University Of Bristol Ranking

By | 8th May 2017

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University Of Bristol Ranking

Three national rankings of universities in the United Kingdom are published annually – by The Complete University Guide, The Guardian and jointly by The Times and The Sunday Times. Rankings have also been produced in the past by The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times.

The primary aim of the rankings is to inform potential undergraduate applicants about UK universities based on a range of criteria, including entry standards, student satisfaction, staff/student ratio, academic services and facilities expenditure per student, research quality, proportion of Firsts and 2:1s, completion rates and student destinations.All of the league tables also rank universities on their strength in individual subjects.

Each year since 2008, Times Higher Education has compiled a “Table of Tables” to combine the results of the 3 mainstream league tables. In the 2016 table,the top 5 universities were the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of St Andrews, Imperial College London and Durham University. The top 5 universities in a 2009 ranking of British universities by national reputation were Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, LSE and St Andrews,while in a companion international reputation ranking, the top 5 British universities were Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, Imperial and Manchester. The top five universities in a 2015 ranking of institutes that produce the country’s most employable graduates in a survey of recruiters from major UK companies in the business, IT and engineering sectors were Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, Manchester and King’s College London. The five universities with the highest average UCAS tariff scores for undergraduates starting in 2014-15 were Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, Durham and St Andrews.


The following rankings of British universities are produced annually:

The Complete University Guide

The Complete University Guide is compiled by Mayfield University Consultants (which had previously compiled university rankings for The Times). It was published for the first time in The Daily Telegraph in 2007, when it was known as The Good University Guide, and was produced in association with The Independent from 2008 to 2011

The ranking uses ten criteria, with a statistical technique called the Z-transformation applied to the results of each. The ten Z-scores are then weighted (by 1.5 for student satisfaction, 0.5 for research intensity, academic services spend and facilities spend, and 1.0 for the rest) and summed to give a total score for each university. These total scores are then transformed to a scale where the top score is set at 1,000, with the remainder being a proportion of the top score. The ten criteria are:

  • “Academic services spend” – the expenditure per student on all academic services (data source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA));
  • “Degree completion” – a measure of the completion rate of students (data source: HESA);
  • “Entry standards” – the average UCAS tariff score of new students under the age of 21 (data source: HESA);
  • “Facilities spend” – the expenditure per student on staff and student facilities (data source: HESA);
  • “Good honours” – the proportion of firsts and upper seconds (data source: HESA);
  • “Graduate prospects” – a measure of the employability of graduates (data source: HESA);
  • “Research assessment” – a measure of the average quality of research (data source: 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF));
  • Research intensity – a measure of the fraction of staff who are research-active (data sources: HESA & REF);
  • “Student satisfaction” – a measure of the view of students on the teaching quality (data source: the National Student Survey); and
  • “Student:staff ratio” – a measure of the average staffing level (data source: HESA).

The most recent league table (2018) ranked the top 50 (out of 129) British universities as follows:

Rank (1-10)UniversityRank (11-20)UniversityRank (21-30)UniversityRank (31-40)UniversityRank (41-50)University
1University of Cambridge11University of Bath21King’s College London31University of Sheffield41University of Liverpool
2University of Oxford12University of East Anglia22University of Manchester32University of Essex42City University
3University of St Andrews13University of Surrey=23University of Edinburgh33QMUL43Coventry University
4London School of Economics=14University of Exeter=23Newcastle University34Royal Holloway=44Swansea University
5Imperial College London=14University of Leeds25University of Kent35QUB=44University of Strathclyde
6Durham University16University of Birmingham=26University of Southampton=36University of Glasgow46Harper Adams University
7University College London17University of Bristol=26University of Reading=36Cardiff University47Brunel University
8University of Warwick18University of Nottingham28Heriot-Watt University38SOAS48Keele University
9Lancaster University19University of Sussex29University of Dundee39Stirling University49Aston University
10Loughborough University20University of York30University of Leicester40University of Aberdeen50University of Lincoln

The Guardian

The Guardian’s ranking uses eight different criteria, each weighted between 5 and 17 per cent. Unlike other annual rankings of British universities, the criteria do not include a measure of research output. A “value-added” factor is included which compares students’ degree results with their entry qualifications, described by the newspaper as being “[b]ased upon a sophisticated indexing methodology that tracks students from enrolment to graduation, qualifications upon entry are compared with the award that a student receives at the end of their studies”. Tables are drawn up for subjects, with the overall ranking being based on an average across the subjects rather than on institutional level statistics. The eight criteria are:

  • “Entry score” (17%);
  • “Feedback” – as rated by graduates of the course (5%);
  • “Job prospects” (17%) (data source: Destination of Leavers from Higher Education);
  • “Overall quality” – final-year students opinions about the overall quality of their course (data source: the National Student Survey);
  • “Spending per student” (17%);
  • “Staff/student ratio” (17%);
  • “Teaching quality” – as rated by graduates of the course (10%) (data source: the National Student Survey); and
  • “Value added” (17%).

