data are used by guide compilers to calculate student/staff ratios and the data used makes it appear there are far more students per member of staff than is the case.
  • Also, the inflated UCB student number is used by some guides to calculate the amount of money spent directly on students. This means UCB appears to spend less on each student than many other institutions, which is incorrect.
  • UCB’s mission as a vocationally-based, teaching-focused institution rather than a research intensive establishment means we do not apply for government-funded research grants and, therefore, we are disadvantaged in this respect in the scoring of a number of the guides.

Professor Ray Linforth, University Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said: “We believe the league tables offer an unfairly distorted picture of UCB and the rigorous academic standards we require from our students.