The most recent league table (2017) ranked the top 50 (out of 119) British universities as follows:

Rank (1-10)UniversityRank (11-20)UniversityRank (21-30)UniversityRank (31-40)UniversityRank (41-50)University
1University of Cambridge11University of Exeter21University of Falmouth31University of Manchester41University of Sheffield
2University of Oxford12London School of Economics22University of Edinburgh32University of Reading42King’s College London
3University of St Andrews13University of Birmingham23University of Kent33University of Cardiff43University of Portsmouth
=4University of Surrey14University College London24University of East Anglia=34Keele University44Robert Gordon University
=4Loughborough University15Coventry University25University of Nottingham=34QMUL45Royal Holloway
6Durham University=16Leeds University26University of Glasgow36University of Aberdeen46Goldsmiths, University of London
7Imperial College London=16University of Southampton27Heriot-Watt University37Newcastle University47University of Leicester
8Lancaster University18City University28University of Dundee38University of Bristol=48Queen’s University, Belfast
9University of Warwick19University of York29Aston University=39Swansea University=48University of Derby
10University of Bath20University of Sussex30SOAS=39University for the Creative Arts50Northumbria University

The Times/The Sunday Times

The Times/The Sunday Times university league table, known as the Good University Guide,is published in both electronic and print format and ranks institutions using the following eight criteria:

  • “Student satisfaction (+50 to -55 points)” – the results of national student surveys are scored taking a theoretical minimum and maximum score of 50% and 90% respectively (data source: the National Student Survey);
  • “Teaching excellence (250)” – defined as: subjects scoring at least 22/24 points, those ranked excellent, or those undertaken more recently in which there is confidence in academic standards and in which teaching and learning, student progression and learning resources have all been ranked commendable (data source: Quality Assurance Agency; Scottish Higher Education Funding Council; Higher Education Funding Council for Wales);
  • “Heads’/peer assessments (100)” – school heads are asked to identify the highest-quality undergraduate provision (data source: The Sunday Times heads’ survey and peer assessment);
  • “Research quality (200)” – based upon the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (data source: Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce));
  • “A-level/Higher points (250)” – nationally audited data for the subsequent academic year are used for league table calculations (data source: HESA);
  • “Unemployment (100)” – the number of students assume to be unemployed six months after graduation is calculated as a percentage of the total number of known desbefore completing their courses is compared with the number expected to do so (the benchmark figure shown in brackets) (data source: Hefce, Performance Indicators in Higher Education).

Other criteria considered are:

  • “Completion” – the percentage of students who manage to complete their degree;
  • “Entry standards” – the average UCAS tariff score (data source: HESA);
  • “Facilities spending” – the average expenditure per student on sports, careers services, health and counselling;
  • “Good honours” – the percentage of students graduating with a first or 2.1;
  • “Graduate prospects” – the percentage of UK graduates in graduate employment or further study (data source: HESA’s survey of Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE));
  • “Library and computing spending” – the average expenditure on library and computer services per student (data source: HESA);
  • “Research” (data source: 2008 Research Assessment Exercise);
  • “Student satisfaction” (data source: National Student Survey); and
  • “Student-staff ratio” (data source: HESA).

Summary of National Rankings

The following universities rank in the top 10 in at least one of the 2017/18 national rankings; the table is ordered according to the Times Higher Education Table of Tables (2017):

UniversityTHE Table of Tables (2017)Complete (2018)Guardian (2017#a
University of Cambridge111
University of Oxford222
University of St Andrews333
Imperial College London4=57
Durham University4=66
Loughborough University6104=
London School of Economics7412
University of Warwick889
Lancaster University998
University of Surrey10134=
University College London11714
University of Exeter12=1411
University of Bath12=1110

a Number of times the university is ranked within the top 10 of one of the three national rankings.
b The university is ranked within the top 5 of all three national rankings.
c The university is ranked within the top 3 of all three national rankings.

Disparity with global rankings

It has been commented by The Sunday Times that a number of universities which regularly feature in the top ten of British university league tables, such as St Andrews and LSE (in the case of LSE 3rd to 13th nationally whilst only 327th in the US News & World Report Rankings / 35th in the QS Rankings / 23rd in the THE Rankings), “inhabit surprisingly low ranks in the worldwide tables”, whilst other universities such as Manchester and KCL “that failed to do well in the domestic rankings have shone much brighter on the international stage”. The considerable disparity in rankings has been attributed to the different methodology and purpose of global university rankings such as the Academic Ranking of World Universities, QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings. International university rankings primarily use criteria such as academic and employer surveys, the number of citations per faculty, the proportion of international staff and students and faculty and alumni prize winners. When size is taken into account, LSE ranks second in the world out of all small to medium-sized specialist institutions (after ENS Paris) and St Andrews ranks second in the world out of all small to medium-sized fully comprehensive universities (after Brown University) using metrics from the QS Intelligence Unit in 2015. The national rankings, on the other hand, give most weighting to the undergraduate student experience, taking account of teaching quality and learning resources, together with the quality of a university’s intake, employment prospects, research quality and dropout rates.

The disparity between national and international league tables has caused some institutions to offer public explanations for the difference. LSE for example states on its website that ‘we remain concerned that all of the global rankings – by some way the most important for us, given our highly international orientation – suffer from inbuilt biases in favour of large multi-faculty universities with full STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) offerings, and against small, specialist, mainly non-STEM universities such as LSE.’

British Universities in Global Rankings

The following universities rank in the top 100 of at least two global rankings:

See also: College and university rankings
UniversityQS World (2016/17)[26]THE World (2016/17)[27]ARWU World (2016)[28]CWTS Leiden (2016)[29]#a
University of Cambridge44424
University of Oxford61717
University College London7151730
Imperial College London982237
King’s College London21365032
University of Edinburgh19274158
University of Manchester295535128
London School of Economics3725151-20090
University of Bristol41715753
University of Warwick5182151-20059
University of Glasgow6388151-200101
Durham University7496201-30061
University of St Andrews77110301-40064